With the Hall of Fame announcement nearly upon us, ’tis the season for the revelation of individual ballots and all the various and sundry columns and discussions about said ballots. Never one to miss out on the fun, I was recently tipped off to an article in which a voter made a decidedly curious choice.
I know nothing of Jerry Green other than what I just read (he’s a retired Detroit News sports columnist), but his “Hall of Fame voting is serious business” column had me thinking that his first name might really be Rick. It didn’t start out that way though; Green’s explanation for his remorse was actually pretty good.
Like the self-righteous soap-boxers–purity pugilists, if you will–who refuse to check the name of any man who deigned to play in the tainted Steroid Era, Green’s sin was one of omission. Unlike those myopic scribes, however, this Motor City madman felt Jiminy Crickett tugging at his collar when his non-vote cost Nellie Fox enshrinement in Cooperstown nigh on 30 years ago.
Everything worked out though, as Fox eventually made it in by the grace of the Veteran’s Committee in 1997. But even with a clean conscience, Green is making some questionable decisions when it comes to who gets a nice new plaque to immortalize his greatness.
My ballot consisted of 10 ballplayers I deemed worthy: Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Gary Sheffield and Alan Trammell.
Wait, he voted for Rocket and Big Mac but not Bonds? I can understand some of these choices, but to leave Bonds out while voting other accused juicers out is, in my humble opinion, borderline criminal. Clearly, Mr. Green is not discriminating based on the assumption of guilt, but I’ve got to question his methods.
Call me crazy, but this is at least as egregious an omission as the one that so ate at his heart for a dozen years, though for decidedly different reasons. Not that anyone’s crying over Bonds’ potential lack of votes, just that it seems such an odd choice to leave him out while putting McGwire in. It’s like saying Rookie of the Year is a better baseball movie than Major League.
But since I’m not the kind of person to point out an issue without at least attempting to offer a solution (that’s actually how I got into blogging in the first place), I felt compelled to share my own ballot with both of you who will read this. My votes won’t get anyone into Cooperstown and they won’t keep me up at night with worry, but I’m proud of the fact that they’ll be counted in some capacity.
That’s because, as one of the newest members of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), my ballot will help to determine who we enshrine in our digital Hall of Fame. The IBWAA was “created July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).”
As you can see below, our voting rules and results differ from those of our print brethren:
Los Angeles – The IBWAA released its 2015 Hall of Fame election ballot Tuesday, with the names listed below. Balloting will take place electronically between December 1 and December 31, 2014, with the results being released via Twitter on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. PST.
The IBWAA ballot compares identically to the BBWAA ballot, with the following exceptions:
1. Craig Biggio’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2014.
2. Mike Piazza’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2013.
3. Barry Larkin’s name does appear on the ballot because he has not reached the 75% threshold in an IBWAA election.
Per a group decision in 2013, the IBWAA allows members to vote for 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with this election. Players’ names link to their respective pages on Baseball-Reference.com.
Returning candidates: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Kent , Barry Larkin (elected by BBWAA in 2012), Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.
First-time candidates: Rich Aurillia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson,Pedro Martinez, Troy Percival, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz
You would think that having 15 votes would be a bit more freeing, but I found myself nonetheless confined, if only by the strictures of my own mind. Just as an elephant in captivity is trained to be held by a chain it could easily break, I found myself sticking with the tried and true 10 choices.
Perhaps, like Green, I was trying to exercise something akin to responsibility. Or maybe I just didn’t want to water down the honor I was clearly bestowing upon the names I highlighted. Maybe I just like the number 10 and wanted to stick with that. I can’t really explain my motives for not expanding and I may very well choose more names in the future.
And the names I selected? Here goes: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, Pedro Martinez, Tim Raines, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, and Larry Walker.
I could spend several thousand more words breaking down why I chose certain players and left others off, but I’d rather make that a more interactive process. I’m going to close with a few notes here, but I’d love to continue the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and the comments section. If you’d like to know why I voted for a certain player or why I left off a guy you feel was deserving, let me know.
In general, I was looking for greatness and for sustained and varied talent. While Sammy Sosa once had good speed (as evidenced by the gaudy 30/30 medallion he used to flaunt), he quickly turned into little more than a pure power hitter. Likewise, Mark McGwire was a masher who did one thing really well and was mediocre in a lot of other areas.
When I think of Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens, I recall guys who were each known as arguably the best pitcher in the game over a course of several years. All, in fact, are in the conversation for best ever–or at least in the modern era. I don’t think you can say the same for Curt Schilling.
I clearly didn’t go with a steroid bias here either, though I’ll admit that my lingering distaste for Sammy Sosa may have colored by choice a bit. As much as I appreciate the contributions he made to the Cubs and baseball, I have trouble accepting his irksome behavior at the end of his time in Chicago, not to mention his sudden inability to speak English on Capitol Hill. Also, I don’t like vampires.
*I think he’s a bit of a horse’s ass, but the numbers Barry Bonds put up defy explanation. And while it’s easy to chalk his freakish performance up to PEDs, he was head and shoulders above any other player in his era. I don’t know, maybe he was just better than everyone at taking HGH. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t care that the guy juiced; he was insanely talented and his at-bats were destination viewing.
Consider that Bonds’ career slash line is .298/.444/.607, which amounts to an OPS of 1.050. Between 1992 (his last with the Pirates) and his retirement in 2007, Bonds was only under a 1.000 OPS once (.999 in ’06). Want stats porn: check out what the giant Giant did from 2001-04. He slashed roughly .350/.560/.810, hit 209 homers, walked 755 times, and won 4 MVP awards.
*I can still see Jeff Bagwell standing in the box in that deep squat and wishing that the anchor of the Killer B’s would stop stinging the Cubs. He played all of his 15 seasons in Houston and was a model of consistency, only playing fewer than 142 games three times. His .948 OPS and 149 OPS+ totals are pretty decent too.
*It is my firm belief that were it not for a bloody sock in Boston, Schilling’s absence on various ballots would not be given a second thought. While he was a very good pitcher to be sure, Schilling was never great. Perhaps that’s because he played in the midst of so many other transcendent talents, but I just don’t see his HOF candidacy as legitimate.
*I understand that there are criteria to determine a player’s eligibility for the Hall and that many will drop off due to lack of votes, but it’s still odd to see names like Darin Erstad, Eddie Guardado, Brian Giles et al on the list.
*The IBWAA will announce its voting results today at 12pm EST and the BBWAA announcement will follow at 2pm.
Okay, so I guess I ended up with a little more explication than I had originally planned, but I hope that won’t stop you from interacting. I’d love to see your choices and to discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of mine.
*Craig Biggio received 82.7% of the BBWAA vote but was voted in by the IWBAA last year. Mike Piazza received 69.9% of the BBWAA vote but was voted in by the IWBAA in 2013.