Making a case for former Detroit Lions, Billy Sims and the NFL Hall of Fame

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions drafted a special running back with the first pick in the 1980 NFL draft. Billy Sims was instant superstar, rushing for 1,303 yards, scoring 13 touchdowns, and earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors, his contributions to the offense helped Detroit improve from 2-14 in 1979 the to 9-7 in 1980.

During the 1981 season, Sims built on his rookie success, rushing for 1,437 yards and scoring another 13 touchdowns. The Lions had been absent from the NFL Playoffs since 1970, but Billy Sims was able to help lead them to the playoffs in both 1982 and 1983. Unfortunately in 1984, Sims blew out his knee and had to retire.

When Barry Sanders arrived in Detroit, then Lions head coach Wayne Fontes wanted Sanders to wear No. 20 in homage to Billy Sims. Both Detroit running backs were game-changers.

His time in Detroit was indeed cut short. But during those days there was no denying the flashy, whirling dervish Billy Sims who struck fear in defenses across the NFL, was a force.

Billy Sims career stats prove he was on path for the Hall of Fame, 60 games played, 313 rushing attempts, 5,106 rushing yards, 4.5 average per rush, 42 touchdowns.

Billy Sims stats are very comparable to that of NFL Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers. Sayers career stats 64 games played, 991 rushing attempts, 4,956 rushing yards, 5.0 yards average per rush, 70 touchdowns.

One thing must be noted and stressed, Sayers played 7 seasons, Billy Sims played 4 1/2 seasons.

Yet, Sayers is in the Hall of Fame. Billy Sims should absolutely be there as well. One more thing Billy Sims was very efficient as a pass catcher. Billy Sims is still a larger-than-life Lion legend.

A former player who should be among the greats in the Hall of Fame. His numbers dictate it.

Detroit Tigers great Lou Whitaker has another crack at the Hall of Fame

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Tigers greats  Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were elected to the MLB Hall of Fame in 2017, Lou Whitaker was always expected to be the next former Tigers great for consideration.  Whitaker’s wait has been long drawn out and well overdue.

The case for Lou Whitaker to be enshrined with fellow Baseball greats is a strong one:

Baseball historian and author Bill James, who helped bring in the era of modern baseball statistics, ranked Lou  Whitaker in last year’s Bill James Handbook as the second best player not in the Hall of Fame based on Win Shares and Wins Above Replacement, trailing only MLB star Bill Dahlen. In terms of win shares, Whitaker is better than 139 players already in the Hall. James also ranked Whitaker as the 13th best second baseman of all time.

Lou Whitaker was one of the most dynamic offensive second basemen  of all time. With a wRC+ of 118 ranks 21st all time among second basemen with at least 5,000 career plate appearances, and he ranks in the top 12 at his position in home runs and runs scored.

Whitaker played second base for his entire 19 year Major League career 2,308 games to be exact. Ranking him fourth all time behind Hall of Famers Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan and Roberto Alomar. Whitaker’s 75.1 career WAR ranked fifth all time among players who spent at least 75% of their career at second base, ahead of Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg 68.0, Alomar 67.1, Nellie Fox 49.0 and many more.

Lou Whitaker the 1978 rookie-of-the-year in MLB, was also a All-Star for five consecutive years from 1983-1987, his age 26 through age 30 seasons. He won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers in that stretch and was a Top 10 finisher in AL MVP Award voting in 1983. The Tigers won two AL East titles and a World Series crown during that time.

The talk with the Hall of Fame players when Trammell and Morris were elected was that they are going to right the wrong and put Sweet Lou in the Hall. It has been reported, players pointed directly at Whitaker (as he spoke at the enshrinement ceremony about Alan Trammell) and declared “you’re next.”

Baseball fans, not just Detroit Tigers fans need to hope the players were both serious and keep the words they spoke.

Former Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown belongs in the Hall of Fame

Embed from Getty Images Much like former Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker, I am setting fandom aside. I am going to present just facts about one of my all-time favorite Detroit Lions. Lomas Brown. Lomas should be in the Hall of Fame, it is a shame he is not.

7 Pro Bowl appearances playing in 263 NFL games, starting 262 of those games, First team All Pro in 1995, second team All Pro in 1991 and 1994. Pro Bowl selection in 1990 ,1991, 1992, 1993 ,1994, 1995. Lomas Brown was also drafted in the first round (5th overall) by the Detroit Lions in 1985.

Widely thought to be the best offensive tackle in Detroit Lions history, Lomas Brown was one of the most consistent offensive tackles of his playing days. He blocked for Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and was the backbone of the Lions offensive line.

If it is an oversight, it needs corrected. If it is a mistake, it needs corrected. No matter how it is viewed, it is flat out wrong. Lomas Brown belongs in the Hall of Fame. While it is true Barry Sanders did not rely solely on his lineman, Sanders has been quick to say he always looked for #75 because if he got in trouble, he knew Lomas would throw a block and set him free.

The fact the Detroit Lions made the playoffs just 4 times during his playing days wears thin as well. A good player is a good player. That does not change because of a teams success.

After football Lomas Brown worked at ESPN for eight years doing analyst and broadcasting work. In 2018 after ESPN made sweeping changes because the network was losing money, Brown was let go. He was named color analyst for the Detroit Lions radio broadcasts on WJR Detroit.

Lomas Brown embraces Detroit and the Lions years after he retired. The Miami Florida native said ‘We never got to the Super Bowl with the Lions, But we still bleed Honolulu Blue and Silver.”

Much like Lou Whitaker, there are things sports and Hall of Fames get right. But there are times they flat out miss the mark. Lomas Brown needs to be in. It is that simple. I do believe the veterans will vote him in. But it should have never come to this.

 

Detroit Tigers: the injustice of Lou Whitaker

Embed from Getty Images As Detroit Tiger greats Alan Trammell and Jack Morris take their place in Cooperstown this weekend. One member of the Detroit Tigers will be in the crowd. That is simply highway robbery.

Injustice is a very kind word to use when talking about Lou Whitaker. This goes beyond Detroit Tigers fandom. Statistics do not lie. Sweet Lou, is more than deserving of a Hall of Fame nod.

21 second basemen are in the Hall of Fame. That is all. Of the 21 second base hall members, Lou Whitaker’s number place him as the fourth best second basemen in MLB history. Yet, he did not get the call.

One would think that in a 19 year career that 2,369 hits, 244 home runs, 1,084 RBIs and 1,386 runs scored in 2,390 games played would be more than enough. And I have not even mentioned in 1978 Detroit Tigers, Lou Whitaker was named rookie of the year.

A 3 time Gold Glove winner and four time Silver Slugger award winner. Not to mention he teamed with Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell to form one of statistically speaking the best double play combos in MLB history.

Trammell in. Whitaker not? It is a joke of epic proportion. His former teammates have been very vocal about the injustice. Alan Trammell, said he always thought they would enter the Hall together. They should have.

I have no doubt the Hall of Fame board of operations and Hall of Fame members will get an ear full from Trammell and former Detroit Tigers ace pitcher Jack Morris during their acceptance speeches.

My enjoyment of the Detroit Tigers aside. Lou Whitaker, has been and still is Hall worthy. For all that baseball gets right they miss on a lot of obvious things. To ignore what Whitaker did is a missed opportunity and that is a shame.

MLB please do the right thing. Enshrine Lou Whitaker.