I understand the way Wednesday’s Hall of Fame vote went. I really do, but that doesn’t mean I am happy with it. After sitting back, watching the lead up to the announcement of nothing and then reflecting on its outcome, I knew it would be at least a day before I could be rational about how not one player was elected.
It’s not even that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) failed to elect anyone that bothers me. I mean, it’s happened before. The last time it happened (1996) I was a senior in high school. In all, this is the eighth time in voting history no one has been elected.
More than anything, it is the voters who send in blank ballots as a protest that irritates me. If you don’t think anyone is worthy, don’t send in a ballot. That way you are not hurting those on the ballot. A blank ballot counts as a negative vote against everyone.
Luckily this year there were only five voters who sent in blank ballots. Howard Bryant of ESPN, Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Jorge Ebro of the Spanish language El Nuevo Herald in Miami, and Mark Faller of the Arizona Republic were four of the five voters who sent in blank ballots. As voters are not required to make their votes public, the name of the fifth blank ballot voter remains a mystery.
However, I am glad to say that there were fewer blank ballots this year (5) than last year (9). With 569 votes cast this year, including the five wasted votes, I am glad to know that those five did not cost anyone an induction. The leading vote getter, Craig Biggio, missed election by 39 votes. So even if the five blanks had listed only Biggio, he still would not have made the cut.
By not electing anyone, the BBWAA made sure that there will be no living players at this year’s induction ceremony in July. Yes, the ceremony will still go on, but it will be a lot shorter than in years past.
My hope is that next year Biggio will get the votes he needs to reach the 75 percent requirement. But it is not just Biggio I am rooting for next year. Jack Morris, a four time World Series champion (with three different teams) and the winningest pitcher of the 1980s will be on the ballot for the 15th and final time. Morris received 67 percent of the vote and missed election by 42 votes.
But they aren’t the only two. In his first time on the ballot, Mike Piazza got 329 votes. Piazza was 98 votes shy while Jeff Bagwell (59 percent) was 88 votes shy on his third time on the ballot. The only other player to have 50 percent or more of the vote was Tim Raines (52 percent).
Page 2 of 3 - I believe all five of those players are Hall of Fame players.
Of course there are other players I would vote for who are still on the ballot. Lee Smith received 47 percent on his 11th try, while Rafael Palmeiro got just 8 percent on his third try. Mark McGwire’s totals dropped yet again, this time to 16 percent, while Dale Murphy had just 18 percent in his 15th and final ballot. Sammy Sosa finished his first attempt with 12 percent while fellow tainted slugger Barry Bonds total of 36 percent was lower than a lot of people thought. Pitchers Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling both failed to reach the 40s. Schilling had 38 percent of the vote while Clemens had 37 percent. With all the big names added to this year’s ballot, Fred McGriff dropped to 20 percent (from 23) on his fourth try.
In addition to the first five I listed, I believe all nine of these players are Hall of Fame players as well. What will be interesting next year is when the new first year candidates join the 17 total holdovers (Don Mattingly, Larry Walker, Alan Trammel and Edgar Martinez will also return) with another bumper crop of stars.
Among the players on the ballot for the first time next year are starting pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both 300-game winners. Also on the ballot at starting pitcher is Mike Mussina. With 270 wins and seven Gold Gloves, Mussina might not make it his first try, but he should quickly be enshrined.
Second baseman Jeff Kent and first baseman-designated hitter Frank Thomas will also be on the ballot. Kent hit 377 home runs and is tied for 67th all time. He is also the all-time leader in home runs by a second baseman. Frank Thomas is one of just 25 players to hit over 500 home runs. Thomas finished his career with 521, good for a tie at 20th all time.
With voters limited to a maximum of 10 players, a voter could almost fill two separate ballots on players who should be in the Hall of Fame. So get ready, if you thought this year was crazy with no elections, it is entirely possible that we could see the most players ever elected at one time next year.
There is even a chance some big name players could be dropped from future ballots altogether after next year’s election because they might not receive enough support due to how many legitimate candidates will be on the ballot in 2014. Looking at the ballot myself, I see 18 players whom I consider worthy of Hall of Fame induction (Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Glavine, Kent, Maddux, McGriff, McGwire, Morris, Mussina, Palmeiro, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Smith, Sosa and Thomas).
Let me be clear: Yes, steroids are bad. But so are greenies (amphetamines), and there are plenty of Hall of Famers that used them in the 1950s/1960s/1970s. Greenies were used as performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) back then the way steroids were in the 1990s and early 2000s. Players who used greenies weren’t barred, so why should players who used steroids?
Page 3 of 3 - On a final note. I have heard plenty of talk saying the way the Hall of Famers are elected is old and out of date.
People have said if president of the United States can win an election with just 53 percent of the vote, why does the Hall need 75 percent to gain election?
Others have said the BBWAA should not be the only ones to vote. There has been a mention of allowing broadcasters and baseball historians to vote. Even though broadcasters are team employees (writers are not), I could get behind allowing career broadcasters like Vin Scully vote. People like Scully know a lot more and have seen a lot more than most ever will.
But, at the same time, I am completely against allowing former Major League players turned broadcasters like Ken “Hawk” Harrelson to have a vote.
Harrelson is one of the biggest and most annoying “homers” covering the game today. He would be a completely biased voter and turn the process into a circus the same way he does as a White Sox broadcaster.
Remember, whether you like the players or not, this is the Hall of Fame. It is a museum dedicated to the history of the game. History is both good and bad. We can’t block out a whole generation of players because they did something wrong. If that was the case, then we would need to kick out players who used greenies and there are several Hall of Famers like Goose Gossage who have admitted to using greenies. And if we are going to do that, let’s not forget about pre-integration. When Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and others were playing, they were not playing against the best because part of the best had the wrong skin color and were not allowed to play. Yet, those players are in the Hall of Fame as well.