- Tim Burke
If I had a Hall of Fame Ballot
Players and fans alike are putting the credibility of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Baseball Writers Association of America on trial in the aftermath of excluding several deserving players from induction to Cooperstown. In particular Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa did not receive the needed 75% of the vote to qualify for the Hall of Fame. This marks a major failure for the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA. Beyond that, the Baseball world is outraged that David Ortiz is the only player the BBWAA inducted with such a talented ballot this year. In this post, I will go in depth on this years ballot and what the Baseball world wants from its Hall of Fame
For starters, it goes without question I'd vote for David Ortiz. Three World Series rings, 541 home runs and the King of clutch would obviously get my vote. However, I think with this deep of a ballot that it is ludicrous to not use the maximum ten votes. If I had a ballot, these are the players I would vote for.
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton had a Hall of Fame career. The career .316 hitter is simply being overlooked because of where he played. Coors Field in Colorado is the happiest place on earth for hitters. However, nobody who played there hit as well as Helton. Up until 2020 there were no Colorado Rockies players in the Hall of Fame, Larry Walker became the first. Why is the BBWAA punishing Helton, for playing in Colorado’s Coors field? Why are we punishing a player because of where he plays? Countless Major League Baseball hitters have benefitted from the dimensions and they were not punished. Why are we punishing Todd Helton? It is another one of the many stupid beliefs of members of the BBWAA. I mean how could you not vote for a career .316 hitter. That is remarkable.
Scott Rolen will likely be the next player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is on track to get in eventually. He fell short with 62.3% of the vote but it is without question Rolen is a Hall of Famer. His traditional numbers aren’t an eye opener but his 70.1 WAR is 10th all time among third baseman. The consistency and longevity of Scott Rolen is something that should be recognized. He is one of the greatest players to patrol the hot corner in the history of baseball. He should have been inducted years ago. However, the BBWAA takes their time. They think some players should pay their dues on the ballot. Keep in mind this thought process got nobody inducted for the 2021 class.
It is without question that Curt Schilling’s politics are downright extreme. Despite the character flaws he may have, he is a Hall of Famer. Schilling is one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen. Not only that he pitched in the steroid era, where offensive numbers were inflated like a giant GoodYear blimp. Despite never winning a Cy Young Award, Schilling impressively struck out 300 batters in the 1997 and 1998 season. Something that is uncommon in today’s game. Schilling is 15th all time in strikeouts and is regarded as one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time. He was a crucial part in three World Series titles, 2001 with Arizona and 2004 and 2007 with Boston. When the lights shined the brightest you wanted Curt Schilling on the mound because he always delivered. He was on the mound for the most famous start in Red Sox history, Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS otherwise known as the bloody sock game. Without arguably the gutsiest pitching performance in the game’s history, Boston would never have broken their eighty six year World Series drought. You cannot properly tell the history of baseball without Curt Schilling.
If you are not inducting players linked to PED’s you are revising the game’s
history. For example, David Ortiz is the most beloved Red Sox of the 21st century. As I said above, he was the king of clutch. He was the heart of the Red Sox batting for three World Series Titles. However, he is not the greatest hitter to wear a Red Sox uniform over the past twenty hitters. That title belongs to Manny Ramírez. Personally, I have never seen a hitter on the Red Sox as good as Manny was. We all know Manny had a lot of baggage. There is a reason he is not in the Hall of Fame already. His two positive tests for PEDs and his off field antics drove him out of Boston and baseball all together. However, there are not many hitters in the past thirty years who were as good as Manny Ramírez. There are stories of Manny Ramírez pretending to be fooled by a pitch so they’ll throw him that same pitch later in the game and he would hit it for a home run. Manny Ramírez is one the greatest hitters of his era. It is a pure shame he is not in the Hall of Fame. David Ortiz did not lead the Red Sox to the World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. David Ortiz AND Manny Ramírez were the one two punch that pitchers feared most. They were perhaps the deadliest one two punch in baseball history. If you have a museum that tells the story of baseball you can’t strictly tell the story of David Ortiz leading the Red Sox offense in breaking the eighty six year curse. You tell the right version of his history where it was Ortiz and Manny leading the way offensively. Hopefully the fans can campaign for Manny to be immortalized in Cooperstown in 2023.
The little support of Gary Sheffield during his time on the ballot is disappointing. He checks off all the boxes. Gary Sheffield has over 500 home runs , he was a nine time All Star and his career Wins Above Replacement was 60. However, he has admitted to using PEDs for one season. Another argument against Sheffield is that he was a poor defender. That argument is ridiculous. Poor defensive numbers should not matter for great hitters. Look at Derek Jeter, he was a terrible defensive Shortstop but is a beloved member of the Hall of Fame. At the end of the day, members of the BBWAA have also disliked Sheffield since his playing days. The fact the BBWAA is holding personal grudges against players like Sheffield further proves the point they do not deserve the honor of voting players into Cooperstown.
There is not a baseball player I despised more than Alex Rodriguez. Say what you want about his maturity and growth but he simply was a jerk in playing days. Especially to Bronson Arroyo. Nobody liked Alex Rodriguez unless he played for your team. Even then, his fans can admit he was the game’s biggest jerk. However, he is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. It pains me to say it but A-Rod is the greatest hitter I ever saw play in person. He is fourth all time in home runs, and his Wins Above Replacement is 16th All time. Prior to his PED’s scandal A-Rod was the poster child for what a first ballot Hall of Famer is. With or without steroids, Rodriguez belongs in Cooperstown. He is one of the greatest to ever play the game. It is my belief that at the end of his ten years, the BBWAA will soften their stance on PEDs and Rodriguez will be the first publicly known PED user to be inducted into Cooperstown, breaking down the wall for the others to eventually join him.
I find it bizarre how many of the BBWAA could vote for Bonds and Clemens and not Sammy Sosa. Why only vote for two players linked to steroids. The entire Baseball world knows Sammy Sosa used steroids but he was also one of the greatest home run games the game has ever seen. He had three seasons of hitting over 60 home runs. He is one of the greatest players to wear the Cubs uniform.
Bonds and Clemens
Personal feelings of Bonds, Clemens and PEDs aside, they are a part of baseball's history. In a perfect world cheating would not be part of baseball's history but it is. PEDs defined an entire era of baseball. The crazy thing is, Major League profited greatly from the likes of Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, A-Rod etc. They did not care about PEDs when it benefited them. At the end of the day it is this simple.
Barry Bonds is the All time Home run leader. Roger Clemens has more Cy young awards than any other pitcher in history, Pete Rose has the most hits of all time. None of them are in the Hall of Fame. This is why the Hall of Fame’s credibility is called into question. If the National Baseball Hall of Fame wants to be taken seriously, own your mistakes and fix them. The BBWAA’s voting process is clearly broken and ruining your credibility. To Major League Baseball, if you want to keep cheaters, gamblers and steroid users out of your Hall of Fame then why do you allow their records to still stand?