Some of baseball’s Hall of Fame voters are idiots. We know this because every single year they do stupid shit like lose their ballots, over- or under-peruse player statistics, mock the system by handing their vote over to a third party, and just generally make decisions from a moral high ground so lofty and full of bullshit that the average person can’t simply fathom the pompous arrogance that goes into an act as simple as voting.
This isn’t a difficult process, either. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America are given a single sheet of paper upon which is printed the names of eligible ex-players. Beside each name is a check-box. Voters are then asked to check up to 10 boxes corresponding with the names of the players they’d choose to induct to the Hall of Fame. This is easier than correcting your neighbor’s elementary school math homework. And yet there are those who can’t complete the process without suffering an aneurysm because, well, who the hell really knows.
There are many sportswriters out there who are genuinely good people. I’d even argue that in this town, we’re blessed to have an abundance of great human beings as sportswriters.
But then there are those miserable, lonely, old bastard scribes weathered by a life spent taking shit from athletes that are even bigger pricks than they are. The last remaining vestige of power for some of these writers, fleeting as it may be, is the ability to determine who does or does not belong amongst an immortal class of baseball’s greatest legends. That ballot they receive in the mail each year is the equivalent of a break schedule to a surly, undereducated WalMart shift manager. They have nothing else. So they will nuke the living crap out of this one, tiny shred of power-inducing paper. Nobody should have any faith in this group of writers to decide anything.
But baseball does, of course.
Baseball, archaic fucking baseball, continues to let the BBWAA exist as the sole governing body in determining who will or won’t be in the Hall of Fame because baseball has its head so far up its own ass that it can’t see the sunlight unless it farts. That’s baseball for you. More fearful of change than the old guy driving ten miles under the speed limit in the left lane of the highway with the “Obama Can’t Take These Guns” bumper sticker on the back of his 30-year-old pickup.
So the system sucks. We know that. We can bitch about it all we want, but baseball won’t listen, because baseball is stupid sometimes. Yes, we still love baseball, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. We’re like the parents of a kid who just got caught smoking weed at school. Sure, you still love your kid. Hell, you even smoked weed yourself back in the day. But were you ever caught doing it at school? No. Because you’re not an idiot, like your kid. That’s baseball, our stoner son who needs to get slapped upside the head from time to time.
Knowing all of that, I really only have one major gripe with baseball’s Hall of Fame voters. I know what you’re thinking. After five paragraphs of pure vitriol, you’d expect more than one major gripe. In fairness, all my other gripes are mini-gripes. And this lone major gripe, well, it deserves to stand alone. Because it’s damn important.
My one major gripe is this: Edgar Martinez deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Done. End of debate. I won’t even argue this with you. If you don’t agree, you can go straight to hell. And trust me, there are many people who don’t agree. Screw those guys.
Edgar Martinez is the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation, and arguably one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Many of his pitching peers, including newly-inducted Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, have deemed Edgar the toughest batter they faced in their careers. That’s lofty praise. But even without the praise, Edgar’s numbers should stand alone as reason enough to induct the man.
There are really just two knocks against Edgar’s Hall of Fame candidacy and both are crap.
The first is that he didn’t amass enough in the way of statistics throughout his career to truly be worthy of the Hall. Fair, until you consider the fact that Edgar didn’t even reach the majors full-time until he was 27 years of age. And why did the situation shake out that way? Because he played for the Mariners, and the Mariners of the late-eighties and early-nineties were an unmitigated disaster. Yeah, he got screwed by a shoddily run organization, what can you say. Had he earned an opportunity earlier in his relative youth, we might be talking about a 3,000-hit club member, a shoe-in for first-ballot induction.
The second argument against Future Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez is that he primarily spent his playing time as a designated hitter. By now, you’ve heard a thing or two about the DH argument. And by now, you, like me, want to punch someone through a wall every time they cite that argument as their reason for not voting Edgar into the Hall.
The DH argument is the dumbest argument in the history of arguments. Do we withhold Hall of Fame votes from pitchers because they didn’t swing a bat? No, we don’t. Do we withhold Hall of Fame votes from position players who did play the field but were horrible with the glove? No, we don’t.
So why, then, do we withhold votes from a great hitter who manned a legitimate position at a level so elite that they named the positional award after him? (And yes, you already know this, but I’ll tell you again because it bears endless repeating: Major League Baseball’s Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, bestowed annually to the year’s best DH, is named after Edgar Martinez. The dude has an award named in honor of his achievements, which some would argue is even more exclusive than Hall of Fame induction, yet can’t earn his place in Cooperstown.) We grant concessions to non-DHs who were far from being all-around good players, who excelled in one distinct aspect of the game — like, say, hitting — but we can’t grant those same concessions to designated hitters, for some reason. It makes no sense whatsoever.
In his sixth year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Edgar’s check-box was marked by just 27-percent of voters, falling well short of the 75-percent needed to achieve induction. He has just four more years left on the ballot, four more chances to get in.
Keeping Edgar Martinez out of the Hall of Fame is asinine. He doesn’t deserve this. He doesn’t deserve to be the test subject in some moral war waged by morons who can barely get out of bed each morning without pissing themselves first. Years from now, when a new crop of voters relaxes their emotions around the DH position, this will look and feel ridiculous.
The man whose name is forever inscribed upon the plaque of the designated hitter award deserves to be in Cooperstown, among baseball’s greats. Edgar Martinez deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.