Hall of Fame results came out this week, which I doubt comes as a surprise to anyone. Ultimately, I enjoy debating Hall of Fame merits, a lot more than I actually care about the results. I lived in Cooperstown for many years as a kid, even graduated from Cooperstown High School, and as a result have always been very aware of the induction process. I have many fond memories of induction weekends, HOF games, and Cooperstown in general. That said, who gets in and who doesn't ultimately matters very little. It's good conversation for father's and son's, amongst friends, and between strangers forced to sit in close proximity in ball parks and on bar stools. So please take my ranting that follows somewhat tongue in cheek. I don't really care if you disagree with me, and I would be more than civil in any hypothetical debate we may have in person. Even if you use make believe stats that have to pumped out by a computer, instead of the time tested gold standards like batting average and RBI's. I'll still listen to your gibberish.
Below is how I would have voted were I allowed to:
Below I've ranked each player on my ballot in the order of merit I think they deserve with a "brief" explanation of my thinking (or lack there of).
#1 Barry Bonds
For my money this is the biggest no brainer on the ballot. Bonds is on the short list for greatest player of All-Time and is the slam dunk, no second place, wins by a mile, greatest player of my life time. The only reason Barry Bonds won seven (SEVEN!) MVP's is not because of PED's. It's because idiot, vindictive sports writers cheated him out of another two, and perhaps as many as five, other MVP awards keeping his total artificially low at a still obscene 7. Click on his baseball-reference page, it's comical how absurdly incredible his numbers are.
"It's because he used the cream, he's a cheater!"
Did you know steroids came in a tube of bengay like cream before all this broke? I certainly didn't. I read Barry Bonds used to pay a nutritionist $30K a month to cook all his meals and provide him with the best diet in the world, and spent an equal amount on a personal trainer and supplements. I'm not a world class athlete. Barry Bonds was. But if I were spending in excess of 60K a month to get results from the best, most knowledgeable professionals in the world when it comes to diet, exercise, and vitamins, I would expect results. Like, blow my already large 7 1/2 hat size up to a 9 results, and I'd believe they were honest and legit. Yes Bonds blew up, he was trying to, but that doesn't mean he was cheating or knew that he was. And even the guys that went full on needle injections of the Lyle Alzado variety, I still have a hard time equating something done in a Scotsdale, AZ weight room in January, to cheating in Yankee Stadium in July. Stealing signs from center field is cheating. Hacking another teams computers is cheating. Bribing an umpire is cheating. Taking narcotics to fight a hangover on game day is borderline cheating. Taking a vitamin or medicine we've arbitrarily declared not to be an allowable medicine or vitamin during the off-season is something else altogether.
I believe not voting Bonds is per se incompetence and anyone that doesn't should lose the right to vote in the future. If he shrivels up and dies at a young age I won't shed a tear. If he lives a long healthy life than why are we dictating what sort of medicine players can take to recover, avoid injury, or just get stronger, in the first place? As soon as Pfizer realizes there's more money in selling HGH to old white men with sore knees than there is in selling them E.D. medication, society's entire view on the subject will change overnight. People snubbing Bonds and others will be on the wrong side of history. You don't have to like Bonds, but you need to vote for him. In 2034 when you're 60-something and taking your "medicine" before bed so you can walk 18 holes the following morning and still be up for a game of driveway "horse" with your granddaughter afterwards, think back on bizarre hysteria over medicine.
#2 Ken Griffey Jr.
This was another easy choice. Griffey Jr. represents everything ideal we think the Hall of Fame to be. I've yet to hear anyone argue against the case for Griffey. If you're going to nit-pick, Griffey never won a World Series, and didn't reach 3,000 hits. He did everything else though in 22 seasons. However, I never once saw him play a single inning during those 22 seasons with a backwards hat, so don't mess with the plaque. These "practice" plaques are fine with the backwards hat, I like them, just like I liked it for B.P., but not for the real thing.
#3 Mark McGwire
McGwire hit 583 home runs, at one point set the single season home run mark, was a 12x All-Star, and helped lead the Oakland Athletics to three AL Pennants and the 1989 World Series. He's an easy choice for me and other people that care about on field results.
#4 Roger Clemens
I don't like Roger Clemens. I am not a fan. I actively rooted against him for the majority of his career. However, whether or not I like someone or think they're a "good guy" is not really grounds to exclude them. There's no objective argument to be made against Clemens when you look at his stats. 354 wins, 7x CY Young Award Winner, 3rd All-Time in K's, and he won a couple of World Series Rings for good measure. He's Hall of Famer, just not one I care for.
#5 Tim Raines
Others have lauded Tim Raines and his advance stat credentials ad nauseum the last year or so, so I won't do that here. I'll just say, he's one of my all-time favorite players, has more than sufficient career numbers, and the Hall of Fame would be a better place with Tim Raines in it, than it is without him. Had he not played during the same period has The Great Rickey Henderson, he would already be in.
#6 Alan Trammell
I'm sure this is an unpopular opinion, but I'm firm in it, Alan Trammell was the best short stop in baseball during the 1980's. Better than Ozzie, and better than Cal for those ten years. He anchored a Tigers team that always seemed to be in the hunt, and did everything well. His career numbers may be a little short, but I give him the Hall of Fame nod regardless. That said, his omission is far from a great injustice.
#7 Sammy Sosa
I don't have a Sammy Sosa card scanned, and I'm not inclined to take the time to do so. I just assume not look at him. That's how little I care for the guy. I disliked Sammy Sosa way before it was cool to dislike Sammy Sosa. I was full on team McGwire in '98 and found Sammy to be a disingenuous loser in a Cubs uniform. So, as much as I love the idea of Sammy being snubbed, he hit 600+ home runs. Keeping a guy who hit 600+ home runs hurts the museum in Cooperstown, and I care more about protecting the integrity of that museum, than I do hurting a punk like Sammy Sosa.
#8 Fred McGriff
I'm one of those "counting stat" guys that kids today are so dismissive of. So in my world, McGriff is a mere seven home runs short of being a easy first ballot HOF'er. Forgive me, but until you can tell me how to update a players WAR in the margins of my score card after each at-bat, I'll continue to have deep reverence for my "counting stats." Perhaps it's silly of me to think it's of more use to see a player's slugging percentage and on-base percentage, than it is to merely see an OPS, or prefer a hit to a walk, but I'll continue to be silly, and do silly things like consider McGriff a Hall of Fame worthy guy. For counters like me, 3,000 and 500 are perhaps the two biggest milestones there are. Fred McGriff came up just short in each, collecting 2,490 hits and 493 home runs over a 19 year career. But considering only five players have ever reached both, and two of those are Aaron and Mays, I won't hold it against McGriff.
#9 Mike Piazza
I was never much of a Piazza guy. That's my problem, not Piazza's, as he was under no obligation to make me like him. Instead, he hit 427 home runs playing the vast majority of his career as a catcher, and when you do that, you get into Cooperstown. It's sort of a rule. So congrats to Mike. Now he's a HOF'er as well as the guy from the Belle and Sebatstian song.
#10 Trevor Hoffman
This is the only name on my ballot that I could be talked out of. I'm certainly on the fence. But Trevor Hoffman finished his career as the All-Time leader in saves, and as a self-described "counter," that should count for something.
Gary Sheffield: Eventually Sheffield is a name I will vote for, but due to the incompetence of other voters, there's such a backlog built up that I can't fit him on a 10 player ballot. He hit 500+ home runs, that's good for a ticket to Cooperstown.
Larry Walker: I think Walker is borderline. Ultimately I don't think he has the numbers, and never won a World Series (another antiquated bit of criteria I cling to).
Jeff Bagwell: I wouldn't argue if Bagwell were elected to the Hall of Fame, but at this point I'm not ready to vote for him. He had some great numbers, but in the end he came up short on the major milestones. Additionally I never thought of him as "The Guy," and the fact he only made four All-Star teams I think is evidence that not many others thought of him as "The Guy" either. Bagwell fans may point out that his numbers are very similar to those of McGriff, which true. But when your borderline, your going to be subject to the irrational whims of voters.
Edgar Martinez: No a no glove, okay bat guy that the advance stat people love. To me, he's a poor man's Harold Baines. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong with a bunch of stats too complicated to figure out on your scorecard while watching the game. That won't change the fact he has nothing close Hall of Fame career numbers for hits or home runs and is a complete "zero" in the October category.
Jeff Kent: I know there is a very strong case to be made for Kent, but when I never liked a player, the case better be 300 win or 500 HR strong to make me check the box.
Mike Mussina: This is the guy that's going to turn people off to the advance stat crowd. We all saw him pitch for 15+ years. Look it's simple, the guy pitched for teams that were loaded enough talent to make the post season nine times, and he only won 20 games once. Not every 70 degree day feels the same, some are just warmer than others. So whatever your numbers are telling you about Moose, I'm still cold on his Hall of Fame chances.
Curt Schilling: Had he won 300 games I'd reluctantly find a place for him. But he didn't. So tough shit Curt, I'm never voting for you or your ketchup sock.
Lee Smith: I only have room for one "used to be the All-Time saves leader" on my ballot and this year that spot is occupied by Trevor Hoffman.
More Trade Bait
The trade bait page has been updated with 1983 Topps cards I have available, I have about 800 singles available, rather than list them, if you needs just let me know and I'll check for you.