Edgar Martinez has been through this drill three times previously, and he knows enough by now not to get too excited about the Hall of Fame balloting. When I talked to him a few minutes ago, he didn’t know the final tally, except that his wife, Holli, told him he was “pretty close to the same as last year.”
Indeed, Martinez is holding very steady. He got 204 votes this year for 35.9 percent. Last year, he had 209 votes for 36.5 percent. The year before, 191 votes for 32.9 percent. And his first year, 195 votes for 36.2 percent.
But here’s an indication of the tough road he has ahead: Last year’s total placed him seventh in the balloting. This year, with virtually the same total, he slipped to 10th. And as I mentioned before, look who’s coming: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Mike Mussina on the ballot next year, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz the year after, and strong classes thereafter.
With no one getting in this year, it’s a real logjam, and Edgar knows it. He’s very realistic, and ready to hunker down for a long wait.
“I don’t obsess about it, because I know there’s a good chance I’m not going to get in any time soon,” he said. “I’m not worried about what’s going on with the ballot. I don’t think about this. It doesn’t change anything in my life, to be quite honest. It’s true the more players who are All-Star players and great players over the years, it’s more difficult to get the votes from the writers. We’ll see, but it’s going to be more difficult.”
I found it interesting that Barry Bonds got the exact same percentage (36.2) that Edgar did in his first year on the ballot. And Bonds got exactly two more votes than Edgar did this year.
“It’s going to be a process for the writers to digest everything,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how over the years they vote. I really don’t know what to say exactly about the process. Not having anyone get in, I guess it’s happened before. But there’s a lot of players who had amazing careers. We’ll see what happens.”
I asked Edgar if he would vote for Bonds and Roger Clemens if he had a vote. He neatly sidestepped the question.
“Again, I don’t what to say about that. The process going on right now is a good process, It works. It has worked over the years. It’s up to the writers, not the players. Barry was an amazing player over the years. It’s incredible he’s not in.”
And I think it’s a shame Edgar Martinez isn’t in. I haven’t given up hope, but he’s right — it’s going to have to be a long, slow, steady climb over his next 11 years of eligibility. The fact that no one got in this year is not surprising, considering all the issues involved, but it’s still head-shaking. To Edgar, too.
“We had some players with 3,000 hits, and players that were leaders in their different categories,” he said. “It is surprising, but at the same time, we knew there was a chance no one would get in this year.”
As for himself and a day in Cooperstown, he hasn’t given up hope. “It’s just not going to be any time soon,” he said.