Aug 24, 2012; Aspen, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants former player Barry Bonds in attendance during stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge from Aspen to Beaver Creek. Mandatory Credit: Ford McClave-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday the Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed three new members. Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. This after not electing anyone last season and just Barry Larkin the year before. Thank God we don’t have to sit through another summertime induction ceremony speech from some long lost relative of some dead-ball era player. What, listening to Deacon White’s great-grand nephew wasn’t riveting TV? Also, someone has to explain to me how a guy whose been dead for over 80 years, who hasn’t played in over 100 years all of sudden is good enough to make it. The fact that anyone who has ever seen him play is dead too, and THEY didn’t think he belonged should say something. But I guess his on-base percentage ranked high and since that’s the new end-all-be-all stat Deacon White now is anointed an all time great.
Anyway, rant over. Once again Barry Bonds was on the ballot and didn’t come close to the 75% needed to get in. His 34.7 % is a crime and is one reason why I feel the entire process has to be changed immediately. It’s 2014, the current system is broken. Take the vote away from the “sportswriters” because it’s evident they no longer deserve the privilege.
Before I go any further I must point out that I am not a Barry Bonds apologist. Matter of fact, I hate the guy with a passion. Like any Pirate fan the slightest mention of his name makes me want to punch someone in the face but lets be real, he was the greatest player in the franchise’s history not named Honus Wagner. From 1986 – 1992 there wasn’t a better player in the National League. Only perhaps Griffey Jr in the AL was his peer and Griffey played in the tiny Kingdome. Bonds’s seven seasons in Black & Gold alone should get him in the Hall of Fame. Two MVP awards, 3 Gold Gloves, 3 Division Titles and 2 All-Star game appearances. Yes, he choked in the post-season, however, the baseball world is full of great players who came up short when it mattered the most. Ted Williams played in one World Series and he stunk up the joint. Ty Cobb played in 3 Fall Classics and hit a mortal .262.
Barry Bonds left the Pirates after the 1992 season to go home to the Bay area. Sure the Giants paid him much more than the Pirates could ever offer him yet he did turn down more lucrative offers from other teams. He wanted to play for his father’s first franchise, something that on the surface, without knowing him to be the ghoul that he truly is as a person, can be considered admirable. Somewhere along the way Bonds mysteriously grew in size and the rest is history. At what point did his body composition change is hard to tell but you can reasonably assume it was sometime after 1997. So if you take Barry’s 7 Pirates years and his first 4 years as a San Francisco Giant he belongs in the Hall of Fame no doubt. The fact that he’s not gotten in, and gets less than 40% of the vote is a shame.
But it isn’t the main reason I feel it’s time to take the vote away from the sportswriters. Look, Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens not receiving votes is a subjective thing and I pretty much don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a big problem with is that these sportswriters have abused the power and found a way to make the process self-serving and silly. They’ve become “stars” and the quickest way to get themselves over is to do something stupid or outrageous with the ballot. Yeah, don’t vote for Greg Maddox, the best starting pitcher in the past thirty years, leave your ballot blank entirely. Be that guy, and all of a sudden you get interviewed by the USA Today. You can pimp out your podcast and now you’ve become a star. Give your vote away to Deadspin so you can gloat about it on ESPN and get more listeners to your horrendous radio show. Vote for Armando Benitez and perhaps you’ll get your name mentioned on MLB Network. The whole thing is disgusting and insulting. When Jacque Jones gets a Hall of Fame vote, a player whose career stats closely mirror Derek Bell’s, it’s time to shut the ride down and change the voting process NOW.
I feel awful for the writers who take this privilege seriously. For every Dan Le Batard there is a Buster Olney. But there are Dan Le Batards. That’s the point. There are plenty of them. Enough already. The NFL does it the right way. They have a 15 person committee of you know, people who’ve actually played the game, and they make the decisions. Yeah I get it, they make idiotic mistakes too – Bill Parcells doesn’t get in first time around because someone on the committee has a grudge against him. No system is perfect. At least these guys aren’t trying to become famous or infamous or looking to get more hits to their blogs. I’d rather a former baseball icon like Johnny Bench choose whether or not Barry Bonds should make the Hall of Fame over some moron radio show host in Miami. Bench doesn’t need the publicity. He’s Johnny Freakin’ Bench. His opinion is worth more than a thousand Mad Dog Russos or Jayson Starks.