Hall of Shame Devalues Its Fame
By Anthony McClean, Editor – in – Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN, CT (BASN) With the naming of former managers Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre by the Veterans’ Committee of Baseball’s Hall of Fame the last month, the 2014 class already has it share of star power.
Following a year when no players were voted into the Hall (just the third time since 1960), there will probably be rioting in the streets of Cooperstown and other cities if the Baseball Writers Association of America tries to repeat that later this week.
Needless to say, that probably won’t happen.
While the troubling trend over years by most writers has been more focused on why a player shouldn’t get in the Hall instead of why they should, it has created an enormous logjam of deserving players being left out of their day in the sun.
Truthfully, I feel all of the professional Halls of Fame have similar logjams. However, baseball in its arrogance and the personal pettiness of some writers over the years has made making the Hall more difficult than climbing Mount Everest in blizzard conditions.
I’m reminded of the actions of New York-based writer Marty Noble back in 2010 during Roberto Alomar’s first year of eligibility. Despite an honored career on the diamond, the perennial All-Star second baseman’s tenure was marred by an ugly spitting incident in 1996 with umpire John Hirschbeck.
Alomar was suspended and subsequently made a very public apology to the umpire and his family. However when Alomar’s name came up for the Hall, Noble (and several others) used their bully pulpit to “punish” Alomar.
Noble appeared on local and national TV to discuss why he didn’t give Alomar the nod. During on of the interviews, it was brought up that Alomar had apologized to Hirschbeck and his family. To which, Noble replied, “He didn’t apologize to me!!”
Unbelievable arrogance. And that kind of attitude has added to this already mounting logjam.
Oh well, here’s one man’s Hall of Fame ballot.
1. Greg Maddux
300 wins? Check. Multiple Cy Young and Gold Glove awards? Check. If there was ever a unanimous choice for this year’s class, it’s the bespectacled magician on the mound. He along with Tom Glavine (we’ll get to him later) and John Smoltz were the Braves’ rotation for a generation of fans in Atlanta. Now he’ll get the ultimate reward.
2. Jack Morris
Facing his last year on the writers’ ballot, it’s truly a farce that arguably the best pitcher of the 1980′s still hasn’t received his call to the Hall. His critics keep harping on his high ERA, but considering his career win total and his legendary postseason pedigree, the five-time All-Star should have been in Cooperstown a long, long time ago!
3. Frank Thomas
The “Big Hurt” was truly a big pain to all who tried to challenge the two-time AL MVP and five-time All-Star. While he began his career at first base, he put up the majority of his big numbers as one of the game’s best DH’s. In fact, if he gets in it should help open the door for great DH’s past and present. Arguably, Thomas was the best pure hitter of his generation.
4. Tom Glavine
Between 1991 and 1998, Glavine, the aforementioned Maddux, and Smoltz won seven Cy Young awards as they helped begin Atlanta’s run of division titles. The game’s last 300-game winner, Glavine won 20 games five times and only Maddux won more games than him during the 1990′s. Despite being scorned by Atlanta fans about his role during the 1994 players’ strike, he’s still one of the most beloved players to wear a Brave jersey.
5. Tim Raines
Despite being overshadowed for many years by fellow base stealing standout Rickey Henderson, “Rock” deserves just as much acclaim as his longtime counterpart. A seven-time All-Star and four-time stolen base champ, Raines’ Hall candidacy has been marred by more by his off the field actions than on the field. That being said, this writer feels that Raines deserves a plaque in Cooperstown.
6. Mike Piazza
One of the game’s best power-hitting catchers, Piazza missed out on his first year of eligibility last year due to the constant whispers of PED use. Despite the fact that nothing has ever been proven, the 12-time All-Star still sits on the outside looking in as a part of a silent conspiracy. It should end this year, however, he may miss out again.
7. Edgar Martinez
We talked previously about how Frank Thomas’ ascent to the Hall should help shed some light on the DH’s past and present. Especially when you consider the numbers that this career Mariner put up over the years. To date, he is the only designated hitter ever to have won a batting title, winning it in 1995 with a .356 average.
8. Craig Biggio
He began his career as an All-Star catcher and ended it as an outfielder with over 3,000 hits. Despite that, this versatile seven-time All-Star still doesn’t quite get the respect of the writers in regards to the Hall. He fell just short last year — his first year of eligibility — and given the glut we previously talked about, he could be on the outside looking in again.
9. Curt Flood
His brave stand against the sport’s reserve clause should be reason enough for his induction into the Hall. His sacrifice is felt not just in baseball, but in all pro sports where free agency has become the law of the land. Oh and by the way, he was a much better player than he’s been given credit for as well.
10. Dave Parker
Another standout whose off the field transgressions have kept him from a date in Cooperstown. “The Cobra” was a seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover who despite his prowess was one of the game’s most underrated players. He’s one of those players who will get forgotten due to the ignorance and arrogance of many longtime writers.