I think the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame spoke loudly and clearly as they cast their ballots for the Class of 2011. Second Baseman Roberto Alomar was a cinch, receiving an overwhelming 90 % approval. Alomar, in his second year on the ballot, got over the hump of the 75% of the vote needed for enshrinement. Bert Blyleven, snubbed 13 times before by the voters earned almost 80% of the voters approval this time around. Both the players deserve admission. The one blight on Alomars’ baseball resume came when he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck in 1996. Alomar alleged that he was reacting to a racial slur the umpire directed towards him. A year later, the two shook hands at home plate after Alomar had been fined $50,000 and served a suspension. Alomar claims that the two have become friends and have worked together for charity. Blyleven was, to me, the pitching version of Jim Rice. Clearly, at least statistically, the righthander with the devastating curveball deserves the nod. He had been outspoken in past years when he had come up short.
To me, the interesting thing about this years voting, was more about who didn’t get in, or even get close. We are seeing the fallout from the steroid era in baseball. Players like John Franco, John Olerud and Marquis Grissom will be spared further embarassment. They will be removed from future ballots for not receiving the requisite 5% necessary to stay on. Others like Dave Parker, who’ve been on the ballot 15 years, will have to rely on the kindness of the Veterans’ Committee, if they still hold out hope. (Side note- Luis Tiant is still, in my mind, the best player NOT in the Hall. Wake up Veterans’ Committee!!)
The “steroid guys” are the interesting component in the voting. Players who have been linked to the use of performance enhancing drugs (ped’s). I guess the poster boys for this gang are Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. The duo combined for 1152 career home runs, yet neither received as much as 12% of the necessary votes. For Big Mac, it was his fifth try and for Raffy, his first. I don’t know if we will ever see either one in Cooperstown. Right now, it’s easy for the writers to not vote for them, or anyone else linked to ped’s. In the coming years, the dust will settle and we may have a better perspective on the entire situation. There’s no real way to tell if any current member of the Hall got in with “some help”, but for the time being, if you are under suspicion, you’re out the door.