SWEEPING UP THE HALL: My 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

Posted: January 11, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , ,

After a career that afforded few chances too, Larkin will have the spotlight shine only on him.

I got the email to turn in my first Hall of Fame ballot for the Baseball Blogger Alliance at some point in early December I believe. However, I knew at that time that what consistently proves to be a difficult conversation even these days would be a much tougher act to really pull off. For all that is debated about the who, what, how and why is a Hall of Famer these days, it is far more difficult to actually sit down and separate the real from the fake, and then the real from the realest.

That’s where it gets cloudy, and also that’s where personal definition really steps into the vogue. What is a Hall of Famer to you? Should each HOFer be a transcendent player who stands head and shoulders above any player from every era of baseball’s varied past? Is it a certain player that hits a milestone, which grants an automatic entry? Is it simply a player that was good for so long that they just “become great”?

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is really a mixture of all of these things, and I hate it. Not the Hall of Fame, but the ways that players can become Hall of Famers. I believe that a Hall of Famer is a Hall of Famer in any era he plays in. Babe Ruth should be able to be stood up against Barry Bonds and compared equally. Derek Jeter to Honus Wagner. Mark McGwire to Jimmy Foxx.

Bottom line, I think the door is way too wide open. I don’t think guys should get a chance to linger around for decades and be considered shoulder-to-shoulder icons with the first balloters. Two different types of impact and it shouldn’t be regarded in the same light. My rule that I wish was the actual rule: 5 years on the ballot, then that’s it. Five strikes and you’re out if you will. Within that time, it will be made clear if you are a legitimate all-time great or not, yet still give a reasonable amount of extra opportunities for those that miss out. If you can’t make the cut close as soon as you are eligible, you shouldn’t be in. There are greats, and then there are legends. The Hall of Fame should comprise of legends and pacesetters.

That’s what I voted for here. Every player that I checked “yes” for my ballot either was a defining player in the evolution of the game or made an undeniably big impact along the way. Oh, and my disregard for a certain soon-to-be constant hurdle is about to be introduced as well. With no further delay, my stamp of approval goes too….

Barry Larkin: This was a bit of a foregone conclusion, as Barry made impressive tread way in first year of eligibility and the field was setup well for him to make a much bigger impact this year with virtually nobody to take votes away. But in the end, he deserves this outright.

Larkin was part of the genesis of the shortstop becoming a threat on the box score. His resume: Nine seasons over .300, nine Silver Slugger Awards and nine seasons of 20 or more stolen bases, including a high of 51 in 1995. However, these numbers were both lost in the shuffle of never quite doing what Cal Ripken was doing early or what Alex Rodriguez, Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra were doing later. He’s a man that made a living in the shadows of both his own time, and times to come.

He even made a career of breaking out of the shadows he cast on himself. Also in 1995, an MVP, which made him the first shortstop in 24 years to take home the honor. How’d he follow up that year? He became the first shortstop to ever hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same the year. This is also a man that managed to squeeze three Gold Gloves out for himself during an era when the greatest defender ever at the position was playing along with him, Ozzie Smith. Yet he finished with just as many World Series titles as his NL contemporary in shortstop did.

Once again, Larkin was a man that lived in the shadows, but they had to be pretty broad shouldered ones to keep him from shining as he rightfully deserved, and will get the chance to now.

That’s it for the first year eligibles for me, but I’m not done yet…

Lee Smith: I’m not sure how this oversight habit ever started, but Big Lee Smith was nails. While his stint being the all-time saves leader for a while was the biggest claim to his resume, it’s his impact as a player overall that makes him worthy. That and the fact he was more efficient at his job than others who served in it and made the Hall ahead of him, and he played a large part in establishing the modern closer that is now a definite fixture in the game. He saved 40 games twice, more times than Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage. He also converted more save chances than Gossage, Sutter, Fingers and Hoyt Wilhelm. And there’s only one two retired pitchers with more saves than him and both are locks to reach the Hall: Mariano Rivera & Trevor Hoffman.

By both the numbers and the impact, Lee Smith is a Hall of Famer. Or so you'd think...

Something’s not adding up there…and I doubt enough voters will ever do their part to get it right. But I’ll keep doing my part until he’s knocked off the ballot.

Overall, I voted for two more rather large looming figures to enter the Hall this year, but I’m going to discuss them, and a whole world of others of their “kind” that are approaching soon here in their own completely different piece coming up soon….because like Bob Dylan so appropriately said, “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall”….and there’s a storm coming to Cooperstown over the next few years, and they are just the beginning of it.

And I don’t see any reason even pack an umbrella. But we’ll rap on that soon.


For more on these views, and basically my views on everything from Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy my lunch, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

  1. Matthew says:

    I agree w/ Larkin getting the Hall nod and more importantly, I agree with your stance on ballot length. I personally feel it should be one & done, mostly in the hopes that it will eliminate this political posturing that these writers have on the HOF (I could write a novel BLASTING the BBWAA and their pompous BS when it comes to the HOF). On the other hand, I think I’ve made known what I feel about the “Closer” position. I find the position to be non-sensical to be honest. A vast majority of saves are got by 2 run leads, no man on and no men out. I just dont see what the big deal is personally.

    Finally, you are right about the storm that is brewing off the coast of 2013…Hurricane Clemens, Bonds, etc are eligible and in the words of WWE announcer Jim Ross “Business is about to pick up”

    (Barry better make it…)

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