VANCOUVER – Tim Raines doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about baseball’s Hall of Fame.
He knows there’s not much he can do about getting in — his candidacy will come down to next year’s ballot after falling just 23 votes shy of induction earlier this month — and the former Montreal Expos outfielder is at peace with whatever happens.
“It matters, but it doesn’t,” Raines said Friday. “I feel like I had a great career.
“(Not making the Hall) wouldn’t take anything away from any aspect of it. If it happens I’m going to be a very excited older guy. If it doesn’t then it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Raines stole 808 bases in his career, surpassing 70 every year from 1981 to 1986 with Montreal. He later won two World Series titles as a member of the New York Yankees and finished with a .294 lifetime batting average.
Raines, who spent 12 of his 23 seasons with the Expos, received the support of 69.8 per cent of Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters for the 2016 Hall of Fame class. A player needs 75 per cent for induction.
“I don’t think it’s frustrating. It’s a process,” said Raines, who is set to enter his 10th and final year of eligibility. “There’s been a number of guys who took a long time to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s the final piece of my career. It’s the final chapter.
“I have one year left and my fingers are still crossed to hopefully one day get the phone call.”
Currently the roving outfield and base running co-ordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays, the 56-year-old said he’s intrigued how the advanced statistics that have only recently become more prominent in the game are helping to make his case for induction.
“It’s kind of mind boggling,” said Raines, who was in Vancouver for a team function with the single-A Canadians. “I didn’t really know I did all those things those guys say I did.
“It’s quite interesting.”
A fifth-round pick in 1977, the native of Sanford, Fla., played 1,452 of his 2,502 career games with the Expos — including 47 near the end of his career in 2001 — and said he still holds Montreal close to his heart. Only two other players have been inducted into the Hall wearing Expos caps, Gary Carter in 2003 and Andre Dawson in 2010.”
“That’s where I grew up,” said Raines. “I really call Montreal home because I was a 19-year-old kid playing the major leagues.”
Raines was interviewed for a new documentary on the Expos and said Friday the city deserves a second chance after the team left town to become the Washington Nationals following the 2004 season.
“The baseball world doesn’t really understand what goes on in Montreal or in Canada sometimes,” said Raines. “The 12 years I spent in Montreal were probably the greatest 12 years of my career.
“It’s only fitting that they get an opportunity to do it all over again.”