The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced its newest members for enshrinement yesterday afternoon, past press time for this column. The conventional wisdom was that two Atlanta Braves pitching greats who won 300 games each, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine (who also pitched for the Mets), were shoo-ins, while slugger Frank Thomas and longtime Astros star Craig Biggio, who missed by a whisker last year, could get the necessary 75 percent from the curmudgeonly members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Mike Piazza received a disappointing 57 percent of the vote last year, and while I hope I’m wrong my guess is he’ll get close to the magic percentage but won’t get over it this year because (a) a number of very qualified ballplayers are eligible, and (b) there are too many BBWAA members who believe that you’re guilty until proven innocent when it comes to using steroids. It should be noted that Mike never failed a drug test nor was he mentioned in the Mitchell Report, which fairly or not, gave names of reputed users of performance-enhancing drugs. He should have been elected in 2013, his first year of eligibility.
If BBWAA members are obsessed with keeping players they suspect of using illegal supplements out of Cooperstown, they should give reconsideration to players such as Dale Murphy, who won two MVP titles but played on awful teams and thus hurt his stats. Mets third baseman David Wright can identify.
Last month the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee elected former managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox for enshrinement. Now all three men were great at what they did but all also benefited from players who are widely acknowledged to have used PEDs. Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte played for Torre; Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were managed by La Russa; and finally, John Rocker and Paul Byrd were terrific relief pitchers for Cox. Nobody is asking if the managers should bear some responsibility for their players’ cheating.
The Veterans Committee did not, however, see fit to let the late Major League Baseball Players Association executive director, Marvin Miller, enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. One of baseball’s great wits, Jim Bouton, noted that Miller’s old adversary, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, already has a plaque. “That is like letting Wile E. Coyote into the Hall of Fame but keeping out the Road Runner!” Bouton said to sum up that absurdity.
If you like grueling college hockey, check out Harvard vs. Yale this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The game is cleverly being billed as “Rivalry on Ice.”