Archived Story

Cooperstown no-hitter leaves HOF’s integrity questioned

Published 10:09am Friday, January 11, 2013

By Ed Bailey

So it turns out that pitchers aren’t the only people in baseball that can hurl a no-hitter.
For you baseball fans out there, I’m sure you know I’m referring to the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame voting that took place earlier this week.
For those who don’t know the lore of Cooperstown, I’ll sum up the situation.
Despite having a who’s who of nominees to choose from, the Baseball Writers Association of America (henceforth referred to as BBWAA) decided that no one deserved enshrinement amongst the greatest to ever play the game.
But yeah, that’s quite a gem by the BBWAA, don’t you think?
Here’s some of the names that were denied entry into Cooperstown.
Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader with seven National League MVP awards and numerous memberships in exclusive offensive clubs was not voted in.
Roger Clemens amassed 4,672 strikeouts and 354 wins on his way to seven Cy Young awards. He’s generally regarded as one of the greatest to ever step on the mound but he’s apparently not Hall-of-Fame material yet.
Slammin’ Sammy Sosa, an integral part in the rebirth of baseball’s popularity (read: the 1998 home run chase between he and Mark McGwire) and hitter of 600 home runs, couldn’t hop his way out of the batter’s box into Cooperstown.
Curt Schilling, a three-time World Series champion who, based on wins and losses, is the greatest postseason pitcher of all time and one of the better pitchers of the later 90s-early 00s? No dice.
Mike Piazza, perhaps the most offensively proficient catcher we’ve seen? Denied.
Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio were probably the two biggest reasons why the Astros remained any sort of relevant since Nolan Ryan.
Biggio is a member of the 3,000 hit club and Bagwell was one of the most feared hitters in the 90s.
Neither warranted enshrinement this year according to the BBWAA, although Biggio came closest of all those names.
I will never claim to be some bonafide expert on the game of baseball, but when I look at those numbers, and I look at those players and see them not get in, I wonder who will?
Landmark milestones? We had a guy in this class with 3,000 hits.
One of these guys holds the record for most home runs in a season and most hit all-time and is the ONLY player to hit 500 homers and steal 500 bases. Check.
Are you looking for dominance in key moments? Well, one of this year’s nominees retired with three world championships and the highest winning percentage among starting pitchers with at least 10 decisions. We’ve got that too.
Whatever this mythical criterion is, this class had it in spades.
Granted, my personal criteria for a hall-of-famer is not as complex as others. It’s quite simple actually.
I look at the player and ask myself whether or not I can make an argument that at some point during his playing career, he was the best at his position for a period of time.
If the answer is yes and his numbers back that up, then he deserves to go in.
But considering that most of these people played in the steroid era, there’s a dark cloud hanging over a lot of the potential hall-of-famers.
Resultant of that, not enough of the 75 percent of voters needed for induction felt right with possibly voting for a cheater.
But there’s no real instance of proof that these players did anything illegal, outside of Sosa using a corked bat and Bonds saying he unknowingly did so.
Heck, the cleanest name on this list, in the eyes of many, is Biggio and you don’t see a plaque being made for him yet.
This is just another in a long line of shocking omissions from the shrine of baseball immortality.
Yes, Pete Rose deserves to be in the hall-of-fame and I defy anyone who tells me different.
The point is that something needs to be done about the voting process or the hall-of-fame itself.
You can’t keep perceived cheaters out when chances are that amongst the hallowed halls of Cooperstown reside scoundrels.
Ty Cobb is easily one of the greatest players to ever put on the cleats but depending on whom you believe, he was far from a saint off the field.
Gaylord Perry is immortalized but this is the same guy who gained infamy for doctoring baseballs into spitballs, a known illegal tactic.
So they’re keeping the believed cheaters out, but leaving the proven ones in?
What kind of sense would that double standard would that make?
Amphetamines may not be looked at as steroids, but they obviously enhanced performance somehow if some members of the hall took them.
Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt admitted taking them during their careers, but no one would dare question their place in the hall.
It’s time for baseball to make a choice. If they allow the steroid era to question every single class up for induction from this point on, then logically they should have to look at who’s in the hall right now that probably cheated the game in some way and decide if they should stay.
If the steroid era has nothing to do with their omissions (yeah, right), then I have to question whether or not the BBWAA know and understand what they’ve been looking at for decades.
Either way, a choice needs to be made and soon as the list only gets more star-studded next year with carryover from this year and Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and the like entering their first year of eligibility.
I don’t know if Bonds, Clemens, Sosa or anyone on this list cheated.
I don’t know if they didn’t either.
But I do know this. Regardless of the era they played in, most of them deserve to go into Cooperstown.
And the longer they’re held out, the more luster Cooperstown loses.
In America, it’s “Innocent until proven guilty” so why isn’t that applying to the National Pastime?
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook