Tuesday, January 10, 2012

HOF: Why Can't I Quit You

The Answer: The one player the scrooges that are the Baseball Writers Association of America quite reluctantly agree to elect into the Baseball HOF this year to sit along side the spit ballers and speed freaks there were their childhood heroes.

The Question: Who is Barry Larkin*?

The voters also bumped up Jack Morris' vote total that likely will make him next year's inductee.

I have such a love/hate relationship with the HOF. There always going to be legitimate bones of contention over certain players. One has to draw a line somewhere to distinguish HOF caliber players from the merely great players.

The problem for me is two fold. It starts with what seems like clear reluctance on the BBWAA voters behalf to enshrine new players. This is made painfully clear when you see how players spend years on the ballot and then slowly climb in votes until finally elected. It is even worse when you see some players clearly snubbed on their first year and then elected in the second year. I can only really attribute this to the voters nostalgia for older players. If you want further evidence look into how the "Veterans Committee" was transformed and renamed the "Golden Era Committee."

My second problem I've hashed out previously. I don't accept the idea that steroid use is an automatic disqualifier. Additionally, I've always suspected that it was being used as an excuse to exclude certain players not liked by the writers. Over the weekend one writer being interviewed on MLB Network confirmed this suspicion. He said he wouldn't vote for Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro because he thought steroids were cheating. He went on to say that he thought he would eventually vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens - despite proven steroid use - because he "believed" they would be of HOF caliber without the steroid use. I can only call bullshit.

Yet, the HOF is the last great honor a player can earn and is heavily reported if not highly respected. I love the sport and obviously I want this final honor to be meted out in a way I see as fair. Certain players are going to be on the cusp and I would have disagreements one way or the other. What I see though is a small group of privileged voters exercising their biases.

*Personal note. Barry Larkin is extremely deserving of HOF induction. He is one of the best short stops to ever play the game. He set the standard for guys like Ripkin Jr., A-Rod, Jeter, and Garciapara.



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