It's one vote. How much could it possibly matter?
That was one of the reactions after MLB.com's Ken Gurnick revealed that he voted only for Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame, citing an unwillingness to check the name of anybody from "the PED era." At the time, Gurnick was the only person in the Baseball Writers Association of America electorate known to have not picked Greg Maddux.
There turned out to be others — 16 out of 571 who voted — who didn't think Maddux was first-ballot material. Regardless, he was elected with 97.2 percent of the vote. Maddux didn't even surpass the record total of Tom Seaver, but it doesn't really matter because he's in. The rest is bookkeeping. "Don't pay attention to the one voter with a wacky ballot." OK.
All right, but how about two votes? Two votes kept Craig Biggio out of the Hall. Otherwise, he would be joining Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas as honorees for Cooperstown. Voters who didn't check Biggio's name had more reasons, and better ones, than any who ignored Maddux. Biggio probably is a top 15 second baseman, all-time. Maddux is probably a top 10 pitcher. Maybe top five. Heck, he might be the best ever. Nobody credibly argues that Biggio is the best second baseman ever, but belongs in the Hall just the same as Maddux.
Unless you're a voter like Marty Noble of MLB.com, that is. While Gurnick caught big-time flak (not just from me) for his exclusion of Maddux (while including Jack Morris), Noble has been allowed to slip past most of the shrimp nets relatively untangled, despite egregiously bad arguments such as this:
The candidacies of Maddux and Glavine made this vote easy and enjoyable. No angst. They're automatic; there was no need for research or investigation. Morris never has approached automatic status, but he clearly deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Noble has been a baseball reporter for about 40 years, according to this biography. That long, and he claims to dismiss doing "research or investigation" before submitting his Hall of Fame ballot. Perhaps he's trolling; he's been known to talk down to anyone who would dare call him out. After all, how could an actual reporter refer to research and investigation as if they're dirty words, as if he's proud to have avoided them?
And then there's this:
I don't want 28 people entering the Hall at once, so I limited my checks on the ballot to three. That ought to be enough to go along with the three managers. Angst returns next year.
Because of Noble and one other voter who theoretically isn't too bothered to do research or investigation, Biggio has to wait until next season (at least) for the crowning achievement of his career. No matter. "Three ought to be enough" players for Noble, who makes the Hall of Fame about himself not wanting to sit through a longer induction ceremony. What about there being no clock in baseball? Not so, not according to Marty. Not at the Hall of Fame. Let's keep it moving.
Noble would have been better off not voting. That way, his contribution would have equaled his interest in the process. Biggio still would have missed the Hall, but at least we would have been spared perhaps the worst argument in the history of Cooperstown.
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