This year the Hall of Fame shutout left us with many swirling questions making waves throughout the Baseball and Sport communities. If you read part one of this article, you’ll see we did our best to examine the mythical laws involved in HoF voting that could have played a factor, but how those laws are rarely if ever followed. Thus, we ended more confused than ever trying to decipher what the HoF voters are actually looking for. So, why did no one make it in this year? Especially when some of the games greatest statistical players of all-time were on the ballot? What I’ve learned so far, is that each player eligible needs to be looked at individually based on the only three components I could figure out that HoF voters use: Statistical Achievements, Personal Bias (Media Savvy) and Worth. So, let’s examine the players who received enough votes to return to the ballot next year:
18) Rafael Palmeiro. 8.80%
Raffy had over 3,000 hits and 569 homeruns, but of course Raffy was a steroid user, and a big huge liar. After his loud congressional hearing, which still rings in my ears he was all-but ignored by Baseball and forgotten by most fans. He’s a doper and as we’ll learn – dopers will more than likely never be enshrined in the Hall.
17) Sammy Sosa. 12.5%
Sosa’s first year on the ballot might as well be his last. He’s a doper, and really was never that great of a player. Until he started smacking homeruns nobody knew who he was. When he stopped, we all forgot.
16) Don Mattingly. 13.2%
Based on moustache alone, Mattingly should be shining down over Cooperstown onlookers. If Santo and Larkin made it in based on Worth, then Donnie Baseball should be there too. He was the only thing Yankee fans had to cheer for through most of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Sure, his numbers are lacking, but numbers aren’t everything. He’s got more Worth and Media Savvy than most players could ever hope to have. If an Andre Dawson can make it in, then Mattingly should be first ballot.
15) Mark McGwire. 16.9%
It’s his seventh year on the ballot and there’s really no need to get into the merits of McGwire here. He helped revitalize the game, and I’m pretty sure he was juicing his entire career. No one said anything. Alas, as we’ve learned – doper = noper.
14) Dale Murphy. 18.6%
Murphy failed to make it in on his last year of eligibility, but most people are kind of okay with that. Outside of Atlanta, he was just that guy who was pretty good. Here again however, we find ourselves choosing to ignore Worth, and base it all on numbers for whatever reason that which will help those who vote sleep better at night. Huh? Exactly.
13) Fred McGriff. 20.7%
Not a bad showing, but for a power hitter to be short of 500 homeruns, he probably won’t be seeing a plaque anytime soon. Although good with the media, he never stayed in any one place long enough to prove Worth. Still, he can cry himself to sleep with all that DVD money.
12) Larry Walker. 21.6%
Walker is unfortunately in the same boat as McGriff. Although a much better hitter for average, he was always looked at as a power hitter. In his third year on the ballot things don’t look promising, but Walker meant a lot to the Expos and Rockies, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow made it in on his last year.
11) Alan Trammell. 33.6%
Just one quick glance and you can see Trammell clearly does not have the numbers to be there, but going by Worth he definitely should. He was the Detroit Tigers for nearly two decades. He has three years left to make his case, but I don’t think it’s going to work.
10) Edgar Martinez. 35.9%
The man who saved Baseball in Seattle. The man who could barely see, yet still sported a .312 career batting average. Unfortunately, he was also the man who solidified the DH. And, Baseball hasn’t really figured out if they want DH’s in the Hall, so he’ll have to wait and pay the price for playing by the rules of the American League. Edgar’s got Worth, and the Numbers, but it might not be enough.
I lump them together because they’re both in their first year of eligibility and both received fewer than 40% of the vote. This is clearly the HoF voters still sending a message to anyone who played at the tail end of Steroid Era. However, I feel differently about Bonds and Clemens than I did a couple of years ago. When you really look at it both of them had long, incredibly outstanding careers before steroids ever became a question. Well before they started accomplishing feats beyond Baseball comprehension, they were great players. If Bonds had retired before he hit 73 homeruns in a single season, he still would have had three MVP awards, been a nine time All-Star with nine gold gloves and eight silver sluggers. He would have been a Hall of Famer. If Clemens had retired after leaving Boston, he’d have three Cy Young Awards, one MVP, and would be a five time All-Star. He’d have been a Hall of Famer. However, because Clemens was accused of steroids (still no actual evidence) and Bonds all but wore a jersey for the cream and the clear, they will more than likely never be inducted, which is honestly a travesty. These two guys were some of the greatest the game has ever seen and will ever see. Sure, they could have been using steroids their entire careers, but no one really thinks that. The consensus is that Clemens started in Toronto to show up the Red Sox; Bonds started somewhere in 1996 to try and grab some of the huge contracts and media attention that other less-talented players who could only hit homeruns were already getting. Bonds was the total package in Pittsburgh, one of the greatest ever. He could field, steal bases, hit, and drive in runs. So, what if he was an asshole, or if he was brash and an attention whore? You could say those same things about 95% of any All-Star Baseball player. The fact that we penalize the top players of all-time because of their later sins to stay relevant in an ever-changing spotlight is a bit ridiculous.
7) Curt Schilling. 38.8%
There is a chance Schilling will never get in, and I’m pretty sure no one will complain about that – except Schilling. Probably often and loudly. However, he barely broke 200 wins as a pitcher, has a respectable career ERA, and over 3,000 strikeouts. But, most of the media can’t stand him; Schilling has some Worth in Boston and Arizona, but maybe not enough. He could get in, he could not and that will be fine.
6) Lee Smith. 47.8%
If Dennis Eckersley is in the Hall of Fame, so should Smith, and Eck should hold the freaking door for him. It’s absolutely incomprehensible that Smith is still waiting.
5) Tim Raines. 52.2%
You’re probably thinking the same thing I am: Is Tim Raines a Hall of Famer? The short answer is ‘no’. Especially for a player with very sub par stats. It’s almost like the Hall voters are just trying to figure out a way to remember the Expos. Don’t get me wrong I love Tim Raines, but he’s the toss in card you used in 1989 to try and swipe someone’s David Cone Donruss rookie.
4) Mike Piazza. 57.8%
Biggest snub of the whole list, no questions, no doubts, and no qualms. He was the Rookie of the Year, a 12-time All-Star, a 10-time silver slugger, and the savior of Baseball for a Mets team that suffered year after year until his arrival in 1998. Not to mention his career batting average is .308, he has 426 homeruns, and oh yeah – he just happens to be the greatest offensive catcher in the history of the game! This is the biggest misstep the HoF voters have made in a long time, and it’s not right. I’m perplexed. Was this another message to steroid users? No. You made that one with Sosa and Raffy. Was it a message to all players from Piazza’s era? No. You let Tony Gwynn in, who retired four years before Piazza. Was he brash with the media? He played seven seasons in Los Angeles, the media capital of the world! He was a Hollywood poster boy! Sure, there were some questions of steroid use, but if you saw him on the Padres, you know first hand that that dude never took steroids. I realize it’s his first year on the ballot, but who cares? Piazza deserves to be in, and his snub just furthers the questionable credibility of the BBWAA.
3) Jeff Bagwell. 59.6%
Rookie of the Year, multiple All-Star, but let’s be honest – there is a lot of questions when it comes to Bagwell and juicing. He doesn’t have the benchmark numbers for sluggers, and that’s about all he was. A respectable career batting average at .297, but nothing that really screams HALL OF FAME! Sure, he and one other guy were going to talk about pretty much saved Baseball in Houston, so he could eventually get in on Worth, and I wouldn’t surprised. I have no issues with Bagwell; he’s kind of like Schilling to me.
2) Jack Morris. 67.7%
Morris has one more year on the ballot and this year he fell short by about 10%. Most people from his era will tell you he was the most dominant pitcher alive from 1979-1992. He struck fear in the hearts of hitters and embodied the city of Detroit. I get all of this, and it’s because of this I understand the HoF voters confusion when voting for him. He doesn’t have 3,000 strikeouts or 300 wins; his career ERA is 3.90, which teeters on the line of good and great. If he was so dominant, why don’t his numbers really reflect that? No one has an actual answer, which is why he sits 10% short. Personally, I think he’ll make it in next year, especially since there’s been a little bit of a “C’mon, stop being dicks to Morris” movement from a lot of old ballplayers.
1) Craig Biggio. 68.2%
In his first year of eligibility Biggio fell 7% short, which left most Baseball fans wondering what happened. If Padres fans could relate to anybody on this list it would be Biggio. He was the slightly poorer mans Tony Gwynn. Biggio played 20-years for Houston, and along with Bagwell kept that team afloat and relevant the entire time. He racked up 3,000 hits, which is supposed to guarantee a Hall plaque, and was a 7-time All-Star. Not to mention he played three different positions during his long career, catcher, second base and centerfield. You know, just three of the hardest positions in the game. Biggio received four straight Gold Gloves at second base for his excellent defense. Biggio will more than likely have the same Hall of Fame path as Barry Larkin: Sit high on the ballot for a few years before actually getting in, so there’s really not much to fight here. He’ll make it in eventually, but why wait and thus create a year of nothing?
So, what did we learn from this extensive, albeit ridiculous article that you probably stopped reading hours ago? I think it’s obvious that the BBWAA, and the Veteran’s Committee wanted to prove a point this year. Regardless, of your achievements, it will not be easy for anyone to get into the Hall of Fame anymore. Perhaps they arrived at this odd agreement based on the last couple years, and the upcoming few years when the majority of known steroid freaks will be featured on the ballot. Or maybe that fact is splitting the vote, by the writers and ex-players who think steroids matters and those who don’t. Regardless, something has to change, because the game itself has been changing. We had the steroid era and we can’t ignore it. They played within the rules that Baseball allowed them to play in. It’s not the players fault Bud Selig has no backbone. McGwire and Sosa and Bonds revived a dying game. They made people care about Baseball again, so how, as Baseball writers can you penalize them for that? It’s a blemish on an otherwise perfect game? Get out of town, and get over yourselves. Baseball has had more disgraces than politics. Honor those who deserve it, not those who you feel in your gut deserve it. Honor those who excelled at the game within the rules they were given to play by. Stop trying to make an example of those who were caught doing something they knew was probably a bad thing to do, but Baseball had yet to impose actual regulations on. The last thing we need are the writers of a rapidly dying media trying to protect the so-called integrity of a game bred in racism and bathed in greed.
There’s been a recent movement to advocate that the actual fans of the game should help decide the Hall of Fame inductees. I can’t disagree with this idea, although it will certainly never happen. And, if it ever does they’ll configure some system where the fan vote counts for 5% of the final tally. The argument against this idea is that the fans wouldn’t vote for the right player. We might induct someone who isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame, but going by the last few years, I’m not sure the current Hall of Fame voters know what that is either. So what if all the fans got together and voted in Bip Roberts or David Wells? They would deserve it because the people who the game is supposed to be all about would have deemed them deserving. What if we just used the BBWAA and the VC to select the ten players the fans could vote on? That works. Then everyone gets a say, and we won’t have some weird coup where Todd Zeile becomes a Hall of Famer. Sorry, Todd. Whatever happens from this ridiculous Hall of Fame shutout won’t actually matter. In fact, you’ve probably already forgotten all about it and started counting all the tattoos on Colin Kaepernick’s arms. Regardless, if something could come from it, and a lesson learned then I think it’s this: It’s time we stop entrusting the people who will ultimately destroy this game with protecting it. It’s our game. We pay for it, and we should get the results we demand.
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