Scout’s Take: Hall of Fame or Hall of Numbers

A week from today, the results of the voting for this year’s class of new inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed.. Heading the list are Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, who are on the ballot for the first time, and Vladimir Guerrero who missed by 15 votes in his first try last year. All three are sure to be elected to this year’s class of greats. Jack Morris and Alan Trammell have already been voted in by the Modern Baseball Era Committee. That is a comfortable five new members. After that the list becomes quite interesting.

Trevor Hoffman only missed by five votes last year. He was the first to get to 500 saves and was also the first with 600 saves, finishing with 601. Only future Hall of Fame great Mariano Rivera with 652 has more. Closers Dennis Eckersley (390), Rollie Fingers (341), Goose Gossage (310) and Bruce Sutter (300) are all in the Hall of Fame. Rivera had a saves rate of 89.1 and Hoffman is at 88.8 in his career with San Diego. Will there be six this year? Does DH Edgar Martinez get elected? He would follow in the footsteps of Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas who also spent most of their careers as a DH. Do we see seven new members? 

Those are some debatable thoughts on who gets in. Here is where it gets complicated again. How many more years will the most honored enshrinement of our baseball heroes be sullied by the likes of all the PED players on the ballot? Except for Alex “Roid”-riguez, the rest of those questionable users never tested positive for PEDs. Did baseball look the other way? Just because it smells like a rat, looks like a rat and walks like a rat, doesn’t make it a rat. The problem is, our gut feeling tells us it’s a rat. Let me give you something to think about. 

There are 10 players who averaged 45 homers a year over five consecutive seasons in the big leagues, Sammy Sosa 98-2002, Mark McGwire 1995-99, Barry Bonds, 2000-04, Babe Ruth, 1926-30, Ken Griffey JR, 96-2000, Alex Rodriguez, 2001-05, Ralph Kiner, 1947-51, Ryan Howard, 2006-10, Jim Thome, 2000-04 and Jimmie Foxx, 1932-36. The first three on this list are alleged PED users and are getting closer to being elected along with suspected user Roger Clemens. Was it a coincidence that Bonds, Sosa and McGuire were able to hit more home runs than any one in the history of baseball over this short period of time? Was it a coincidence that, when they were questioned about possible PED use, the home runs went down to what was always normal for sluggers for over a century of baseball?

If we look at stats only then everyone on this list, other than those already in the Hall, have a legitimate chance to get in. With no confirmed evidence of cheating, other than Rodriguez, and using stats, how can you keep them out? They talk about character, Sammy Sosa is one of the nicest people you would ever meet. Ty Cobb was one of, if not the nastiest person ever to play the game, on and off the field. So that character thing is baloney. Does that mean they should get in?

I don’t like cheaters and all things point to these guys as being PED users. Griffey and Thome played during the same time as Bonds, Sosa and McGuire. So why do they get a pass? My gut feeling tells me that Griffey and Thome are clean because over that time period they were not hitting 65 to 73 home runs every year. Sosa hit over 60 homers 3 times and he never won the HR title. Yikes!. Is that evidence good enough in a court of law? Good enough for me.

This is like a bad wine stain on an expensive table cloth. Expensive wine at that. We can try to clean it off but when hold it up to the light we can still see a trace of a stain and it is all we can think about. It will never be the same beautiful table cloth ever again.

Some of these guys will eventually get inducted into the Hall of Fame. One reason is that stats have become the only way ballplayers are judged today, gut feeling is becoming old fashioned to the new wave of people who judge these players. When the cheaters get voted in, I will have a tough time visiting that amazing hallowed place. The whole thing stinks and the stench will be with baseball forever. 

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