Playing Catch: Hall of Fame Reaction

Source: Andrew Burton/Getty Images North America
Source: Andrew Burton/Getty Images North America

By Isaac Marks and Casey Boguslaw 

In a new weekly column, Contributors Isaac Marks and Casey Boguslaw play catch with a topic around baseball. This week, they look at the Hall of Fame.

Isaac Marks: The votes are in and there’s two new Hall-of-Famers; Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3 percent of the votes) and Mike Piazza (83%). The three closest to making the cut were Jeff Bagwell (71.6), Tim Raines (69.8%) and Trevor Hoffman (67.3%). Were there any surprises here? Anything that jumps off the page?

Casey Boguslaw: The obvious not-such-a-surprise is that three people didn’t vote for Griffey. Even if this was the highest percentage ever (also ridiculous), those three should be ridiculed.

I guess there weren’t really any surprises at all, which is sad, because I think we were all hoping for some. I have to mention that I am sad that Raines didn’t make it. He was one of my favorites growing up, as a White Sox fan, and he definitely deserves to be in.

Anything specifically bother you this time around?

IM: Yeah, I’m honestly surprised Bagwell didn’t make it. A career slash line of .297/.408/.540 is fantastic and if he would have played a few more seasons he’d be in the 500-Club (finished at 449). He was one of those players I hated because of the damage he did whenever the Rockies played him. Raines is surprising as well and presumably losing votes to guys like Jason Kendall and Garret Anderson is a cruel joke.

The tradition of not voting for someone their first year on a ballot is dumb and archaic and should be dropped. Griffey was a once-in-a-lifetime talent and dominated the game for so long that if anyone should be in on the first round, it’s him.

Also, David Eckstein received two votes. Thoughts?

CB: The whole process is so stupid. I wish they tore the whole thing down and started over. If you’re not voting someone like Griffey, or Maddux, you should lose your vote. Or the process is broken.

I love Bagwell, mostly due to his parallel career to my favorite player of all time, Frank Thomas. Their careers are so similar and Frank’s in, so I think Bagwell deserves to be too.

The Eckstein thing is just funny, as are three votes for Ryan Sweeney. Did people lose a bet or was that a joke?

If the majority of the voters are writers, why isn’t the process to have them write why they made their votes? Wouldn’t that ultimately help the process?

IM: It has to be a joke. How could you possibly think that David Eckstein is a Hall-of-Famer?! Unbelievable.

It would help the voting writers hash out their thoughts a little more but just writing why wouldn’t change who they voted for. If they voted at a convention or something and did a live vote, they could make arguments for the guys they’re high on. Otherwise it’s like shouting underwater; who is going to hear them?

CB: At least it would prevent them from hiding this stuff. However, we all know why Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens didn’t receive enough votes but if the ONLY reason is alleged cheating, why do the writers have to make that decision? If baseball, or the Hall itself banned said player (see Pete Rose), then sure, they can’t be voted for. But how can one see Bonds on the ballot and not vote him in? If he’s eligible, you can’t say he wouldn’t qualify to be in.

IM: Let’s be real; alleged cheating IS the only reason why Bonds and Clemens aren’t in the Hall. Based on what they both did on the baseball field, they’re up there with Griffey. It’s the storylines that hold them back, probably why over 50 percent of voters still won’t put them on their ballots; they’re a part of one of the biggest stories in baseball history. Would you want your name associated with one of the last few holdouts against the “Steroid Era”?

For next year, big names like Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Wakefield will enter the mix. Okay, Wake isn’t a big name but knucklers are always fun.  J.D. Drew, Magglio Ordonez, Mike Cameron, Edgar Renteria, Jason Varitek and Derrek Lee are also eligible. Any names stand out?

CB: I like how you worded that. These guys keep picking up votes, so are people slowly changing their minds or are new voters replacing the old curmudgeons? Over 100 voters were dropped, right? Could be interesting if they keep picking up votes and then like you said, the majority becomes people who are ok with the “cheaters” making it in.

As much as those names mean to me, as they were the guys I tried to be like while I was playing ball, it’s a particularly weak class. Vlad is the favorite. Manny is the wildcard but he has some weird rumors tied to him. What was it, women pregnancy pills?

They are already saying they expect next year to be a “clean-up” year, where some of these guys who got close will make it next year. It just shows another flaw in the system. Are players really as honored when they make it in that fashion?

IM: Yeah they dropped a bunch of writers who haven’t covered the game in the last 10 years, which is still a pretty liberal benchmark. They’re calling it The Purge which is hilarious. I think it’s the old ways being weeded out as the BWAA adjusts to modern baseball, especially with Bonds. He was on track to be a Hall-of-Fame talent before he ballooned into a freakishly large man, winning three MVP’s before he was 30.

Look at it this way; if the status quo holds, 40 years from now people will ask, “who has hit the most home runs in MLB history?” and we’ll say Barry. the next question will be “Why isn’t he a Hall-of-Famer?”. How ridiculous will you feel explaining this to a young baseball fan?

Yeah, something like that. Manny has the numbers of a Hall-of-Famer, but the two drug suspensions and the “Manny being Manny” antics might not sit well with some. Personally I loved it, but it’s not my call. Vlad is a lock and I think Pudge is up there too.

It’s so hard to get into the Hall. It’s stupidly hard. I don’t think it matters to the players as long as they’re in.

One last thing; BWAA reduced the years on the ballot from 15 to 10 in 2014. We’re two ballots in, do you see a difference?

CB: It’s noticeable because we just had the last year of Mark McGwire being on the ballot, and that’s ridiculous. The guy (along with Sammy, Griffey, Cal and others) saved baseball when it has been all but lost.

But something you just said is the key and lasting point from this conversation. When I tell my daughter about baseball, I won’t even bring up the Hall of Fame. Why bother? It’s an inaccurate account of the history of baseball. I will tell her when I grew up I watched Barry Bonds, who was the best hitter I’ve ever seen. I will tell her about the homerun race of 1998. I will tell her about “The Rocket” and how he was as imposing as any other pitcher I’ve ever seen. That’s what matters. Who cares if a bunch of writers believe they don’t belong in the history books, we can make our own.

IM: It’s just dumb to see guys who thought they’d have a few more chances see them get taken away. I would have been fine with it if the 10-year ballot limit was grandfathered it, but the fact that it was applied to guys who were already on the ballot is not-so-subtle subterfuge for players coming out of the Steroid Era.

You hit it on the head, Casey. Sure, the Hall of Fame is a cool achievement but at this point, it’s no longer an honorary shrine to the best of baseball; it’s a pseudo-judicial body that’s taken it upon itself to decide who is worthy, not who has earned it.

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