2011 Baseball Hall of Fame: What Were They Thinking??
Bagwell should be a first ballot Hall of Famer
Blyleven - Yes!!, Alomar - Yeah, I guess...
The debate we all love to have about who should go into the baseball Hall of Fame is getting very dicey. I've had this debate with many friends over the years. Everybody who loves baseball has a view - some make sense, others, not so much. But still, it's a great deal of fun to argue about who is deserving.
But now it gets super tricky. First, let's discuss who DID get in.
Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar
Blyleven has been deserving since his eligibility began. He has, pardon the expression - stooopid stats. I mean really off-the wall stuff. This has been a no-brainer for years and I don't think anyone can give me a good excuse about this - he got voted in on his 14th year on the ballot - what's changed since the day he retired??? Seriously, this guy has grerat numbers and accomplished it on a great number of very mediocre/bad teams. His 280+ wins alone should probably have been enough but he's in the top five of the career strikeouts list as well.
Roberto Alomar belongs in. I don't like him much, but he was the premier second baseman in baseball and has great offensive stats as well. Do I care for the spitting incident with John Hirschbeck. Not really. As a Mets fan, I personally wasn't thrilled with the way he just quit playing near the end of his career. Nonetheless, he's got the stats and was, in his prime, the best fielding second baseman as well. He deserves it.
Now let's discuss who diidn't get in..
Jeff Bagwell and everyone who tested positive during the Steroid era
What's going on here? An extraordinary double-standard is what's going on here. When these guys were playing, they were the at the top of the game. Even when it became clear that something was wrong, we (as fans), and the writers (who double as Hall voters) kept applauding and watching and paying. For those players who tested positive, they will forever have a stigma attached to their name for using steroids or HGH. Should this keep them out of the Hall of Fame?? I'm not so sure.
I've never used steroids, but I have played baseball my entire life. I know that if I got much stronger, I STILL wouldn't have the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball very well and I, as well as 99% of baseball players don't have the proper swing mechanics for hitting home runs. Sorry all of you weekend warriors, you just don't. We are trained in little league to hit line drives not home runs. That type of swing develops once you know you can hit them consistently. The first thing to do is make contact. It SOUNDS easy but hitting a baseball is very difficult. Hitting home runs is considered the toughest thing to do in sports. Strength is not the only factor.
So the guys who hit a lot of home runs still had to actually go out and perform right?? Mark McGwire didn't get to 583 home runs by scaring the ball over the wall - he still had to hit the thing - and it's not like he couldn't hit home runs before we think he went on steroids. He did hit 49 as a skinny rookie in 1987 remember. Rafael Palmeiro has over 3000 Hits and 500 Home Runs and won't be going in anytime soon but did anyone suspect Palmeiro of juicing? Before he was seen pointing his finger at Congressmen, I wasn't aware that anyone suspected him. Even Barry Bonds, who isn't eligible yet, was the best player in baseball (all apologies to Ken Griffey Jr) for years, before his head started to explode along with the rest of him. He was always a jerk - so we didn't really like him anyway - but he was awesome nonetheless.
So all of those players will have issues but Bagwell has never tested positive and he didn't get half the vote either. Why? His stats are comparable with many ALREADY in the Hall of Fame. Is he guilty by association? That's just not right. I'm not all too sure about holding out players who actually tested positive, I sure as hell don't agree with holding out players we suspect of taking steroids. By all accounts we would probably have to discount hundreds of players.
Let's add this twist to the mix, we know the names of many players through the Mitchell report and other sources who tested positive - did any of those players become superstars who weren't stars already? Did David Segui all of sudden turn into Mickey Mantle? The answer, of course, is no. Not one player shot to stardom for any significant period of time due to taking steroids or HGH. The only players we even care about are the ones who arguably, didn't need any help in the first place (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire).
Bagwell, and other players of his era who will eventually become eligible, need to be judged as is, not with suspicions. When Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr. Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson are eligible, will we re-question their accomplishments based on the Steroid Era they played through?? I hope not.
Here is an equally troubling thought. For many years, the Hall of Fame voting was truly against stars of the late 70's and 80's because the voters were holding those players stats unfairly against the stats of the players in what we now call the Steroid Era? So those players fell off the ballot - or took years to get in (aka Andre Dawson, Jim Rice and Gary Carter - 3 first balloters by any standards). Is there any way to get those players back on the ballot. Can we reconsider guys like Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Dale Murphy and Keith Hernandez. When they played, they were all considered hall worthy - what happened??
Well that's my ranting about the Hall of Fame voting for this year. Just one more thought, why is Jim Kaat not in the Hall of Fame? 283 Wins, 180 COMPLETE GAMES, 31 Shutouts and a career 3.45 ERA with a WS Ring, 3 All Star appearances and get this 16 Gold Gloves - that's NOT a typo.
In fact there are only two eligible players with more than 10 Gold Gloves who AREN'T in the Hall of Fame - Jim Kaat and Keith Hernandez (Maddux and Griffey aren't eligible yet).
Maybe it's time to change how the voting gets done because something just isn't right...