By Josh Jaffe and Danny Blumenthal
Coming off a year where nobody was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, the 2014 ballot gave much more excitement and controversy. This year’s inducted players included first-ballot Hall of Famers, candidates linked to the steroid era, and even a voting controversy where one voter giving away his vote. The inductions to the Hall of Fame this year are Atlanta Braves pitchers and teammates, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and a first baseman who primarily played for the White Sox, Frank Thomas. Managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa were inducted as well.
This year’s class was led by Greg Maddux, who is in the top 10 in multiple pitching categories in MLB history including wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. According to every baseball analyst, there was no doubt he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. The bigger question was whether he would be the first unanimous pick in baseball history. In early January, Ken Gurnick, a Hall of Fame voter, said he would vote only for Jack Morris because he thought he deserved it because he didn’t play in the steroid era. Even though Maddux did play during the steroid era, he was never linked with ever using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Senior Ryan Mulvihill believes that just because a player played during this era, it shouldn’t affect how they are viewed. Maddux ended up getting 97.2 percent of the votes, which is the eighth highest percentage all time. Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver have the highest with 98.8 percent. Glavine ended up getting 91.9 percent and Thomas with 83.7 percent. The managers chosen this year, unanimously selected by the Veteran’s Committee, ranked in the top five in all time wins. La Russa has the third most wins with 2,728, and won three World Series with the Oakland A’s and the St. Louis Cardinals. Cox won two World Series with the Braves and has the fourth most wins with 2,504 and Torre, who won 2,326 games, also won four World Series, all with the New York Yankees.
The requirements for a player to get inducted into the Hall of Fame is that they have to be retired for five years and they have to receive more than 75% of the votes. Also, once you are on the Hall of Fame ballot, you will be on it for 15 years and if you aren’t inducted by then, your name is thrown off. Because of this rule, this was Jack Morris’s last year on the ballot. He only received 65.1 percent of the votes. Gurnick also said another reason he voted for Jack Morris is because it was his last time on the ballot. Another way to get kicked off the ballot is if you receive less than 5 percent of the required number of votes. Another notable player on the ballot is Craig Biggio. He received 427 votes this year (74.8 percent), which is two votes short of what he needed in order to be inducted. Biggio was an All-Star seven times, and led the league in doubles three times. He’s also one of 28 players in Major League Baseball history to have hit 3,000 hits, and he is only one of four to not be in the Hall of Fame. The others are Derek Jeter, who is still active and is expected to be a first ballot hall of famer, Pete Rose, who is the all time hits leader and is banned from being inducted into the Hall of Fame for life for betting on games while managing, and Rafael Palmeiro, who is linked to using PEDs. Senior Tom Canfield thinks that getting 3000 hits in a career should be an automatic induction into the Hall of Fame as long as they no connections of using PEDs. Palmeiro will be removed from the ballot after this year, because he only got 4.4 percent of the votes.
This year’s ballot also featured players that have been heavily linked and accused of using PEDs. Barry Bonds, who is the all time home run leader only received 34.7 percent and Roger Clemens, a pitcher with the Red Sox and Yankees only received 35.4 percent. Two other important players on the ballot were Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire and they both received less than 10 percent of the votes. Sosa and McGwire both hit more than 550 home runs and are in the top 10 all time in this category.
However, many people think that these records shouldn’t count, because these players are thought to have used steroids to achieve these great feats. Senior Eric Nuss believes that these players should be stripped from their records because they cheated to get them. Most voters have stated that they won’t vote for steroid users and that they shouldn’t even be considered for the Hall of Fame, because they “ruin the integrity of the game”. However, many sports writers say that the election process is flawed, and that steroid users should be able to be inducted into the Hall. Jim Caple, of espn.com, stated that there would be a problem preventing many players such as Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson from entering the Hall Of Fame. Some voters, such as Gurnick, think that even if a player is clean and hasn’t used PEDs, just playing in the Steroid Era is enough to prevent them from being allowed into the Hall of Fame. If there are many voters like Gurnick, then Caple could be right, and players who deserve to be voted in will not.
Many students at Jamesville-DeWitt High School had opinions on whether or not steroid users and players from this era should have the opportunity to be inducted. “I don’t think they (steroid users) should be voted in(to the Hall of Fame) because they had an unfair advantage while other players didn’t, ” said senior Sam Clemons. Senior Nick Street agrees with Clemons in that players who cheat don’t deserve the chance to be in the hall of fame.
This year, Dan Le Batard, a sports writer for ESPN, gave away his vote to Deadspin, a sports news website, to protest the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) “hypocrisy” of keeping players who have been linked to steroids out of the Hall of Fame as well as the BBWAA’s “absurd election process.” Deadspin ran a poll on its website, and 40,000 people participated. The results of the poll were used as Le Batard’s ballot. The three players who received enough votes all were on his ballot, as well as seven other players, including Clemens, Bonds, and Jeff Bagwell, who are all alleged to have used steroids. Le Batard has come under heavy fire for this action. “Le Batard should’ve thought a little before doing that because, in my opinion, it was a ridiculous thing to do,” said senior Ryan Mulvihill.The BBWAA has suspended him for a year, and revoked his Hall of Fame voting privileges for life.