For the first time since 1996, and only the eighth time ever, the Baseball Writers Association of America voted nobody into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio, owner of 3,060 career hits, came closest to meeting the 75% threshold, falling just short with 68.2%.
You'd have to scroll down the list quite a ways to find the all-time home run leader and the pitcher who won a record seven Cy Young Awards. Barry Bonds appeared on 36.2% of the 569 ballots submitted while Roger Clemens did slightly better at 37.6%.
This is an embarrassment on so many different levels. I would have voted Bonds, Clemens, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, and Jack Morris in. I wrote earlier this week that baseball can not just pretend the last two decades didn't happen.
I am reminded of a scene in "Fatal Attraction" in which Glenn Close confronts a married Michael Douglas after he tries to end their torrid extra-marital affair and says to him, "I'm not going to be ignored, Dan."
Baseball exploited the accomplishments of Clemens, Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa during their playing careers. Remember, baseball was in trouble following the strike which cancelled the World Series in 1994. It may have been Don Mattingly's best and final chance to win a World Series which may have cemented a spot for him in the Hall of Fame. Baseball deprived him of that opportunity.
The home run chase in 1998 between McGwire and Sosa sucked fans back in. Fans were glued to their TVs in September of that year. ESPN would cut in to show every at-bat of McGwire and Sosa. In 1999, fans went crazy when McGwire launched 13 mammoth homers in the first round of the All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Fenway.
Do you really think any reasonable person didn't start questioning why all of a sudden players were launching 60-plus home runs per season when it hadn't been done in close to forty years, and only twice prior to that?
Any one can go to baseball-reference.com and see the name Barry Bonds atop the all-time home run list. Go to the all-time strikeouts list for pitchers and there's this name Roger Clemens in third place with 4672. That same name appears ninth on the list of all-time wins by a pitcher, only one behind the only pitcher (Greg Maddux) on the list who has pitched in the last fifty years.
Who can forget the excitement of Yankees' broadcaster Suzyn Waldman when Roger Clemens made a late season announcement that he would be coming out of retirement to join the Yankees down the stretch run? It was great drama.
And now that their playing careers are over, baseball writers want to "ignore" their accomplishments. No, no, no. They cannot have it both ways. Either all those records get stricken from the record books, or they belong in the Hall of Fame. It's that simple.
How can you not have the all-time home run leader, the all-time hits leader, and one of the best pitchers of the modern era not in the Hall of Fame?
How does a parent explain to their child visiting Cooperstown how these players were good enough to be on these lists of all-time greats, yet not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame?
And, yes, I believe Pete Rose as well as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (.356 career avg.) belong in the Hall. Am I supposed to believe that Babe Ruth never bet on himself or his team? I've read too many biographies on Ruth to believe otherwise. Yet Rose is being punished for it.
All I care about is what happens between the lines on the baseball field. I am not one to judge a person's character. If baseball allows these players to stand on the baseball diamond, that's their problem.
If character was such an issue, there is no way Ty Cobb belongs in. He may have been one of the most vile human beings to ever step foot on a baseball field. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Should we not enshrine anyone who sipped a drop of alcohol during prohibition? Babe Ruth, among many others, would be out. Should we not enshrine anyone who has ever gambled or set foot in a casino? Should we not enshrine anyone who has ever smoked a joint? Should we not enshrine anyone who has ever been arrested?
If the Hall of Fame were only comprised of saints, then Dale Murphy should probably be the only member.