As expected, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America butchered this year’s Hall of Fame vote. Deserving candidates Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar were finally elected, but otherwise the BBWAA vote was a travesty. The BBWAA has turned the Hall into an honor only attained by elite players with squeaky clean reputations. Greatness is no longer enough for Cooperstown.
This year’s list of snubs was impressive. Barry Larkin, one of the ten best shortstops of all time, received 62% of the vote, coming up way short of the required 75%. Tim Raines, an all-time great leadoff hitter and base stealer, received 37.5%. Rafael Palmeiro, one of four players ever to accumulate 3000 hits and 500 homeruns, only garnered 64 votes — good for 11%. In a Congressional hearing, Palmeiro staunchly denied ever using steroids and then tested positive a few months later. It seems that the BBWAA was more upset by the lie than by Raffy’s actual use of steroids.
Much to the chagrin of Rockies fans, no one received worst treatment than Larry Walker. The overt Coors Field bias that drove Walker’s snubbing is alarming. Overall, Larry was given 20.3% of the vote. Some might find that to be a respectable total, but I think it is a slap in the face to a great player like Walker. To put it in perspective, Alan Trammell received 24.3%. Alan Freaking Trammell!!! No offense to Trammell, but give me a break.
ESPN in particular showed a strong bias against Walker . Of the eighteen ESPN writers that are members of the BBWAA, only Jayson Stark voted for Larry. The lack of support for Walker doesn’t bode well for Todd Helton’s chances when he becomes eligible. Walker was a dominant steroid era player with no ties to PEDs. He was MLB’s best player in 1997 and was the best right fielder in baseball for several seasons in the late 90s. Larry’s resume should have earned him more than 118 votes, but couldn’t overcome the prejudice against Coors. The stigma attached to Denver’s fine stadium is frustrating, but it’s an unfortunate reality for Rockies fans and players.
No discussion about last week’s HOF vote is complete without mentioning ESPN’s Barry Stanton. Stanton, a news editor with the worldwide leader, pieced together one of the most perplexing ballots by a BBWAA member in recent memory. Stanton voted for five players. He didn’t vote for Alomar, Blyleven, or Larkin — the three players with the strongest cases. While his votes for Jack Morris, Don Mattingly and Edgar Martinez were curious, his other two votes were inexplicable. For whatever reason, Stanton thinks Tino Martinez and BJ Surhoff are worthy of plaques in Cooperstown. I can’t even fathom the thought process that led Stanton to vote for BJ Surhoff, but not Roberto Alomar or Barry Larkin. By casting such an awful ballot, Stanton abused the privilege of voting for the Hall of Fame. Perhaps next year, his vote will be given to someone who actually appreciates the honor.
Here are links to Cooperstown articles I wrote back in November:
Topics: Alan Trammell, Barry Larkin, Barry Stanton, Baseball Writers' Association Of America, Bert Blyleven, BJ Surhoff, Colorado Rockies, Congress, Cooperstown, Coors Field, Don Mattingly, Edgar Martinez, Hall Of Fame, Jack Morris, Jayson Stark, Larry Walker, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Tino Martinez