Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jeter and Mo should be unanimous Hall picks

Both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera should be unanimous inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But it won’t happen.

A survey of baseball experts proved what I long suspected: that some baseball writers are so completely full of themselves that they would not vote for Jeter on the first ballot. While they didn’t ask about Mariano, I would imagine that he would get the same treatment from the voters.

Jeter and Mo are both considered first-ballot Hall of Famers, with their five championship rings, Mo’s perch on top the all-time saves list, and Jeter and his 3,200+ hits and counting, most all time by a New York Yankees player. But while they will easily scale the 75% threshold for induction, neither one is likely to get every single vote, no matter how much they deserve it.

As least some of the writers acknowledge the hypocrisy of their counterparts. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN noted that someone will not vote for Jeter if for no other reason than to call attention to themselves. So a writer would deny Jeter his well-deserved support just for five minutes of fame. In this age of Twitter and Facebook, that writer better be prepared for the consequences.

But Kurkjian also pointed out that some writers simply believe no player should be a unanimous pick because none of the baseball legends that came before them such as Hank Aaron or Willie Mays got in with total support. How that is Jeter or Mo’s fault is beyond me. That argument seems disingenuous.

To be clear, I’m just not guilty of a Yankees bias here. There are plenty of players who should have been unanimous inductees to the Hall, but weren’t for whatever reason. Nolan Ryan is a prime example. How could a pitcher with seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts not be a unanimous pick? Were there hitters voting vicariously through the baseball writers? No, I think even the hitters would have voted for Ryan given how much trouble they had facing him.

Tom “Terrific” Seaver came closest to a unanimous induction, being named on 425 of 430 ballots in January 1992 for a vote percentage of 98.84%. But those five votes demonstrate the problems with the system. I could forgive the writer recovering from open-heart surgery who neglected to vote for Seaver. But three other writers sent in blank ballots in support of Pete Rose’s candidacy and one writer refused to vote for a player in his first year of eligibility.

I think Jeter and Mo will both lose a few votes from writers who don’t believe anyone should get into the Hall of Fame on their first try. I also think they could lose some support because of an anti-Yankees bias. But both Jeter and Mo will have a fantastic showing. Seriously, there won’t be any suspense the first time their names are on the ballot. It just won’t be unanimous, even if it should be. 

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