WHY THE B.B.W.A AND THE H.O.F NEED TO CHANGE!!
Today the Baseball Writers of America voted on the Hall of Fame induction class of 2013. The only problem was the writers failed to agree on a single player for only the third time since 1971. I have only been alive for two of these moments (the last was in 1996), and both times I felt betrayed as a fan of the greatest game on Earth. Phil Neikro was the only player voted in 97’ though he was eligible in the year prior. What exactly changed so much that in one year he can go from snubbed to over 80% of the vote? This year was a bit different because the poster boys of the “steroid era” were eligible for the first time. This conflicted the views of every voter and deservingly so. Does the only failed test such as Rafael Palmeiro’s warrant just cause? Or maybe the fact that Mark McGwire admitted to using P.E.D’s while playing, (he’s the only one the ballot to do so). Or maybe it’s the fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens went to court for perjury over their alleged use justifies your opinion. Or maybe you do not like Jeff Bagwell just because he “looked the part”. No one way of thinking is necessarily right or wrong and that is where I have a problem. There is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change.
So what about Edgar Martinez? He is considered but most to be the best DH of all time yet he hasn’t come close to receiving enough votes to be enshrined. Does he have the numbers that match most in Coopers Town, no. Did he dominate pitching for a decade, yes. Now this would usually be an open and shut case except next year Frank Thomas will be on the ballot and within the next decade both Jim Thome and David Ortiz will also be hoping for a writer to put a check mark next to their name. All of these players spent minimal time in the field and the majority of their careers as a designated hitter. So the case for Martinez intrigues me from a precedent stand point. What if the later is elected and not Martinez? Are we saying 40 years after the DH was introduced we except the position but not for the man who basically invented it? What’s more important MVP’s (Thomas), or World Series rings (Ortiz)? More importantly if no DH is elected into the Hall then what is the point of the position in the first place? Seems to me if you are the best of all time at your position then you should be recognized for it. Once again there is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change.
The newest craze that didn’t take a strong foot hold till a few years ago is Sabermetrics. SABER to me is the epitome of a catch 22. Baseball is a game of numbers and Bill James helped influence fans, journalist, and even personal in every front office to an entirely new way of thinking and influencing the game. Sabermetrics has given us ground breaking stats such as OPS (on base plus slugging percentage), WHIP (walks+hits per innings pitched), and WAR (wins above replacement). Sabermatrics is the reason why my beloved Tampa Bay Rays are even relevant today after years of welcoming what ever team would join them in the cellar of the MLB standings. Yet at the same time it has taken away why we watch the game in the first place and that is players giving their all to win the game regardless of what the box score says. What ever happened to playing the game the win? What ever happened to playing the game the right way? How can a writer not vote Bonds for cheating but also not vote Fred McGriff for being clean but only batting .284 for his career and also being seven home runs short of 500? Or that Craig Biggio “only” had 3060 hits and nothing else? Yet both McGriff and Biggio did it the right way. This is the situation that bugs me the most and it brings me to Jack Morris. No he didn’t have the Cy Young’s that usually is the standard Yes his career ERA is 3.90 and he only had 254 wins but what about the stats that didn’t make the box score. The fact he had more wins then any other pitchers in the 1980’s. Or the fact he had more opening day starts then his peers? Are we not the people that always say “well he can’t win the big one”? Well Morris won three rings, with three different teams, and stated game one in all cases. Why can we not compliment those players who played for the scoreboard, not the record books? Ask any batter from his era and they will say that when they saw Jack Morris warming up before the game they knew they were in for a tough afternoon. As I mentioned earlier there is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change.
The ultimate shame is that the Vetrans Comitee is left to clean up the mess. The Vets have voted in over 60% (loose fact) of the members now enshrined which says to me that their soul purpose is to cover the debacle the association makes. Case in point Ron Santo (posthumously). Now not all writers are guilty of this tragedy but the problem is many, if not most, all have certain prejudices and home town bias that unfortunately should not be a factor but are. Remember this is the same organization that did not give Ted Williams the MVP in 1953 because, to be frank, he was a jerk.
There is no point to this rant except for me to get this frustration that has building for years of my chest. The fan in me though is more distraught then the cynic. What’s more important, the numbers or the integrity of the game? The know-it-all journalist or the die hard fan? The image becomes more skewed with each passing year and with each ballot cast. Now more then ever we need a set of rules or guidelines not just to help the ones deciding the fates of a fortunate few but to help those whose passion makes it all possible. Either way there is no criteria or consistency in the voting process and things need to change