Posted: Tuesday June 7, 2005 12:42PM; Updated: Tuesday June 7, 2005 12:42PM
Let's stick with pitching, though. What the heck happened during the 14-year gap? Have many starting pitchers born between 1948 and '61 been overlooked for the Hall? You can make a strong case, as many have, for Bert Blyleven (1951). And Jack Morris (1955) may have been the biggest winner of the 1980s, but that hasn't been enough to get him very close to the Hall. And then the pitchers of the Dark Ages begin to fall off: Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, Don Gullett, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Dennis Leonard, Teddy Higuera, Frank Viola, Steve Rogers, Dave Stewart, Dave Stieb ... well, you get the idea.
Tom Verducci will answer select questions from SI.com users in his Baseball Mailbag.
As pitching immortals go, it's a thin group. Strangely, it wasn't as if they pitched during a great offensive era, though they did see the introduction of the DH and the five-man rotation. The best explanation may be the cyclical nature of sports and athletic genius. Hall of Famers aren't cranked out in measured increments. That may best explain why the production of Hall of Fame starting pitchers has been this haphazard:
Thirteen during the 13 years beginning with birth year 1935 (Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Ferguson Jenkins, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Jim Palmer, Catfish Hunter, Ryan), then ... Zero for the next 14 years, then ... Four in five years (Clemens, Randy Johnson, Maddux and Glavine), then .... One in eight years (Martinez), then ...
What? It's too soon to tell how the new generation of pitchers will fare when it comes to Cooperstown. But you do have C.C. Sabathia, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Prior, Josh Beckett, Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Johan Santana, Rich Harden, Roy Halladay and several others born since 1975 to keep an eye on. It can only get better.