January 10, 2007

Cooperstown Joke

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

Baseball’s Hall of Fame voting, the worst process since the one that put Bush in power.

This year two men who are overwhelmingly qualified for Hall of Fame status didn’t receive the entire 100% of votes. While Associated Press writers who have reached a status deeming them “worthy” of voting for inclusion to Cooperstown, those who didn’t pencil in Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripkin Jr. should lose their right.

One writer, Paul Ladewski of the Daily Southtown, turned in a blank ballot. His claim was that no one from baseball’s “steroids era” should be allowed in the hall. So players in baseball from roughly 1993-2004 will now have no chance to be inducted unanimously, even though a player like Ripkin, who played in 2632 straight games to set a seemingly unbreakable iron-man record, clearly deserves the honor.

The only thing that Tony Gwynn ever did was capture eight batting titles, five gold gloves and played in 16 all-star games. I would like to know how a man on steroids can have a career high of 17 home runs.

I could understand how a voter could leave Mark McGwire off their ballot considering the turmoil he’s surrounded in. But 23.5% of voters looked past his character issues (namely his ties to the steroid scandal) towards his numbers and the sheer dominance he had on the game during his chase for the single season home run record. McGwire is ranked seventh in career home runs and is only one of 20 players to have hit 500 long balls. Apparently, no one remembers how Big Mac started getting people to care about baseball again after the disastrous strike.

Shouldn’t Cooperstown be about recognizing the best players to ever play? Why should a player who participated during a certain time period be penalized because of it? And if most players were (allegedly) on steroids and other performance enhancers at this time, then weren’t McGwire’s statistics comparable to his peers? Was he still not one of the best in his era?

Hopefully one day, a better system will be put in place to vote for who is worthy of hall contention. Hopefully one day, McGwire will be enshrined in Cooperstown. Maybe one day the controversy with Big Red will be which team’s hat he will wear on his plaque.

The sad thing is, this isn’t even the biggest disappointment related to the Baseball Hall of Fame; Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader, may never be enshrined. But that’s for another time.


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