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January 7, 2010 at 12:13 am ET
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Let Me Get This Straight

Those lucky, chosen few known to the world as the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) never cease to mystify, do they?

They are so stunningly good at what they do, would it shock anyone  in the least to discover that one, or perhaps a group of them, were involved in Bush think tanks anywhere from 2002-08?

This isn’t about Andre Dawson getting in. Sure there¬†were a few players¬†who I thought would get in before the “Hawk”, but when all was said and done, Dawson belonged at Cooperstown.

And while this is about Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin and Tim Raines, it’s more about the utter brilliance of those selected few who actually have a say. And their actions clearly state that they are unworthy of the honor which has been bestowed upon them.

Look “chosen ones”, this isn’t about you. The ballot is not your time to make a statement or hold a grudge, or to make silly arguments about the “sacredness of first ballot players.” You have been asked to answer one simple question about a collection of retired ballplayers: were they or were they not Hall of Famers?

And it has become clear, with blank ballots and curious selections, that some just don’t take it very seriously.

So allow me for a moment, to review so that I can get it straight in my head.

Roberto Alomar is one of the four dominant second basemen of the past four decades, joining¬†Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg, and future Hall of Famer Jeff Kent. Alomar, who had more¬†hits, runs, steals and walks than Sandberg and Kent, and accumulated more total bases and All-Star appearances than Morgan¬†isn’t in the Hall of Fame, ¬†but David Segui, a confessed performance-enhancer got a vote?

Character enters into the equation, but ultimately Hall¬†voting¬†is not the time to play the morality card. Yes, Alomar spat in John Hirschbeck’s face, but it was a momentary lapse in judgement that he atoned for, never mind the fact that he and the former umpire are now friends. So if his character comes into question, remember that Ty Cobb and Cap Anson have plaques despite being voracious racists.

Which is worse?

And what of Barry Larkin? The best-all around shortstop baseball had seen prior to the super-shortstops of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and Hanley Ramirez. When it came to overall game and beating a team in every conceivable way, Larkin was in a class by himself.

All you need to know about Larkin is this: in 1995, he won the NL MVP by batting .319 with 19 homers, 66 RBI and stole 51 bases in 56 attempts batting primarly second for the NL Central champion Reds. The following season, with Cincinnati in need of replacing Ron Gant’s departed power, Larkin batted primarily third, and proceeded to hit .298 with 36 steals in 46 attempts, but altered his approach to serve the needs of the team, posting career-highs for both homers (33) and RBI (89). Larkin drove in 11 more runs and hit 13 more homers than his previous bests in those categories because that was what the team needed him to do.

The contrasts between those two seasons,¬†and Larkin’s ability to answer the call¬†regardless of request, is the very definition of a player who could do it all.

However, there was no room for Larkin in the hallowed Hall, but Kevin Appier did wrangle a vote. The same Appier who never won more than 18 games in a single season and pouted like a child after being relieved from his Game 6 beat-down in the 2002 World Series. That makes sense.

Nor was there enough love to get a man who Bill James referred to as “clearly the greatest lead-off man in National League history” immortalized. It doesn’t matter that Tim Raines was the NL’s equivalent of Rickey Henderson or that he ranks fifth on the all-time steals list with the highest success rate (85%) or that he reached base more often than Roberto Clemente, Lou Brock and Tony Gwynn.

“Rock” just doesn’t belong. Eric Karros did garner two votes, though. And that makes sense doesn’t it? I mean, the guy does rock an incredible shelf of hair, and ranks as the third best first baseman in Dodgers history at best. Garvey and Hodges, who? Nah, my vote goes to that guy from FOX.

Difficult as it may be, it is understood that certain players won’t get in right away. It makes absolutely no sense, but it’s going to happen. For Alomar to not be a Hall of Famer tonight is disgusting, and the fact that Larkin and Raines only received 51.6 and 30.4 percent of the vote, respectively, is shameful.

However, when players who have no business getting recognition of any sort collect votes, it is time for certain writers to punch out, and let someone who can actually do the job take over the watch.

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One Response to “Let Me Get This Straight”
  1. CJ says:

    Nice post. But it’s never good for sportswriters to try political references.

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