Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Baseball's Hall of Fame Veterans Committee Elects...NOBODY!!!

The recently revamped Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee has, once again, elected nobody to baseball's highest honor, enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - The Hall of Fame pitched another shutout. Ron Santo, Jim Kaat, Marvin Miller and all the other candidates were left out Tuesday when the Veterans Committee admitted no new members for the third straight election. The blank slate could lead to changes before the next vote in 2009.

"We're being blamed because something hasn't happened," Hall member and vice chairman Joe Morgan said. "If you're asking me, 'Do we lower our standards to get more people in?' my answer would be no."

I'll address this pompously idiotic statement at length later in the post...

Santo came the closest to the required 75 percent. A nine-time All-Star, the former Cubs third baseman was picked on 57 of 82 ballots (70 percent).

Kaat, a 283-game winner and strongly backed by Hall member Mike Schmidt, drew 52 votes. Gil Hodges, who hit 370 home runs, got 50 votes and three-time AL batting champion Tony Oliva had 47. Players needed 62 for election. Umpire Doug Harvey received 52 of the necessary 81 votes on the ballot for managers, umpires and executives. Miller, the union head who led players to free-agent riches, showed a strong increase in getting 51.

I'm not totally sold on Kaat. He was a good pitcher in a pitching-dominated era. Still, we wouldn't be lowering Joe's standards any by his induction. Hodges should be in. So should Oliva. He is hurt by a short career by Hall standards, but he led the AL in batting three times, in doubles four times, base hits five times, slugging percentage, runs scored, total bases and extra base hits once each. He most of that in the pitching dominated 1960's. I'm not sure about Harvey, but his reputation is legendary. Miller should definitely be in, and every player should be screaming for his inclusion.

The vets committee was revamped after charges of cronyism when it elected Bill Mazeroski in 2001. That marked the eighth straight year the 15-member panel sent someone to Cooperstown. After that, the panel was expanded to include all living Hall of Famers. The new committee votes every other year for players and every four years for the others.

"We are disappointed that no one has been elected in the three voting cycles," Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. "We will be evaluating this process and its trends at our next meeting, which is March 13, and discussing whether there should be any changes."

"The board may decide that the trends are not what we thought they were going to be. Perhaps this hasn't worked as well as some of the board members thought it would and maybe it needs a little bit of change," she said.

Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn were elected to the Hall by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in January. They will stand alone at the induction ceremonies July 29 in Cooperstown.

The 84 eligible voters on the vets committee included 61 Hall members, 14 broadcasters, eight writers and one holdover from the previous panel. Morgan said he voted for the maximum 10 players.

"I feel there are some guys out there that belong in the Hall of Fame," he said. "The writers voted on these people for 15 years and they weren't elected. Why are we being criticized because we haven't elected someone?" Maury Wills, Joe Torre, Roger Maris, Luis Tiant and Bobby Bonds were among the 27 candidates on the players ballot.

"Noboby got in? That's too bad. I'm sorry to hear that," Torre said. "I'm not exactly sure what process they use. Don't forget, you've got the old guard and the young guard. People with different interests."

Torre drew 32 percent of the votes based on his playing career. The New York Yankees
manager — and former NL MVP — is expected to be elected when his time in the dugout is considered.

"Joe Torre, when he retires and he has 8,000 wins or whatever, I think that people would vote for him," Morgan said. Dick Williams, Whitey Herzog, Walter O'Malley and Charlie O. Finley also were among the 15 names on the composite ballot. Morgan said it was hard to pick from those candidates.

What Joe means is that, if he is still on this committee when Torre retires, is that HE will vote for him, and probably put the arm on his colleagues to do likewise. He has two loyalties: His former Reds teammates, and the Yankees.

Marvin Miller received 63 percent, moving up from 44 percent in the previous election. "Personally, I would love to see him get in," Torre said at the Yankees' spring camp in Tampa, Fla. "He's made such an impact on this modern player and the game itself."

Union head Donald Fehr said it was "profoundly disappointing" that Miller did not get enough support. "Given the increased number of votes for Marvin this time, there is certainly reason to believe that the votes will be there in the future," he said. Two years ago, Santo and Hodges each came within eight votes of election in drawing 65 percent.

Santo was a five-time Gold Glove winner and hit 342 home runs. Hall member Billy Williams was rooting hard for his old Cubs teammate. "I kind of felt sorry for him because he was so looking forward to getting the call," he said. "I really thought the credentials that he has, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

Well said Mr. Williams. Santo DOES deserve to be in the Hall. He should have been in long ago. He was the best third baseman in the NL when he played, and, in addition to the stats mentioned above, he led the NL in bases on balls four times, on-base percentage twice and triples once. For Morgan to insinuate that his committee would have to "lower standards to get more people in" is idiotic.

There are dozens of players in the Hall who couldn't carry Santo's cleats. Players like Ray Schalk, Rick Ferrell, Travis Jackson, George Kelly, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker and Chick Hafey come quickly to mind. Santo was better than all of these guys, and the fact that he is still awaiting induction while these guys enjoy baseball immortality is terrible.

A few years ago I recall Mike Schmidt mouthing off about not electing anyone THAT time by saying something on the order of, "If they deserved to be there they'd already be in", or some such nonsense. That statement (paraphrased) demonstrates why he was unsuited for this duty.

Lou Whitaker was dropped from the ballot a few years ago because, in his first year of eligibility, he failed to get the necessary minimum 5% of the vote to remain on the ballot. What Schmidt and Morgan imply is that, left up to them, he has ZERO chance of ever being honored, despite the fact that he was the best all-around second baseman in the AL for the Tigers in the 1980s. He hit 244 homers, scored 1,386 runs, drive in 1,084 and won three Gold Gloves. Why he couldn't get 5% of the vote his first time out is a mystery--almost as troubling as the fact that his double-play partner, Alan Trammell, is not yet enshrined (he clings to life on the active ballot).

I think I'd best tip the good folks at the Fire Joe Morgan web site (see blog roll) that he is still crazy as ever.

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