By: Andrew “Fish” Fain
So today’s MLB Hall of Fame announcement was a lot like that famous Sergio Leone western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
First the “Good”, Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza both got elected into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. For Griffey, it was a record setting occasion in more ways than one.
Not only did he become the first ever first overall draft pick elected to the Hall, but he broke Tom Seaver’s record of percentage of votes by garnering 437 of the 440 votes (99.3%). I guess the only question people are wondering is, who are the three gibroni’s that didn’t put him on the ballot?
His election in his first year of eligibility was a foregone conclusion. Not only did he smash 630 bombs (6th all time), but he was a 13 time all-star, won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, and played the game with an enthusiasm that has rarely been seen. He also became part of the first ever father-son tandem to hit back-to-back home runs in a game. I only hope that the Hall has the balls to make his bust with his cap on backwards, almost a trademark of how Junior played the game.
Piazza’s selection, while not a foregone conclusion was also history making. He became the lowest drafted player (62nd Round), ever selected to the Hall. While there may have been whispers about PED usage, nothing was ever proved and he was not in any reports, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt. There has been no catcher in history with the offensive prowess that Piazza displayed, and while he was no Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate, he was much better than people give him credit for.
The only issue with Piazza’s selection is will he be enshrined as he should in a Dodger cap, or will he be wearing a Mets cap? While I know people will argue that his home run in the first game back after 9/11 was iconic, and he had some huge hits in the 2000 World Series, but it was in a Dodger uniform that he won rookie of the year. It was also while wearing Dodger Blue that he had the greatest offensive season for a catcher ever. In 1997 he hit an amazing .362 with 40 bombs and 124 driven in, and sadly lost the MVP award to Larry Walker (.366/49/130) who of course was aided by Coors Field, but I am not bitter.
The rest of the “Good” was Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines getting a major boost in votes, making it look like next year may be the year that these two finally get the honor they deserve and be enshrined.
The “Bad” included both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens gaining more support towards enshrinement. I realize that both of these guys had careers that were good enough to go into the Hall prior to the PED explosion of 1998, but the choices they made should exclude them from even getting close to enshrinement.
The “Bad” also included Jim Edmonds not even getting 5% of the votes and falling off the ballot in his first year. I am not suggesting that Edmonds is a Hall of Famer, but I know he is a damn site better than a cheating Sammy Sosa, who somehow remains on the ballot.
Finally, the “Ugly”, which starts with the fact that three morons did not vote for Griffey. There is no possible excuse for them to pass on him. I don’t want to hear the old excuse that nobody should get a unanimous vote, or that if Babe Ruth or Ted Williams weren’t 100%, nobody should be. There may be no player out there who is a better ambassador for the game of baseball than Junior.
The rest of the “Ugly” is the ugly lack of respect for both Billy Wagner and Edgar Martinez. It was Wagner’s first time on the ballot, and while Trevor Hoffman was able to garner over 67% of the vote on his first time on the ballot, Wagner only got about 10%.
While it is enough to keep him on the ballot, it is way too low for a pitcher of his caliber. I spoke to several players about Wagner, and was told to a man, that if given the choice of having to face Hoffman or Wagner with the game on the line, they would all say Hoffman. That’s not to say that Hoffman is not great and deserving too, but Wagner’s stuff was unhittable, and his almost 12 K’s/9 is the best in baseball.
My respect for Edgar Martinez has been well documented. There has been no better pure hitter in baseball since maybe Ted Williams. Edgar never shied away from the big moment, was as clutch as they come and was just a professional hitter, plain and simple. The fact that the voters punish him for being a DH is a joke, it would be like punishing a shortstop for not hitting a lot of home runs. As long as DH is a position on a team, the man for whom the award for the best DH every year is named, should be in the Hall of Fame, and it is pure ugliness that he missed again this year and still hasn’t managed to even get 45% of the vote.