I have to say I’m glad I’m not one of those 600+ members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who have put in the mandatory 10 plus years of service covering own slivers of the Major League Baseball fishbowl who have to parlay their thoughts along with slicing and dicing their own set in clay adverse and varied opinions about the nominated few and somehow find a cohesive way to whittle down their list of potential former MLB players for possible selection and immortalized in bronze forever within the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
But wouldn’t it a hoot if I did have a envelope to send into Cooperstown. That my own personal baseball opinions could be voiced upon that black and white card of my 10 selected baseball heroes from the past that I personally would LOVE to see in bronze for eternity. The reality is I will never have that opportunity. I wasted my chance at being within that brotherhood long ago when I left my Sports Correspondent slot soooo long ago. But I would cherish and relish a chance to send just such an envelope into the mail and then sit back and see how many of my picks could/would get a phone call and the prestigious yellow jacket this summer.
I would consider such an envelope a huge responsibility both as a life-time baseball spectator as well take into account morally that I not only follow my gut reaction for such voting, but also toil and weather such stormy matters as if a finalist had used or ever abused the pre-PEDs mandates (McGwire) and testing regulations (Clemens/Bonds), whether a career-long DH (Martinez) merits a hearty Hall nod. Or maybe I might wrestle on a solid and concise benchmark for statistic considerations of both starters and relievers. I would hope I can show empathy with finalists who might have suffered in their careers by playing on mediocre teams (Morris/Raines) that did not parlay their own bits of success into playoff berths or shot in the World Series. Does getting a World Series ring (or 2) trump a player with a den full of MLB hardware?
And even if I did produce 10 ducks in my selection row, that the moment the selection process is finalized I could end up with a whittled down list maybe into the single digits and as low as 3 of my selections receiving that prestigious phone call on Wednesday, January 8th. But no matter the results, I know there will be chatter, both realistic and convoluted as some inductees and finalists will miss the cut and not meet both the required minimal votes for this summer’s Hall induction and possibly fall off the 2015 ballot due to lack of support or future consideration by the growing group of 600+BBWAA voters.
My first 5 selections will bode well with most voters, but my other 4 might ruffle some PED feathers or be called into question because of their non-God like stats, plus I added 1 Hometown hero to my selection list but that is what this voting blog post is all about……my personal Hall of Fame choices.
Without further ado, this would have been my ballot for the Hall of Fame Class of 2014:
1) Greg Maddux 355 W’s, 17 seasons of > 15 W‘s, 4 Cy Youngs. Could garner over 98.84% of votes
2) Tom Glavine 305 W’s, 14 seasons with >200 innings, 5- 20 W seasons, 2 Cy Youngs
3) Frank Thomas 7 straight seasons with .300 AVG,20+ HR,100 RBIs, 100 Walks, + 521 career HR
4) Craig Biggio 3,060 hits, 668 doubles are most by any right-handed hitter
5) Jeff Bagwell 7 100R/100 RBI seasons, NL ROY, Gold Glove, MVP, .408 OBP.
6) Mike Piazza 427 HRs, 12 X All-Star
7) Barry Bonds 762 HRs, 1,996 RBIs, 2,935 hits, 7 MVP, 8 Gold Gloves, 14 All-Star selections.
8) Jack Morris 15th (Last) year on ballot. His 3.90 ERA would be the Hall’s highest.
9) Lee Smith Was MLB Saves (478) leader when he retired. Great pressure guy.
10) Fred McGriff 493 HR were done clean and legal. 200+ HR in both AL and NL
Rays Trivia: What other Hall of Fame finalist besides Fred McGriff played for the Rays during his career?
Answer: Hideo Nomo who wore # 11 while going 5-8 in 100.2 innings in 2005.
When it was first announced about the possible “sissification” of the classic Home Plate collision I have to admit, I was emotionally disturbed by it. I’m one of those closet purists who see it as a emotional, physical and mental harbinger of the game. Somehow I’m now caught on the spiny spindles of the fence teeter-toddling between that purist regard and utmost safe for both players involved. The winds of change seem to have me bobbing and weaving with each passing moment searching for that perfect thrust of rhetoric for which I can finally land on a side of this issue.
I mean it is truly a thrilling sight to behold in a game no matter the score as you see one inert persona dressed in the MLB catching armor with the indescribable strength of a human brick wall about to line-up toe-to-toe with an unforgiving swirling dervish of speed, power and explosive inertia easily resembling being nailed by an incoming human bullet.
I tend to have a roller coaster state of mind and varying opinions about this right now, holding due court with merit-able opinions both “for” or “against” bringing this most animalistic segment of the game into a tamer and safer variation played out upon our own sacred 30 MLB baseball cathedrals’. Should I stand proud and echo it has been a part of the game since the beginning and we shall not tinker with the finer essences of the game? Or do we caution on the side of possibly ending a gallant career or life with an accidental shift left or right that delivers a body blow for which someone doesn’t recover?
I felt as if I might seem a bit soft in letting myself edit out an intricate tool within baseballs time-honored feats of determination and brute savage moments. Would I be considered weak and timid if I voiced out loud that the Home Plate play should be reduced from that violent basic lion’s “roar” moment to be tragically maligned and trans-versed offerings that would make this type of game day excitement suddenly a sublime shadow of its old former glorified self.
Sure I have empathy for guys like Ray Fosse and even current San Francisco Giant backstop Buster Posey who have solidly tried to stand their ground as human locomotives plowed into them , quickly exposing their own unforeseen physical limitations that resulted into visual “oh my” moments as they laid there in pain, disoriented and in some ways, a shell of their former gladiator selves even if only for that brief moment.
I have never played the Catcher spot on a diamond even though at 10 I was almost 5 foot tall and a bit bulky. I do not have a hint of what it takes to bodily stand there in a upright completely vulnerable stance or even s more defensive half-kneeling position as a whirlwind of spikes and sweat come rumbling, tumbling down the chalk line destined to dislodge myself and possibly the ball from the Home Plate keystone. I cannot tell you the first or last thought that does through a catcher’s subconscious right before his own stationary mass meets that incoming accelerated mass, and in a way, I’m glad I never had to face that impending explosion on the defensive side of the game.
I was against the folding of this baseball institutional human element of the Home Plate battle of the wills until I got up one morning in May, quickly becoming dizzy, dis-oriented and finally paying the price for the violent damage of misguided head-leading tackles, multiple player accelerated dog pile tackles and collisions that felt like a human car crash at times. Possibly my body was now too fragile and weary to hide the pure fact this action and reaction causes lasting effects of my own years of inflicting “punishment” and now the penance for that bravado was due in full.
So as I return to post again on this forum, I’ve decided it is not only prudent but responsible of myself to sit back here upon these fence spindles right now and relax and truly ponder this issue until I can definitely see the black and white refined honest answers needed that might and will ultimately effect this powerful segment of our beloved game. I must in this thought process take into account the invisible and delayed potential ultimate physical body count of players both on the “incoming” and the “receiving” side of this explosive sometimes game changing moment within the game.
I mentioned I was going to write this topic to a baseball friend over a cold glass a few days ago and his machismo answer was “No one has died yet, so why change it”. Funny thing is the moment he said that I pondered my own flashback montage of my own on-field collisions. I somehow got a jolt of unforeseen haze upon my thoughts. Not from a conscious or unconscious blanking of the mind, but an intense mental imagery of the physical nature and cause and effect lingerings of what brute force against immovable force can leave physically on you many years later.
The simple fact that this possible injury-plagued part of the glorious game might have to evolve, make either subtle or extreme changes to keep just that thought of as possible or ultimate fatality unveiling itself makes it even more of a moral imperative to bring about a realm of responsible measures and factual rules that even if we treasure our baseball heritage like fiends, the game has to evolve to protect those playing it now and in the future.
Maybe today I’m swaying in the breeze happy to be on the fence about Home Plate collisions and rules pertaining to its “taming” or its possible subtle nuances being changed forever. But I would rather be on the uncomfortable fence here and now, and open to possibility of maybe needed changes than visually witness a career-ending car crash at the plate, or ultimately scream to the heavens if a truly horrific action occurs. I am not blind to the pure fact that I may value and want that purity of the game, bit it cannot and should not overshadow any future considerations to hinder or exclude safety measures be enacted of all involved in such a violent aspect of our National pastime.
Definitely something for me and the rest of you to also ponder and to think about before our respective squads take to the fields this Spring.