Craig Biggio (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
I am shocked. Just utterly flabbergasted. For a time this afternoon, I was physically ill. Alright, that is an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.
For starters, yes, I thought that Biggio and Bagwell both deserved to be inducted this season without issue. The fact that there are others who disagree is understandable. Well at least if there was a valid reason for excluding Biggio and/or Bagwell from your ballot this year. However, in some instances, that is not the case.
To anyone that watched Biggio and Bagwell play during their illustrious careers with the Astros, there is no doubt that both are Hall of Famers. So we must eliminate what some would potentially call a bias, and try to look at this objectively and attempt to explain why both fell short.
Prior to last year, reaching the 3,000 hit milestone earned you a guaranteed trip to Cooperstown. The fact that Biggio missed on induction in his first year on the ballot could be attributed to a few factors and was understandable to some degree.
There are some voters that hold first ballot inductions to a different standard, and withhold their votes for that reason. Also, there were some voters last year that simply boycotted all candidates in 2013 due to the steroid cloud that is hanging over everyone’s head. I honestly thought that this would be corrected in 2014 and we would talking about the first true Houston Astro to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Then came 2014 and the over abundance of candidates. The limit of being able to vote for just 10 candidates was a hindrance for some voters this year. To them, Biggio just was not a stand out player and there were others that deserved their vote more. If that is the case, I respectfully disagree, but I can live with that. Filling out a full ballot without Biggio’s name on it, to me, is wrong. But if you can back it up and state your case, then I have to deal with that.
However, if for writers that did not fill out a full ballot and also excluded Biggio, then I have a little more of an issue. The argument is, that Biggio was more of a compiler than a star and Hall of Famer, but I just don’t see it to be true. But if that is your sole reason for excluding Biggio, then we have to move on and look towards the 2015 election.
We then get to four voters that are the cause for my displeasure. One writer submitted a blank ballot in protest. If you want to protest and take a stand, that is your right. But then simply throw your ballot in the garbage. Don’t send it back in and have your empty ballot count as a vote against each candidate. Then we have Ken Gurnick who nominated himself to be the keeper of Cooperstown and only voted for Jack Morris before abstaining for all future votes due to the steroid era.
But what Murray Chass and Marty Noble did makes the empty ballot look better by comparison. Both chose not to vote for Biggio, and the logic was that they felt and had heard that Biggio was a steroid user. Since when did they become judge and jury? And where is this information coming from? The only good thing I can say about Noble and Chass is that they had the guts to explain why they did not vote for Biggio. However, it does not excuse what they did, because that was simply wrong and unfounded.
Bagwell’s vote totals went down this year, and that can likely be attributed to the crowded ballot. Choices had to be made, and cuts were necessary. Ultimately I think Bagwell will eventually get in, but it might take another few years.
What is interesting, is that in the height of their careers, I think Bagwell was the better and more feared player even if Biggio is the more deserving Hall of Famer based on his overall body of work. In fact if you go based on WAR, Bagwell trumps Biggio 79.5 to 64.9.
The bottom line though, is that both Biggio and Bagwell deserved to be elected this year. Biggio is the more glaring omission, and unfortunately for Bagwell, it seems that at times, he gets overlooked due to the negligence of a member of the 3,000 club being left out in the cold.
It is obvious that the system is broken here. Voters are not doing their homework before submitting their ballots and there is no accountability. This needs to change.
Ballots should be made public and the logic behind them must be revealed. Maybe then we can celebrate each player’s accomplishments instead of trying to understand why seemingly obvious choices will not be in Cooperstown in July of this year.
What might be more of an injustice, is that the focus is more on who was left out of the Hall of Fame than on the brilliance of those who were actually elected.