I don’t get a Hall of Fame vote. I wish I did. Voting for the Hall of Fame used to be easy. If the person had the stats, regardless of the kind of person they were, they got in. That’s why you see guys like Ty Cobb (a terrible racist and anti-Semite) Babe Ruth (a drunk) Mickey Mantle (another drunk) and Robin Roberts (born a crotchety old man) immortalized with plaques. It’s not like that anymore.
With the advent of the internet and social media, it is now possible to know everything about your favorite athlete. Want to know Albert Pujols’ hat size? It’s 7 1/4th. Want to know what kind of bat Joey Votto uses? It’s maple. Yes, these are crazy examples but it goes to show that nothing is a secret anymore. If someone wanted to know that information about Joe DiMaggio, they would have had to ask him, or bribe a batboy. It’s much easier now.
So, when it comes to the Hall of Fame, character matters more. It shouldn’t. This isn’t the hall of fame of good guys. Rickey Henderson spoke in third person. No ‘Good Guy’ ever spoke in third person, yet Rickey is one of the few who got in on the first try. And rightfully so. He was one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Without further ado, I present to you my Hall of Fame Ballot for 2013. When the results are announced in a few hours, we will see if the BBWAA agrees with me.
Jack Morris- While his numbers wouldn’t stand out today, he was the dominant pitcher of his era. Just as you cannot compare different players across different eras, you have to consider the era when measuring the stats. For his era, Jack Morris’ 254 wins and 3.90 era are Hall of Fame worthy.
Jeff Bagwell- Bagwell falls into the same category as McGriff below. All of the top sluggers in their era were steroid users, except for a chosen few. Are Bagwell’s numbers worthy? I think so. 449 Home Runs and a just under .300 batting average are pretty good. Considering the era he played in, when numbers were inflated for so many that relatively ‘normal’ greats like Bagwell got over looked, I think Jeff should get the call.
Lee Smith- Baseball writers are notoriously old school, so when it comes to relief pitchers, many choose to pass. Are 71 wins enough to get a pitcher into the hall? Definitely not for a starter. Are 71 wins combined with a just over 3.00 era, almost 500 saves and over 1200 K’s worthy? I’d say so. Lee Smith will likely determine how voters look at Trevor Hoffman in a few years.
Edgar Martinez- Edgar lives with the stigma of being a full time DH. But if you look at the numbers it is hard to say no. A .312 average and over 1,200 RBI should be enough to carry Edgar to the hall.
Larry Walker- Initially, I was going to pass on Larry Walker, but then I remembered seeing him play. Larry played like a guy who knew that thousands were watching and he gave them a good show. Not only that, but he was the life force of the Rockies and the Cardinals during his day. And his numbers are great. A .313 average and over 1,300 RBI.
Fred McGriff- Like Bagwell, McGriff is usually thought to be guilty by association. His numbers were in line with many others from his era (think Palmeiro), but the Crime Dog never once failed a test or was even fingered by a known steroid user. Plus, he finished with 493 homers and before the steroid guys started getting votes, 500 homers came with a guaranteed plaque. Should McGriff really miss out because of seven homers?
Curt Schilling- Schilling’s numbers are great, but they don’t tell the whole story. What everyone remembers about Schilling is his commitment to pitching in the post season. If he misses out on the Hall, he will be one of the most decorated pitcher to never make it. Who can forget Randy Johnson (who should be a first ballot guy in a couple years) and Curt Schilling carrying the young Diamondbacks of 2001 over the much better on paper New York Yankees? Yes, Luis Gonzalez was the face of that team, but it was Johnson and Schilling who won that trophy and got the split MVP to show for it. And then Schilling went and did it again with Pedro Martinez in Boston. For what he did when the regular season was over, I think Curt Schilling should be a Hall of Famer.
Craig Biggio- This one is a no brainer. How could you not vote for the scrappy Biggio? Biggio is the guy you show your kids to teach them to play the game the right way. He never took a play off or failed to play 100%. If Biggio had played in the early days of Baseball he would be a lock. In fact, his 1,800 runs scored are almost 400 more than the second place person on this years ballot. Biggio should get in on his first try.
Mike Piazza- One of the greatest to ever play the position, Piazza also gets the dreaded ‘guilty by association’ label. Yes, he was suspiciously ripped and yes he was once traded twice in a twelve-day span, but his numbers are eye popping and he was never fingered as a steroid user. If there was any proof that Piazza took steroids he wouldn’t get my vote. But there isn’t any proof and his numbers are more than worthy.
Kenny Lofton- Growing up, I idolized Kenny Lofton. Like Biggio, he played the game the right way. He hustled every play and if he saw a fielder or a pitcher napping he took advantage. Who can forget the images of Kenny Lofton diving into fences to rob a hitter of a sure-fire double. His numbers are good, not great, but, with over 1,500 runs scored and over 600 stolen bases, I would put Lofton amongst the top 20 or so to ever play centerfield.
And, special mention, Pete Rose- When will this ‘example’ end? Pete is a terrible person, I think we can all acknowledge this. His new reality show just proves that further. But, numbers wise, there are very few better. Pete was a ball player that others looked up to and he made a mistake. But, Bud Selig, he has served his time. I don’t actually think this one is going to happen I am just hoping. Personally, I think it will take Pete passing away before we will see him in the Hall. But here’s hoping.
You will notice that none of the steroid guys got my vote. They shouldn’t. I loved Slammin’ Sammy Sosa when I was little but the guy was a cheat who conveniently forgot how to speak English when he went before the special panel in Washington. This isn’t about him, or Bonds, or McGwire, or any of them as people, but them as ballplayers. They cheated. Plain and simple. It’s one thing to pitch a game on LSD like Doc Ellis, but to use a drug that makes you better than everyone else, that’s just not fair.
A couple of other guys just missed getting my vote. David Wells was a fantastic pitcher, but I think he falls just short. Sandy Alomar was a great catcher, but, one day, I believe he will get in as a manager. He just wasn’t quite as good as his brother.
By the way, if you have never been to the Hall of Fame, go. It is truly breathtaking.
Questions, comments or story suggestion for J.? He can be reached at [email protected]