Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas were all voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on Wednesday afternoon. All three men were among the best of their generations in their respected fields, and have the resumes that should garner a first ballot induction. This comes one year removed from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) infamously voting in NO PLAYERS to the Hall of Fame.
It’s not like they didn’t have a decent ballot to choose from: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling. And those are just the players who were on the ballot for the first year. They joined the likes of Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro who were holdovers from previous ballots. Looks like an All-Star team from RBI Baseball ’94.
Anyway, despite their star studded careers, most of these players were alleged and admitted PED users, and most of them had lied about said PED usage to these same writers who now held all the cards when it came to getting immortalized in Cooperstown. And just like a bouncer at a club or a mall security guard on Boxing Day, these writers abused their power and decided that none of them should get into the Hall of Fame. Some of the BBWAA voters went as far as to submit a blank ballot. As great as these white knights intentions were, all the spoiled ballots led to a truly deserving player, Craig Biggio, getting only 68.2% of the vote and thus having to wait another year.
The Hall voting process is a straight up farce. This is no secret, it’s like making the statement that the BCS Bowl Series needs to be changed. I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to have writers hold the vote, I just think it’s a bad idea to let SO MANY writers hold a vote. The problem is not with too many, it’s with too many that are uneducated, or whom no longer follow the game! There is no secret that some of the writers are biased and give votes to players that they followed or gave them interviews.
In 2013, one of these geniuses gave a vote to Aaron Sele and his 148-112 record and 4.61 ERA. But they still scoff at the idea of putting Jack Morris in the Hall. I’m not sure what the more frustrating aspect about the Hall vote is, the fact that writers can submit an unnamed ballot, or the fact that they can vote once they retire!?!? A few of the active BBWAA voters no longer follow and write baseball, instead they write for golf publications. I figure if you have the sack to vote for Aaron Sele, than you should have the sack to put your name on it.
This year, despite improving on 2013 by actually INDUCTING PLAYERS, the BBWAA proved that there is still work to be done by giving votes to Armando Benitez, Jacque Jones, J.T Snow, and Eric Gagne! It actually boils my blood to see someone throw away a vote like that. At least people like the Green Party. Other things that came out of Tuesday’s ballot announcement was the fact that Jack Morris once again did not receive the 75% vote and will now be off the ballot as it is his 15th year on it. Look to Morris getting in as a nomination from the Veterans Committee in the future. It also looks like the members of the Steroid Era are going to have to wait for a few more ballots in order to get in… if they get in.
It still baffles me that the (arguable) greatest player and (arguable) greatest pitcher are left to toil on the ballot in baseball purgatory, while BBWAA schlubs cast their peanuts for the Aaron Seles and Jacque Jones’ of the world. I get it, they cheated, they lied, and they were surly pricks to say the least. But the history of the game is full of those personalities. I’m not about to sit here and give you a history lesson, but the game is full of questionable characters and circumstances.
The fact that some voters sit on their high horse, looking down on the PED users, yet they still brag about the days of greenies, spitballs, and emery boards. Remember this is a game that didn’t even let other people of colour play until AFTER World War II. And that being said, PED’s and Steroids WERE NOT ILLEGAL OR BANNED during the 90’s and early 00’s. We can’t cast these players aside, while showcasing the days of racism, bigotry, and straight up cheating… I’m looking at you Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby.
Despite their best policing attempts, all the BBWAA voters have done is laid the foundation to a serious backlog of “DESERVING” nominees. This logjam will ultimately lead to “fringe” HoF’ers not receiving 5% of the vote, and getting left off the ballot altogether. In 2013, Kenny Lofton only received 3.2% of the vote and was left off the ballot for 2014. Now I’m not saying Lofton was a HoF’er by any means, but he was one of those guys whom you could make the case for getting in maybe 5-10 years down the road. Instead of the Kenny Loftons getting left off the ballot, we’ll have to worry about guys like Larry Walker eventually falling into that less than 5% category. I also worry about the upcoming induction classes, classes that are more than loaded with former All Stars, MVP’s, Cy Youngs, and other various awards.
Next year alone sees the addition of heavyweights like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and even Gary Sheffield. Now going into 2015 you have to assume that guys like the Big Unit and Pedro are locks to get in, perhaps with Mr. Biggio finally getting the 75%. Sheff though sits in a cloud of uncertainty. Half of it stems from alleged PED use, but the other half is a result of a loaded ballot, and voters who are less than willing to give a vote to anyone with a potential PED past.
Congrats to the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. All very deserving. I’m very thankful to have seen you all play…