As I did with Larry Stone, I asked Geoff Baker to send me his hall of fame vote and explanation for it. He was kind enough to oblige my request.
From Geoff Baker …
Here is my Hall of Fame vote:
- Greg Maddux
- Tom Glavine
- Frank Thomas
- Jeff Bagwell
- Craig Biggio
- Tim Raines
- Curt Schilling
- Jack Morris
Hall of Fame voting means tough choices each year, which is fine by me. The past few years have seen a logjam of names on the ballot, primarily because of the Steroids Era fallout in which players who would have otherwise gotten into Cooperstown by now have yet to do so. That’s life. The fact that nobody got elected into the Hall last year is, for me, an indictment of the way MLB governed itself with regards to performance enhancing drugs through much of the 1980s, 1990s and last decade. It isn’t about the voters.
As always, voters will have to follow their own conscience and do what they think is right on this issue. Not pander to public opinon — or what is perceived as such based on whoever happens to shout the loudest on the internet.
A recent email sent to me by a group called the Baseball Bloggers Alliance — an umbrella association for blogs nationwide — said they had conducted their own voting and that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas had all gotten in. And to me, that sounds about right. I’m pretty certain that’s how this year’s voting will turn out when the actual Hall of Fame results are released.
In other words, again, any perceived problems have little to do with the vast block of voters. Not when a country-wide collection of bloggers can come up with a list that has been relatively close to the same names picked by actual BBWAA voters year-in and year-out. Under this system, which the Hall of Fame has come out vocally in support of, any large group of fairly-intelligent thinkers are going to produce the results that we’ve seen — even if it means no one gets in from time to time.
There is a limit of 10 names that can be submitted in any given year, a rule created to prevent a watered-down version of the Hall. Some are calling for that list to be expanded, namely because the steroids controversy is causing some players to be held back from induction — creating a backlog of “worthy” candidates from one year to the next. That’s unfortunate for some borderline candidates who are nearing the end of their 15-year maximum on the ballot and who risk being ommitted this time around and dropped permanently. But then again, if you’ve already gone 14 years without getting inducted, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I understand that some people rightly feel that a borderline candidate could get cheated at the very end.
And yeah, that would not be great, but I’m still uncertain it makes it worth it to re-write a rule designed to keep Cooperstwon from becoming a Hall of The Very Good. I don’t see an Edgar Martinez being pushed off the ballot this way. Martinez and other candidates worthy of debate should have no trouble maintaining the minimum 5 percent vote score annually and staying on the ballot for years to come, where an exhaustive debate on their worthiness can continue to unfold. But at some point down the road, the talk has to end and the votes need to be there. For those borderline candidates at-risk of being squeezed out this year, they’ve already had more than a decade of debate on their worthiness. And those at-risk of falling below 5 percent probably didn’t have much of a shot to begin with.
So, I don’t see a pressing need to change the 10-man rule. That’s a bit knee-jerk. Let’s see where things go over the next few years and whether we really need to change this rule based on the relatively short-term problems caused by a single drug-tainted era. Because changing the 10-man limit doesn’t quite fix everthing. If anything, it gives voters too easy a way out — allowing them to ignore the PED issue entirely and just pile on the names of candidates a mile high.
I liked seeing the vote by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who had to make the tough call to leave PED-suspected voters off his ballot in order to get as many “non-tainted” players on as he could. Placing limits almost forces voters to make tough calls about the Steroids Era. And why shouldn’t they? If some voters are going to take it upon themselves to apologize on behalf of the media for “ignoring” the steroids issue back when it was rampant — something I’ve always felt was a silly thing for any individual to do on a mass scale — then why allow them to get away with not focusing on it now?
This year, as I’ve said, there are three fairly obvious choices — Maddux, Glavine and Thomas — based on overall achievements that surpass the threshold of both counting stats and rate stats produced consistently and to an outstanding degree over time.
Then, there are the PED-impacted candidates. As I’ve written previously, I have discounted any candidate linked to performance enhancing drugs via testing, the Mitchell Report, an MLB survery, or published accusations that have gone legally unchallenged. I’m not going to keep rehashing that stance year after year. It stinks for baseball and for the fans that it’s come to this. But if MLB itself is going to claim that it remains dedicated to a sport without drug cheating, it stands to reason there should be harsh reprecussions for past transgressions. Logjams on the ballot and years in which nobody gets elected to Cooperstown are all part of that pain.
As for Jeff Bagwell, when he first came on the ballot, I decided to give it a year to see whether anybody would publish any actual accusations against him rather than conducting a whisper campaign. When nobody did, I voted for him last year.
There are plenty of other players who are right of the cusp of being Hall of Fame worthy, some of which I did include. I include Tim Raines in that, as I have previously, because he got on base via combined hits and walks more often than first-ballot Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. I saw firsthand how his base-stealing ability could de-stabilize opposing pitchers — much the same way Ichiro used to do it when he first came up.
As for others I watched back in my native Montreal, Larry Walker, for me, comes up just short. Much like Edgar Martinez here in Seattle. I expect both will remain on the ballot for many years, as they should given the excellence of their careers. And as stated before, I reserve the right to change my mind about them or anybody else during the timeframe we are allotted as voters. For me, the 15-year cycle in which worthy candidates can remain on the ballot is a brilliant one. Arguments come and go in baseball. Intelligent people realize they aren’t always right and do change their minds. I hope it continues.
Hall of Fame voting certainly is not getting any easier. But that’s OK. There isn’t a time limit on these things and if you’re voting for something that’s supposed to stand the test of time, you may as well be as sure as possible before crossing that point of no return.