By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
OK, just a few quick thoughts on the baseball Hall of Fame balloting:
* I was driving home last night when Tim Mead, president of the Hall of Fame, revealed that Derek Jeter had been named on 396 of 397 ballots, a 99.7 percent approval rate that is the highest ever for a positional player. Within seconds, media members immediately began reminding people to put away the “pitchforks and torches” in the hunt for the lone dissenter, emphasizing that this was a disservice to Jeter.
Sorry, but I want to know.
And I bet Jeter does, too.
Honestly, I don’t get it. Media people spend their lives asking for every last detail and piece of information from our subjects, but we don’t want to be held the least bit accountable when the tables turn to us. This is the ultimate level of hypocrisy. Four years ago, many of us were annoyed when Ken Griffey Jr. – arguably the greatest player of all-time – was left off three ballots. What is even more annoying to this day is that we still don’t know who left Griffey off their ballots.
For those who don’t know, the official ballot allows for ballots to be publicized. Voters can simply check “yes” or “no”. And yet, somehow, media people who routinely argue for complete transparency still have the audacity to conduct their own business in private, even when their business is a national institution.
I’ll just never get that.
* I’m a small Hall guy and always will be – and I’m becoming a smaller Hall guy by the day. Obviously, I’m in the minority. I’ve never actually gone back and looked at every ballot I’ve ever submitted, but I’m 99 percent certain that every player I’ve ever voted for has been inducted. I don’t say for any other reason than to emphasize that, in my opinion, the Hall of Fame is for the one percent of the one percent.
Larry Walker? Good player. Good guy. But he’s not a Hall of Famer in my book. Neither is Mike Mussina nor Craig Biggio. Again, I’m in the minority, which means that the majority of people want a bigger Hall. I sort of think that defeats the purpose.
* I didn’t vote for Curt Schilling and never have, but that doesn’t mean I’m right. Schilling was named on 70 percent of the ballots this year, the highest percentage among all players not inducted. He finished just behind Walker. My beliefs on the Hall are what they are, but part of me is rooting for Schilling to be inducted next year – and his chances are good – because he’s had a rough go of it since he retired.
Besides, if Walker is in, then Schilling belongs.
* More than one out of every three voters now think that Scott Rolen belongs in the Hall of Fame. Quick, what was the most memorable moment of Scott Rolen’s career? How many home runs did he hit? How many MVPs did he win? If you live outside of Philadelphia, you probably have to look that up. And if you have to look it up, he doesn’t belong.
This is now my new litmus test on the Hall: if you have to look up numbers or scour the internet looking for career highlights, your guy probably doesn’t belong.
* Still no Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens in the Hall. We all know why, so I’ll save my breath.
* One final word about Jeter: during my lifetime, he’s on my list of my most complete, favorite players who could hurt opponents in a multitude of ways. He could beat you with a bunt single as easily as a double to the gap. He ran the bases impeccably. He could steal a base. He had enough power to make you respect it. He was clutch. He was solid defensively. He was smart. In a game that requires an array of skills, abilities and talents, he had them all.
To me, among positional players, I always held a special place for Jeter, Roberto Alomar, George Brett, Paul Molitor (even without the defense) and Griffey. I was hardly surprised to learn that Jeter’s idol as a kid was Barry Larkin, who was cut from the same cloth.
The next Jeter? Oh, he’s out there somewhere.
And somebody is probably teaching him about launch angle, which would be a baseball tragedy.