They are part of forever. Despite all the controversy, and all the rhetoric, and the convoluted voting process, their individual accomplishments can never be second guessed again. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio were voted in to the MLB Hall of Fame on Tuesday, and they will be officially inducted on July 26th in Cooperstown, NY. These inductions mark only the third time at least four players have been voted in to the Hall of Fame in one year (the last was 1955). Also, for the first time, three first-ballot candidates were voted in in consecutive years.
Randy Johnson, regarded by many as the best left-handed pitcher of all-time, garnered 97.3% of the votes (the 8th highest percentage of all-time). The “Big Unit” is one of only two pitchers to win four consecutive CY Young Awards, the other being Greg Maddux. Johnson was a strikeout machine, as he is still the all-time leader in K’s per nine innings (10.6). Standing 6’10” tall, Johnson was an intimidating force, playing on six different teams during his 22 year career. Most impressively, Johnson is a member of the 300-Win Club (303). Pedro Martinez, a three time CY Young Award winner, received 91.1% of the votes. Martinez had one of the most dominant stretches of any pitcher during his prime, finishing in the top four of the CY Young Award in seven out of eight years. He also helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2004. John Smoltz had a unique, 21 year career. He is the only pitcher ever to record 200 wins and 150 saves. Playing almost his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, he was a staple in their pitching staff, along side fellow Hall of Famers, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. That Braves dynasty won a record 14 straight National League East titles. And last but not least, Craig Biggio will enter the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility. Biggio is a member of the 3,000 hit club, playing multiple defensive positions over his 20 year career. While playing second base, outfield, and catcher he won four gold gloves. He is the only player in Major League history to have 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 250 home runs, and 400 stolen bases.
It is wonderful to see these great players honored for their achievements, but a dark cloud still remains, constantly hovering over Major League Baseball. No, that cloud isn’t filled with water vapor, it’s filled with steroids. And every time we have this conversation, it serves as an annual reminder of all the cheating and accusations that surround baseball’s best players. My opinion of these players is simple. It is impossible to know who did or did not take steroids. Therefore, in order not to falsely accuse innocent players or unknowingly allow cheaters into the Hall of Fame, we must view everyone on an even playing field. Barry Bonds existed. Barry Bonds broke numerous records and is one of the greatest baseball players that ever lived. Personal opinions aside (I for one can’t stand the guy), baseball is doing itself a disservice by not allowing Bonds in to the Hall of Fame. As for Mike Piazza, here is a guy to feel bad for. While he will most likely get in to the Hall of Fame next year, it is absurd that solely rumors are keeping him on the outside looking in. He is the best offensive catcher of all-time. The voting system is not a fair system at all. Instead, it is a group of ego maniacal sports writers, who think this process is a platform for settling personal vendettas. Yeah, not so much. The writers need to stop pretending an entire era didn’t exist, and they need to put em’ all in!!
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
How do you feel about this years Hall of Fame inductees? Did the committee get it right? Should accused steroid users be allowed in to the Hall of Fame?
Let me know how you feel in the comment section below.
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