The folks at Baseball Think Factory have collected all the publicly released ballots from Hall of Fame voters and tallied up the known results. They have access to only twenty percent of the ballots, but if the results hold up then Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza will get their plaques this year. Meanwhile, toiling along on just nine percent of the ballots is Larry Walker.
The case for and against Larry Walker has been made many times by many different people, so I don't feel the need to get into it here. The Purple Row staff created their own ballots for fun (results to be released in the coming days), and SPOILER ALERT Walker appeared on every one of them. Big surprise, the writers of a Rockies website voted for a Rockie. Walker's eventual slippage off the ballot, along with numerous other worthy candidates, is a result of an overcrowded ballot and the legacy of the steroid era causing the BBWAA voters to unilaterally dismiss players suspected to have used PEDs. We're getting to a point where the best hitter (Bonds) and possibly best pitcher (Clemens) in the history of the game will get shut out from the museum that chronicles the history of the game.
This gets some people's dander up. Around this time of year come the sanctimonious thinkpieces and outraged articles and snarky tweets about how Hall of Fame voting is a disgrace and a disservice to the game and what could the BBWAA be thinking?! It's fine for people to feel so passionately about the issue.
In my case, though, all I really think is "honestly, who cares?"
It's not that I dislike the Hall of Fame or think it shouldn't exist. The HOF is a neat idea as an institution that chronicles the history of the game and provides a nice capstone honor for great careers. I don't actually know where Cooperstown is, but I'd like to visit at some point in my life.
And it's not like I don't care about the history of the game. Hell, I watched all ten episodes of Ken Burns' Baseball, and each of those suckers is 90 minutes. I enjoy poring over old box scores as much as any other baseball nerd, particularly Barry Bonds's glory years (seriously, a .607 OBP in 2004? That is crazy sauce).
But arguing about the candidacy of borderline players, and hurling invective at the voters, and getting so gosh-dang outraged about it all; that's just a misallocation of time and emotion. So what if your favorite borderline candidate doesn't get in? His exploits will still live in your memories and box scores forever. How I feel about Larry Walker and the Hall of Fame won't change one iota if he falls off the ballot. If he gets in I'll think, "oh, that's nice." If he doesn't, I'll think, "eh whatever. Remember the time he hit that dinger off Randy Johnson? That was sick."
Arguing about Hall of Fame voting is the worst kind of argument ever: an argument over value judgments. The criteria for HOF voting are famously vague; it isn't "if you accrue X amount of WAR, you get in." So the argument is about the meaning of value, fame, etc. People are going to have different opinions about those concepts. The steroid argument is even worse. Just like a Republican isn't going to argue a Democrat out of his or her beliefs, a person who believes PED use shouldn't bar HOF entrance won't convince a voter who thinks PED use was cheating. It's a debate that won't change anything. And then there will always be that smug guy who mentions how players in the '70s used amphetamines.
Anyway, that's a lot of words about how I don't care about something, which maybe indicates that I really do care. So, uh, here's a video of Larry Walker hitting three home runs in a game.
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