BBWAA ballot a mess and more headaches coming …


We got a letter to the editor for Sports Collectors Digest the other day essentially asking me why I was so “angry” about Marvin Miller falling short of election by the Veterans Committee in the recent vote. His letter will appear in the Jan. 21 issue of SCD; I note merely that I would quibble about his choice of words. I would substitute “passionate” for “angry,” but it’s not my letter, it’s his.

(Clemens original artwork by Paul Madden;
   I am, and hope I remain, passionate about the results of the Hall of Fame voting: that’s what makes the process so much fun. If the award were the equivalent of a Rotary Club “Man of the Year” designation then such passion might be ill directed, but it’s the culmination of a life’s work for an already-elite group of talented athletes. In short, it’s a big deal and thus worthy of our passion.
   Not surprisingly, the passion is not evenly distributed. I am assuming that both Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar will be on the podium for induction next summer, but for me that’s more a nod to inevitability than enthusiasm. While I concede that Alomar probably should have gone in on the first ballot, I wasn’t all that worked up about it that he hadn’t. There’s no precedent for somebody who got as close to BBWAA election as Blyleven (five votes) not getting in eventually, but I have so much trouble drawing a distinction between his credentials and so many others on the outside – Luis Tiant, Jack Morris, Tommy John, et al. – that I don’t get all lathered up about it either way.

   I also assume that they will be the only two voted in by the writers, leaving a boatload of worthy names out in the cold. Lee Smith’s 22,538 career saves don’t seem to be enough to grab anyone’s attention, and if the guy that the designated hitter award is named after – Edgar Martinez – can’t be voted in, does that mean that no DH will ever be allowed alongside Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb and Co.?

   Jeff Bagwell might have had a better crack at it in a year when there weren’t two guys just a handful of votes short of 75 percent from the previous year, and Rafael Palmeiro will have to reconcile his goofy HOF numbers against that enduring image of him testify in front of the Congressional knuckleheads. And just around the corner comes Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, to name a few.

   I think I’m giving myself a headache.


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4 thoughts on “BBWAA ballot a mess and more headaches coming …

  1. Erik on said:

    Mr. O’Connell, I am very old school when it comes to the HOF and who belongs. No disrespect to either Blyleven or Alomar, but they do not belong in the Hall of Fame.

    The Hall of Fame is for the very best, the elite players, the greatest of their era and their position. If people truly examined their over stats and season averages, I believe they would realize while these men had good if not very good careers, the Hall of Fame is for the BEST ever.

    Sadly, the Baseball Hall of Fame has become watered down, in my opinion. There are several players in who simply do not belong.

    I know I will have some who disagree, and that is fine, but I stand by my opinion that the Hall of Fame is an exclusive place for only the very best that played the game, not the very good or those who had a few great seasons.

  2. C’mon – can’t we get at least a mention for Barry Larkin? He’ll be in eventually…

    I couldn’t disagree more with Erik’s comment above (as it relates to Alomar). Roberto Alomar was the best player at his position for a long time. The only 2 players who are close during his era would be Craig Biggio, who wasn’t exclusively a 2nd baseman, and Jeff Kent, who never seemed to fare quite as well when Barry Bonds wasn’t hitting behind him.

    I’m mostly indifferent on Blyleven, too (though I’d vote him in if pressed). But the question for Alomar isn’t if he should be in, it’s why wasn’t he put in last year?

  3. Erik on said:

    I won’t debate about Alomar but Blyleven does not belong. His 162 game average over his career was 14 – 12 with a 3.31 ERA. He did had some very good years over his 22 year career but he won 20 or more games only once in his career and never won a Cy Young award.

    No offense to Mr. Blyleven but he does not come to mind as even one of the top pitchers of his era. He is not in the same category or breath as Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Catfish Hunter, or Nolan Ryan.

    He had a good/very good career but the Hall of Fame is for GREAT players.

  4. not Joe Morgan on said:

    Yes, and Blyleven was a GREAT player. So there.

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