Where Have You Gone Aaron Sele?

With the Hall of Fame vote in, and no one elected, Neil Cohen says that baseball nation won’t be turning its lonely eyes to Cooperstown this summer.

Well, the vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 definitely lived up to expectations, that is if you were expecting Twitter to blow up, Aaron Sele to become a household name, and Cooperstown, home of the Hall of Fame, to go dark this July for the first time since 1960.

With the announcement Wednesday that no one reached the magical 75% vote threshold, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) made clear that no suspected or proven performance enhancing drug (PED) users would be enshrined this summer. They also made sure that neither would any clean players. In this case, no news was A LOT of news.

If you read my first article on the Hall of Fame debate, you know where I stand on PED users. If you want an even better take on why PED users should be denied entry into the holy land of baseball, read this from Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.

If you’re on the other side of the fence (you’d be wrong by the way), read this from my favorite baseball writer, Jayson Stark of ESPN. There is one element of Mr. Stark’s column and many others that I just don’t get, however—the idea that PED users should be included in the Hall of Fame because “everyone let it happen.” Following that logic, you’d vote Bernie Madoff into the investor hall of fame (if there was one) because while what he did was illegal, the SEC and many others didn’t do anything to stop him even with fairly obvious clues he was up to something.

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Before we all go back to the NFL playoffs, then, and the ongoing fiasco that are the Los Angeles Lakers, let’s indulge and break down this year’s Hall vote just a little bit. Who were the winners and who the losers?

Winners:

Craig Biggio: Falling just 39 votes short in his first year of eligibility—with a .282 lifetime batting average (second lowest of anyone in the 3,000 hit club; the lowest is Cal Ripken) and by all accounts not having been a dominant player—is definitely a win for Biggio. (Remember, Roberto Alomar, a better player, didn’t make it on the first ballot). Sure, he’s only the third player (not including Pete Rose) with 3,000 hits not elected in his first year, but Biggio is virtually a lock at this point.

Tim Raines: Jumped over the 50% mark this year, a key milestone. With that momentum, he’ll rightfully join the other great lead-off men in Cooperstown soon.

National baseball writers: You know who you are. We may disagree with some of your opinions on PEDs, but we appreciate how much you love baseball.

MLB Network: Seriously, how many of us would really be watching the MLB Network in the middle of January otherwise?

Pete Rose: Looking good, Charlie Hustle. All these PED users on the ballot make you look like a choir boy (well, not really). Dear MLB, he did the crime and the time. It’s time to let the voters decide (which means he won’t get in anyway).

Class of 2014: Could Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine look any better at this point? Talk already has begun about how the Maddux vote needs to be the first unanimous vote in the Hall’s history. (Good luck with that, Greg. It ain’t going to happen; that writer who gave Sele a vote isn’t going to vote for you.)

Baseball Think Factory: The Nate Silver of Hall of Fame voting. Predicted, fairly early based on exit polling, that no one would get elected this year. Nailed it.

Losers:

Jack Morris: Only one more year left, Jack. I was never on the bandwagon, but Morris lost momentum this year and is in deep trouble with Maddux and Glavine looming on next year’s ballot.

Bernie Williams and Kenny Lofton: Not saying either of them are Hall of Famers, but clearly they deserved better fates. Each dropped off the ballot after falling short of the 5% vote needed to remain on. Center fielders are not as common in the Hall as one would think, and in Williams’ case, his statistics measure up quite nicely against Hall of Famer Kirby Pucket (they’re better actually in many respects).

Mike Piazza: With 57.8% of the vote on this year’s ballot, it’s likely that Piazza will get in at some point—maybe next year or shortly thereafter. He was the most dominant offensive catcher of his generation, the straw that stirred the drink on the biggest of stages. And he hit one of the most important home runs in New York, and maybe baseball, history in the first game back after September 11th. He was an absolute first-ballot Hall of Fame lock until rumors and whispers took it away. We all know that only a juiced player would throw a bat at someone.

Fred McGriff: One would think with a nickname like “Crime Dog” surely he could have rooted out all the PED users holding him back from election. I’d like to think he’s sitting at home trying to figure out which seven balls he “just got under” (he hit 493 HRs), thus keeping him out of the Hall. Not looking good Fred, but there’s still hope.

Town of Cooperstown: I’ve been lucky enough to visit Cooperstown four times and stand on Doubleday Field, walk the streets, shop the shops. It’s perfect. The Hall of Fame wouldn’t be nearly the same anywhere else. And induction weekend is its Black Friday. Now, the people of this small town are likely to suffer, through no fault of their own.

BBWAA: Sure the guidelines are vague and outdated and the job is hard, but just take a look at some of the individual votes, gasp in horror, and then realize that something’s got to change. Based just on their votes, it’s not possible for some of these writers to have watched a game in the past few decades. But then again Saving Private Ryan lost to Shakespeare in Love so really all hope is basically lost. (Editors note: Editor respectfully disagrees with author, believes that Saving Private Ryan wasn’t even the best World War II movie of 1998—that distinction would be reserved for The Thin Red Line—though does agree it was clearly better than Shakespeare in Love.)

The families of Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert and Deacon White, all of whom died in the 1930s, but were elected by the Veterans’ Committee this year. Sure, none of us know who these men were, but it would have been nice for their families to see them honored in front of 15,000-20,000 people vs. the few hundred likely to show up now.

Aaron Sele and the reporter who voted for him: Sympathy votes happen every year (see: Brad Radke, Eric Young, Bill Mueller) but this wasn’t the year to do it.  Sele didn’t deserve to have his 148 wins and 4.61 career ERA dragged through the mud. He was a serviceable pitcher with a great curveball, arguably among the 15 best baseball players ever to come out of Washington State. But Hall of Fame?

The grand prize loser award, however, has to go to the writer who voted for Sele. You need to hang up your voting credentials and give someone else a try, since you obviously don’t take it very seriously. After outing Sele, the least you could do is show your face and let us know who you are.

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So with that, we turn our eyes to next year. This baseball fan for one cannot wait.  For the record, my 2014 vote, if I were to be given one, would be Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Tim Raines and Craig Biggio.

And now on to more important things, like why Mike Shanahan didn’t pull RGIII from last week’s game.

Photo: Associated Press

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About Neil Cohen

Neil Cohen lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and toddler son. A former corporate PR guy, he’s now enjoying his new gig as a stay-at-home dad. He writes about parenting, current events and sports at his blog Man on Third. You can follow him at @manonthirdblog.

Comments

  1. ThePaleKing74 says:

    Alomar was a more dominant player than Biggio??? More athletic, maybe, but Biggio’s numbers are WAY BETTER. Biggio wasn’t the dominant second basemen of the 90s because he was too busy flying under the radar of most baseball writers as one of the most sorely underrated players of his generation (the other, Jeff Bagwell, whom despite lacking one shred of evidence, the BBWAA have decided to scapegoat for suspected PED use).

    I don’t think it’s enough for BBWAA voters to not vote for PED users. It just makes them come off as butt-hurt, entitled and pretentious – like they’re somehow the guardians of this idyllic myth of Professional Baseball. If you really want to make a statement about the role of integrity and sportsmanship in professional baseball, you should’ve voted for a bubble guy like Dale Murphy. He may have not had any of the magic numbers, but he was a back-to-back MVP (on a godawful team, no less) and one of the biggest stars of the 1980s. And he did it all with absolute class and integrity.

  2. Neil- It is a travesty that Biggio, Raines, Piazza and Bagwell were not voted in. I would have also voted for Schilling and Trammell (the biggest loser of the bunch). We can disagree about the PED folks (I’ll side with Stark, Posnanski, Jaffee, Sheehan, James, Silver and the BaseballProspectus folks on this against you, Murray”get off my lawn” Chass and Verducci).

    Biggio was a dominant player: OBP is FAR more important than BA, he was also a plus up-the-middle defender (C and 2B), was a great base-stealer, and NEVER hit into double-plays.

    Piazza and Bagwell being shut out bc of unsubstantiated rumors is disgusting.

    The fact is, the quality of baseball player has vastly increased over time. Yet, MLB and the idiot baseball writers call the 50’s the golden era and call depression-era players the best ever. This is nuts. Pre-Jackie Robinson, basebal only drew from a talent pool of white Americans. Of course, Ruth, Cobb and the others look so dominant- the average ballplayer then was as good as you or me. There are 2x as many players from the 40s in the hall than from the 80s or 90s, despite now pulling from a diverse world-wide talent pool, and now having 2x as many teams/players. Somehow older players are considered better (two examples: Bagwell was twice the player Tony Perez was, and Raines is twice the player Lou Brock was).

    Finally- regarding PEDs. I guess amphetimines don’t count. And the NFL had a rookie of the year award stay after Cushing was nailed for HGH. No one cared. Does anyone believe more baseball players use than football players?

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