10 thoughts about the 2011 Hall of Fame vote

Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar are Hall of Famers. The election results are in and this wonderful day on the baseball calendar will no doubt have the columnists and bloggers typing all night long.

So why not chime in my own self?

I predicted than only Blyleven and Alomar would get in despite many other worthy candidates. But I have some other thoughts on these matters.

1. ALOMAR SHOULD BECOME THE FIRST HALL OF FAMER WITH A BLUE JAYS HAT ON THE PLAQUE

Only Rickey Henderson, Phil Niekro, Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield even played in Toronto and got elected to Cooperstown. (And Molitor was the only one to stay for more than a year.)

Alomar was a Blue Jay for five seasons. Not exactly a lifer with any one team, he should have the sideways bird engraved for all time. (The Blue Jay… NOT the Oriole).

2. BLYLEVEN SCORES ONE FOR “THE FAM-A-LEE”

An interesting thing happens when a player plays as long as Bert Blyleven did and has to wait almost as long to get elected. You find yourself celebrating teams that played generations ago.

Bert Blyleven wasn’t the biggest star on the 1979 Pirates (the late Willie Stargell was) but he now joins Pops in the Hall of Fame. And while Bert will probably go in as a Minnesota Twin, his time in Pittsburgh (where he threw the complete game win to clinch the NLCS and came out of the bullpen to win Game 5 of the World Series) should be saluted.

I have a mild obsession with the 1979 Pirates and hope that SOMEONE will cue up the Sister Sledge this summer in Cooperstown.

3. ALAS FELLOW “FAM-A-LEE” MEMBER DAVE PARKER WON’T BE JOINING HIM

On the 1979 Pirates, Dave Parker was a much more imposing figure than Blyleven. And I supported the Cobra’s Hall of Fame candidacy. But after 15 attempts it didn’t happen.

Maybe the Veterans Committee will take another look at him. Short of that, being the bad ass 1978 National League MVP and having two World Series rings might have to suffice.

4. HOW MANY PEOPLE WHO LEFT THEIR BALLOTS BLANK LAST YEAR VOTED FOR ALOMAR AND BLYLEVEN THIS YEAR?

Last year five writers left their ballots blank. And last year Blyleven and Alomar missed being elected by just a few votes. Those blank ballots could have been the difference.

If you left them blank last year and voted for Robbie and Bert this year, you should have your voting rights taken away.

Also if there were no Alomar nor Blyleven on the ballot, would there have been more support for Barry Larkin or other returning players? We’ll never know.

5. GET TO WORK ON YOUR SPEECH, BARRY LARKIN

It is going to happen. People like Barry Larkin. There is no cloud of doubt hanging over Barry Larkin. AND he got 62.1% of the vote this year.

Next year the player with the best Hall of Fame resume being put on the ballot if Bernie Williams. Terrific player. Not a Hall of Famer. He’ll get the votes next year to get in.

6. IT LOOKS LIKE THE 1984 TIGERS WON’T HAVE A HALL OF FAMER ON THEIR ROSTER

Sparky Anderson‘s passing recently shone attention back onto his wonderful 1984 World Champion Tiger team. It certainly FELT like a star studded super star team back then. But Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish never got the Hall of Fame support and now it looks more and more like Jack Morris and Alan Trammell‘s vote tallies are not going to cut it.

Therefore the only Hall of Famer from the 1984 Tigers would be Sparky.


7. IT DOESN’T LOOK GOOD FOR MANY STARS OF THE 1980s

Don Mattingly‘s support is stagnant. Dale Murphy‘s isn’t getting better. Lee Smith can’t get over the hump after nine attempts. And poor Harold Baines is off the ballot after 5 tries. If Baines ONLY got those extra seven hits a year.

The 80s, the decade I grew up on, is struggling to put its superstars in the Hall!

8. WHY NO LOVE FOR TIM RAINES?

Staying with 1980s stars not getting love from the voters, the most perplexing is the lack of support for Tim Raines. In his fourth attempt he got less than 40% of the vote. It can’t be just because he played in Montreal.

It can’t be because of his drug problems.

I think people haven’t looked at his stats. Well here they are. Read them and vote! (Jim Rice had less than 40% of the vote too at one point and he got in, so there is hope.)

9. UM… MARQUIS GRISSOM GOT 4 VOTES?

As I wrote in my Jay Bell – Hall of Famer post a few years ago, I get it when a guy gets a stray vote. A sports writer may want to throw a bone to a player they liked and make sure they didn’t come and go without a single vote. It’s when a player gets more than one sympathy vote that I start to wonder “Did I see the wrong player?”

I’ve got nothing against Marquis Grissom… a good solid baseball lifer. But FOUR voters used their ballot to say “He should be immortalized!” Imagine if 460 did. They’d be carving a plaque for him. As for B.J. Surhoffthis article kind of says it all.

10. THE NEXT 15 SOME ODD YEARS ARE NOT GOING TO FUN IN TERMS OF HALL OF FAME VOTING

Kevin Brown is mercifully off the ballot… but Juan Gonzalez somehow will stick around for next year. And Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro can’t bust 20% of the vote but will be debated next winter as well.

The ‘roids talk influenced the Jeff Bagwell vote and it isn’t going to get prettier as the dreaded 2013 election looms… and Bonds and Clemens are eligible.

Be prepared for years and years of the tainted names on the ballot and lots of debate. Which is GREAT news for candidates like Barry Larkin and Rock Raines who will get more support from writers who don’t want to send in blank ballots.

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Ron Kittle – Another random card found in my old closet

Rummaging through my old closet, I found this gem from the 1989 Topps Traded Series. Ron Kittle, the 1983 Rookie of the Year, had three tours with the White Sox. One with the horrible SOX across the chest uniforms and the last one with the traditional pinstripe Sox uniform.

This card has him with the totally forgettable cursive C hat after his brief turns with the Yankees and Indians.

I have yet to meet a White Sox fan my age who doesn’t LOVE Ron Kittle. The main reason I included Kittle in my Home Grown vs. Acquired White Sox entry was his special place in the hearts of Sox fans. It could be that he helped homer the Sox to the unexpected 1983 West title as a rookie. It could be that he was a humble midwesterner playing for a midwestern team. The fact that he wore glasses made him seem less like an athlete and more like a regular guy who could hit one out. It could be that he was one of those old fashioned right handed sluggers who was swinging from his heels, struck out a lot but could launch it when he got a hold of one.

Whatever the reason, mention his name to a White Sox fan my age and watch for the inevitable big smile.

We should also think about players like Ron Kittle as this Hall of Fame vote will be announced. No, I am not saying the Kitty Man belongs in Cooperstown. But let’s take a name that is on the ballot. Just a random name… Oh let’s say MARK McGWIRE.

Like Kittle, McGwire exploded onto the scene as Rookie of the Year and helped slug his team to the post season (McGwire did it in his second year.). And McGwire also hit a ton of homers and struck out a lot. By the time Kittle was 28 years old, injuries began to catch up with him. Same with McGwire.

The injuries eventually were too much to overcome and Kittle played his last big league games on August 13th when he played both ends of a double header. He homered off of Mike Henneman that day.

When McGwire was in HIS early 30s, he recovered from his injuries and suddenly became the greatest power hitter of all time and in the Hall of Fame discussion.

Kittle never made a million dollars a season.
McGwire made $11 million his final season alone and earned over $70 million in his career.

Can you imagine if Ron Kittle had injected Lord knows what into his body? If his body were able to recover from his injuries… if his line drives went a little further… if his 20 home run seasons became 30 home run seasons… if he piled up homers into his 30s…

Maybe people would have brought HIS name up in a Hall of Fame discussion. Maybe he could have been cashing $10 million checks.

But then again, nobody looks at HIS stats with suspicion. Memories of HIS home runs are positive.

Nobody questions the validity of his 7 homers that reached the roof top of old Comiskey Park.

Ron now does motivational speaking and now does something super cool.

He makes benches.

I am not kidding, these are cool.

The seats? Made of bases.

The backs? Made with bats connected by baseballs.

And you can design the benches to have which ever team and which ever players you would want to honor.

You can have the benches shipped to you… or if you live close enough, Ron Kittle will deliver it

How unbelievably awesome is that? Having Kittle show up with the new bench!

And no doubt he would be HAPPY to talk about the past.

So I salute you Ron Kittle.
You showed us all terrific home run power and you did it right.

No wonder Kittle will always be loved in the South Side of Chicago.

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I guess Big Mac is smarter than the Rocket

Remember how we all made fun of Big Mac’s “I’m not here to talk about the past” line that he kept saying over and over to Congress?

He looked like a big dumb jock who was trying to weasel his way out of trouble, didn’t he? And he looked even worse with his cringe worthy pathetic and half baked apology interview he gave last January that I couldn’t even finish.

Well McGwire is no Mensa candidate, but man he was smarter than Roger Clemens.
Here’s something Clemens should have written on his hand as a reminder:

You are better off looking stupid than lying.

And another thing:

Your drug dealer has nothing to lose by telling the truth.

You should have taken my advice and learn the two words “No Comment.”

This story makes me sad… I think more sad than most Red Sox fans. Clemens was always my favorite Red Sox when he was on the team, and I wore a Blue Jays cap the days he pitched.

Yeah I rooted against him as a Yankee, but I would have rooted against Jesus Christ if he played for the Yankees.

Clemens, like Bonds, was a Hall of Famer before he mysteriously got bigger and stronger in his late 30s. McGwire wasn’t. McGwire was a Dave Kingman, slugger with a low batting average whose career would have been over around 1993 or 1994. Then he got healthy and BOOM! Became the Charles Van Doren of baseball.

Clemens being indicted doesn’t mean he is convicted. But it gives the vote AGAINST him more weight.

Roger… Roger… Roger… Why couldn’t you have been content with fame, fortune and immortality?

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