By on January 22, 2017



On January 18th the Baseball Writers of America voted on the Hall of Fame induction class of 2017, and for the first time the steroid era was strongly represented. Yes, Mike Piazza was elected last year. However, this year’s class puts the wheels in motion for the flood gates to open and for the powers that be to accept what they have created, supported, and then criticized.  Personally, I could care less if any one over this 20 year period is chosen for the Holy of Holies. My problem, as usual, is with the inferiority complex that still infests the Baseball Writers Association. So – why now? What makes this year so different? Is it because Pudge Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell never failed a test? If that’s the case, then why are both the all-time home run king and a 6 time Cy Young winner still waiting in the dugout? Does it only take a failed test such as with Rafael Palmeiro to keep you out indefinitely? Or maybe the fact that Mark McGwire admitted to using P.E.D’s while playing is enough to warrant a snub. It’s only a matter of time before Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens punch their ticket, and to me the writers are trying to loosen us up by sprinkling in a few fan favorites with only minimal suspicion of steroid abuse before they catch us with the ol’ “right there Fred”. No one way of thinking is necessarily right or wrong; and that is where I have a problem. There is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and this is just one of the many reasons that the voting process needs to change.

Frank Thomas went in last year as a first baseman, but his defensive compared to his offensive stats would argue otherwise. David Ortiz retired this season and is already considered a no doubt first ballot nominee by many. So what about Edgar Martinez? He is considered by most to be the best DH of all time, yet he hasn’t come close to receiving enough votes to be enshrined. Does he have the numbers to match most in Cooperstown? No. Did he dominate pitching for a decade? Yes. All of these players spent minimal time in the field and the majority of their careers as a designated hitter. So the case for Martinez intrigues me from a precedent standpoint. What if both Thomas and Ortiz are elected, and not Martinez? Are we saying 40 years after the DH was introduced that we accept the position, but not for the man who basically invented it? What’s more important; MVP’s (Thomas), or World Series rings (Ortiz)? Seems to me that if you basically invented your position then you should be recognized for it. Once again, there is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change.

David “Big Papi” Ortiz (Eddie Michels photo)

The newest craze that didn’t take a strong foothold until a few years ago is Sabermetrics. SABER to me is the epitome of a catch 22. Baseball is a game of numbers, and Bill James helped introduce fans, journalists, and even personnel in every front office to an entirely new way of thinking and influencing the game. While Sabermetrics has given us ground breaking stats such as OPS (on base plus slugging percentage), WHIP (walks+hits per innings pitched), and WAR (wins above replacement), it has simultaneously taken away why we watch the game in the first place. That is, players giving their all to win the game regardless of what the box score says. What ever happened to playing the game to win? What ever happened to playing the game the right way? How can a writer not vote Bonds for cheating, and also shy away from Fred McGriff for being clean but only being seven home runs short of 500?

This is the situation that irks me the most, and to prove my point further, brings me to Jack Morris. No, he didn’t have the Cy Youngs that are usually the standard. True, his career ERA is 3.90 and he only had 254 wins, but what about the stats that didn’t make the box score? The fact that he had more wins than any other pitcher in the 1980’s. Or the fact that he had more opening day starts then any peers of his era. Are we not the people that always say “well, he can’t win the big one”? Well, Morris won three rings, with three different teams, and started Game one in all three cases. Why can we not complement those players who played for the scoreboard, and not the record books? Ask any batter from his era and they will say that when they saw Jack Morris warming up before the game they knew they were in for a tough afternoon. I know that I sound like a broken record, but there is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change.

The ultimate shame is that the Veterans Committee is left to clean up the mess. The Vets have voted in a large majority of the members now enshrined, which says to me that their sole purpose is to cover the debacle the association creates. Case in point; Ron Santo, who was finally voted in posthumously. Now, not all writers are guilty of this tragedy. However, the problem is that many, if not most, of the writers all have certain prejudices and a hometown bias that unfortunately should not be a factor. Remember this is the same organization that did not give Ted Williams the MVP in 1953 because, to be frank, he was a jerk. Mr. Morris is now at the mercy of the Veterans to once again play clean-up but now I’m not so sure they are capable.  This is because this year the Veterans voted in not Morris but Bud-freaking-Selig. So to bring it back full circle, apparently players who used or might have used: bad. Commissioner who let it all happen by turning a blind eye: good. Sorry folks, but this is a package deal. You can’t choose the conductor and not bring the orchestra with you. The writing’s on the wall; either say no for two decades of history, or just accept the past for what it is and get on with it.

There is no point to this rant except for me to get this frustration that has been building for years off my chest. The fan in me, though, is more distraught than the cynic. What’s more important, the numbers, or the integrity of the game? The know-it-all journalist, or the die hard fan? This image becomes more skewed with each passing year and with each ballot cast. Now more than ever we need a set of rules or guidelines. Not just to help the ones deciding the fates of a fortunate few, but to help those whose passion makes it all possible. Either way, and stop me if you’ve heard this one, there is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change.


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