I wish to start today’s piece by congratulating Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas for their election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. All three of these players were the elite at their positions during their era, and were no-doubters for selection. They will join managers Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre in the enshrinement ceremony later this summer in Cooperstown, New York. Maddux, received 97.2 percent, Glavine, 91.9 percent, and Thomas received 83.7 percent of the votes.
While the story should be about the three who were selected, it simply can’t be. In a system where the voters are allowed to only select 10 possible candidates, the baseball world witnessed one voter place only Jack Morris on his ballot, while another voter actually believes that the “Gambler”, Kenny Rogers is Hall of Fame-worthy. This is exactly what is wrong with the system. Kenny Rogers? Really? As a member of the Yankees, I remember Kenny Rogers getting lit up like a Christmas tree, and he became another one of the “he can’t handle the pressure of playing in New York” guys. I really want to know who in their right mind believes in their heart of hearts, that Hideo Nomo, Luis Gonzalez, Eric Gagne, Armando Benitez and J.T. Snow are Hall of Famers? Enough already with the b.s. votes for these guys. It makes a mockery of an already-broken system.
It’s also a shame that a clean, non-steroid or PED-using member of the 3,000 hit club still can’t get the respect and due he justly deserves. What does Craig Biggio have to do here people? Not only did he cement himself as an immortal by his accomplishments, but he remained with the Houston Astros through thick and thin, good times and bad, never held out for more money, and didn’t take the money and run when his opportunity to do so arrived. He remained loyal. Wow, what a concept, and he did so by playing superb defense at not one, not two, but three different positions over his career. If Craig Biggio isn’t a Hall of Fame baseball player, then I don’t know who is. My sincerest apologies to Mr. Biggio and his family. The baseball writers have once again let you down.
The only other candidates besides Biggio, that received over 60 percent of the vote and failed to be elected, were former Dodgers and Mets catcher Mike Piazza and the winningest starting pitcher of the 1980s and postseason legend Jack Morris. For Morris, his name will now officially drop off of the ballot since this was his fifteenth and final appearance on the writer’s ballot. It’s now in the hands of the various committees who also have votes down the line to ensure that a much deserving Morris gets his day in the sun. For Piazza, I have to believe that two factors remain in his failure to get elected: his poor defense, making him a one-dimensional player, and his rumored use of performance-enhancing drugs. I’m positive that Piazza will eventually see the Hall, but he still has to convince those with votes that he did his remarkable work completely clean.
Returning candidates Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Lee Smith remain on the outside looking in. While several writers believe each of these players to be serious candidates for selection, my guess is that the “Rule of 10″ came into play with at least Bagwell and possibly Raines. We know the song and dance with the Rocket and Bonds. Other names who were mentioned that were thought to be serious candidates for selection included Curt Schilling (29.2 percent), former Yankees hurler Mike Mussina (20.3 percent), and Jeff Kent (15.2 percent). Each received the needed 5 percent of the votes to remain on the ballot for next year. Former Yankees team captain and current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will also remain on the ballot, garnering 8.2 percent of the writer’s votes.
As I said before, the day should be about celebrating the wonderful accomplishments of Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas. Instead, the converstation–a part of which I am guilty of contributing to, will focus on why certain players failed to get the necessary votes, why the voting system is broken, and what needs to be done to fix the entire mess. I believe that the autonomy in which the baseball writers are given to vote for only one player, to vote for guys like Rogers and Snow, instead of doing their duty, their responsibility, and their honor, to select those who truly deserve to be in Cooperstown, is a reflection more on the arrogance and “God complex” of the writers than it has ever been about the actual players on the ballot.
You will hear writers state that only the Hall of Fame can change the process, yet these same writers continue to abuse the process. Some culpability has to fall on the shoulders of the writers. These same writers, who have chosen not to vote for players under suspicion of using steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, were the same writers that covered these players as beat writers, national writers, and the like, and didn’t have the stones to kick down the door and expose these frauds for who they really are, for fear on not getting their next scoop or being labeled a rat. At some point, the writers are going to have to look in the mirror and say to themselves “Maybe I’m the problem.” The first step to correcting any problem, is having the intestinal fortitude and backbone to stand up and admit their is a problem. Until that day comes, it’ll always remain more about the writers, their ballots, the jokes and undeserving that they have voted for, rather than the guys who earned their immortality into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Follow Billy on Twitter @Billy_Brost.