Schuckman: BBWAA's Hall of Fame voting is baffling

Posted: Jan. 12, 2013 11:05 pm Updated: Feb. 24, 2013 2:11 am


There is no better way to describe it.

When you look at the vote totals for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, you have to scratch your head, don't you?

In his first year on the ballot, Craig Biggio garnered 68.2 percent of the vote. Players need to receive 75 percent to gain induction, meaning Biggio -- at least for now -- will be one of four members of the 3,000-hit club not in the Hall of Fame.

Why the other three aren't in makes sense.

Pete Rose bet on baseball. Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. And Derek Jeter is still active and won't be eligible until five years after he retires.

You can argue for or against Rose and Palmeiro, but their circumstances give voters a reason to vote against them. There is no such argument against Biggio.

He played his entire career with one team, coming up through the Houston Astros system as a catcher before finding his niche as a second baseman. He collected 3,060 hits over a 20-year career in which he was a seven-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner.

Some would argue he is the greatest position player in Astros history.

Agree with that statement or not, Biggio remains one of the humblest, hardest-working players the game has ever had. He was a lunch pail guy, showing up for work day in and day out and getting dirty every step of the way.

He earned the respect of his teammates and opponents and should have earned the backing of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Why didn't he? Some say his numbers aren't Hall of Fame worthy. Some argue he became a member of the 3,000-hit club only because he played in so many games for so many years. Some suggest he didn't dazzle the way a Hall of Famer should.

Others say in due time he will.

In a funny way, Biggio mocked that sentiment in a press conference held the day he learned he'd have to wait for the call from the Hall.

"Was I disappointed? I'm pretty close (to getting in). We got a 68 (percent), and I'm going to go back and study a little harder and hopefully I'll get a 75 next year," Biggio said.

Most members of the BBWAA don't doubt he will, especially when you look at history.

Jim Rice didn't get in until his 15th year on the ballot. It took Bert Blyleven 14 tries. So many others have played the waiting game as well.

There is the biggest problem with the voting process.

Either you belong in the Hall or you don't. Time shouldn't change that.

During his 15-year wait, Rice didn't take another at-bat or hit another homer. Blyleven never pitched in another game during his 14-year wait. The numbers, honors and moments didn't change.

Only the votes did.

You hear a variety of reasons why. Some writers don't believe in voting for players in their first year on the ballot. Some change their votes based on which players are on the ballot. Some hold grudges against players they didn't see eye-to-eye with during their careers.

Some are just fickle.

How do you change that way of thinking?

That's the toughest question to answer for the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame, maybe even tougher than deciding which players of the Steroid Era belong in the Hall and which ones don't.

Still, it's a question they must address.

Concerns over the credibility of the vote continue to rise, and in a business where readers and fans trust your reporting and judgment, credibility is everything.



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