January 05, 2011
So after a month of grandstanding, fingerpointing and caterwauling, we're left with the Hall of Fame election news that we expected all along: Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will be the two players enshrined among the immortal in Cooperstown this summer.
After barely missing out on the necessary 75 percent in the 2010 voting, the pair got more than enough support in 2011. Alomar was named on 90 percent of the votes (up from 73.7 percent last year), while Blyleven finally got over the Hall of Fame hump with mention on 79.7 percent of the ballots (up from 74.2 in 2010).
It's clear that Alomar's delayed induction in his second year was apparently caused by 16.3 percent of the electorate deciding to withhold the "first ballot guy" designation because of the John Hirschbeck spitting incident in 1996. Considering the umpire forgave Alomar long ago, it seems ridiculous that someone who didn't have spit land in his face would make such a judgment. Regardless, I don't think that too many people will view Alomar's plaque in Cooperstown in coming years and remember that he wasn't a first-ballot guy. He's one of history's best second basemen, plain and simple.
Blyleven's ascension in his 14th and next-to-last year of eligibility, meanwhile, was the final step of progression in a grassroots campaign that gained steam over the years thanks to people like Rich Lederer. It was a long and often-contentious road, but it was worth it as it finally got the more-than-deserving pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
A big BLS head nod is in order for both men.
A few other thoughts on this year's ballot:
• Barry Larkin received 62.1 percent of the vote on Wednesday, so Cincinnati Reds fans can probably start planning their 2012 summers around a trip to rural New York in late July. It seems pretty evident he'll make the jump in his third year of eligibility, especially since Bernie Williams is the highest-profile guy arriving on next year's ballot.
• The Jeff Bagwell situation, however, will likely last a few more winters. The Houston Astros first baseman received 41.7 percent of the vote and while I think it's likely that writers will realize the folly of convicting him without evidence, he won't be elected next season.
• Bags won't be the sole cause for across-the-aisle shouting next year: Jack Morris received 53.5 percent of the vote and his always-divisive case got some support from Bert Blyleven in his post-election conference call. He won't make a 22 percent jump, but the debate will continue to rage.
• All the animosity toward the writers that Kevin Brown sowed throughout the years finally came back to bite him. Despite holding statistics that are superior to Morris', he only received 2.1 percent of the vote and falls off the ballot in his first year.
• Rafael Palmeiro, meanwhile, just earned the chance to wait another 14 years for people's attitudes on the steroid era to come around. He received 11 percent of the vote and seems set for a Mark McGwire-like existence on the ballot. (McGwire, by the way, received 19.8 percent of the vote, down from 23.7 in 2010.)
• Did the two people who voted for B.J. Surhoff also account for half of Marquis Grissom's four tallies? God bless both players, but how do you possibly check either of their names?