Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas on their election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio came up only two votes out of 571 votes shy of joining them. It appears he'll get in soon enough.
Instead of the media shining the spotlight on the three worthy inductees, the spotlight has shifted to the Hall of Fame voting process. And it disgusts me.
Bottom line: the writers got it right. Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas are all worthy. I will never have a problem with a voting process excluding any players from enshrinement. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be exclusive, not inclusive. The only time I will have a problem with the voting process is if a player gets in who doesn't belong.
So should I be bothered by the fact that Biggio came up two votes shy of getting in, yet some writer wasted a vote on Armando Benitez, Jacque Jones, or Kenny Rogers (the pitcher, not the country singer... although, come to think of it, I am not sure)? Meh, whatever. I'm sure there are an incompetent few who write in a vote for their dog for President of the United States, but they are still allowed to vote in the next general election.
I've seen the argument that if writers weren't restricted to voting for only ten players on their ballot, that Biggio would have gotten in. The movement to eliminate the Rule of Ten, maybe even allow unlimited selections, has been gaining steam. Pa-lease! I'd go the other way and limit the ballots to five selections. The reason a Benitez gets a vote is because writers do get ten picks. They get bored when they get around to their eighth or ninth selection. Media people have short attention spans. Allow them to only choose five and then make them explain choosing Benitez as one of their five. I doubt there are more than five great players on any ballot.
The Boston Herald's Mike Silverman, for one, would have voted for Biggio if he would have been allowed to vote for more than ten players. Silverman was regarded as having one of the best ballots of any submitted. Silverman's logic for not voting for Biggio was this:
Here’s an example of my warped logic: Because Biggio received the most support — 68.2 percent — of any candidate last year, I figured he can live without my one vote this year.
Wrong! His logic should have been that Biggio was a borderline Hall of Famer while Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had no chance of getting in (for the foreseeable future, at least). Biggio needed his vote, and every other vote. So despite having Bonds and Clemens at the top of his list, Silverman should have omitted one of them and included Biggio. Better yet, if Silverman doesn't think Biggio makes his top ten, maybe Biggio isn't a Hall of Famer.
Here are some of my other observations from the last week:
Sixteen voters did not vote for Greg Maddux.
It was inevitable. The day before the inductees were announced, we found out about one MLB.com writer who didn't vote for Maddux. I will not acknowledge that writer's name in this column because that is what he wants. The only name on his ballot was Jack Morris. That's it. His reasoning is that he will never vote for anybody from the steroid era. I guess that means he won't be voting for Pedro Martinez or Mariano Rivera, either. Bottom line-- anyone who did not vote for Maddux is seeking attention. There is no other explanation for it.
That whole Deadspin thing
Yet another attention seeking move. It came as little surprise to me when Deadspin disclosed the writer who "sold" them his/her ballot. Again, I will not disclose the name here, but you already know who it is (because that was the point).
The bottom line here is that the Deadspin ballot, which was voted on by the fans, was very solid. It does raise the question in my head, "Why don't the fans have a say in Hall of Fame voting?" There should be some division of voting which gives the fans, say, 20% of the vote. The writers can have 30%. Current and former players can have 30%. Current Hall of Famers can have 20%. I need to check my math-- that's 100%, right? Somebody smarter than me can work out the numbers.
Why isn't Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame?
Piazza, along with Jeff Bagwell, are the two best examples of the slippery slope of suspecting everyone during the steroid era. Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher of all-time. He has never flunked a drug test. What's the hold up?
Let's take out the words "integrity," "sportsmanship," and "character" out of the election rules
Let's do it, officially. Many voters are already doing it. Rule number five would then read: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." Period. Then we can put in "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Pete Rose (the all-time hits leader), Barry Bonds (the all-time home run leader), and Roger Clemens (the most dominating pitcher of my lifetime). Babe Ruth was a womanizer and a drunk (during Prohibition even.... gasp!). Ty Cobb was one of the most vile human beings ever. They are in. Who are we to judge? Last time I checked, O.J. Simpson and Lawrence Taylor are still in the NFL Hall of Fame. Maybe killing people and doing cocaine aren't as bad as doing steroids or betting on games.
Bob Costas should be the next commissioner of baseball
Watching him on the MLB Network this week just reminded me of how much he loves the game of baseball. He is a true baseball historian and would serve as a perfect guardian of the gate.
Too bad Smoltz stuck around one more year
Remember that brief stint with the Red Sox for John Smoltz in 2009? Yeah, not many do. Smoltz should have hung it up after the 2008 season. If he did, he'd probably be entering the Hall of Fame this year with his buddies Maddux and Glavine. Instead, Smoltz was relegated to sitting in a TV studio yucking it up with his former teammates. Not only that, but his former manager, Bobby Cox, is being inducted, too.
I feel bad for Jack Morris
Hey, he would have had my vote. Hard to think of the 1980's and early 90's without seeing Morris' imprint everywhere. But, again, I think the Hall of Fame should be reserved for the best of the best. If Morris couldn't get voters to agree that he was great after fifteen years, maybe I am (gasp!) wrong. I refuse to admit I am wrong about Piazza, however.
Piazza, obviously, tops my list with only 62.2% of the vote. He should have been in the 85-90% range in his first year on the ballot. I saw/heard a lot of buzz this week for Alan Trammell, and while I don't agree that he is a Hall of Famer, 20.8% seems very low. I could see myself supporting Jeff Kent somewhere down the line, so I was shocked when I saw only 15.2% for him.
Mariano Rivera won't be get in unanimously
I think this week made it obvious to me that there are too many idiots out there voting. Maddux belonged to go in, unanimously. Rivera should have been raised to the heavens after he threw his last pitch. Yet some one will make an excuse to not vote for him. There will be that one who thinks that no closers belong in the Hall. Or that one who just won't vote for anyone in the steroid era. Or that one who just doesn't like the Yankees.
Make all ballots public
Attach a name and face to every ballot. Voting for the Hall of Fame is a privilege, not a right. Make everyone accountable. You want to be an idiot, face the backlash.