The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is by far the most prestigious and respected of all sports museums. But modern hall of fame voters are taking away the awe that makes the honor so special. To become a Hall of Famer in any sport is a tremendous achievement; it represents immortalization in your craft. Those inducted into the Hall of Fame are considered the best of the best, and legends of the game. However, many inductees of late have failed to meet that legendary standard. Take for example this year’s inductees.
Obviously, the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, was a slam dunk Hall of Famer and became the first ever unanimous inductee. However, the other candidates fail to impress. The induction of Harold Baines is an absolute joke and embarrassment to the hall. Don’t get me wrong, Baines was a great player. But we are not talking about the “Hall of Very Good.” We are talking about the best to ever play the game and Baines is the most egregious example of an inductee that does not fit those criteria. Baines, a DH for a significant portion of his career, never hit 30 home runs in a season and had over 100 RBI’s only three times in 22 years in the majors. His election through the Veteran’s Committee could open a floodgate for even more players that missed the cut such as Steve Garvey and Don Mattingly.
Even players voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America recently have been disconcerting. Players such as Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and also yesterday’s inductees Mussina, Halladay, and Martinez do not belong among the best the game has ever seen.
Yes, Biggio has 3,000 hits, but would anyone truly consider him to be one of the greats of the game? Of course, Roy Halladay’s death at such a young age was tragic and he was an ace for a significant portion of time, but during his career did anyone look at Roy Halladay and say “That’s a Hall of Famer”? The answer to these questions is an unequivocal no, and similar issues can be raised about many recent inductees. If you disagree with these arguments ask yourself this question: “Is Mike Mussina one of the best pitchers to ever toe the rubber?” If your answer is no, then you agree that very good players are not Hall of Famers.
Meanwhile, the writers have wavered to elect a bonafide Hall of Fame pitcher in Curt Schilling. The man is a legend and was respected as such during his career. Schilling is one of the best postseason pitchers of all time and has led two different franchises to World Series Championships. However, his politics and outspoken personality have turned the writers and he received just 60% of the vote this year. Schilling will eventually get in but the election of many players who should not even be in over a slam dunk like Schilling is soft and petty.
The one issue the writers have been consistent about is keeping clear steroid users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out. Although their vote numbers have slowly risen, if the writers stay strong on this issue and do what is right for the Hall of Fame, I will regain a little respect for them. However, the writers need to be this strong on candidates similar to the ones highlighted earlier in this article and keep them out. Just because they’ve created a stain with some of these candidates doesn’t mean they should continue to spread it.