At two in the afternoon today, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 inductees…which included, drum roll please, nobody. For the first time since 1996, not a single player received the 75% of the vote necessary to get into the Hall. Performance enhancing drugs, whether proven or not proven, highlighted (or haunted) this ballot. The sad thing is, if one were to have lived under a rock and not heard anything about the backgrounds and just compared numbers, this class would be huge. I have been listening to discussion from the voters and analysts since noontime today, and one of the best points being made had to deal with the museum vs. shrine argument. If I had it my way, the Class of 2013 would bring eight more members to the Hall.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell and Mark McGwire should be, in my opinion, elected into Cooperstown. I understand the allegations and evidence that taint their accomplishments, but their accomplishments are outstanding, and in some cases, unrivaled. And to the defense of Schilling, Bagwell and Biggio, they either weren’t or shouldn’t have even been associated with the illegal use of performance enhancers. Regardless, they should all have a plaque.
The Hall of Fame is in fact a museum. It is there to tell the story of America’s past time through stories and memorabilia. Fans go in there to learn more about the game and teach the next generation more about the game. The writers are making it into a holy sanctuary, in which only those who possessed great numbers and a great character could achieve such greatness. Even though Barry Bonds was proven to have used performance enhancers during his career, he still is one of the most recognizable names in the game’s history. He is the all-time leader in home runs with 762, he had 1996 RBI, 2,558 walks, a record seven MVP awards and a Rookie of the Year award. Even before the illegal drug use, he still had three MVP awards. Another one of the most famous players to ever play, Roger Clemens, should not be denied. He achieved about a 66% winning percentage, 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and a 3.12 career ERA. These guys are the faces of an era of baseball, even though it may be one connected to steroid use.
And even if steroid use was too much of an issue, how come Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, and Jeff Bagwell didn’t make it in? Biggio became the second player with 3,000 hits (drug-users not included) in the game’s long history to not make the Hall on his first year of eligibility. Also, he scored the fifteenth most runs ever. Curt Schilling may not have the best regular season numbers, but they are far above average. More importantly, he is remembered more for his fantastic postseason numbers, which include a 11-2 record, 2.23 ERA and three World Series rings. Most careers are defined by postseason success, and his credentials far-exceed the requirements. Last, but not least, Jeff Bagwell was one of the best first basemen ever. He hit 449 home runs, 1,529 RBI, batted .298 and acquired a .993 career fielding percentage. Players like these should not be overlooked and do not deserve to be.
It has been said today by many people that these eight guys have a good chance of making the Hall eventually. My issue is that if they are good enough and have the numbers, then why can’t they now? They are the faces of an era that saw more impressive statistics than any other point in history. Sure, some of their records may be tainted, but they are records, and the museum should let them in and tell their story. Would a history museum leave out a section about the holocaust just because it was frowned upon?