2011 Hall of Fame Elections: Surhoff? Seriously?

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:

The Hypocrisy

The Disgraced

The Underrated, the Overlooked and a very Suspicious Looking Newbie

The Case for Larry Walker

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Tags: 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

  • Valentino Martinez

    Tino Martinez belongs in the MLB Hall of Fame because he’s earned it.

    To those who say Tino Martinez doesn’t have the stats in terms of the quantity of output need to consider the QUALITY of his stats. Tino Martinez was a standout key contributor to four NY Yankee World Series championship teams and his clutch hitting (hit HR bottom of the 9th w/two out vs. Arizona) and fielding positioned the team to survive elimination and go on to that game…and later was a key team player in nearly winning a fifth World Series title w/NY Yankees.

    Tino Martinez won a silver slugger and home run derby awards; was second on one annual AL MVP ballot; and as a leader and role model on and off the field how many in the Hall of Fame can say they hit a Grand Slam in a World Series that essentially proved to be the winning difference? And not that pre-MLB achievements count, but who else in the MLB Hall of Fame can also display a hard earned prestigious baseball Olympic Gold Medal—as an amateur athlete?

    Tino Martinez is among a handful of MLB players of his generation who actually has the proof of high achievement—the rings, medals, and trophies. People who live by statistics need to also look at RESULTS. More importantly, Tino Martinez earned the respect and recognition from peers, managers and fans alike for OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE ON THE FIELD OF COMPETITION. Few opposing players receive standing ovations from NY Yankee fans when they return to play on the field that made them memorable. I’m all for Tino Martinez’s induction into the MLB Hall of Fame because he has earned it. How many MLB players would trade their outstanding statistics for one World Series ring? All of them. How many World Series rings does Tino have? FOUR! It’s about time the HOF also recognizes sterling accomplishments rather than who can do a thousand push-ups. What the hell is that worth if it didn’t also get you the supreme prize in a given professional or amateur sport? Yes, honor statistics that show somebody showed-up for 100 more starts than the next best, but embrace the warrior who hit two homeruns in the driving rain against Chicago at Chicago—Tino did this when he was with the Cardinals.

    Lest you HOF voters forget–soon after the stark tragedy of 9/11 and people were trying to get back on track with their personal and professional lives there was this wonderful World Series Game being played between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s my guess that sports fans all over the world WATCHED that game because it was the Yankees (love them or hate them) playing. It was in New York AND it was happening in the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers and the tremendous loss of life there and elsewhere on that day. People in NY and everywhere were confused, emotionally devastated and angry. And they sought diversions important to them to regain some sense of sanity and normalcy. The World Series Game happened to be going on and it was a marvelous event for all who attended and watched on TV. And make of it what you will, but there was a telling moment that led to subsequent telling moments that decided that World Series Game that night. It started with Paul O’Neill getting on base and ended with Tino Martinez’s HR in the bottom of the 9th with two outs and two strikes. When Tino came up to bat, I could hear in my mind the wonderful and inspiring background music to the movie The Natural playing. Yet the drama of the The Natural pales in comparison the reality of Tino’s hit. A hit heard around the world that tied the game–that kept the contest going for Jeter to deliver the winning blow for the Yankees, New York and fans who love a great game outcome. I’m guessing even the Arizona fans had to tip their hats to Martinez and Jeter and the Yankee team that was not going to lose that night in New York. So rack up your statistics on what gets a player into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but show some respect for players who make the game immortal with performances that stand above just quantity. Show me the QUALITY in their performances as well. I say, TINO belongs in the Hall of Fame if the Hall of Fame values quality statistics that have dramatic outcomes—such outstanding performances that make players like Tino Martinez so memorable. Tino Martinez belongs in the HOF for what he contributed to his teams, to his fans, and to the game of baseball.

    • Logan Burdine


      By this rationale, every Yankee during that time period belongs in the Hall. I actually like Tino and if you read the links that I posted, you would know that I believe in liberal standards for the HOF. I think it takes more than arbitrary numbers. However, baseball is dominated by statistics. While stats don’t tell the entire story, they don’t lie either. Tino’s numbers fall very short.

      It’s interesting how much you reference Tino’s post-season play. Aside from a couple of clutch homeruns, he was not a great post-season player. Tino had 405 career postseason plate appearances and hit only nine homeruns. His postseason slashline: .233/.321/.351. In the 2001 WS that you referenced several times, he hit .190. His numbers pale in comparison to first-base peer and fellow HOF snub, Fred McGriff.

      I think Tino was a fine player and a great individual, but he doesn’t have a HOF resume. I wouldn’t have problem with writers voting for Tino, but not over the 10 other players on the ballot that are more worthy. I would’ve rather seen Stanton vote for every single player on the ballot than do what he did. There is no logical argument to be made for his ballot.

      Thanks for the comment! It’s much appreciated!