Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baseball's moment of truth almost here

Baseball’s moment of truth is almost here.

I’m eagerly awaiting the 2pm ET release of the names of the next inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday (I’ll get some work done while I wait). There’s some thought that none of the candidates will reach the necessary 75% threshold to be enshrined in the Hall. I hope that’s not the case. Not because I think it will be so terrible to have an empty dais in Cooperstown this summer, but because I think there are some very worthy candidates deserving of induction.

Of the holdovers, I really hope to see Jack Morris and Tim Raines make it in this year. Morris received 67% of the vote last year even with the outspoken opposition of the stat geeks who hate his 3.90 ERA and wins above replacement numbers. But he was the epitome of a big-game pitcher and tossed one of the most memorable games in baseball history: a 10-inning shutout of the Atlanta Braves that won Game 7 and the 1991 World Series for the Minnesota Twins. It’s going to be an unbelievably tight vote, but I’m really rooting for him to reach that magic 75% mark.

Raines has made a steady climb toward that 75% threshold, but he received only 48.7% of the vote in last year’s balloting so it would be a gigantic leap for him to get to that magic mark this year. But one of the best base stealers of all time deserves to get in. His resume is impressive: 2,605 hits, 808 stolen bases, the 1986 National League batting title and seven All-Star appearances. Oh, and he helped the New York Yankees win the World Series twice, serving as a mentor to future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Put Raines in the Hall.

Of the newcomers, Craig Biggio is the standout for me with his 3,060 hits, seven All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger awards and four Gold Gloves. I’m especially rooting for him to get past this notion that he is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. To me, that’s a silly argument. If he has Hall-worthy numbers, getting in on his first try shouldn’t matter. And I don’t think it’s fair that he may have to sweat out the voting for the next few years if he doesn’t make it in this time around, because the competition will get very tight with guys like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas on the ballot for the first time next year.

I think Mike Piazza, even though he played for the New York Mets, absolutely deserves to get in on his first try. I know that there are people who are suspicious about him and the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs. But there was never evidence of any kind that he used PEDs so I don’t think you can keep him out based on suspicion alone. When you look at his resume, he is clearly deserving of induction with his .308 batting average, 427 home runs, 1,335 runs batted in, 12 All-Star appearances, 10 Silver Slugger awards and 1993 National League Rookie of the Year. I shudder to think how good his numbers would have been if he had not been catching all those years.

I won't bore anyone to death by repeating who I think shouldn't be in the Hall. I'm expecting the PED cheaters to be shunned by the baseball writers, at least in year one on the ballot

Who will be the chosen ones? Will there even be any chosen ones? The answer is a mere 18 hours away.

Thanks to Phil Hoops via Wikipedia for the Tim Raines photo and slgckgc via Wikipedia for the Mike Piazza photo.  

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