“Hall of Fame-Still Dealing with Shame”
The Hall of Fame vote, dealing with players on all types of different levels, is in. Two great players got in. 3-others nearly got in. But the controversy continues to spin out of control about those who did not get it, what they did during their careers, and do alleged cheaters deserve to be in the shrine.
A tough call, a tough decision, a tough vote for the Baseball Writers Association of America.
440-voted yesterday on who should be enshrined at Cooperstown. They struggled with the names on the ballot, the insinuations, and the public pressure.
The BWAA wants to vote on the history of the players, their impact on the game, and how they compared their era, to other eras. Now added on, because of the raging steroid issues that stained the game, comes the pressure of becoming the ‘Moral Compass’ of the game.
All that wrapped around a ballot that includes the words ‘integrity’ and ‘sportsmanship’, which now play into decisions, as much as home runs and batting averages, pitching wins, strikeouts and saves.
Ken Griffey and Mike Piazza got into the Hall of Fame with dominant results. Griffey, the Mariners superstar, received a record 437-of 440-votes cast, that’s 99%, the highest total of all time. Piazza, who sent from 62nd round draft pick, to stardom, to the steps of Cooperstown, made it also, garnering 83% of the vote. And yet, despite those amazing vote totals, rumors and innuendo surrounded them.
Griffey never once was mentioned in any type of baseball probe of the steroid era, from Balco to the Biogenesis scandal. Piazza’s name was linked at one time in the Mitchell Report, which led to reformed and stronger drug testing, and the eventual eradication of steroids, street drugs, and then PED’s. In the end, there were never any positive drug tests to back up any of the allegations, for the Union and Donald Fehr, fought against drug testing.
However the stain of the last steroid scandal, showed up on the baseball record book, and in Congressional hearings. None of those fingered in the last round of drug issues, has made the Hall of Fame.
Slugger Mark Guire, who admitted steroid use to help recover from injuries, fell off the ballot yesterday, getting just 12% of the vote in his final year of eligibility. At least he was honest about doing it, and why he did it.
Not so with the defiance of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens,, whose years of accomplishments came with syringes and drug clinics and shady characters. Testimony and lawsuits have followed and the linkage is strong. Both got half the votes they needed at 3rd year nominees, in the 44-45% range.
But it was indeed a great day for Griffey and Piazza. Griffey’s 437-home runs, 10-Gold Gloves, 13-time All Star. Piazza, the 62nd round pick, hit 427-home runs and made the Mid Summer Classic 12-times, both justly deserving.
Houston’s Jeff Bagwell missed out by just 15-votes. Tim Raines, the ultimate base stealing slap hitter, fell only 23-votes shy.
No one should be discouraged by the showing of Trevor Hoffman, who picked up an impressive 67% of the vote, and need just 34-additional votes, to gain entrance. It was an impressive first showing, for the fist time his name was on the ballot. His impressive 601-saves, the fact he saved 53% of the games the Padres won in his career, the opponents batting average (.211) against him, will all carry clout this time next year on the ballot
The stars surely came out on Hall of Fame day, but the storm clouds surrounding the voting process and the names on the ballot, will continue to linger. And there will be a sunny day in the future for Hells-Bells Hoffman.