He's the greatest hitter of all time, with the greatest swing off all time, and no one is going to convince me otherwise. The baseball writers have been voting and Wednesday we find out who will join the greatest of all time in Cooperstown, and like much of his career, Ken Griffey Jr. is the headline. It was more than 25 years ago that Griffey made his debut with Seattle in 1989. His 22 year career included over 2,600 games, 2,700 hits and most impressively 630 home runs (6th all-time).
Even with names like Bonds, McGwire and Clemens, the big story for this years nominees is Ken Griffey Jr. Excluding the Mariners slugger, the names above have all been tied, in some way or another, to performance enhancing drugs. There are certain big names mentioned when discussing steroids, but none bigger than Bonds, Clemens and McGwire.
Although you hear about performance enhancing drugs throughout all sports, there is no argument that it has been most prominent in baseball over the last 25 years. For a few members of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) the term steroids is just a shorter way of saying "He's not getting my vote". For these people, steroids is a mortal sin and as far as they're concerned, their career doesn't count. For me, this is not the case.
Although I'm not a pro-steroid, I think its ridiculous to exclude some of the greatest players we've been lucky enough to watch play, solely based on PEDs. A lot of people would like to just forget that baseball from the late 1980's to the early 2000's didn't exist, and those are probably the same people who believe in "safe spaces." Some will argue that McGwire, Bonds or Clemens wouldn't be good without steroids; another ridiculous piece of logical thinking. With that thought process, I could start taking steroids right now and hit 500 homeruns in the MLB, which may or may not have crossed my mind once or twice. However, this simply isn't the case. These guys were elite athletes before the thought of steroids ever entered their minds, not just some John Doe on a La-Z-Boy with Cheetos crumbs in his belly button.
While those particular players get my vote, there are other great players involved in the steroid controversy that do not belong in Cooperstown. The big hitters throughout the 90's and early 2000's were McGwire, Bonds and Sosa, however, I'm keeping Sosa off my list of Hall of Fame hitters. Yes, he was another great hitter throughout that era, but steroids weren't his only controversy. In 2003, Sosa broke his bat and revealed he was using a corked bat, and was suspended 8 games. He claimed it was meant to be used in batting practice only, but you lose the benefit of the doubt when you're already under suspicion of cheating. This was the nail in the coffin for me, even as a teenager who loved watching home runs, Sosa had ruined his legacy forever in my eyes.
A very interesting name on the list is shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, whom I assume needs no introduction among Red Sox fans. Aside from Pedro Martinez and Mo Vaughn, there was no Red Sox player more fun to watch during the 90's than Nomar. From the batting glove ritual, to the flip-up sunglasses and sidearm throw, Nomar is no doubt one of the most famous Sox players in the last 25 years. However, as disappointing as it is, I don't believe it will be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. A main reason for this is because he was overshadowed by his counterpart wearing pinstripes in New York, who might be the greatest shortstop of all time. Nomar's career only lasted 14 years, while Jeter played 6 years longer, amassing almost 2,000 more hits. I believe it's only a matter of time before he is enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of fame, however, I think Red Sox fans will have to settle for only one Hall of Fame induction.
With time winding down for the class of 2016, the only player who seems to be a shoo-in is Ken Griffey Jr., and my 15 year old self could not be more excited. 75% of the voting is needed for an induction, and I have a hard time believing he gets anything less than 90% of the votes. Along with the rest of the baseball world, I am very interested to see what happens with the Mark McGwires of the list. This year provides a very difficult decision for those who are voting, especially if you are on the fence about the steroid-linked players. While the teenager in me would love to vote for Nomar and Gary Sheffield, the mid-20's me knows they were just short of belonging with the best of the best.
My Picks for the 2016 Hall of Fame
⬜Garrett Anderson ⬜Mike Lowell
⬜Brad Ausmus ✔Edgar Martinez
✔Jeff Bagwell ⬜Fred McGriff
✔Barry Bonds ✔Mark McGwire
⬜Luis Castillo ✔Mike Mussina
✔Roger Clemens ✔Mike Piazza
⬜David Eckstein ✔Tim Raines
⬜Jim Edmonds ✔Curt Schilling
⬜Nomar Garciaparra ⬜Gary Sheffield
⬜Troy Glaus ⬜Lee Smith
✔Ken Griffey Jr. ⬜Sammy Sosa
⬜Mark Grudzielanek ⬜Mike Sweeney
⬜Mike Hampton ⬜Alan Trammel
⬜Trevor Hoffman ⬜Billy Wagner
⬜Jason Kendall ⬜Larry Walker
⬜Jeff Kent ⬜Randy Winn
Also, free hug to whoever can tell me what the hell happened to Sammy Sosa, and why he hasn't appeared in the Walking Dead yet.
By Matt Watts