It's a great day for Tom Emanski!
The Contemporary Baseball Era Players committee (formerly known as the Veteran's Committee) met Sunday night to go over the eight players up for consideration to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There are three committees in total that each meet every three years: the Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee (non-players whose contributions were after 1980), the Classic Baseball Era (anyone before 1980) and this one (players from 1980-on).
Fred McGriff is more than deserving of getting into Cooperstown. He has as many home runs (493) as Lou Gehrig. He was remarkably consistent hitting 30 or more home runs in 10 different seasons. He played a large role on the 1995 World Champion Atlanta Braves team and by all accounts, did it while staying away from steroids. He was an original Tampa Bay Devil Ray and was the first really good player to play for them (they did also have Wade Boggs but it was the last two years of his career). McGriff is a perfect example of why committees like this exist so players who don't get proper respect from the writers get another look. He never even got 40% of the writers vote.
So what does this mean for the rest of the ballot? The biggest names are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens who each got 3 or less votes. They don't release exact numbers so there is a chance they each got no votes at all. I see people saying that this means that Clemens and Bonds will never get to Cooperstown now and I disagree. Never is a big word. I do think it's going to take some time and maybe it will need a generation or two that weren't alive when these guys were cheating to make this a less emotional decision. I wouldn't vote for Clemens, Bonds or Rafael Palmeiro either but it's easier to have sympathy when you never saw it happen.
Curt Schilling getting such little support has me really surprised. I thought he'd be a lock. Schilling has been fighting with the media seemingly since he retired. I think he comes off as a jackass more often than not but you can't ignore his Hall of Fame resume. He might be the best post-season pitcher ever and he has three rings to show for it. I don't want to hear he doesn't have enough stats to get in either. He is three wins and 38 strikeouts away from Pedro Martinez. Schilling should be in Cooperstown and maybe he'll also need more time like Bonds and Clemens. No matter what, none of them will even be considered for three years.
I think the notoriety for McGriff from the goofy Tom Emanski videos was a good thing after all. It used to seem like he was being overshadowed by these defensive drills because it was the first thing that people would mention whenever McGriff would get brought up. He led both leagues in home runs, carried the 1993 Braves over the Giants in a year San Francisco won 102 games and was a five time All-Star. People wanted to talk more about a kid throwing a baseball into a garbage can.
But that really doesn't matter. This was a fun thing because it was on ESPN multiple times a night. If every single member of a pretty critical panel said McGriff deserves enshrinement, then Baseball World was only a good thing. Besides, now we can focus on the real questions. Baseball World won "back to back to back" titles…what happened in year four? Do the players on this dynasty ever get together to relive the old days? Here's the Crime Dog's take on it (also how can someone not like this guy?):
Finally, what hat should McGriff wear on his plaque? He did play 570 or more games with three different teams. I think it should be the Braves. He played his most games there (barely) and won his only World Series with Atlanta. He did play a few seasons with the Blue Jays and Devil Rays as well but because of a trade he was on the wrong side of (Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter to Toronto and McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego), he missed the Blue Jays World Series titles. When he was in Tampa, the team was brand new and pretty bad. It's cool that he got to play for a team in his hometown but I'm not sure a team that averaged 95 losses a season when he was there should define his career.
I'll leave you with this: Fred McGriff was actually drafted by the New York Yankees in 1981. He never played a game with them however, as he was traded after the 1982 season for a reliever named Dale Murray. It was one of many deals by the desperate to win now George Steinbrenner in the 1980's that led them to trading away prospects like Doug Drabek, Bob Tewksbury and Jay Buhner. If you put McGriff in that lineup along with Don Mattingly and Rickey Henderson in 1987-88, it could have been enough for the Yankees to get into the playoffs.
So there you go: Fred McGriff: Hall Of Famer, great slugger, World Champion, defensive drills pitchman and never played for the Yankees. Not sure you can ask for much more than that.