There were plenty of players that compare favorably to players already in the Hall of Fame this year, but they won’t be joining their peers as the BBWAA has made a mockery of the Hall of Fame voting process by refusing to vote in a single player.
Barry Bonds has the most homers in baseball, Roger Clemens if one of the five best pitchers anybody alive has ever seen, and Mike Piazza just about the best hitting catcher in history. Yet none of them were elected to the Hall of Fame, a museum (that’s losing money by the way) that is supposed to celebrate the best in the game. However the most recent message seems to be that if a player played in the 21st century than he need not apply.
Craig Biggio, who somehow doesn’t get the same scrutiny his teammate Jeff Bagwell gets, who is probably a better player, was the closest with 68.2 percent of the vote. Jack Morris, who was probably worse than at least eight other players on the ballot, came in second with 67.7 percent of the vote. Bagwell (59.6 percent), Piazza (57.8 percent), and Tim Raines (52.2 percent) rounded out the rest of the top five. Players needed 75 percent to get elected.
Quality players like Clemens (37.6 percent), Bonds (36.2 percent), and McGwire (16.8 percent) didn’t even come close because of steroid speculation (in McGwire’s case he at least admitted it, but Bonds and Clemens don’t have a shred of legal evidence).
Other players like Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, and Alan Trammell didn’t even come close because the standards today are so high that they were denied despite having a better resume than dozens of players already in the Hall of Fame.
The reason for this is that writers feel burned by the steroid era. They couldn’t get anybody to talk on the record about it at the time, or were too lazy to try, and they feel duped now. So they are doing something unethical in journalism, they are making themselves the story by keeping out qualified players as some form of retribution.
There is also the argument that these guys cheated. However, that is ignore every other type of cheating including use of amphetamines going back to at least the 50’s. It also ignores the fact that steroids have been around for nearly 100 years already and there were an “alarming” number of players in baseball on steroids as far back as 1973. This is nothing new, but punishing players for it is.
So the Hall of Fame, which has lost money each of the past 10 years, will only see umpire Hank O’Day, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, and Deacon White (who retired in 1890) elected this year. That’s probably going to set a record for the least attended Hall of Fame weekend in their history.
And if something isn’t done to fix the voting process it is only going to get worse from here on out. Good players who in the past might not have been voted in right away, but would have remained on the ballot for 15 years are now getting pushed off immediately. Other players who should be voted in are languishing on the ballot.
With names like Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Martinez, and Trammell (I won’t even include Clemens and Bonds at this time) not getting in and other deserving candidates joining them on the ballot next year it’s going to be hard for reasonable voters to vote for all of them. That means it’ll be even harder in the future than it is now and it’s pretty hard to get voted in now considering nobody at all was voted in this year.
How to fix this isn’t exactly easy, but there are some ways they could start. For one thing, editors for small dailies that don’t even cover baseball anymore shouldn’t get a vote. Writers that haven’t covered baseball in five years should not be allowed to vote. Increasing the ballot from 10 votes to 15 would also help as well. Those who refuse to vote for a single player on their ballot for back-to-back years should also lose their vote.
Those are steps that I’d like to be taken to fix this and fix it they must. This is a sad day for baseball and we don’t need to repeat it.