Casting My 2013 Hall Of Fame Ballot

piazza gfx

I am at my desk holding the official BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. It is my reward turned responsibility for covering Major League Baseball for over 20 years.

That’s close to 2,500 games, many spent watching Mike Piazza dominate his position like no other catcher with 396 homers (427 overall). That dwarfs Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane, all who played before steroids became part baseball’s lexicon.

I vowed not to vote for a player officially linked to steroids, whether by admission, a failed drug test, accused on the record by another player or baseball official, or mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

That meant Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro or Roger Clemens – all on this year’s ballot – won’t get in by me.

Then there is Piazza.

Piazza hasn’t been linked to performance enhancing drugs in any capacity with the exception of innuendo from writers who deemed that an acne-spotted back was as reliable as a blood test. If acne were the sole criteria, then most every teenager in this country would be suspected of being on the juice.

Like the gay rumors, it is unfair, unjust and irresponsible reporting. Yes, Piazza starred in baseball’s checkered steroid era, but I see him as a victim of circumstance, of guilt by association, of being painted with a broad brush.

Supposedly, Piazza confessed to an unnamed reporter. Unnamed reporters, like unnamed sources, raise suspicion and should be questioned with skepticism. It is why I put my name on everything I write.

If a reporter had that story, it would be a goldmine. If so, where is it written? Piazza has denied on the record any usage, and based by his name being absent on any official list, I believe him.

Despite his no-show before Congress, McGwire came clean; Palmeiro failed a test and was suspended; BALCO star Bonds admitted to using the clear and the cream but claimed he didn’t know what it was; Sosa has been blamed on the record and used corked bats twice; and Clemens’ former trainer produced physical evidence with his DNA.

I’m not buying the court decision on Clemens, as the government couldn’t get a conviction with a signed admission. Andy Pettitte’s most significant change-up of his career is what probably allowed Clemens to get off.

Then, there is Piazza who might be denied based on one newspaper account citing back acne. That reasoning is as pockmarked as Piazza’s back at the time.

Voting against Piazza is a writer’s right, but it can’t be based on his .308 career average, .377 on-base percentage, .545 slugging percentage, .922 OPS, 427 homers and 1,113 RBI, numbers that are off the charts in comparison to other catchers.

In case that’s not impressive enough, there are 12 All-Star appearances, 10 Silver Slugger Awards emblematic as the dominant offensive player at his position (and most ever by a catcher), and seven times finished in the top ten on the MVP ballot.

Piazza will get my vote, as will Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Don Mattingly and Tim Raines.

Piazza’s numbers are what the writers should be counting, not back pimples or whispers from those too gutless to put their names on the record.

Voting against Piazza is a writer’s right, but not the responsible choice. A journalist’s obligation is to be objective, fair and honest. Voting against Piazza on the strength of a rumor is none of those things.

It’s irresponsible and disgraceful.

John Delcos is a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and has covered the sport for over 20 years. He has voted for the Hall of Fame for over a decade. You can read more of his insights at NewYorkMetsReport.com or reach him at JDelcos@yahoo.com.

 

4 thoughts on “Casting My 2013 Hall Of Fame Ballot

  1. Well done John.
    Though I disagree about Morris. Good pitcher. Not a Hall of Fame pitcher though.
    I don’t buy the “he won playoff games” stuff. Lots of marginal pitchers win big games.
    HoF to me is for dominant guys. Jack Morris wasn’t dominant. Very good perhaps, but not a dominant pitcher year in and year out.

  2. Nice article. I’m glad you are voting for Piazza as well as Edgar. It wasn’t his fault somebody invented the DH, and he was by far the best hitting DH. I doubt he’ll make it because he was a DH, but it is what it is and the best shouldn’t be denied.

  3. You lay out your reasoning well.

    I agree that Piazza’s numbers are hall of fame numbers just like many in this era.

    The problem with this era is there is no proof because baseball never tested. They didn’t even talk of testing until Congress decided to take time off from running the country to get involved in national priorities like

  4. You lay out your reasoning well.

    I agree that Piazza’s numbers are hall of fame numbers just like many in this era.

    The problem with this era is there is no proof because baseball never tested. They didn’t even talk of testing until Congress decided to take time off from running the country to get involved in national priorities like are baseball players taking steroids?

    It is unfair to all players in this era to be suspicious but what else is there? We have 40 year old men who have more power, better averages, and crush more fastballs than they did when they were 26. Mere mortals get slower and more tired when they hit 40 but not professional athletes. They get better. It is not just the stars but the marginal players and pitchers too. We have had a steady stream of minor leaguers who get written up for taking drugs.

    The fairest thing for the game is to look with suspicion at any great season. It is unfair to the players of course for how do you defend yourself. But it is also unfair to the integrity of the game which is all about records which baseball destroyed in a bid to bring back the fans after the rich guys ( both the clubs and the players ) destroyed the game looking to get even richer.