The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame vote has come and gone, and 3 deserving players have made their way to Cooperstown. The Hall welcomes some of our era’s great players; Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. But this year is still mired with the players that were left off the ballot for various reasons. Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, and others were left on the outside looking in. Some should be in, some will never see the HOF and the whole process is unnerving to me.
Frank Thomas will go down as one of the greatest hitting first baseman ever, a career .301 with 521 homers and 1,704 RBIs in 19 seasons. Tom Glavine was 10-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young winner, was 305-203 over 22 seasons with the Braves and Mets, the later he won a championship with. Greg Maddux is simply one of the greatest pitchers ever to take the mound. Maddux posted a 355-227 record and 3.16 ERA over 23 seasons in the majors. Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1992 to 1995 and you can toss in the 18 Gold Gloves he collected over his career (an award that people seem to care less and less about these days).
However, there were on 3 voted in this year and there are players that should get in this year if you asked around. The one player other than the previously mentioned 3 that I thought was a lock was Craig Biggio. He missed the HOF by 2 votes, getting 74.8% of the writer’s vote (75% is required to gain entry). He was a career .281 hitter, but over 3,000 hits and an all-star at 4 positions in his great career. He missed the Hall because of two votes, and the system should correct that. How? There should be more than just writers holding the fate of players in their hands. These are writers who never played the sport or played against these great players. They just covered them, or saw them when their team came to town. If you played your whole career but did something wrong to one writer, you can get blacklisted and be on the outside looking in. The committee should be expanded to include Hall of Fame players. These are people who are greats themselves, and played against other greats. They have a perspective that not many others have. Now the downside to this is that they could be swayed just like writers can be. They could vote for friends, get asked to vote for money, or not vote for players they didn’t like. But they wouldn’t have the full vote, maybe 25% of it, and they can help a deserving player like a Biggio or a Jack Morris get in. And why Jack Morris is not in the Hall is a crime.
Mike Piazza is one of the greatest hitter catchers, if not the greatest, ever to step on the field. He was a career .308 hitter with 427 home runs and did it at the most grueling position in the sport. However, he like many of the players I mentioned before was a part of the ‘Steroid Era of Baseball’. The darkest black eye the sport has taken since the Integration of Black players and the Black Sox scandals. Piazza has written a book where he states he didn’t take steroids, but he did take supplements like Andro and others that were later banded. Despite his admission, he’s still under this cloud that he can’t shake. Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmerio, etc have been linked basically looked at as poster children for steroids. Writers have chosen to stand up to these players and not vote them in even though their numbers clearly warrant it. Barry Bonds is the Home Run king and consider one of the game’s greatest players, yet he is not even close to getting in. People argue how can you have a Hall without these guys, but cheating the game has put this all in perspective. They cheated and will never be rewarded for it anymore. The era is filled with guilt and the guilty, everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use. So someone like Piazza will have to wait until his name is cleared, if it ever will be.
In 2016, the vote will be expanded with more committee members so there is a chance for the wrongs to be righted. I feel confident Biggio will get in next year, and Piazza will be in as he deserves. But we are still feeling the effects from 2013, when 2013 marked the first year since 1960 no one was voted into the Hall of Fame. And until the PEDs and their users are purged from the game, the number of Hall of Famer being voted in will continue to be few and far between.