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C'mon MLB writers! Get it right!Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008, at 2:22 PM
Every year, the Baseball Writers Association of America gets together in what seems like a cubby hole.
The large group of sports writers go over career statistics of former Major League Baseball players, some legends and some standard, while deciding on who will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Some of those "legends" earn enough votes to receive a spot in the Hall of Fame. Some of those "standards," on the other hand, become footnotes in MLB history.
Last week, the writers elected Rich "Goose" Gossage into the Hall of Fame.
While his selection doesn't surprise me, it baffles me that these writers, who I'm sure claim to be experts of the game, have overlooked so many deserving players.
Every year at this time, I take a look at the players and the votes and the selections and the snubs.
And every year, I feel obligated to remind these writers of how they are not getting this selection process right.
They continue to screw things up for lack of a better term.
As I said before, Gossage is deserving. His career numbers are similar to Bruce Sutter, who earned recognition in 2006.
Sutter finished his career with 300 saves. He played on some bad teams. But he still deserved it.
Gossage, on the other hand, played on some good teams, and he also topped the 300-save mark with 310.
These numbers pale in comparison with those of current stoppers, but the game has changed.
Let's face it, the days of starters lasting through the eighth inning are gone. In today's game, starters are lucky if they complete five innings.
Last week, Gossage received 85.8 percent of the vote. Of the 543 ballots cast, he was named on 466. Players need at least 408 ballots to earn Hall of Fame status.
Players missing the boat this year included Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Tim Raines and Mark McGwire.
Other players who received votes, but will likely never get into the Hall of Fame, included Alan Trammell, Dave Concepcion, Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, Harold Baines, Rod Beck, Travis Fryman, Robb Nen, Shawon Dunston, Chuck Finley, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Todd Stottlemyre, Brady Anderson and Jose Rijo.
Still, these writers who vote on the Hall of Fame are missing the boat.
They've left several players with great career statistics out for reasons unknown.
And the current numbers for voting this year tell the story.
For example, it upsets me that Morris, who was a fantastic pitcher in his hey day, received more votes than John.
John finished his career with more victories, played on more World Series teams and has a surgery named after him.
Morris was spectacular in the World Series when he was there. But John should be receiving more recognition.
What about Blyleven? Arguably one of the best left-handers to ever pitch, he had one of the nastiest curves in baseball history.
But for some reason, the writers simply don't like him.
Considering the dawning of the steroid era, Rice's career stats look more promising. He'll end up in the Hall of Fame, despite not being liked by writers throughout his career.
Ditto for Dawson, who actually has better career numbers than Rice.
The door has been shut on Smith for a few years now and I just don't understand it.
Sure, Gossage and Sutter played in a different era. But writers can't hold it against Smith that he was used primarily as a one-inning specialist, and sometimes even less than one full inning.
Until this past season, Smith was the all-time leader in career saves. He is now second with Trevor Hoffman passing him.
And it's no secret that the writers that do vote hold it against Smith that he was not spectacular in the postseason.
But those same writers will tell you that current New York Yankee closer Mariano Riveria is one of the best ever and will be a first-ballot lock.
But his career numbers aren't and probably won't be close to Smith.
Do career numbers count the most? Does it matter where you played? What you did when you stepped up for your team?
It seems to me it should be a combination of all of these things.
The McGwire situation? Well, that's just writers telling him they believe he did steroids and his numbers do not matter. It doesn't matter he finished with more than 500 home runs. They don't care because he wasn't honest enough with them when he spoke in front of Congress.
What about Rafael Palmeiro? He'll be up for recognition in a few years and may never get a vote. Strange, considering he's only one of four players to ever tally 3,000 hits and 500 homers. The others? Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, all Hall of Famers.
But Palmeiro's finger-pointing episode in front of Congress and then testing positive for steroids will be held against him.
Heading into 2009, both Rice and John are on the ballot for the final time. It's now or never for these greats.
But it won't be easy.
Ricky Henderson, one of the greatest players in MLB history, will be on the ballot. Others include David Cone, Jesse Orosco, Mo Vaughn, Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Steve Avery, Charles Nagy, Denny Neagle, Dan Plesac, Jay Bell, Mike Bordick, Dean Palmer, Ron Gant and Greg Vaughn.
Of these players, Henderson is the only lock. The remaining will probably never be in the Hall of Fame, unless they buy a ticket.
For Rice, John, Blyleven and the others left out again this year, next year is it. Their best chance.
And more than likely, they'll be passed yet again.