Barry Larkin was elected to the the Baseball Hall of Fame today. No doubt a great and deserved honor for Larkin. The trouble with Larkin's election has nothing to do with him as a player, or even him as a person. The trouble arises from the fact that Larkin was the ONLY player elected this year.
The Hall of Fame voting guidelines do not lay out any specific rules for voting. There is no direct qualification for entry. Only that a player was of exceptional caliber during his playing career. Nevertheless, every year fans have been subjected to writers injecting their own personal morals and beliefs into the system.
The Hall of Fame is not a popularity contest. It should not be used for writers to settle scores with players who snubbed them. The only thing that should be considered when it comes to Hall of Fame voting is a players statistics. Baseball is a game created and built around numbers, and Hall of Fame induction should follow those same tenements.
Nowhere is this more apparent, than in the case of Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell's numbers should speak for themself:
15 seasons, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 2,314 H .297/.408/.540
Clearly Hall of Fame numbers. Even more so when you put them into context with the other Hall of Fame first basemen. So what keeps an exceptional player like Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame?
The gumshoes that write about sports, and are granted the prestige of voting for players, have taken it upon themselves to play Sherlock Holmes and begin deducing.
The writers' logic is thus, Bagwell hit a ton of home runs in the '90s and early 2000s. Steroids were rampant during that time. Therefore, Bagwell was clearly on steroids.
I like hot dogs a lot. I eat a ton of hot dogs every year. One time you went to the store and they were out of hot dogs. So clearly I'm the one who stole and ate all the hot dogs.
Not much really. By injecting themselves into the conversation sportswriters are now on a slippery slope. What will they do when players with overwhelming Hall of Fame credentials like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens become eligible?
Will the Hall of Fame become about who ate their Wheaties, took their vitamins and said their prayers?
How long will Major league Baseball let individuals (writers) who have no direct impact on the game have a say as to which players get elected into its hallowed halls?
Inevitably, the Bonds and Clemens Hall of Fame voting year will be a disaster. Bickering over the "sanctity" of the Hall of Fame will run rampant. When the fact of the matter is both players are Hall caliber. And meanwhile, poor Bagwell will get lumped in with the group undeservedly. His Hall of Fame chances growing slimmer every year,
I, on the other hand, will continue to steal and eat all the hot dogs.