With the news of the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame electing four new members last week, many fans of the Braves and Indians find themselves thrilled with the elections of Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. How could you not be? These are two players who excelled on and off the field, had long, successful careers, and are adored by fans throughout the league. They are no doubt Hall of Famers, and I don’t think anyone could make any kind of argument to the contrary. Unfortunately, the other two men to be inducted this summer hit a different note.
There are few times that growing up playing a sport coincides with a hometown professional sports team’s greatest run.
The Boston Celtics in the 60s
The Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70s
The San Francisco 49ers in the 80s
The Cleveland Indians in the 90s
It seemed fitting that on the day after the Greatest Pitcher This Side of Walter Johnson was enshrined at Cooperstown1Pedro Martinez, for those who can’t keep track at home. I ask again, who are the 8.9% of the voters who did not vote for Pedro? that I would take a look at another pitcher who has thusfar2And therefore likely, forever to be ignored been overlooked by those who are in charge. The man’s name is Larry Corcoran, and I’d like to make the case for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
There are few of us in life who can say we came within one moment of reaching immortality. As small as that number is, to have a moment like that twice in one week is practically unheard of. Dave Stieb is a man who knows the feeling all too well, coming within one out on September 24th and one out on September 30th, 1988 of completing a no-hitter. If Stieb had been able to finish out those two no-hitters, would history look at him in a different light?
The guiding force for this argument came about as I was collecting information from learned baseball friends for a future column. One of them suggested that Ron Guidry should be considered one of the all-time greats as a pitcher, and I couldn’t think of a reason as to why that isn’t true. As I thought on it, I wondered why his name wasn’t more prominent in my head.
Now that I have dispelled with most of the venom and hate that I have for the BBWAA and what they did with their ballots for the 2015 election season, I would like to return to an idea that I’ve discussed previously: Hall of Fame recall votes.
As a general rule, I tend to avoid hyperbole when it comes to athletes and what they may accomplish in their careers. Let the athlete prove themselves, get in to their careers before they are enshrined in their respective sport’s Hall of Fame. However, with Odell Beckham, Jr., I jumped the gun.
For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not vote in any Major League Baseball players eligible for the Hall of Fame. With players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mike Piazza on the ballot still none received the seventy-five percent of votes necessary to be idolized in Cooperstown.
This ballot makes some major history. Since 1961, there had been only two years that no player made the cut. In 1971, Yogi Berra fell eight percent short. And in ’96 Phil Niekro came the closest missing the mark by seven percent. Now we can add 2013 to the list. Just as in 1996 where big names like Niekro, Don Sutton, Tommy John, and Bobby Bonds did not gather enough votes there many notables that came up short this season.
Big-hitters like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Jeff Bagwell remain on the oustide looking in. And hurlers like Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Don Mattingly also must wait another year.
Just step back and take a look at those names. Which one of these things is not like the other? With regards to Bagwell and Mattingly, these players have been associated with the use of performance enhancing drugs and steroids. Are the voters of the BBWAA taking a strong stand against the Steroid Era? Do they feel these players would not have had the careers they had without steroids? Or do they just feel these players made a choice for HOF or a couple years of standout stats? Regardless of their reasoning, they have made quite a statement. There were four fewer votes than last year and five of the votes were blank ballots. To me, the writers are boycotting the Hall of Fame ballots. But doesn’t that hurt players like Bagwell, Mattingly, and Craig Biggio (who led all vote-getters with 68.2% of the vote)? Yes, it hurts them. They just lost another year of eligibility to prove a point to the steroid era. How many more years are deserving players going to suffer? I am not supporting the use of steroids of PEDs, but those aren’t the only candidates.
Another thing that puts the players at a disadvantage is the lofty percentage of votes it takes to make it in the Hall of Fame. Doesn’t seventy-five percent seem a little high? Majority vote is 50.1% and most laws only need a two-thirds (66.6%) vote to be passed. Speaking based on percentages it is more difficult to make it to Cooperstown than to get into the White House. President Obama only needed fifty-three percent of the vote to be elected into office. Setting it to a two-thirds vote seems logical and still makes the Hall of Fame quite an honor. Some may say that lowering the percentage would mean all of the players before that time who reached the mark should be grandfathered into the Hall. Or they may say that the seventy-five percent vote ensures the exclusivity of being on the ballot. Those are both great points but ultimately it is up to the writers to change the procedure, especially if they don’t plan on voting for anybody who used supplements to enhance their performance.
My gut feeling is that baseball is built on such a tradition that nothing will change and the writers will eventually realize they proved their point and they will gradually get past the steroid era. The right players will still be immortalized.
Who was snubbed this year? Will the steroid era players ever make the Hall of Fame? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.
Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the MTAF Podcast too. It’s on iTunes!
Hey baseball fans!
Matt Nadel of Baseball with Matt here with the last part of my Who Should Be In The Hall of Fame series for More Than A Fan. Don’t worry, though, because you could all still view my newest series on More Than A Fan, ML”what would”B, which I hope I can do for a very long time. So, without further ado, here are the people who began their careers in the ‘90s (and a couple of them began in late 1980s but I forgot them in the last post) and belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Enjoy:
Jeff Bagwell (1991-2005 Houston Astros)
Probably one of the only bright spots on Houston’s roster in the 1990s, Jeff was pretty darn good. A four-time All-Star, Bagpipes hit .297 lifetime, with 449 homers and 1,529 RBIs. He also won Rookie of the Year in ’91 and MVP in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He also got to play in a World Series, the first in Astros history, in 2005, Jeff’s last year in the bigs. They lost to Chicago in a sweep, but does that really affect the fact that Bagwell belongs in the Hall?
Albert Belle (1989-2000 Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles)
Although not the best with the media, in just a 12-year career, he had some awesome numbers; 381 homers and 1,239 RBIs. AMAZING!!!! He also won the A. L. pennant with Cleveland in 1995, but lost in the World Series to Atlanta. It didn’t really matter that the season was only 144 games; Belle hit 50 homers! Like I said before, he was not a peach of a guy with the media, but I still think he belongs in Cooperstown.
Edgar Martinez (1987-2004 Seattle Mariners)
Let me get something straight here: the guy after whom is named the award that goes to the best DH in baseball after every season is not in the Hall of Fame? That is messed up. Anyway, there’s a reason why the best DH in baseball gets awarded the Edgar Martinez Award. The reason is simple: he is the best DH ever. No question. He batted .312 lifetime, hit 309 career homers, and had 1,261 RBIs. He also went to five All-Star Games, but sadly never got to a World Series. I don’t know why he is not in the Hall of Fame; best DH ever and the BBWAA hasn’t noticed. Smooth move, BBWAA.
Bernie Williams (1991-2006 New York Yankees)
Thank god Bernie hit the walk-off shot in Game One of the 1996 ALCS against Baltimore after Derek Jeter hit a homer with the help of a 12-year old kid, or else we might be looking at only 23 Yankee Championships (since that win sparked the Yankees’ dynasty). In his great Yankee career, he went to five All-Star Games, won four World Series, and was just plain cool. His .297 career batting average ranks 15th on the all-time Yankee list. He also hit 287 homers and 1,257 RBIs. He won the batting title in 1998 with a .339 batting average, plus four Gold Gloves. To top it all off, Bernie is now a very famous musician. If he’s not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, at least put him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of his guitar playing.
Thank you for reading. Remember: although this is my last part of this series, you can always check back in a couple of days for ML”what would”B. Hope you liked the post!
Hey baseball fans!
Matt Nadel here and I’m back with another guest blog post on More Than A Fan. As some of you know, I have been telling you all who I think should be in the Hall of Fame from certain years. However, after further research, I have come up with four more ballplayers who should be in the Hall of Fame. Here they are:
Joe Torre (1960-1977 Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets)
Joe was a very good dual-position player, going to All-Star Games as a catcher and a third baseman, but he also played first during his career. He was known as a contact hitter, batting .297 lifetime with a total of 2,342 hits. The eight-time All-Star also won an MVP in 1971 with St. Louis, when he batted .363 with 230 hits. If he doesn’t go into the Hall as a player, then he should at be put into Cooperstown as a manager. I mean, he took the lowly Yankees of the early ‘90s and from 1996-2007, took them to 12 straight playoff appearances, six Fall Classics, and won them four World Series. I think that deserves the Hall of Fame.
Graig Nettles (1967-1988 New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos)
The San Diego native went to six All-Star Games in his 22-year career. In that career, he hit 390 homers, 1,314 RBIs, and 2,225 hits. He was also a dazzling third baseman, especially in the World Series, where in ’77 and ’78 with New York, he saved about 15 runs. That would explain why third base is “the hot corner”. Besides those two Fall Classics (which he won), he also helped the Padres get to baseball’s biggest stage in 1984, where they lost to the Tigers in five. One of his most heads-up plays of all-time, however, wasn’t on the field. In 1983 with the Yanks in a game against the Royals, he told Billy Martin (the manager of New York at the time) that George Brett was using too much pine tar on the bat, a substance that gives the bat more spring to it. So in the top of the ninth with the Yanks clinging to a 4-3 lead, Brett hits a homer to give Kansas City the lead. That’s when Billy wanted the bat measured. Nettles was right, and Brett was called out. However, the play was overturned and, a month later, the game was finished with the Royals winning 5-4. No matter how the game turned out, Graig still belongs in Cooperstown.
Ted Simmons (1968-1988 St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves)
Simmons, a contact hitting catcher, went to eight All-Star Games in his 21-year career, which is pretty impressive considering he was playing at the same time and in the same league as the great catcher Johnny Bench. Along with eight Mid-Summer Classics under his belt, he also batted .285 in his career with 2,472 hits. He also won one pennant in with St. Louis in 1968, but lost the Series to Detroit, and another one with Milwaukee in 1982, where his AL Brew Crew lost to his former team, the Cards, in the World Series. I think those stats belong in Cooperstown. I don’t know why it doesn’t to the people who vote players in, but it does to me.
Ron Guidry (1975-1988 New York Yankees)
Guidry came to the Yanks as a pitcher and became on of the greatest pitchers in Yankees history. With a 170-91 career record (a great career winning percentage), “Louisiana Lightning” went to four All-Star Games during his years in New York. In 1978, he had his best year ever, winning 25 games and losing 3 with a miniscule 1.74 ERA (which is the best winning percentage ever for a starter in one year). He of course won the Cy Young Award, the only one of his career. He won two World Series in ’77 and ’78 and went to another Fall Classic in 1981. To me, “Gator” belongs in the Hall, and I don’t know why the people who vote ballplayers into Cooperstown can’t see that.
Well, those are some of the baseball players who I think should be in the Hall who I have not blogged about yet for More Than A Fan. In about a week, I will be posting players who should be in the Hall of Fame and began their careers in the ‘90s. Check back in a week for that post. I hope you all liked this post. Thanks for reading!