The Eve of Something Special

Today has to be one of the most nerve wracking days that a retired player has to endure. This is the eve of the announcement of who has made the Hall of Fame. When ballots were provided to the Baseball Writers in November, we talked about what the vote potentially meant from the perspective of steroid usage. ESPN has done further research and conducted a poll of baseball writers to try and get a feel for how many of them took this into account when they voted. Based upon this poll, it would appear that Mark McGwire should probably not plan his day around waiting for the phone to ring telling him he has been elected. A player must receive a seventy-five percent vote to be inducted and given the results from ESPN McGwire should expect to receive no more than twenty-five. It will be interesting to see whether this figure holds true. I’ll be curious to see if the voters are making a one-time statement or if this is indicative of what players from this era can expect when they become eligible. We may be on the cusp of the Hall of Fame Dark Age when players find it especially difficult to be elected.

There are of course others besides McGwire, Canseco, and Caminiti who are eligible. There are sure things like Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. where this vote appears to be a foregone conclusion but there are countless others who continue to be passed over even though they should be included. This is time for my annual plea for Dale Murphy. Each year I proclaim myself as a Murphy fan and question why he has been passed over. During his era, Dale Murphy was as dominant as Barry Bonds. Pitchers would modify their strategy to pitch around him. His defense was extremely solid and he anchored the Atlanta Braves for many years. Granted this was before Atlanta became the powerhouse we know today. So the question becomes why is Murphy ignored by many baseball writers? It cannot be a grudge against Dale for ignoring interview requests or being a media bad boy. Quite the contrary, Murphy went out of his way to be accessible by the press. By character alone he should be a first ballot inductee. Looking at statistics, Murphy had five or six outstanding seasons followed by a meteoric slide ending with him being 2 home runs short of 400 for his career. Reviewing his statistics at Baseball Reference, it would appear he has the credentials to be considered. These figures coupled with the back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards should be enough to unveil the bronze bust in Cooperstown. But for the last nine years that call has not come and slowly it seems Murphy is fading from the leader board among active candidates. It is a shame that the voters overlook Murphy’s accomplishments during his prime and instead focus on his lack of production at the end of his career.

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