National Baseball Hall of Fame voting has flaws

NICK THOMAS | Evergreen columnist

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The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) needs to get it together.

Baseball has a reputation as a sport built on tradition, with a romantic picture of a diamond under a sunset on an August evening. While that may be true on the field, once the real game ends it becomes a game of politics.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is no longer a place where the best in the game are enshrined. It has morphed into a hall of old men’s whims, a forbidden palace where a player is not to set foot unless his entire career played out as the BBWAA wanted it to.

Out of the seven Hall-of-Fame -eligible members of the 600 home run club, only four have been enshrined in Cooperstown.

Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome and career home run leader Barry Bonds have yet to take their place among baseball’s greats.

Furthermore, the Seattle Mariners legendary designated hitter Edgar Martinez, seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens and MLB hit king Pete Rose have all been denied entry to the Hall of Fame because they upset enough voters in one way or another.

These players are not being kept out of the Hall because of their performance. Look at the numbers. Most are among the all-time leaders in one statistic or another, and all of them made a strong Hall of Fame case during their playing careers.

Unfortunately, baseball has enough backward thinkers with power to keep some of the best players in history out of the Hall of Fame.

Rose was banned for gambling. Understandable, and egregious in its own right, but it did not change his hit total.

Martinez didn’t play defense, but that doesn’t change the fact that he had a .312 batting average, .418 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage over an 18-year major league career.

“The toughest guy I faced I think – with all due respect to all the players in the league – was Edgar Martinez,” Hall-of-Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez told MLB Network.

Barry Bonds admitted to taking steroids, but he played in an era where steroids were common and testing for these drugs was minimal. Recently, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, class of 2017, even though there are accusations for each of these players using steroids during their careers.

“Two of the three did steroids, so I don’t understand the process,” an anonymous former Major League Baseball player told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal via text.

These great players are not being kept out of the Hall of Fame because they didn’t play well enough, they are being kept out of the Hall of Fame because for one reason or another, baseball politics are getting in the way.

This is not about the individual case for the players mentioned; these cases have been laid out time and time again through media outlets. This is about the inconsistencies of who the BBWAA votes into the Hall of Fame.

For the most part, there is nothing these players can do to further their case now. Their playing days are over, there are no more at-bats to be had or home runs to be hit. Their fate as a ball player now lies in the hands of approximately 450 voters.

The BBWAA needs to clean this up. They have been chosen as the gatekeepers to Cooperstown, and it is their responsibility to the players and the fans to put the best players in the Hall.

Not the cleanest, not the ones they like the most, but the ones that proved during their playing days that they deserved to walk the halls among the best of the best.