Thursday, January 9, 2014

Running to stand still

Frank Thomas dons a Hall of Fame cap
after his election.
The writers did better than I expected: They elected three players to the Hall of Fame, all first-timers: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

They came two votes shy on Craig Biggio, and that somehow was the big initial story, that Biggio just missed. In the context of the argument over the 10-vote limit, Biggio matters; there were plenty of writers who said, Well, if I could go over 10, yeah, I'd have voted for Biggio. The problem I have with that is: How the devil, even on this loaded ballot, do you get 10 guys better than Biggio? Answer: You don't. Not if you're being serious in your thinking.

I suspect those who would have voted for him didn't leave him off because they thought there were 10 better choices on the ballot. They were strategic voting -- giving votes to players they feared might fail to get the 5 percent they need to stay on the ballot. But Biggio, who in most of the late predictions was seen to be just on the edge of election, was the wrong guy to do that with.

Biggio will (probably) get in next year, although the backlog of highly qualified candidates isn't getting smaller. Yes, Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are off for 2015, and so is Jack Morris, who has been bypassed for the 15th and final time by the writers. But next winter the BBWAA ballot will include Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield.

The upshot is: I saw 18 legitimate candidates on this ballot; four of them have been cleared off, and there will still be 18 legitimate candidates next winter. Even when electing the most players they have since 1955, the writers were simply running to stand still.


Here in Minnesota, of course, the big angle was Jack Morris not getting in. As you know, I don't have a problem with that. He wouldn't have been in my 10 if I had a vote.

No comments:

Post a Comment