It is the first week in January, most of the US and Canada is locked in bone chilling cold temperatures, and countries are announcing their hockey rosters for the Sochi Olympics.
Guess what tomorrow is? Warmer temperatures? Talk about who got snubbed from their respective teams?
Nope- it’s Hall of Fame voting for MLB!
The last HOF induction ceremony in 2013 glaringly lacked one thing- living players inducted. That was the first time since 1965 that has happened. Not coincidentally, 2013 prominently featured several players first time eligible that were, to some degree or another, linked to the various steroid/PED/doping rumors and investigations that have plagued MLB for more than a decade.
Obviously, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWA), decided that, although several of the player’s numbers warranted serious consideration for the HOF, very few votes were cast in their favor. 75% support is needed for induction, and Craig Biggio, was the closest at 68.2. There were six players (Biggio, Mike Piazza. Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa) that 2013 marked their first year of eligibility, and received more than 5% of the votes.
Does anyone else see a correlation?
2014 has a list of 36 players that are eligible, you can see the full list here (www.baseball-reference.com/awards/hof_2014.shtml), and 19 of them are first time eligible. Two pitchers on that list- Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, should be elected easily their first time. That is if I had a vote, which unfortunately I do not. Maddux had 355 career wins, Glavine 305. There are 72 pitchers currently in the HOF, and only 24 have more than 300 wins.
The 300-win plateau is considered a virtual lock for the Hall once you are eligible- save one glaring omission- the previously mentioned Roger Clemens. Glavin, Maddux, Clemens and Randy Johnson are the only 300 game winners NOT in the Hall, and Johnson’s chance for election is a few years away.
So…what exactly does this tell us? That the BBWA members actually take into consideration what fans, writers, coaches and other players saw during the steroid era? Sure, not everyone was caught or tested positive, but our collective eyes (and in many cases, evidence) don’t lie- we saw the players increase in physical size and production, then the numbers and the players themselves dropped off significantly once everything was brought to prominence (and Courthouses, and trials, and PR stunts). Many of the BBWA members have said they will never vote for players of that era due to “tainted” statistics and numbers. I for one would tend to agree. Election into the Hall is subjective- one gets elected or voted in- not guaranteed when a certain milestone is reached.
So judgment and bias does play a part, fairly or not. A voter has the opportunity not only to review the stats, but look at the entire career of a player, on the field and off.
Trends are just that- trends. Perhaps the voters will begin to forget all the negativity of the so called “Steroid Era”, as that image tends to fade over time. The numbers that many of these players put up are indeed worthy of the HOF. Possibly in a few years the numbers alone will stand out to the voters. Many of the voters, however, have been around long enough to have seen the Nolan Ryan’s and Steve Carlton’s pitch without having an asterisk next to their names or stats. And these people do not forget easily.
Glavine and Maddux? We will not know until tomorrow afternoon’s vote is cast. Following baseball as long as I have, I do not recall their names ever being mentioned as being “juiced” or “using”. Or any player or anyone else even throwing an accusation their way. They were, however, pitching right in the midst of everything that was going on.
Guilt by association?
Or in this case- guilt by the wrong era? I certainly hope not. These are two of the classiest, and most talented, players of their time. Even if it was a tainted time.