Cooperstown Series – Part II – The Disgraced
Initially I intended for this to be a two part post, but it quickly morphed into a four part mega-series. When it comes to Hall of Fame elections, there are a lot of slighted players out there. Plus, this being a Rockies blog, we owe it to Larry Walker to spend an entire day on his candidacy (just not today).
Part II — The Disgraced
I can’t delve into the issue of Hall of Fame exclusions without mentioning Pete Rose. Rose’s misdeeds are well documented, but — for those that don’t know — he bet on MLB games while managing the Reds. Often he bet on his own games. After being caught, Rose was all together banned from baseball in 1989. As a result, he has never been on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Charlie Hustle — a nickname pinned on Rose by Whitey Ford — is baseball’s all-time leader in hits, games played, at-bats, and outs. He won three World Series rings, three batting championships, an MVP and two Gold Gloves. He also went to the All-Star game seventeen times at five different positions. However, nobody argues the merit of his on-field play. Pete has character issues — substantial ones.
When he was caught in 1989, Rose staunchly denied betting on baseball. Looking for an opportunity to make money, in 2004 he finally came clean, admitting to betting and lying about it. The problem with his confession was that it came far too late and it was very transparent. Clearly, Rose wanted to sell his book and gain some sympathy for his Hall of Fame case. I don’t like Rose. I think he would do anything for a buck and he has always come across as a dirt bag. However, as I previously pointed out, the Hall is full of delinquents who were as bad or worse than Rose. I say elect him and etch that he was a cheating bastard right on his plaque.
McGwire is the icon of Major League Baseball’s steroid era. In his playing days, the current St. Louis hitting coach was a monster of a man with forearms the size of footballs. To this day, I’ve never been in the presence of a more imposing human being. In 1998, McGwire shattered Roger Maris’ single season home run record by hitting an unheard of seventy balls out of the yard. The next season, he hit sixty-five. For his career, McGwire tallied 583 home runs — good for tenth on the all-time homerun list. He averaged one homerun per every 10.61 at bats, the best ratio in the history of baseball.
Despite being one hell of a nice guy, McGwire is reviled by many. Mostly because in 2005 he dodged questions at a Congressional hearing on steroids and later admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. 2011 will be Mark’s fifth year on the ballot. Last year, he received just over twenty-three percent of the vote. Election requires seventy-five percent. McGwire’s only chance at Cooperstown may be the Veterans’ Committee.
This is the first year Palmeiro will be on the ballot. Raffie is scorned for infamously waiving his finger in front of Congress in 2005, declaring that he never had and never would touch steroids. Less than five months later, he tested positive for performance enhancers. He also has a superb case for Cooperstown. The sweet swinging Palmeiro is one of four players to collect three-thousand hits and five-hundred home runs. The other three are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray. Not exactly a lightweight.
If the BBWAA is going to disregard Palmeiro and McGwire because of steroids, they better be prepared to do the same thing when Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens come up for election. Frankly, I don’t see how you can exclude those guys. They were the greatest players of a generation defined by steroids. All of these players deserve their proper place in Cooperstown, but just like with Rose, they should disclose their cheating ways right on their plaque.
2010 was Alomar’s first year on the ballot. He only missed election by eight votes, but he absolutely should have gained admittance into the Hall. The speedy, switch-hitting Alomar might be the greatest second baseman of all-time. With ten Gold Gloves, he has more than any other two bagger in history. Plus, he was awarded with four Silver Sluggers — the second most for a player at his position. He was a career .300 hitter and won two World Series Championships. Alomar made twelve All-Star games and was the 1992 ALCS MVP. Alomar has virtually no ties with steroids, but it still seems to be his character that kept him from election last January.
Alomar once spit in an umpire’s face. It was a disgusting display, still remembered by many. Two exes have accused him of purposefully infecting others with AIDS. If that’s true, it is awful, but it has nothing to do with baseball. There is no good explanation for BBWAA’s snubbing of Alomar.
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