Wednesday, January 8, 2014

EXTRA: “Big Hurt” in, Slammin’ Sammy lives to be voted on another day

Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, while Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs winds up getting another chance (or maybe up to 13 more) to be considered for baseball’s version of immortality.

Craig Biggio's near miss for Hall of Fame ...
The results of the Hall of Fame election for were announced, with ballplayers needing to take 75 percent of the 571 ballots that were cast by sportswriters this year. Thomas took 83.7 percent of the vote.

ONE OF THE rules is that a ballplayer needs to get at least 5 percent of the vote in order to remain on the ballot for future years. Sosa, whom some fans are determined to think of as a steroid-loaded freak, got 7.2 percent of the vote.

The man whose name will forevermore be linked to him because of the 1998 home run race, Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals, got 11 percent.

So Sammy’s home runs (more than 600, with three seasons with more than 60) will continue to be debated.

As will the career of Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros – whose vote tally came to 74.8 percent. Real people would round it off to 75 percent, and he’d be a part of the induction ceremonies to be held July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

BUT BASEBALL PEOPLE live in their own world. And Chicago White Sox fans remember how famed second baseman Nellie Fox got rejected when he received 74.7 percent of the vote in 1985.

He eventually got into the Hall of Fame due to the special committees that give older ballplayers and baseball executive-types some consideration. I’m sure Biggio won’t have to wait anywhere near as long.

... brings back 29-year-old memories of Nellie Fox
Just a couple of other thoughts about the Hall of Fame voting process.

Thomas got in because the first half of his career was so overwhelming that it overcame the average play of the second half. Something similar could be said about Don Mattingly – the New York Yankees star of the 1980s, who barely got enough votes to remain on the ballot for one last try in 2014.

FOR THOSE WHO are viewing Wednesday’s results as some sort of Chicago-based story, keep in mind that Thomas himself told MLB-TV that he likes the idea of being a Georgia native who will be inducted on the same day as Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Or Maddux – who could have been a Chicago Cubs immortal if not for the ineptitude of then-Tribune Co. management of the ballclub – pointing out that both he and Thomas these days live in Las Vegas.

Withering away from Hall consideration?
Among those ballplayers who didn’t get enough votes to be considered again was Rafael Palmeiro – whose 500-plus home runs and 3,000-plus base hits are considered tainted by many because of steroid speculation.

His departure from the ballot is bound to spark up the snickers from amongst Chicago Cubs fans who will tell the tales of why they believe he really was traded away to the Texas Rangers following the 1988 season.


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