We have seen the Game’s greats go to Cooperstown, New York time and time again, where they belong. Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Ted Williams. More recently, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones and Trevor Hoffman, to name a few. Some of the Game’s best names have had their face enshrined in the halls of Cooperstown yet year in and year out there is a debate, is the Hall of Fame really the Hall of Fame. I sit here writing this article after a lengthy discussion with our other writers, Keith Corbliss, Nik Santana, and Matt Wechsler about the Hall of Fame and players who we believe should be in or out. We all have different opinions which made for a great discussion. However, there tended to be an issue that I saw, what qualifies you for the Hall of Fame?
Is it 200 wins for a starting pitcher? How many All-Star games do you have to make? Do you have to hit over .300? What about 500 homeruns? 3,000 hits? How many Cy Young awards? MVP awards? How many times have you been crowned a World Champion? All of this has been a good way to benchmark if players should be in the Hall of Fame. However, The Baseball Writers Association of America has messed this up completely. Over the past couple of years, there has been a very large debate if the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is even the Hall of Fame anymore, or if it has turned into the Hall of Very Good by the BBWAA. I am nowhere near a member of the BBWAA, however, I can tell you that it is not the Hall of Fame anymore. Thanks to the Baseball Writers Association of America.
We have seen time and time again the dilution of players who have entered the Hall of Fame, players like Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, and the always interesting case of Mike Piazza, who has admitted to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) during his ‘Hall of Fame’ career. So, where do we stand now? Well, the media has known for a longtime that MLB’s Hall of Fame has started to become the Hall of Very Good. Brian Kenny, the host of MLB Now on MLB Network, has been the main voice behind this growing issue. The Hall of Fame is for players who are the best of their generational talent, not just someone who fits the criteria for All-Star teams elected to, or if they have 3,000 hits, or 200 wins. By reaching those benchmarks, you put yourself in the conversation to be in the Hall of Fame, not an instant vote in. With the precedent that has been set forth by the BBWAA, they have lost touch with their own voting system of who should be voted in. The Baseball Writers Association of America needs to understand that this monumental ceremony is for the Game’s very best. If there are players on the ballot for a certain year that do not deserve to be in, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO VOTE PLAYERS IN. Some people do only vote one player, while other writers feel the need to use all 10 of their votes. I am here to tell you, BBWAA writers, if there is a time to use all 10, then by all means, use all 10. But, you do not have to do so every single year. The BBWAA has made the Hall of Fame another award, not an honor.
The most recent topic of debate over the past years has included the most intriguing Hall of Fame cases, with names such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire. McGwire did not get voted in on his last chance in 2016. However, over the past years we have seen the votes for and Clemens grow and grow ever closer to the minimum 75% needed to get into the Hall of Fame. This past vote, we saw Bonds at 60.7% and Clemens at 61%, leaving them with just two more eligible voting years left on the ballot. Their first years on the ballot they received 36.2% and 37.6% respectively, and popularity has grown every single year. Let us not forget one of the infamous names in all of baseball, Pete Rose, who has been banned from baseball after his gambling on games during his playing career.
Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, he’s one of the best hitters of all time, as he collected over 4,200 hits in his career. I believe that the lifetime ban and permanent ineligibility for him to be a member of the Hall of Fame is a gross overreaction. Yet, the Baseball Writers Association of America seems to think that they sit upon a moral high-horse by not allowing Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame, as well as other players who have used PEDs. What moral high ground do you have? You already let Mike Piazza into the Hall, who admitted to using PEDs, but… you won’t let Pete Rose in? Why not let Mark McGwire in? Why not Barry Bonds? Or Clemens? Baseball Writers Association of America, you already lost all credibility for your votes to the Hall of Fame. You try to act like a moral compass by not allowing others who used PEDs into the hall, but YOU already tainted it. YOU make the players who played their careers pure next to worthless, to put players in who cheated everyone else. YOU do not have the right as an association to act as the moral compass for the Hall of Fame anymore.
So what now? Well, Baseball Writers Association of America, YOU have painted yourself into a corner where your votes are, in no uncertain terms, worthless. If I am a member of the BBWAA, I cannot consciously put Barry Bonds next to Hank Aaron, turning a blind eye to the Mitchell Report. But with Mike Piazza already in, why not? You have already tainted this honor by letting in cheaters, you have diluted this by letting in very good players, not greats. The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame isn’t that anymore. It was, at a time, for the Game’s greats, but it isn’t that anymore. And who knows? Maybe this will change, but it needs to change fast, and I don’t think it will. Major League Baseball, and Baseball Writers Association of America, hear our plea. As fans of the game, who seem to understand this honor more than you, tread lightly these next years, or may the floodgates open and taint what is supposed to be a shrine of greats.