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Some things hard to figure

January 13, 2014
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor (rgallabrese@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

I have never understood the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame as much as I am not a big baseball guy.

It befuddled me that not one person had ever received 100 percent of the votes.

Not one.

Not Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Ricky Henderson, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Ty Cobb, Mike Schmidt, Honus Wagner, Stan Musial or Ted Williams.

And I will never buy the "no one has ever so no one ever will" argument from these guys.

Who in the world can look at themselves in the mirror of the guys who did not vote for those mentioned above?

Five people didn't vote for Seaver, six left off Ryan, eight Ripken, four Cobb, nine Brett and Aaron and 13 Gwynn.

This year, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas received the nod, but 15 people left Maddux off their ballot.

Some of those are hiding behind the "I'm not voting for anyone from the steroid (or PED) era."

A sham.

A shame.

Of the 571 ballots cast this year, one was blank, one had one, one had three, one had four and one had five.

For some pathetic, unexplainable reason, the Baseball Writers Association of America limited each member to 10 votes on the 36-player ballot.

I listened to Tim Kurkjian of ESPN say he saw 21 hall of famers on the list.

So, why not let them vote for whomever they wanted?

Why limit?

Then, there is Dan Le Batard, an ESPN radio and TV host and columnist for the Miami Herald.

Le Batard said he gave his vote to Deadspin as a form of protest on the process. Deadspin allowed readers to choose names by a yes or no vote and the top 10 would be submitted.

They voted for Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Craig Biggio (who missed by two votes), Mike Piazza, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling.

He has been kicked out of the BBWAA for a year and is no longer allowed to vote in the HOF process.

The statement from BBWAA President La Velle E. Neall III said:

"The BBWAA board of directors has decided to remove Dan Le Batard's membership for one year, for transferring his hall of fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status. The punishment is allowed under the organization's constitution.

"In addition, Le Batard will not be allowed to vote on hall of fame candidates from this point on.

"The BBWAA regards hall of fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable."

So, what Le Batard did was an abuse of a privilege, but guys voting this year for Moises Alou (6 votes), Hideo Nomo (6), Luis Gonzalez (5), Eric Gagne (2), J.T. Snow (2), Armando Benitez (1), Jacque Jones (1) and Kenny Rogers (1) is not considered an abuse of the privilege.

And, apparently, not voting for the obvious hall of famers mentioned above is also not a abuse of the privilege of voting.

Of course, leaving a ballot blank is not new as Paul Ladewski did so in 2007, not voting for Ripken or Gwynn.

He wrote in 2007, "At this point, I don't have nearly enough information to make a value judgment of this magnitude. In particular, that concerns any player in the steroids era, which I consider to be the 1993-2004 period, give or a take a season.

"This isn't to suggest that Gwynn or Ripken or the majority of the other eligible candidates padded his statistics with performance-enhancers and cheated the game, their predecessors and the fans in the process. ... But tell me, except for the players themselves, who can say what they put into their bodies over the years with any degree of certainty?"

He also had another reason for his blank ballot.

"What makes Gwynn and Ripken so special that they deserve to be unanimous selections?" he wrote. "Walter Johnson, Cy Young and Honus Wagner didn't receive such hall passes. Neither did Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. In fact, nobody has in the history of the game. Based on the standards set by the hall of fame voters decades ago, is there a neutral observer out there who can honestly say Gwynn and Ripken should be afforded an unprecedented honor?"

In 1992, Seaver received all but five votes.

Three ballots that year were submitted blank.

I will always see that as abusing the privilege.

Just waiting to see which guys do not vote for Randy Johnson next year, Trevor Hoffman or Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016, Chipper Jones in 2018 or Mariano Rivera in 2019.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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