HOF 2019

The Baseball Hall of Fame voters continue to perplex me.

This year, there were five candidates receiving what I can only assume were sympathy votes. As usual, no offense to the gents in question, but Lance Berkman? Roy Oswalt? And I hope neither of the voters who named Placido Polanco seriously thought he’d make the cut.

That’s not the perplexing part of the ballot, though. There are always a few of those votes.

Nor is the election of Edgar Martinez perplexing. As we’ve said before, the only peculiar thing about that result is how long it took. Congratulations, ‘Gar. Well deserved!

Nor are the changes in the votes received by the PED Players unexpected. Barry Bonds got a small jump from 56.4% to 59.1%. Roger Clemens climbed from 57.3% to 59.5%.

And, if we needed proof that assholery is less offensive to baseball writers than PED use, Curt Schilling got the big bounce-back I expected last year, jumping from 51.2% all the way up to 60.9%. That’s still well short of the 75% necessary for election, but let’s not forget that two years ago, Edgar was two points lower than Schilling is this year. Last year I said “Vote on his performance, guys.” It appears the voters did exactly that. Will he make the grade in his last three years of eligibility? Stay tuned.

Other non-surprises: Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, and Mariano Rivera were all elected.

So what has me perplexed?

Let me put it this way. Back in 2016, Ken Griffey Jr. scored 99.3% of the votes–the highest percentage ever recorded–and it was generally agreed that if Junior (arguably the greatest player in the history of the game) couldn’t get elected unanimously, nobody ever would.

So how the [expletive deleted] did Mariano Rivera pull it off? I don’t doubt he’s hall-worthy. But unanimously hall-worthy?

I doubt anybody would call him the greatest player in the history of the game. I’m certainly not. Greatest pitcher? Nah. There’s a case, but no. Greatest reliever? Sure, I’d go that far.

But I don’t see how that’s enough to get him a unanimous election.

I know, I know. The vote isn’t over who’s the greatest, just who’s hall-worthy. But again, how is Rivera that much more obviously worthy than Griffey?

I hesitate to suggest bias, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Junior’s glory years were played in Seattle–out there in the boonies–while The Sandman played for the Yankees. The New York Yankees. I’ll say no more. Just think about it.

And, those of us who remember Junior in his prime can console ourselves with the thought that he got twelve more votes than Mariano. It’s a tiny fire to warm ourselves with, but it’ll do.

Stay tuned for next year, when the pool will include such worthies and potential worthies as Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Paul Konerko, J.J. Putz, and Raul Ibanez.

Oh, and my leading candidate to rock the sympathy vote tally, Chone Figgins.