The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown is the biggest disgrace to the game.
Never, not even in refusing to induct Pete Rose, has the Hall proven to be as flawed as it did today.First, there was the announcement that Mark McGwire would not get in solely because he was suspected of possibly doing something illegal. Then there was the announcement that Cal Ripken Jr., a player who would have been a borderline hall-of-famer if he was sick one day in the early 1990s, got more votes than Tony Gwynn, the best pure hitter in at least 50 years and possibly the best since Ty Cobb.
And it’s that second one that makes me vomit because there will never be another Tony Gwynn. Never.
There will be another Ripken. There will be someone who finds his spot and play every game for 15 years. There will be someone who average 25 home runs and 170 hits from 600 at bats, batting an acceptable .276.
There will be another Ripken. There will be someone who is a reliable fielder, winning a couple of gold gloves and using his mix and persona to make the All-Star game every year, even though more than half the time he probably shouldn’t be selected, over a 20 year career.
There will be another Ripken. There always is.
But there will never be another Tony Gwynn. Not ever. In the 70 years since Roger Horsnby retired, there have been two great pure hitters: Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn. Williams came right after Hornsby; Gwynn came when almost every other great hitter was already dead.
Yet, somehow, five more people cast votes for Cal Ripken Jr., a player who take away one artificial streak would be a borderline hall-of-famer, than Tony Gwynn. And it is insulting.
I usually accept that the process is screwed up, how people would vote based on whether or not a person is a “first-balloter” or not. But I never thought it was this screwed up.
My oldest concrete memory of baseball is the strike in 1994 and how it cost Tony Gwynn a chance at batting .400. I remember my dad trying to explain to me the significance of batting .400, although I did not understand.
Yet it wasn’t a fluke season like when George Brett pressed the record in 1980, when he finished at .390. Brett never had another season above .335. Gwynn’s career average was three points higher.
Gwynn batted at least .350 seven times in his career, including a remarkable five times in a row from 1993 to 1997. Ted Williams never batted .350 more than two seasons in a row. Ripken only hit .300 four times total.
Oh, and Gwynn also had three more gold gloves than Ripken.
Yet, despite being the best hitter of the last 50 years and despite having better defensive accolades than Ripken, somehow, solely because of his ironman streak, Cal Ripken Jr. is more worthy of being in Cooperstown than Tony Gwynn.
That is an insult.
Not to Gwynn, he probably could care less, but to baseball.
Gwynn was the last great hitter, the only one in 50 years and one of only two since the 1930s. Only a few can be great.
Anyone with heart and the right situation can be an ironman.
I’m not docking Ripken; I honestly believe that his streak is one of the most remarkable in sporting history and I do believe that that alone is enough to enshrine him in Cooperstown. But let’s be realistic for a moment.
Even with the streak, how can you say that Ripken should get in ahead of Gwynn? How?
If Ripken had missed one game in the middle of the streak, he would not have gotten in this year. If Gwynn had missed an entire season in the middle somewhere, he still would be standing here today.
And that’s the difference.
Ripken got in because he didn’t take a day off, Gwynn because he was one of the handful of best players of all time.
And it’s sad that that is the criteria some voters take into account when casting their ballots, leaving Gwynn off and putting Ripken on, when if anything, it should be the other way around.
That is the problem with the Baseball Hall of Fame. Even more so than McGwire. Even more so than Rose.
9 replies on “The Hall’s Blunder”
HOF One of if not the best articles I have read on the hall of fame. Great work BSD..
Comment I wrote a long thing saying how much I disagree with your statements of Cal Ripken Jr, and then I lost my internet connection, and didn’t have the energy to rewrite it. Suffice it to say, I completely disagree with your dismissal of Ripken’s success.
And you spelled McGwire wrong.
oops fixed McGwire. Spell-check changed it b/c I wrote something about Al McGuire a while ago and added it to the dictionary so I pressed change. My bad.
With that said… I appreciated your bold stance on McGwire and Gwynn… I simply feel like you didn’t do your research on Ripken, who knocked in more RBI than any SS in history, hit more HR than any SS in AL history, is the only SS to win 2 AL MVPs, and had more career hits than Tony Gwynn.
Cool I appreciate somebody who takes the time to fix mistakes when they’re pointed out. Most people don’t seem to.
yeah I saw that, but he also had significantly more at bats than Gwynn. I do agree that Ripken should be a hall of famer, but I believe that he would not be a first ballot hofer if not for the ironman streak.
My argument was that Gwynn was more deserving or at least as deserving and the fact that Ripken got more votes was appalling, especially since Gwynn is one of the best players ever in my opinion and by my judgment.
P.S., I originally spelled Ripken and Gwynn both wrong. It wasn’t until I looked up all their credentials that I noticed it. My spelling is way off today….
Gwynn and Ripken All in all, I am in agreement that if one were more deserving than the other, it would be Tony Gwynn. And despite disagreeing with your Ripken premise, I still voted in favor of your article.
not worth argument Both Ripken and Gwynn epitomize everything that a Hall of Fame player should be. They were class acts on and off the field that were true professionals throughout their entire careers. Arguing that one is more deserving than the other is ridiculous and trivial as I can’t think of a player that’s been voted in within the past 20 years that’s been more deserving than either of the two. In my opinion they both should have received the maximum number of votes.
Congrats to Tony and Cal, baseball needs more players like you.
p.s. I hope you are right that there will be another Cal Ripken, but I wouldn’t count on it.
agreed First of all BSD, great article.
Secondly, I agree that if you had to compare the two, Gwynn is definitely more deserving…But it doesn’t really matter in my opinion. It could be seen as appalling, but we all knew they were both going to get in anyways, so what’s the matter if Ripken got 5 more votes or whatever. They both deserve it, they both got in. Congrats to both.