Steroid Era backlash gives hope to holdover Hall of Fame candidates
BY CHRIS DE LUCA firstname.lastname@example.org July 24, 2011 9:50PM
Bert Blyleven, who was inducted after 14 tries, chastised baseball writers and pleaded with them to do their homework. | Mike Groll~AP
2012: Edgardo Alfonzo, Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams, Eric Young
2013: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Cirillo, Jose Valentin, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Jose Mesa, Royce Clayton, Bob Wickman, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Sele, Woody Williams, Rondell White, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Batista, Mike Stanton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Damian Miller, Todd Walker
2014: Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Jose Cruz Jr., Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Jim Edmonds, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Scott Hatteberg, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Lo Duca, Greg Maddux, Matt Morris, Mike Mussina, Trot Nixon, Hideo Nomo, Jay Payton, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Steve Trachsel, Jose Vidro
2015: Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, David Dellucci, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Mark Loretta, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Troy Percival, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn, David Weathers
2016: Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Trevor Hoffman, Andy Pettitte, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner
2017: Manny Ramirez
Updated: July 25, 2011 2:11AM
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — From an odd ode to the 3,000-hit club to a reminder of the exclusive fraternity that is the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the induction ceremony Sunday was more a celebration of baseball than a fete for Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick.
Hall chair Jane Forbes Clark kicked things off by saying not once but stressing a second time that only ‘‘205 of the more than 17,000 players in the 136-year history of major-league baseball’’ are in the Hall of Fame.
And near the end of his lively induction speech, Blyleven said: ‘‘To be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is the highest honor an athlete can get.’’
This tiny club figures to get even more exclusive in the future.
It should be noted that Alomar, in his second year, and Blyleven, in his 14th, are not first-ballot Hall of Famers. Neither was 2010 inductee Andre Dawson.
It’s a trend that should continue, with no automatics on the 2012 list.
Then we come to the trickiest year the Hall of Fame has ever encountered.
A quick scan of the names — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa — and it’s hard to tell if this is an excerpt from the Mitchell Report or the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot.
Looks like the holdovers will find plenty of hope in the coming years because the Steroid Era poster boys are going to have to bide their time.
Take Rafael Palmeiro.
Rough on Rafael
The former Cub appeared on the ballot for the first time this year. He’s a member of the 3,000-hit club and the 500-home-run club. Reaching either one of those plateaus had meant an automatic ticket to Cooperstown. He’s one of only four players with at least 3,000 career hits and 500 career home runs, Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray being the only other players in baseball history with at least 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
And Palmeiro got only 64 votes, or 11 percent — nowhere near the 75 percent needed for entry. Alomar, meanwhile, got 523 votes.
Sosa, Bonds and Clemens can expect the same kind of disapproving gestures from the baseball writers when their names appear on the ballot. A lot of voters who were on the fence only a couple of years ago are speaking with conviction now, changing their ‘‘I don’t know’’ status to ‘‘Hell, no!’’
Just as baseball is trying to cope with life in the post-Steroid Era — take the over-the-top celebration for Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit — so is the Hall of Fame.
Some of us had given up hope for holdovers such as Blyleven, Dawson and Jim Rice. But with the backlash against the Steroid Era bad boys, voters are starting to expand their way of thinking.
Blyleven knows as well as anyone the quirks of the baseball writers and their voting habits. He got only 14.1 percent of the vote one year, making Sunday seem like one of the longest of long shots.
‘‘All of a sudden, they look and say, ‘Oh, my God, he had 60 shutouts. Oh, my God, he pitched almost 5,000 innings.’ You know, 287 wins, all that other crap,’’ Blyleven said after his speech. ‘‘And now, 14 years later, I get in. Hello? Do your homework. Some of the writers need to wake up and look at guys who should be here.’’
Hitting 500 home runs nowadays doesn’t seem so impressive — bad news for Frank Thomas and Jim Thome. Writers are looking for the small-ball factor. A complete player such as Alomar is suddenly getting celebrated for his defense as much as his offense.
Ozzie: Alomar was most feared
‘‘As a baseball player, he’s the best I’ve ever seen,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Alomar, one of his contemporaries and former players on the South Side. ‘‘I’m talking about baseball player, not just second base, hitter, runner. To me, he was the most feared and most complete player in my era. This guy can beat you running, bunting, home runs, switch hitter, making the plays at second base, stealing a base.’’
Yet he didn’t get enough votes a year ago (397, or 73.7 percent), then got 90 percent this year — a 16.3 percent jump.
Just take a look at that Future Eligibles list and decide for yourself who deserves entry into one of sports’ most exclusive clubs. The list goes all the way to 2017.
One name currently resides on that list: Manny Ramirez.