The writers put Griffey and Piazza in the Hall of Fame. Junior got the highest percentage of the vote in history, 99.3 -- only three voters didn't vote for him.
And how did three decide to pass on him? Well, none of the naysayers have outed him or herself as of this writing, but there are three possibilities, one of which I think is acceptable:
- The old "if Babe Ruth wasn't unanimous, nobody's gonna be unanimous" trope.
- A protest vote against everybody who played in the Steroid Era.
- A game theory vote that reasoned that Griffey was a shoo-in and I'll use that slot on my ballot for someone who needs the vote.
That last I'll accept. The ballot, even after seven players were elected in the previous two years, is still stuffed with legitimate candidates, and the voters are limited to a maximum of 10 names. One can easily skip Griffey and still have more than 10 candidates who would be better choices than many already inducted.
There will doubtless be many voices in the electorate congratulating themselves on electing two players and now nine in three years. But really, it's been the lowest of hanging fruit. Of the nine, seven were on their first time on the ballot; the other two were a 3,000-hit second baseman (Craig Biggio) and the best hitting catcher ever (Piazza). This isn't as difficult as the electorate made it.
Meanwhile, Alan Trammell ran out of time. He drops off the ballot. Raines has just one more year on the writers ballot; there's now an expectation that he'll go in next year. Ditto Bagwell, who fell 15 votes shy this time around.
Next year's first timers figure to include Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada and Manny Ramirez. It will be another loaded ballot. The writers continue to run to stand still, unable to clear their backlog of overqualified candidates.