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Vote's over, but debate rages on
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01/15/2003  6:45 PM ET 
Vote's over, but debate rages on
Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
Eddie Murray hit his 500th career home run, off the Tigers' Felipe Lira, in 1996. (Dave Hammond/AP)
Eddie Murray and Gary Carter will belatedly step before the media during a Thursday press conference at New York's famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It wasn't any surprise last week that they were voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

But what surprised some of the voters was the lack of support paid to second baseman Ryne Sandberg, outfielder Andre Dawson, starting pitcher Jack Morris, and a trio of some of baseball's best all-time relievers: Goose Gossage, Lee Smith and Bruce Sutter. None of them registered higher than Sutter's 53.6 percent of the 496 ballots. A former player needs to be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to be inducted.

"I was really, really shocked that Ryne Sandberg didn't even get 50 percent of the vote," said Scott Miller, the national baseball writer for CBS Sportsline who has also covered the Padres and Twins during his career. Sandberg, on the ballot for the first time, got 49.2 percent.

"I was surprised that Sandberg finished as low as he did," said Ken Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for MLB.com and was the long-time Dodgers beat writer for the old Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

"Dawson is a guy who should be in," said Jim Street, who covers the Mariners for MLB.com and has also covered the San Francisco Bay Area teams during his career. "During the 1970s and 1980s he was as dominant as anybody at what he did."

"Gossage looked like he slipped a little bit," said Jerry Crasnick, the national baseball writer for Bloomberg News who once covered the Reds and later Major League Baseball for the Denver Post. "I think the whole issue of Lee Smith being on the ballot complicated things for people. Everybody really has to examine now how to handle closers."

Hall of Fame 2003

Induction Ceremony
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York

The inductees
Gary Carter | Eddie Murray

Schedule of weekend events
Complete coverage

"I vote for Jack Morris every year," said Bob Nightengale, staff writer for USA Today's Sports Weekly who once also covered the Royals, Padres and Dodgers for various newspapers. "To me, he was the premier pitcher of the 1980s and he doesn't even come close. I was also pretty astonished about Sandberg."

Morris finished with only 22.8 percent of the vote.

The five voters, who began covering baseball in the 1970s and 80s, also shared their opinions on the guys who will eventually make it from the current pool of active players, which neglected player should be in the Hall, and one of baseball's hottest topic: Should Pete Rose be eligible for the HOF?

Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who have at least 10 consecutive seasons of experience covering the Majors form the pool of voters. But no specific criteria for selecting a player are issued in the rules and guidelines established by the Hall of Fame. Thus, the collective human element has as much influence as career statistics on a player gaining entrance.

There are some benchmarks: 500 homers, 300 wins, 3,000 hits. Every eligible player at or above those thresholds is in the Hall, including the newly elected Murray, a switch-hitter who had 504 homers and 3,255 hits in 21 seasons.

Final results
 Player Votes   %
 Murray  423  85.3
 Carter  387  78
 Sutter  266  53.6
 Rice  259  52.2
 Dawson  248  50
 Sandberg  244  49.2
 Smith  210  42.3
 Gossage  209  42.1
 Blyleven  145  29.2
 Garvey  138  27.8
 *Kaat  130  26.2
 John  116  23.4
 Morris  113  22.8
 Trammell  70  14.1
 Mattingly  68  13.7
 Murphy  58  11.7
 Concepcion  55  11.1
 Parker  51  10.3
 Valenzuela  31  6.3
 Hernandez  30  6
 Kile  7  1.4
 Coleman  3  0.6
 Butler  2  0.4
 Fernandez  2  0.4
 Honeycutt  2  0.4
 Pena  2  0.4
 Daulton  1  0.2
 Davis  1  0.2
 Tartabull  1  0.2
 Jackson  0  0
 Tettleton  0  0
 Williams  0  0
 Worrell  0  0
*Jim Kaat final year on ballot

But evidently other benchmarks are not as revered: Smith's Major League-record 478 saves, Steve Garvey's National League-record consecutive playing streak of 1,207 games, Morris being the top starting pitcher on three different World Series championship teams (Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto), and Dale Murphy winning consecutive MVP awards.

"No question, this isn't an exact science," Miller said.

  • Which player who isn't in the Hall should be?

    Nightengale: "A guy I vote for every year is Jim Rice (who got 52.2 percent of the vote). Rice just dominated the 1980s playing in the American League. People forget how special his numbers were (382 homers, 1,451 RBIs and a .298 batting average in 16 seasons, all with the Red Sox). They get skewed because of the large numbers players put up today. I don't know if his personality enters into it or not. He sticks out to me and so does Morris. Morris also dominated the 1980s. He was a horse, pitching for three championship teams. He did something nobody may ever do again: pitch a 10-inning, 1-0 complete game to win Game 7 of the 1991 World Series for Minnesota over the Braves."

    Crasnick: "To me the guy I look at as the definitive power closer was Gossage. I just think of him as a Hall of Famer. He's not getting as much support as he should. He defined the position of closer. He made saves in some games that were just impossible. He used to come on in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, get out of that situation and then pitch two more innings for the save. Every batter was a tough batter. Sutter was phenomenal, too. Some people make the case, and I'm not one of them, that Sutter flamed out a little too fast. I don't think you can make that case with Gossage. He threw a massive amount of innings (1,809 in 22 years). He was so dominant."

    Street: "I voted for Gossage because I think he was the most dominant closer of his era. He's more dominant than Lee Smith. He pitched in a lot more important games. A guy like Sutter should be looked at more closely. He developed a pitch -- the split-fingered fastball -- that now everybody throws. Before this year I thought it should be Gary Carter. He's in. Now I think Gossage should be in. He was as dominant as anybody during the 1970s at what he did."

    Gurnick: "If you're a Dodger fan, you have to wonder why Garvey gets as few votes as he does (138, or 27.8 percent of the ballots). I vote for him every year. Without sounding like a homer, Garvey could be considered just as equally as Eddie Murray. He was the mainstay of a team that was competitive every year. I look at things like All-Star teams. You don't make 10 of them by accident. This guy made more All-Star teams than Murray (eight). His cumulative numbers may not be up there like Murray, but he had a great career. He did things that very few players do."

    Miller: "I was on the Veterans Screening Committee this summer, and I know Gil Hodges and Ron Santo both have some support. I think that's legitimate in both cases. Those guys got my top two votes. On the current ballot, Sutter and Gossage ought to be in. The closers generally have been badly overlooked. They have a place in the Hall of Fame. I don't think closers have gotten the respect they should have. But if a closer goes in, he has to be dominant. Goose qualifies. Certainly next year Dennis Eckersley will, too."

  • Who should make it from the current crop of active players?

    Nightengale: "Pitching wise, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens are locks. If those guys never threw another pitch, they'd be in automatically. Tom Glavine is close but not set, in my mind. Neither is Pedro Martinez. He's had some great seasons. But Bret Saberhagen won a couple of Cy Young Awards and he won't get into the Hall of Fame. Curt Schilling also has to keep doing what he's doing for three or four more years. Position wise, Barry Bonds, is definitely in. Sosa is close, but not a lock. If he never played another day I'm not sure he'd go into the Hall of Fame. I'd vote for Fred McGriff. He'll have 500 home runs, but I think he'll have a tough time getting in. He has to keep playing a couple more years. I like his consistency, but it will be close for Fred."

    Crasnick: "There's a whole boatload. As far as pitchers go, Johnson, Maddux, Clemens and Glavine are all going to get in. Pedro has a leg up, but he still has a little more work to do. Even a guy like Trevor Hoffman has to be considered. If John Smoltz stays in the bullpen and has another three years like he did last year (55 saves), he'll get in as a starter/reliever like Dennis Eckersley. As far as hitters, you have Bonds. Sosa is going to get there. Ken Griffey is pretty damned close. He'd have to do nothing the rest of his career not to get in. Rafael Palmeiro will probably get in. His 490 homers and 1,575 RBIs make him pretty close already. McGriff is a harder one for me. He'll be a hard call even with 500 home runs. Robbie Alomar also has a pretty good shot."

    Street: "Johnson, Clemens, Maddux and Bonds are certainly a lock. Griffey is close. I don't know if he's actually right there. Alex Rodriquez is still a little too young to even be considered yet. So is Chipper Jones, but he certainly has a shot. There are some guys who won't be picked on the first ballot. And for some reason now if you're not, these guys feel like they're a failure. I'm sure I'm missing somebody, but nobody else really stands out in my mind."

    Gurnick: "Clemens is a no-brainer. Maddux is in. Glavine, probably, Randy Johnson, for sure, Bonds too. McGriff is going to have 500 home runs. I don't know how they're going to keep him out. He'll be awarded for longevity. He never had the superstar label, never had a Barry Bonds season, but the guy hit 30 homers every season for 15 to 20 years. He needs only 22 for 500. You've got to figure that A-Rod is going to get there unless something terrible happens. He's already doing things that are remarkable. If Mike Piazza bounces back he'll be in because his offensive numbers (347 homers, 1,073 RBIs and a .323 average in 11 seasons) are remarkable as a catcher. Here's a guy who never won a World Series or an MVP, but if he's going to ride in on his bat, his offensive numbers are going to have to be indisputable."

    Miller: "Barry Bonds, obviously; Sammy Sosa, probably. A-Rod is certainly on the right track. You'd like to see him continue at this pace for several more years. At A-Rod's age (27), we would have said Ken Griffey was a definite Hall of Famer. Based on his last three years I'd probably have to sit down and look at things rather than just automatically check the box next to his name. A guy like Derek Jeter, if the Yankees keep winning, is going to be hard to keep out. The same thing applies to Mariano Rivera. He may not wind up with the overall numbers of some of the relievers, but the guy has won four world championships. The Yankees don't win if they don't have Rivera. Among the starting pitchers, Maddux, Johnson and Clemens are in, and Pedro and Glavine are pretty close."

  • Should Rose be eligible, and would you vote for him?

    Nightengale: "I'd vote for him once he's eligible. I'm not saying that if I was an owner I'd hire the guy. But nobody ever accused him of betting on baseball as a player. We vote these guys into the Hall of Fame as players, not as managers. And the gambling allegations were as a manager. I'm not sure they'll even put him on the ballot. That wouldn't surprise me. The fact that the meeting of Hall of Famers was pushed back means they may be leery of the whole thing. So many Hall of Famers are upset they don't even want to talk about it."

    Crasnick: "In the absence of definitive evidence that he bet on baseball as a player, I'd certainly strongly consider voting for him. His playing accomplishments clearly merit him being in the Hall of Fame. As part of the process for him getting back in, if he bet on baseball as a manager, he should have to admit it and own up to everything he did. He shouldn't admit to something he didn't do, but everyone seems to believe he did bet on baseball as a manager. Why would he have accepted his suspension if he didn't? That's a choice he has to make."

    Street: "My feeling is that if he comes out and admits that he did something bad, like bet on baseball, I would vote for him. But if they decide to let him in without admitting any wrong, I'll never vote for him. I can forgive and forget, but there has to be something to forgive and forget. He'd probably get in on the first ballot, but he won't be unanimous, that's for sure. A lot of personal feelings come into this vote, unfortunately, because it's a secret ballot."

    Gurnick: "I think he needs to come clean. He's got to make a statement. My sense is that Pete is reluctant to do that. It'll be kind of like a Catch-22. As soon as he does, there will be an outcry from some people saying you can't let him back in because of it. No question he deserves to get into the Hall of Fame for what he did on the field. But he's been such a bad actor, he's undermined his own candidacy. He's got only himself to blame here. And I won't vote for him if he doesn't admit he bet on baseball. There's more to the game than just the stats. He dragged the game through the mud when he was the one who messed up."

    Miller: "I think Pete should be in the Hall of Fame, but I think he should remain on the suspended list until either he gives a full confession or shows some kind of remorse and agrees to some kind of counseling. Before we activate him, there needs to be some steps taken so if he's working in the Reds' front office four years from now we're not going to have more gambling problems. That would be way worse than where we are right now with him. I'd vote him into the Hall because there's no evidence that he bet as a player. I'm not saying he didn't, but unless there's a bunch of evidence from those days as a player, he ought to be in. It's not like the Hall is filled with altar boys anyway."

    Barry M. Bloom is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at barry.bloom@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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