Let the drama continue.
Oct 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers former pitcherJack Morris
throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to game five of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
In today’s installment of soap opera that is the Baseball Hall of Fame voting, Ken Gurnick decided it was his turn for some attention. MLB.com released their votes from 17 writers, one of them being Gurnick. His ballot contained one name- Jack Morris.
I’m not here to argue who is or isn’t a Hall of Famer (to me Morris deserves to be in the Hall), but more about what Gurnick did with his vote.
He made it about himself. The quote from his blurb on MLB.com reads as follows “As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.” Well, let’s break this down.
First, in order to make a stand against PED use, Gurnick left off Greg Maddux. The man who, by the looks of things, was going to be the first unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer. But Gurnick’s desire to be in the limelight got in the way of his ability to make what was an easy decision.
No one, and I mean no one, is making the case that Maddux shouldn’t be on the ballot this year. Anyone who has watched the game of baseball knows that Maddux is a sure-thing for the Hall of Fame. But Gurnick, who is paid to cover this game, apparently doesn’t see it this way.
Then there’s the last part of his statement. “I won’t vote for any of them.” According to this, guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and a whole bunch of others will never get into the hall. Does anyone actually think that he won’t vote for these players when they come up to be eligible? And even if he leaves them off of his ballot, he will be making a bigger fool of himself than he is today.
This isn’t about freedom of speech. Gurnick has the right to whatever opinion he would like to have. But when you are paid to cover this sport and you live this sport, and you are then given the responsibility to vote for the Hall of Fame, you are suppose to take the voting process seriously. And it seems that Gurnick has not.
These countless number of ballots that just make a mockery of the process point to a larger problem. The voting is no longer about baseball. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com summed it up perfectly. “Yes, once, Hall of Fame time really did involve an actual baseball conversation. Then it became a PED conversation. And now, its just a flat-out train wreck.”
Until this gets back to a conversation about the greats in baseball and about what’s done on the field, we will continue to see voters like Gurnick completely diminish the reputation of the Hall and other voters who actually take this matter seriously.
Thoughts from Editor Danny Abriano:
There are lots of writers who are defending Gurnick, who is getting absolutely skewered on Twitter, but it seems that they’re all missing the point.
No one is saying that Gurnick isn’t entitled to his opinion. Rather, we’re saying that his ballot was a clear attention grab and nothing more. It’s ballots like the one Gurnick submitted that make a mockery out of the entire process.
In his explanation, Gurnick said that he would never vote for anyone who played in the PED Era. First of all, the PED Era was in full gear in the 60s and 70s (and continuing through the 2000s), when pretty much every player (including lots of Hall of Famers) used illegal greenies (speed) to enhance their performance.
If Gurnick is referring to just the steroids era, he’s apparently failing to realize that Jack Morris played during it. If Gurnick refuses to vote for any player who played during the era, how can he explain voting for Morris?
Barring a released failed drug test, some tangible evidence, and/or an appearance on a list of those who failed a test, no one will ever be able to tell who did or didn’t use steroids.
Ken Gurnick sought attention, and got it. In the process, he sacrificed his integrity, spit in the face of baseball fans and players, and made an absolute fool out of himself.
Thoughts from Staff Writer Sam Maxwell:
Forget what you think of whether or not Mike Piazza did PED’s. This guy didn’t vote for Greg freakin’ Maddux!
He seemed to say the era is tainted and shouldn’t be given any recognition in any regard, and that is just an outlandish thing to do. His ballot is a perfect indication that the entire voting process needs to be rethought.
As far as I’m concerned, the writers shouldn’t have the vote anymore. We’ve built up enough Hall-of-Famers over the years that it should be in the living members’ hands to vote on who they think should be included with them. Doesn’t that sound like a better idea than having a writer or two go on an ego-trip, not voting in certain people who by all accounts should have 100% of the vote?
Think about it…no one has EVER gotten 100% of the vote, and the closest to do it was Tom Seaver with 98.84%. Lots of things can factor into the process of the 1.15% who didn’t vote first-ballot for Tom Seaver, but the point is that the entire thing should be rethought and reworked.