The 2pm deadline on voting for enshrinement into Baseball’s Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY came and went today without any new members inducted. As per usual, the BBWAA got it completely wrong. Look, I know the dilemma they were facing with this vote, as several firebrand entries into the most recent foray are, and forever will be, linked to a tainted era of the sports history, the steroid era. I grew up, practically came to age at the nadir of the era, so I think I am qualified to address a few things about this vote.
First, I agree with the exclusions of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, with a small caveat. I understand that a message needs to be sent to those who have that performance enhancing taint on them. However, lets not overlook the complicity of the sportswriters, the beat reporters of the era. They championed these guys, sung their praises from on high, protected and cushioned them when it was readily apparent something was afoul of the game. For them to vote Barry Bonds MVP four straight times when his head size was rapidly expanding to Jupiter like circumference, and then not vote him in first ballot? Slightly contradictory, don’t ya think? Since when did the BBWAA become the moral compass of baseball, since they were as complicit as any in the way they glorified the same they malign today? Its ridiculous.
This article is not to be a slamming of the farcical way enshrinement occurs. No, I want to chime in with a quick two cents of what my ballot would look like. I see these men as worthy, at some point, of Cooperstown:
*Barry Bonds *Roger Clemens
*Craig Biggio *Curt Schilling
*Jeff Bagwell *Mike Piazza
*Tim Raines *Edgar Martinez
I will delve into these cases individually over the coming weeks, hopefully, giving the glacial speed I tend to post stuff here. You will note that Jack Morris is not on the above list. And he never will be. The Old Guard of Baseball is attempting to use Morris as their definitive FU to the Sabermetric community, a pitcher who “pitched to the score”, eschewing the traditional pitching practice of, you know, throwing zeroes. He is being deified by them over one game, his magnificent performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. One game does not make a career. If it did, Don Larsen would be the greatest pitcher of all time, not the under .500 career pitcher he really is.
But this article is not about the roid babies or mediocre pitchers going into their last year of eligibility, nor the fools who vote for this stuff. It is about the greatest crime I feel these voters have beset a man worthy of enshrinement. This is a case for Edgar Martinez, the best pure righthanded hitter of my lifetime.
The problem with Edgar is that he was primarily a DH, which has been a position much maligned by these fossils inhabiting the BBWAA. They argue the DH isn’t a true position considering they do not have to field. To wit, the Designated Hitter will be turning 40 years this coming season. It is as established in the sport as peanuts and crackerjacks. Yet no DH has ever even come close in reaching the harrowed Hall in Cooperstown. Besides the no fielding ideal, the reasoning behind this is, well, there have not been many good to great full time DH’s. Harold Baines comes to mind. David Ortiz, perhaps, although he has a certain steroid taint to him. Edgar is the test case.
In the mid to late 1990’s, the Seattle Mariners presented a deep, great terrifying batting order. Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Mike Blowers, Tino Martinez, Paul Sorrento, Alex Rodriguez, etc. et al. For my money, even with an all time great like Griffey, no one was more terrifying in that order than Edgar Martinez. He was just a pure hitting machine. He flicked his bat and doubles would just appear out of nowhere. He was a batting menace, a batting savant. He was they guy in that order who put the fear of God in you. Listen, I recognize the greatness and all around brilliance of George Kenneth Griffey Jr. I watched him play live and in living color. With all due respects to Barry Bonds, he was the greatest player I have ever seen live, in person, a gazelle in CF and the sweetest swing of his generation. But he wasn’t the guy you feared on those Mariner teams. OK, you feared him, but not like Edgar. His lifetime stats are not really anything special, .312/.418/.515, 309 HR’s. But certainly nothing to sneeze at. In his prime, however, it was him and Albert Belle who were truly the most feared right hand hitters in the game.
And what a CLUTCH player. Case in point: I am a huge Yankee fan. Edgar Martinez nearly destroyed my life, as well as Yankee pitching, in 1995.
The man destroyed the nucleus of what would become a dynasty. He ended Don Mattingly’s playing career. For the series he hit .571/.667/1.000. That’s a 1.667 OPS!!! He wrecked us for two home runs, ten RBI’s, and the dagger: the game winning double that sent New York packing and Seattle off to a new baseball life and a new stadium. And this wasn’t an isolated five game incident: the man was more clutch than David Ortiz could ever hope to be. In fact, before Ortiz was saddled with the “Big Papi” nickname, Edgar was known in Seattle as Papi. He was just a transcendent player of a generation who has been lost to time and circumstance. That he continues getting less than 40% support from the BBWAA on the ballots just proves their ineptitude.
Edgar Martinez is a no doubt, slam dunk Hall of Famer. I just hope the writers wake up one day and realize his greatness. And their own voting faults.