The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY is a revered institution that somehow manages to leave legions of supporters dissatisfied every time it makes a ruling of any kind.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on the ballot? An affront to the game! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens all but exiled? A vocal faction of baseball fans believes that to be an unjust telling of the game’s history.
A few great wrongs from the game’s past rectified with 2021’s Veterans Committee elections of Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Minnie Miñoso? Great, but you forgot Dick Allen!
No matter what the results, baseball fans of a certain age will always be left unsatisfied — mainly because it is no longer 1973, but also because of their stated player preferences.
The Hall of Fame hears the criticism, though, and that’s why they’ve rearranged their balloting processes yet again on Friday in order to make the pathway a bit clearer for modern players post-1980.
Baseball Hall of Fame changing Yankees legends Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly’s chances
This means that all Don Mattingly has to do to gain future election is beat out his peers and those who played in the Steroid Era right after him. He no longer has to be compared with Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and the executives who built modern dynasties; they’ve been exiled to a different Veterans’ Committee ballot entirely. It’s just players vs. players for Donnie Baseball, who falls well after the 1980 cutoff.
Unfortunately, things just got way more difficult for Munson who — let’s face it — should’ve been enshrined after a special election in 1980.
All of a sudden, instead of competing against his peers, he now needs to outshine baseball’s pioneers, Negro League stars, and the faces of the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Even if you believe Munson to be deserving (46.1 WAR, Rookie of the Year, MVP, seven All-Star appearances in an 11-year career), it’s tough to make the case he’s among the top-eight most pressing Hall cases from what amounts to 100 years of baseball.
Of course, this isn’t a Munson-specific problem. It’s frustrating for his backers, but the Hall’s behavior seems disingenuous to the supporters of Negro League Baseball, who believed they were getting their own ballot only to watch their stars be lumped in with the masses.
For the next decade of Hall of Fame consideration, it seems Yankees fans will have to grit their teeth and hope for the best.
The path to enshrinement will not be easily paved, though Mattingly’s chances increased just a little bit … until Clemens, Bonds and Co. join him in one year’s time, that is.