Let’s just cut to the chase, here: Greg Maddux should be a unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. There, I said it. While that seems like a no-brainer to many of the general baseball-following public, there are a few that disagree. Granted, they do have the right to disagree, but let’s just all be honest about it. They are wrong.
For those that don’t know, Major League Baseball plans to announce the 2014 nominees for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday. And despite his many accomplishments, there is a faction out there debating why Maddux should not be a unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. Let’s take a look at the reasons given for this idea*, and talk about how they’re incorrect.
*Note: these are general reasons read/heard over time in the instance of Hall of Fame consideration, they aren’t all necessarily reasons currently being given in response to Maddux’s consideration.
“Nobody else as ever been a unanimous inductee, therefore Greg Maddux should not be.”
I’m pretty certain this is the oldest argument given by any Hall of Fame voter that likes excluding first-year players, or players many expect to receive a high percentage of votes. These are the guys that remember back to Babe Ruth’s 1936 ballot, on which 95.13% of voters elected him in. The problem likely started right there. The % of voters that thought, “Hmm . . . Babe Ruth shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame” really ruined it for anyone else hoping to gain a unanimous vote.
For one, those initial voters were new to this whole “voting for a hall of famer” thing. It had never been done before. They had no prior criteria to make a decision from. Because of that, I can almost . . . ALMOST understand maybe some confusion about leaving off a particular player. Plus, voters are limited to ten votes. So, if a voter was listing his best ten, especially on the very first ballot, it’s kind of understandable that some greats would fall through the cracks. But that’s really beside the point.
What it really comes down to is this: What voters did 78 years ago should have no bearing on what happens now. In fact, what voters did one year ago should have no bearing on what happens now. In fact, as crazy as it may sound, what if every single Hall of Fame voter decided, “Hmmm . . . he’s definitely a first year guy, but not shouldn’t be unanimous, so I’m not voting for him”?
Granted, this will likely never happen, but the voters would look awfully goofy if it did. But speaking of “first year guys,” that leads nicely into the second reason often given.
“He’s not a first ballot hall of famer.”
Really? Is he a hall of famer or not? The discussion should abruptly end right there. Either you believe the man belongs in the Hall of Fame, or you don’t. Honestly, it’s pretty ridiculous that induction candidates are limited to just 15 years of ballots, because it almost promotes a thinking for the writers to say, “Nah, he shouldn’t get in this year, but maybe next year.” That kind of thinking is hogwash. Plus, the player’s plaques don’t mention anything on them about how many votes it took for the player to make it in, anyway. So is it really all that relevant? Well, then let’s compare him to other pitchers. Speaking of that, the next reason people give is:
“Well, *insert name of pitcher* wasn’t a first ballot hall of famer, so that means he shouldn’t be, either . . .”
This argument is really just a simple combination of the first two. In fact, the person throwing out this type of argument probably has ended arguments in the past with, “Well, it’s not fair so I don’t like it.” To this person I say, okay, let’s compare your guy to mine.
Let’s look at the numbers for Maddux. The former Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers great finished his illustrious career with 355 career wins (#8 all time), 740 games started (#4 all time), 5008.1 innings pitched (#13 all time), 18 Gold Gloves (#1 all time, among all players, including a stretch of 13 consecutive from 1990-2002), and 3371 strikeouts (#10 all time). Based on this as well as the rest of his resume, the baseball-reference MLB EloRater puts Maddux as the #7 pitcher of all time! Aside from that, the Gold Gloves, alone should get him in. But all of this is to say: Greg Maddux is certainly a Hall of Famer.
Let’s look at reality, though. People are stubborn. People don’t like change. For these reasons, I may never see a unanimous baseball Hall of Fame selection during my lifetime. But then if people weren’t crazy and stubborn, there just might be less to write about. Plus, sports writers need to write. If they don’t write, they’ll end up doing laundry. If they do laundry, they’ll shrink their pants. If they shrink their pants, they’ll wear cutoffs. If they wear cutoffs, they’ll be spotted washing their car in them outside by their neighbors. If they’re spotted washing their car outside by their neighbors the children will go blind.
Don’t make the children go blind, sports fans. So I guess for the safety of the children and their eyesight, keep being stubborn.