Though I generally subscribe to the old adage about Hall of Fame voting that if you have to ponder the question even a wee bit, the answer is “No,” I am also enough of a realist to understand that the question is hardly that simple.
The Hall of Fame released its latest ballot for 2011 induction candidates from the Expansion Era veterans, and it includes several players who deserve more consideration and evaluation than simply noting that if the BBWAA didn’t put them in, that should be the end of the story.
Were that the case, there would be no need to even have a mechanism for considering players rejected by the writers, and I certainly don’t want to plug for that idea.
So I think the debate over the likes of Tommy John, Steve Garvey and Dave Concepcion is going to be interesting, along with musing about the merits of Al Oliver, Ted Simmons, Rusty Staub, Ron Guidry and Vida Blue.
My suspicion is that the best hope lies with the first three, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on any of them. As great as Guidry and Blue were, you can’t hardly give them a nod as long as Tommy John remains outside the circle, and John’s exclusion is going to look pretty weird next summer if Bert Blyleven finally snags the additional handful of votes he needs from the BBWAA after 14 years on the ballot.
One of my favorite criterion – the very same argument I employ in pushing for Gil Hodges from the Golden Era – asks if a player was considered the best at his position either in his league or MLB at the height of his career. If that has merit, then it serves Garvey and Concepcion, who certainly were all of that in their times.
Still, if I had to guess, my bet would be that no one will make the cut. My fear is that John will again actually be penalized for an entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia that makes it appear that he might have pitched batting practice to Methuselah, and Concepcion will again be penalized for perhaps the same thing that bedevils Hodges’ candidacy: too many others from his great ball club that are already in Cooperstown.
Though I certainly would hope that it doesn’t have a bearing on how somebody might vote, Garvey has suffered mightily virtually from the day he hung up his spikes with post-career PR that ranges from tepid to simply awful, regardless of the fairness of same.
Heck, I even saw a bumper sticker in Los Angeles that said, “Honk if you’ve had Steve Garvey’s baby.”
And you thought the BBWAA was a tough crowd.