Other than Mike Mussina of the Yankees and Jeff Kent, who played with the Mets from 1992-1995, NY doesn’t really have a dog in the race for players on the ballot for this year’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But what should NY fans be looking at regarding the players who, ultimately, stand on the stage next July in Cooperstown?
We start with this caveat: Voting for membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) is subjective and, therefore, subject to debate. Among baseball fans of all ages, arguments will prevail, for instance, about a player like Bill Mazeroski, who is recalled on the baseball HOF website as follows:
‘Although Mazeroski was never tremendous with the bat, he did enough, and his spectacular defense led him to eight Gold Glove Awards and 10 All-Star Game appearances in seven years. Teammate Bob Friend recalled, “He was one of a kind out there. Maz did so many things that never showed up in a box score.”
Not precisely a shattering endorsement and yet he is enshrined among the true greats who have played the game. In Mazeroski’s case, his ticket to fame traces back to a pitch thrown by Ralph Terry in the 1960 World Series that landed over the wall at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. A home run which will live forever in the laurels of baseball, along with Bobby Thompson and Joe Carter, both of whom had their moment in the sun but are not in Cooperstown. So, go figure.
And that does not pick on Bill Mazeroski. It just goes to show that a player with a lifetime average of .260 and a .299 on-base percentage can make it to the Hall when all the stars align.
Baseball HOF: A residence for no-names?
And when you have a chance, take a few minutes to discover how many of the names currently in the Hall you do not recognize who stand alongside Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Gary Carter, and a host of others.
ESNY has an internal balloting underway in which our writers are voting on this year’s Baseball HOF ballot. At some point, we’ll publish the results, and it will be interesting to see how we line up with the actual vote that concludes on December 22.
My take has always been to look for players who dominated baseball in the era in which they played. If it were left to me, half the players in the Hall wouldn’t be there. Why? Because the facts (i.e., numbers) show, they were very good but not great players.
On this year’s ballot, for instance, we have Johnny Damon, Jamie Moyer, Hideki Matsui, Scott Rolen, and yes, Jeff Kent, all of whom were very good players. But none of them struck fear in the opposition when they played. Oh, but you say so-and-so did. And therein lies the dilemma when it comes to the baseball HOF balloting.
In contrast, players like Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Mike Piazza, and a host of others who played in the same era, all managed to be a cut above the rest, allowing them to be candidates who will or already have strolled into the Hall.
And while I would vote for Mike Mussina 100 times if I could (see this article on Mussina), the question is debatable as to whether or not he meets that challenge. Perhaps that’s why, then, he will need most or all of the ten years he can remain on the ballot to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Things tend to get somewhat eerie too when you come to someone like Jack Morris, who was seen scouring the halls and lobby at the hotel during the Winter Meetings last year in a vain attempt to drum up support in his final year of eligibility. Eventually, he was sent to the purgatory of the Veteran’s Committee.
Baseball HOF changes underway
Changes are underway there designed to reform the manner in which the Committee has been operating, and if we can believe the content of those changes, provided by Sports Illustrated, players like Morris may yet get their due day in the court of baseball.
Unless membership in the Committee is restructured to include younger “veterans” as opposed to the dominance of septuagenarians who occupy a seat presently, real reform is unlikely.
Be that as it may, here’s the list of names I submitted to my editor for inclusion in the Baseball HOF ESNY balloting.
- Chipper Jones: the only switch-hitter to average .300
- Mike Mussina: 270 wins .653 win percentage says enough for me
- Edgar Martinez: the proto-typical DH
- Vladimir Guerrero: who can’t give love to a guy who hit home runs on balls six inches off the ground?
- Trevor Hoffman: Not Mariano, but good enough
- Jim Thome: You can’t scoff at 600+ HR’s, and he didn’t do PEDS
That’s only six, but I don’t feel a compulsion to make it ten. Honorable mention, though, for Omar Vizquel and the Mets Jeff Kent sometime later in the balloting. But not this year. And noticeably, no votes for the scammers.
Okay fans, bombs away. Let me hear it! HOF voting is incredibly subjective so now’s the time to make your votes.