Tuesday Morning Rant: Hypothetical HOF Ballot

from Nick Suss

Jan. 5, 2016, 12:47 p.m.

I really like the concept of legacies.

When I played football in high school, I established an apprenticeship program called “The Fan Club.” Every year, a sophomore chose a freshman to mentor and we initiated him into The Fan Club on the grounds of being a good kid, a hard-working kid, a rule-following kid and not an ass. I have no clue if it still exists.

Everything I did at The Red & Black was drenched in the idea of leaving behind a lasting legacy. The way I wrote, the way I edited, the way I managed. All of them came in the hope that it would inspire someone behind me to do it the same way, or a better way. Heck, even the way I arranged the furniture mattered to me. I wanted people there to be saying my name for at least a few years after I left.

So that’s probably why I’ve been obsessed with the MLB Hall of Fame my entire life. It’s literally a legacy museum for the sport that I love more than any other and hopefully I get the opportunity to devote my life to covering and studying.

Obviously, I don’t have a vote for the Hall of Fame. I would like to someday, God willing, but for now we just have to live in this world of hypotheticals. Now, for those of you who follow the HoF balloting process closely like I do, I don’t want to bore you with my rationales of why I would vote for who I would vote for. Rather, in the celebration of the return of the Tuesday Morning Rant, I’ve decided to rank my 10 votes into tiers in the order of how angry I am that each player isn’t already in the Hall of Fame, starting with anger and leading toward rationality. Here we go.

Tier 1: For ****’s Sake People!

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

I get it. They probably cheated. And I only say probably because it’s technically correct to say. I get it. But I mean c’mon! I don’t want to make the “They would’ve been Hall of Famers if they didn’t cheat” argument and I don’t want to make the “They had Hall of Fame careers before their second prime” argument. Those are already passe.

I just want to remind you that there are plenty of bad people in the Hall of Fame already, some of whom may have cheated in different ways. And the museum isn’t called the Hall of Role Models. It’s about fame. And we’re talking about the greatest pitcher of all time and one of the five greatest hitters of all time. Come the heck on and just put them in. I don’t care if it’s fame or infamy, I don’t want to live in a world where the two most dominant players I’ve ever seen aren’t Hall of Famers.

Tier 2: You’re Just Being Petty

Jeff Bagwell

Mike Piazza

They had Hall of Fame careers. Neither of them were ever the best player in baseball for sustained periods, but neither were guys like Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin, and they’re in the Hall. The only reason neither Bagwell nor Piazza are in Cooperstown yet is lingering PED concerns. But you have no proof.

Do I think they juiced? I think one of them might have and the other could have. But do I care? No.

Put them in the damn Hall. I don’t think either were first ballot guys. I don’t think Piazza was even a second ballot guy. But we’re at a point where they should be voted in. It’s been long enough, don’t you think?

Tier 3: Do The Math, People

Edgar Martinez

Mike Mussina

Tim Raines

I feel like these guys are the cold cases of the Hall of Fame ballot. They weren’t as appreciated as they should’ve been in their time, but now that we’ve had time to look their careers over, they are slam dunk Hall of Fame guys.

I don’t want to get too mathy on you, but here’s a somewhat misleading stat I’ll use to illustrate my point. I acknowledge that it’s misleading because it relies on WAR, a stat that I don’t like to use because I prefer to use numbers I at least know how to calculate. But if you take the combined career Baseball-Reference WAR to standardize the careers of Raines, Mussina and Martinez, you get 220.1. If you combine the BBRef WAR of John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and Pedro Martinez, three of last year’s inductees, you get 217.6. Legacy-wise, using a standardizing metric, these two groups had very similar value.

Ick I’m getting rational and supporting my claims stop let’s go back to emotion.

Tier 4: But Wouldn’t It Be Cool?

Larry Walker

Larry Walker will never be a Hall of Famer. I’m honestly impressed he’s still on the ballot. I thought he would’ve dropped off by now. But I’ve been hypothetically voting for him for about five years now and I’m not going to stop now.

The dude is a lifetime .313 hitter with a career OPS of .965. By comparison, Ken Griffey Jr batted .284 with an OPS of .907 for his career. I didn’t know that before I started typing this, but what? I know he played in Colorado where baseballs fly like the birds in that movie Rio, (I assume. I haven’t seen Rio and I’ve never been to Colorado.) but thin air doesn’t help you make contact. And he was great at that. Throw in his career average of 74 walks per season and his seven gold gloves and you have yourself a heck of a ballplayer.

I will keep hypothetically voting for Larry Walker. I think he should be a Hall of Famer slam dunk. But he won’t be. And that makes me sad.

Tier 5: I Mean, This is His First Year, How Angry Can I Be?

Ken Griffey Jr

Disparaging remarks in the previous tier aside, Ken Griffey Jr should get into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot and I will cheer when he does. No further statements. This is a duh.

Tier 6: I Have A Tenth Vote, So I’m Going to Use It Dammit!

Curt Schilling

I don’t feel particularly strongly about putting Curt Schilling in the Hall of Fame. This will be my first year hypothetically voting him in. But I had a 10th vote and I sure as heck am not going to pocket one. So this last slot came down to Schilling and Trevor Hoffman. And while I think his saves mark is impressive, I don’t think Hoffman’s career was all that much better than Billy Wagner’s saves aside, and I’m not putting Wagner on my ballot either.

Hoffman is much more of a second-ballot kind of guy to me. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I also called Mussina, Bagwell and Martinez second-ballot guys and they’re still on my ballot to this day going strong. Hoffman will get in someday. Heck, he might get in this year. But I think Schilling is more deserving of this spot, however indifferent I may be to his candidacy and however quickly I might bounce him off the list next year.

It’s nothing personal against Schilling, I just haven’t done my research on him like I have the others on this list and due to my youth inhibiting me, the Schilling I remember was always a little worse than the Mussina I remember, and the Glavines, Madduxes, Pedros, Johnsons and Clemens I remember for that matter.

I don’t think he’ll get in any time soon. But he’ll probably get a look someday. Dude has a legacy. And that’s what this thing is all about.


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