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Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas make Hall of Fame; Craig Biggio misses by two votes; Rafael Palmeiro off ballot

Frank Thomas Greg Maddux Tom Glavine

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas all received more than 75% of the vote and have been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the 2014 class.

Maddux received 97.2% of the vote
Glavine received 91.9% of the vote
Thomas received 83.7% of the vote

This is the first time since Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999 that we have three first-ballot Hall of Famers.

There are several interesting notes from the 2014 ballot.

- Greg Maddux failed to receive 2.8% of votes means 15 others than Ken Gurnick — 16 people total — did NOT vote for him.
- Jack Morris received 61.5% of votes and is now off the ballot since his 15 years have passed. It will take the veteran’s committee to get him elected now.
- Craig Biggio received 74.8% of the vote — they don’t round up — and missed election by 0.2% (two votes). I think he’s a Hall of Famer, but I’m just wondering why voters found him to be so much better of a player to vote for than say Mike Piazza or teammate Jeff Bagwell. All three are Hall of Famers in my opinion, and I don’t see why Biggio would receive more votes than either of the two others. That seems to be a clear case of writers penalizing based on PED suspicion, which is unfair.
- Rafael Palmeiro, who has 3,000 hits and 500 home runs which used to be automatic entrance numbers, only received 4.4% of the vote and is now off the ballot.
- Both Barry Bonds (34.7%) and Roger Clemens (35.4%) received less votes than last year
- JT Snow somehow received two votes. Whoever voted for him needs to be stripped.
- Jacque Jones received a vote. Whoever voted for him also needs to be stripped.

It’s a joke that Glavine received 8.2% more votes than Thomas, who was a much better player.

Also, the biggest point here, is that you can’t have a baseball hall of fame and not include two of the greatest players in history — Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. That’s just absurd. I’ve been saying that the Hall just needs to put up a separate wing or wall within the actual Hall of Fame room and call it the “Steroids Era Wall” or “Steroids Era Wing” and put all the most qualified players from that era in. You can’t pick and choose. How does it make any sense that Biggio gets more votes than Bagwell?

Ken Gurnick only votes Jack Morris for Hall of Fame in steroid-era protest

Jack MorrisDodgers.com beat reporter and Hall of Fame voter Ken Gurnick has been roundly criticized Tuesday for submitting a Hall of Fame ballot in which he only voted for Jack Morris and nobody else. The biggest reason for the criticism is that Gurnick’s ballot ensures that Greg Maddux — who by all standards is as worthy for the Hall of Fame as almost any player ever — will not be a unanimous selection.

Though many are lambasting Gurnick, I think his reasoning and explanation makes plenty of sense.

“It’s just my feeling about the steroid era and all the players in it,” Gurnick said of his ballot during an interview with Sirius/XM Radio’s “Inside Pitch.” “I can’t tell who [used PEDs] and who didn’t, so I don’t feel like I can vote for any of the players from that era.”

Gurnick admitted during his interview that he knew he was leaving himself open to criticism. There are questions such as what years the steroid era encompasses, and whether a guy like Morris pitched in the era.

Gurnick said he wrestled with that question, but decided Morris pitched well enough throughout most of his career in an earlier era to vote for him. But because of his views on the steroid era, Gurnick says he won’t be voting in the future.

“I won’t be voting for anybody probably anymore. My plan is to abstain from voting in the future.”

I know Gurnick and find him to be a very good beat reporter and intelligent guy. He’s not an idiot, and his reasoning makes sense, even if I would have voted differently.

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Many current members don’t want cheaters in Hall of Fame

baseball hall of fameThough the writers are taking most of the blame (rightfully so) for no players being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, there is one aspect of the entire debacle that is being overlooked. In one sense, the Baseball Writers Association of America votes represented the feelings of many of the current inductees.

Numerous members of the Hall of Fame have made their feelings clear that they do not want anyone who cheated the game elected to Cooperstown.

Last March, we shared comments from George Brett (inducted in ’99) who said the current members would boycott the hall if a cheater were elected.

“I wasn’t a home-run hitter,” Brett said, “but I know from talking to guys in the 500-home run club, guys like Schmitty (Mike Schmidt) and some other guys like that, if those guys make it in then they’ll never go back. Meaning those guys will never go back and attend (the Hall of Fame inductions) if the cheaters get elected.”

In December, former Cincinnati Reds MVP shortstop Barry Larkin (’12), said cheaters don’t belong in the Hall.

“I think if you cheated, no, you don’t deserve it because I know how difficult it was for me to get there and how difficult it was for me just to compete on an everyday basis,” Larkin said. “I think if you cheated I think you made a decision and I don’t think you belong.

“I look at what has happened with Pete Rose. Pete Rose is not a Hall of Fame player, banned from baseball. But if you go up to the Hall of Fame all of his records, his bats, everything in is represented in the Hall of Fame — 4,256 (hits),” Larkin said. “I see a very similar thing happening with guys that are associated with or been accused of using steroids. I think they will recognize their accomplishments but I don’t think those players will be admitted to the Hall of Fame.”

Larkin doesn’t want to keep out those who aren’t proven cheaters citing the innocent until proven guilty axiom.

Former Detroit Tigers outfielder Al Kaline (’80) was among those who was happy nobody was elected this year.

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New York Times runs blank front sports page after Hall of Fame voting (Picture)

New-York-Times-blank-Hall-of-Fame

The fact that no players were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday has everyone buzzing, and the New York Times came up with the perfect way to encapsulate the hype. On the front page of the “Sports” section on Thursday morning, nothing was printed except a headline that read “Welcome to Cooperstown.”

Most people felt as though Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds had no business receiving any votes, while others believed players like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza belong in the baseball Hall of Fame. It’s possible the voters were simply trying to make a point, but in any event the elite group that resides in Cooperstown is no larger today than it was at this time last year.

J.J. Watt may not agree with it, but neither he nor anyone else should be stunned by the results.

H/T SI Hot Clicks
Photo via Twitter/Kevin Negandhi

Reggie Jackson: Hall of Fame has let in too many undeserving members

Reggie Jackson was always known as one of the more outspoken baseball players during his career, and little has changed since he retired. “Mr. October” was the self-proclaimed “straw that stirs the drink,” and he’s still unafraid to speak the truth.

In an excellent interview for Sports Illustrated’s “Where Are They Now?” edition, Jackson opens up on many topics. Some of his strongest thoughts are about the Baseball Hall of Fame, which he thinks has become too lenient with its standards for admitting members.

“I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer,” Jackson told Phil Taylor. “I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.” What about Bert Blyleven? “No. No, no, no, no,” Jackson says. “Blyleven wasn’t even the dominant pitcher of his era — it was Jack Morris.”

He also is unhappy about what took place during the Steroid Era of baseball and says no Hall of Famers will attend if a known user is let in to Cooperstown. He’s not the only Hall of Famer who has said that.

Jackson says he plans to bring up the subject of undeserving members at the next members-only meeting in Cooperstown, and it doesn’t faze him that some of the people he believes are undeserving will be in the room.

Of all the players he mentioned, only Kirby Puckett was voted into the Hall of Fame quickly after playing his last game (Puckett’s career was cut short because he had a loss of vision). Others like Blyleven and Rice were notorious for being borderline candidates who were turned down for several years before finally being admitted.

There are many people in the baseball community who probably agree with Jackson’s opinion about Hall of Fame membership, but there are few who would be so outspoken about it. It’s that type of boldness that made him so calm in the face of pressure, and that attitude helped him become one of the best postseason hitters in history.

Curt Schilling: Definitely a Hall of Famer

We went through the same thing a few months ago when Mike Mussina announced his retirement. It’s times like these where we must recognize that the age old standards for induction into the Hall of Fame must change. 500 home runs doesn’t mean anything near what it used to considering two or three players eclipse that mark each year. Similarly, 300 wins is no longer a realistic plateau for pitchers to achieve. With that in mind, it’s time voters started changing their habits and take in the entire picture when they judge players for Hall of Fame worthiness.

Without a doubt, Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer. Even though he has less than a third of the career wins Greg Maddux had, Schilling had a stretch from ’01-’04 where he was easily one of the top pitchers in the game. Schilling was second in the Cy Young voting three of those four years and finished towards the top of the MVP balloting. Curt even had years after that where he was a very good pitcher, as well as a handful of years with the Phillies where he stood out. But the difference between Schilling and guys like Maddux who have the more impressive career numbers is what Curt did in the postseason.

Until Josh Beckett came along, if you asked me to choose a pitcher I’d want to start a playoff game in the last decade, my answer would easily be Curt Schilling (John Smoltz being a very close second). Schilling was absolutely nails in the playoffs. Let’s start with the 2001 postseason where Schilling shared World Series MVP honors with teammate Randy Johnson. In the NLDS that year, Curt threw a complete game shutout to set the tone in Game 1 against the Cardinals, and then he wrapped up the series with a complete game six-hitter for the clinching win. In the NLCS against the Braves, he threw a complete game giving up just one run for the win. In the World Series against the Yankees, he started Games 1, 4, and 7, and was just about untouchable each time out.

19 career postseason starts, 10-2 record, 2.23 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP over 130+ innings — that’s where legends are made. Only once (Game 1 of the ALCS in ’04) did Schilling not give his team a chance to win in the playoffs. Every other time that Curt stepped to the mound in October, all his team had to do was score one or two runs and they’d win. That’s what makes Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer, all personal feelings or hatred to him aside. And if you want regular season success, Schilling had two of the best back-to-back seasons by a pitcher in the steroids era from ’01-’02 with the Diamondbacks. His strikeouts to walk ratio approached 10:1 which is unheard of, and he went 45-13 throwing over 500 innings those two years. Most of all, Curt Schilling deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame because he earned it by being one of the most clutch pitchers ever. Three rings says it all.

Mike Piazza to Hall as Dodger or Met?

Now that The Dude has officially called it quits, the discussion begins: will Piazza go into the Hall as a Dodger or a Met? First off, The Dude goes down as the best hitting catcher in the game. He was crappy behind the plate and couldn’t throw out a special olympics hurdler, but man, could he hit. So in my eyes, there’s absolutely no question that he’s a Hall of Famer — first balloter at that. So does he go in wearing that Dodger cap, or the Mets shrouds?

Piazza was drafted by the Dodgers, started his career with the Dodgers, and first made his name as a Dodger. He was a relative of Tommy Lasorda’s — how much more Dodger can you get than that? And if it weren’t for the Dodgers and Lasorda, Piazza might never have been a professional baseball player. Piazza was the Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers, finished second twice in MVP voting with the Dodgers, and was an All-Star in all five full seasons he played in LA. The Dude hit over .318 in every full season with the Dodgers, including a ridiculous .362 in ’97. When Piazza was at his peak, it was with the Dodgers.

On the other hand, a larger part of Mike Piazza’s career was played with the Mets. Piazza played seven full seasons in New York, and spent the most part of ’98 there as well, the year he was traded. He duplicated his 40-homer season in his second year with New York and hit over 33 dingers with them four straight years. His skills declined as the years in New York went on, but Piazza was still an icon there. Most importantly, The Dude led the Mets to the World Series in 2000.

So when it comes down to it, how will The Dude be remembered? I think it’s as a Met, and I think that’s how he should go into Cooperstown. He spent a longer part of his career there, reached a World Series there, and was an All-Star there. And recent history tends to stand out more than ancient history, which is what the Dodgers are in his career. It’s a tough call, but I think The Dude goes in as a Met.

Oh yeah, and if Piazza makes it into the Hall first ballot, second ballot, or before McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, etc., that’s going to upset me. It shouldn’t be so subjective. As long as there’s a place for Mike Piazza in the Hall — which there is — he belongs in the same category as all the aforementioned characters — the steroids wing of the Hall. They were all legends of the game during the same time period and all belong in the same group.