Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Who's Getting the Votes?

Two weeks ago, for the first time since 1996, the writers did not vote a single eligible player into the baseball hall of fame. Contributor Kenny Celelli voices his concern over the voting process and who he thinks should get in the hall. 
Craig Biggio should have been a first-ballot hall-of-famer, writes
Kenny Celelli. 

About two weeks ago it was announced that there would be no new additions to the MLB Hall of Fame. This was the deepest class ever to date! With names like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mike Piazza, how does one of them not get in? Writers! The writers vote and they took things into their own hands deciding that because we are now getting into the clouded area of who may or may not have taken steroids they can not accurately decide who should be allowed in. To me Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell are the three who most deserved to get in. None of them have ever been connected or even linked to steroids. Biggio led all players receiving 68.7% of the vote, when players need 75% to get in. Early reactions to the announcement were a mixture of positive and negative, and I can understand that. I understand that yes there are people on the ballot who have been found to have used steroids and yes they are cheaters, however when players such as Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza who have never been implicated and there is no evidence of them ever using steroids are being punished, there is a problem. That problem is the writers who feel the need to take things into their own hands. The worst of all are the ones who chose to turn in a blank ballot.

I know there were a few writers who did turn in a blank ballot but there is only one whose name I know and that is ESPN writer Howard Bryant. Now it is both a privilege and a responsibility to be able to vote for the Hall of Fame so the fact that some writers chose to neglect that responsibility disgusts me. I would be honored if I got to choose the men who deserved to go into the Hall of Fame. Part of the reaction to this has been people demanding that a change be made to the voting process. I don’t know if a complete overhaul is needed but I would propose two slight changes: first, all the writers who are eligible to vote must have covered baseball on a fulltime basis within the last five years. The second change would be every eligible voter would have to turn in a used ballot, meaning they would be required to vote for a minimum of five players. Currently there are voters who have not covered baseball or any sport for that matter in years, why should they have the opportunity to vote still? Also, the writers currently can vote for a maximum of ten players per ballot and I certainly can understand not voting for the maximum but when it is your responsibility to vote you need to vote for someone.

If I had the honor of voting for the Hall of Fame there was a full ten players who would have had my vote:
Craig Biggio – 3000 hits, durable player who was hit by pitch most times in a career. Often hear Dustin Pedroia get called scrappy, Biggio was the original scrappy
Jack Morris – Numbers do not suggest he was a HOF’er but his importance to the Tigers during the 80s cannot be underestimated. Threw 10+ complete games in a season 11 times with two more seasons of 9 complete games

Jeff Bagwell – On base over 40% for his career, possibly the single most important player in Astros history

Roger Clemens* and Barry Bonds* – Will have asterisks next to their names in my book because of their steroid abuse but there is no denying the numbers they put up before the steroids were HOF worthy.
Lee Smith – The original great closer, held record until Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera came along.
Fred McGriff – The Crime Dog fell seven homeruns short of 500 but never someone who is going to be considered a legend but he was a leader on several playoff teams
Edgar Martinez – I don’t care that he was just a “DH” because the man was a machine. 7 all-star appearances, 5 silver sluggers, more walks then strikeouts and his 1995 season was ridiculous, 52 doubles, .356 average, and .479 on base %. Got on baseball in almost half of his at bats, and he was above 45% the next two seasons as well.
The writers not voting in Mike Piazza was the biggest shock
of all, says Kenny Celelli. 
Larry Walker – Was at one time the most feared hitter in baseball, had all five tools and it showed. 1 MVP, 7 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers, and a career line of .313/.400/.565. Injuries derailed his career at the end otherwise he would have been a “lock” for the HOF
Mike Piazza – The guy I was most surprised did not get in. Never implicated or accused of steroid abuse but still put up good numbers even though those around him were using. The numbers do not look spectacular but when you consider how important he was to the teams he played on he definitely is HOF worthy and should eventually get in.

That is my list of my votes, not necessarily who I think will eventually become a HOF’er. Next year’s class of players is even more stacked with names such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez and even more guys coming to the forefront for the first time. As each year passes the list will get rich and richer with great talents but also more and more of the steroid abusers will begin to appear. Here’s hoping that the writers make the right choices.

--Kenny Celelli

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