|Craig Biggio wasn't elected to the HOF, but it was only his first time on the ballot. (Getty Images)|
A few final thoughts while people are still shouting about Wednesday's Hall of Fame election:
1. On changing the voting rules: This has been a consistent talking point among those outraged by the Hall's voting results and, to this, I say, why? Because you disagree with the outcome? It's called an election. Stuff happens in elections. Nobody is consistently happy with every election.
As I wrote Tuesday, since the Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1936, the system has worked pretty darned well. Generally speaking, I think most sports fans would agree that the baseball hall is the best and most special of any of the Halls of Fame. Its membership is exclusive. Maybe you're angry because one of your favorite players didn't get elected. Maybe you're chapped because you think a couple of people are in the Hall who shouldn't be. That's going to happen. There is not going to be 100 percent agreement.
Now, granted, this year is an extreme. Remove performance-enhancing drugs, and any right-minded baseball fan would agree that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be first-ballot Hall of Famers. But what people have to understand is, this is an unprecedented era. We've never seen anything like steroids and the boost that PEDs provided. If voters still need more time to sort through things, this is not a high crime against baseball or the Hall.
You think the voting needs to change because steroid guys were shut out? What happens with the next election you don't like? Change the rules again?
Now, if this is the beginning of a pattern and nobody gets in next year, I'll be right there with you admitting that we need to start a conversation about changing the rules. But one year is not a crisis. No matter how many people are running around sounding off that the sky is falling. Sorry.
2. The Morality Police: I've been accused of being on my moral high horse for not voting for the steroid guys, and I've been asked who am I to judge. I'm not so sure about the former -- if we've reached the point where having standards and attempting to decipher right from wrong is a bad thing, then we as a civilization have gone pretty far south. As for the latter, well, yes, I am a judge of potential Hall of Famers because that's what I'm tasked with.
Somebody ultimately is going to be a judge in the Hall of Fame election. Right now and for the foreseeable future, it's the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Now the Hall of Fame can move to include broadcasters, retired players, historians, citizens of Cooperstown, whomever. Fine. But your argument about who are we to judge is ridiculous because that's how you have a Hall of Fame. Somebody who votes is judging.
Lastly on this subject, one other thought: Rule No. 5 for election states “Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” So for those accusing the voters of docking players on integrity, character and sportsmanship issues, that's in the rules. If today's voters are leaning too heavily on that, well, the Hall can always do away with that rule.
3. On erasing history: This is simply false. By failing to elect Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others, the voters have made a statement. And as a result, these players will not have their plaques hanging (so far).
But … their history will be included in Cooperstown, just as Pete Rose's is. As Hall president Jeff Idelson has said many, many times, it is a museum. And Hall voters do not have veto power over everything. There is a Steroid Era display right now in Cooperstown. The story of this era will be told in the museum, regardless of whether Bonds' plaque is hanging, because that's what they do in Cooperstown. And they do it brilliantly.
4. On Craig Biggio not being elected: This is a completely separate issue from the PED guys. And as for the outrage over Biggio (including Jeff Bagwell's touching defense of a former teammate), I will say this: I thought Roberto Alomar not getting elected in his first ballot two years ago was way worse than Biggio not being elected. Alomar was a much stronger candidate, and he had to wait until his second ballot. I do believe Biggio is Hall worthy (I voted for him), but even at 3,000 hits, to me, he's borderline. It is not an egregious omission, especially after only his first year on the ballot.
5. Bad day for Jack Morris: The fact that he only increased in the voting by 1 percent, I think, dooms him. Entering his last year on the ballot, Morris is stuck at 67.7 percent and is the chief target of a large percentage of a Sabermetric community hell-bent on keeping him out. It's a baseball version of character assassination as their maniacal campaign against him long ago reached fever pitch. It is absolutely too much. We can argue whether Morris is a Hall of Famer -- I think he is, and I vote for him -- but the Hall will not crumble to dust if he gets in. Yes, his 3.90 ERA is high. But he also has more than twice as many complete games on his resume as Curt Schilling, and as Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci points out, he went eight or more innings in 52 percent of his starts over a 14-year period.
That workload lends itself to a higher ERA, and it also lends itself to winning. Because if I'm Morris' manager and I can routinely expect eight innings, I know I have a great chance to win tonight … and I know I have a great chance to win tomorrow night because I will have a rested bullpen. And for that matter, I know I probably have a great chance to win on the night before Morris pitches because I'm comfortable emptying my bullpen without having to worry about keeping some relievers rested for the next night.
Again, I get that he's not a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, and that many think he's not a Hall of Famer at all. But at least give the guy some credit and stop the smear campaign. Geez.
6. Where did Kenny Lofton go? He gone, as Hawk Harrelson would say, because he received only 3 percent of the vote. Anybody under 5 percent disappears from the ballot. And that's too bad because, while I did not vote for Lofton, he sure deserves better than one ballot and out. The guy had a .372 lifetime on-base percentage, and he ranks 15th on the all-time stolen base list. Another one-and-out guy who disappeared way too quickly was Detroit second baseman Lou Whitaker, who dropped off after receiving only 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. Whitaker ranks 11th among second baseman in Jay Jaffe's JAWS ranking system of Hall-worth players, just behind Jackie Robinson and just ahead of Roberto Alomar.