In a nation that can’t seem to agree on anything these days, wouldn’t it feel good if just 500 citizen/writers could see eye to eye on one simple thing…
Mariano Rivera is a shoo-in to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). That much we know. But the debate surrounding his induction is kicked up a notch, and rightly so, as to whether or not Rivera will be the first-ever unanimous selection to Cooperstown.
For the record, here are the highest vote totals to date, as supplied by Baseball Reference.
- Ken Griffey, Jr. received the highest percentage of votes (99.32%).
- Greg Maddux received the highest number of votes (555).
- Ken Griffey Jr. was left off the fewest ballots (3).
As of this writing and according to Baseball Hall Of Fame Tracker, a reliable source over the years, 147 ballots have been made public (of 500 members of the BBWAA) to date, plus three anonymous ballots – and all of the returns list Mariano Rivera as one of ten permitted choices. So, there’s the 100%, if it keeps up.
The thing that strikes me, though, and this is not to politicize this column (ever), but strictly as an observation, is this. Have we reached the point in the United States of America where we are unable to agree on a single thing – even when it concerns something meaningless in the scheme of things, as an election to a sports hall of fame?
Where even those, as an example, who support the President in building a wall to control our borders can’t agree on a “wall” vs. a “wall.” How high should it be, what material should it be constructed of, how long should it be, how much should it cost, and ultimately, what resources should be allocated to pay for it? At that doesn’t even account for the division among those who are dead set against the wall in the first place.
Mmm….and here’s a really good one. Are there contractors and lobbyists who have already greased the coiffures of our elected officials in Washington campaign fund for their next run in 2020, standing by and waiting for their piece of these billions of dollars? Such cynicism, huh?
So, when we move away from the division noted in the complexity of building a wall, and back into the sublime world of baseball, how can it be there is even a debate about Mariano Rivera‘s election to the HOF? And one in which writer(s) would consider not listing Rivera on their ballot – choosing instead ten others who – did what in their career? – compared to The Sandman.
Apparently, though, there are writers who hold their ballot as a hostage to make nothing less than a political statement as a means of securing their ten minutes of fame in the eyes of baseball fans across America.
One such writer is XXXX XXXXXX, (I won’t give him the pleasure of naming him) who sent in a blank ballot and was later given the exposure he was seeking in an article written by Cindy Boren for the Washington Post. You can read his “objections” to Rivera if you wish here, but for myself and I suspect others, there is only one thing we need to know about Mariano Rivera.
Mariano Rivera pitched 141 innings in the postseason for the New York Yankees. His ERA over that span was a minuscule 0.70, and his WHIP was also under one at 0.759. No one has even come close to that.
As an illustration (I can’t cite the source, but it’s believable to me), you could bring Rivera back from retirement, order him to face the next 54 batters in a postseason game, without retiring a single one with all of them scoring a run – and Rivera would still have a lower ERA than Greg Kimbrel in the postseason – Kimbrel, who incredulously believes he’s worth $100 million as a free agent this year.
To be sure, there may be those writers hanging on and waiting for next year when Derek Jeter comes up for election, thinking He’s The One who should go in unanimously. But that’s a debate to take place on barstools across America, and not on what most of us consider to be sacred ballots and the privilege of voting on membership to the HOF this year.
Membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) is a topic that needs to be tackled, but that’s for another time. And it’s not just Rivera. Did you know, for instance, that it took Joe DiMaggio two tries before these guys saw fit to put him in the Hall – Joe DiMaggio! – for God sakes.
And so, for just one time, in the chaos and division surrounding our culture today, why can’t just 500 people (writers) agree on one simple thing – that Mariano Rivera belongs in the baseball HOF. It sure would make me feel a lot better…