San Francisco Giants v Milwaukee Brewers

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is a wonderful museum and cherished time capsule of the grand old game. The story of baseball is told inside those hallowed halls, with keepsakes and mementos from time immemorial.

Telling the story of baseball seems, to me, like the real purpose of the Hall of Fame. The enshrinement process exists as an extension of the same ideal: these are the great players without whom the game would not be the same.

Over time, of course, the idea of baseball’s Hall of Fame came to mean different things to those who provide entry to the game’s greatest individual honor, the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The simplistic criteria used as the basis of judgment for Hall of Fame eligibility shifted in recent years, as many fans and writers took up the causes of overlooked but otherwise worthy candidates. Careers and statistics were scrutinized in different ways in attempt to put achievement into context.

This shift in priorities reshaped the Hall of Fame debate, especially as the cloud of drug use and steroids settled over the proceedings. Former clear cut Hall of Famers were cast aside, while other players received additional support as their eligibility waned.

The result, after five or ten contentious years, is a mess. The 2014 Hall of Fame ballot is a disaster after years of special pleading (“he’s a Hall of Famer but NOT a first ballot guy”) and steroid suspicion culminated with no players receiving sufficient support to enter the Hall last January. Two of the greatest players in the history of the game did not garner enough votes last year, so we end up with gridlock that would make Mexico City blush.

The best way to start the healing process? Send an extra large contingent this season. With “messages sent” and so many excellent players on this year’s ballot, there is a great opportunity to both elect deserving players and cut a lot of dead wood from the bottom of the ballot. Maybe a few casualties on either side but all hope is not lost.

The full ballot is found here but this is how I would vote, had I the honor.

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Greg Maddux
  4. Frank Thomas
  5. Mike Piazza
  6. Curt Schilling
  7. Mike Mussina
  8. Alan Trammell
  9. Tim Raines
  10. Mark McGwire

There is room for debate on a few of these names but all ten men have tremendous Hall of Fame cases. All ten names on this list could well be lined on a humid afternoon in July, celebrating their careers with their peers – baseball’s true elite.

It won’t work like that, of course. But it should. The list of deserving players only gets longer as the years go by. The also-rans and stat compilers will fall by the wayside as the men who shaped the game for a generation step forward to receive their final acknowledgement.

Baseball’s story since the last work stoppage in 1995 cannot be told without Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza or Tim Raines. Hopefully the BBWAA stops trying to scrub the parts they don’t like from the annals of the game and let history speak for itself.

Comments (13)

  1. McGwire should be much higher, if I wanted cheaters included on the ballot, which I don’t.

  2. Man, so hard to make room for deserving candidates like Edgar and Walker. Moose might be the only guy I bumped from your list, probably for Edgar (he put up a 7 fWAR season DHing like 140 games!).

  3. I don’t think Tim Raines played that big of a role post-1995. McGwire did, but not Raines.

  4. There are at least 17 deserving candidates, but I still don’t think it’s possible to justify leaving Bagwell out of the 10.

  5. Interesting that you left Glavine out…care to elaborate as to why?

    • Because I think Mike Mussina is a better pitcher. As is Curt Schilling.

      • Glavine has the wins, Schilling has the strikeouts. But curt was never durable, or realiable from year to year to stay healthy. 6 times in his career he reached 32 starts. Compared to 17 times Glavine reached or exceeded that many starts. Schilling shouldn’t even be considered in the same class as Schilling, career wise, as Glavine, in my opinion. When he was good, he was probably better than Glavine, but only for short periods of time. Glavines body of work is far more impressive, IMO.

        Mussina was a good pitcher who was fortunate enough to play on a great team. I know Glavine played on some great Brave teams, but Mussina only had an ERA below 3 once in a full season for his entire career. Neither of these pitchers should be considered HOF over a pitcher like Glavine.

        • Your line about ERA doesn’t hold because their career numbers are nearly identical, with Mussina holding the edge when we correct for league context. Playing on great teams boosted both players win totals, Glavine just hung around for a few extra seasons to get his 300.

  6. The day Barry Bonds falls off the ballot I’m buying a house in Cooperstown and starting my own fuckin’ Hall of Baseball Greatness.

  7. Martinez, Glavine, Palmeiro, Bagwell … all 10 of the guys you listed and there are others who I’d say are pretty much obvious candidates (I’d say McGwire is the closest thing to a borderline candidate among that group — but others appear to think he should be higher, and there’s a case).
    I think the most interesting thing, though, is to see how many voters reach deep to help Morris out and leave more deserving candidates off their list to do so.

  8. what kind of fuckin stupid sack of shit would vote for someone who willingly used enhanced help??? a fucking moron, get some fucking morals!!! anyone tied to enhanced drug help shouldnt even get a sniff at the HOF. they lost all credibility on what they did on the field when they were tied into it. anyone who thinks differently doesnt give two sweet fucks about baseball, period! fucking jerry springer wannabe!!

    • Just going to go ahead and slide the burden of proof your way. And kindly ask that you do two things: clean up your language and then I’m going to need you to go fuck yourself.

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