Seven ex-Mets were on the Hall of Fame ballot. Roberto Hernandez (no votes), Mike Stanton (no votes), Jeff Conine (no votes), Aaron Sele (one vote - not a typo), Shawn Green (two votes) and Omar Minaya's bosom buddy, Julio Franco (six votes) did not generate enough support to remain on the ballot in 2014. The seventh former Met who received votes should have received a lot more support than he did, as Mike Piazza was named on 329 ballots (57.8% of the 569 ballots cast), which was 98 votes short of the 427 needed for election into the Hall of Fame. Clearly, those 240 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who chose not to scribble Piazza's name on their ballot either:
a) remembered Piazza's back acne story and proceeded to have wicked flashbacks to when they were pimply kids who were beat up regularly by the jocks in high school.
2) were afraid his Hall of Fame plaque would have him wearing a Marlins cap and wanted to spare the baseball-loving world of that potential atrocity, or
iii) saw the following picture of Piazza & Pals and naturally assumed that steroids can be passed from person to person through the air like the flu.
|Oh, Mike. Why did you allow yourself to be photographed with Jose Canseco and Jason Giambi?|
Whatever their reason was to not include Piazza on their ballots, he has officially (and more than likely undeservedly) been lumped into the group of players that include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.
Bonds and Clemens faced criminal charges because of their alleged links to steroid use. McGwire didn't want to hop into his andro-fueled DeLorean to revisit the past. Sammy Sosa left his English For Dummies book at home next to his cork collection. And Rafael Palmeiro was caught with his finger in the steroid jar ... period.
Now Piazza, who is widely considered to be the best-hitting catcher of all-time, has been kept out of the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Another former Mets catcher, Gary Carter, received 42.3% of the Hall of Fame votes in his first year of eligibility, dropped to 33.8% in his second year (being on the ballot with first-timers Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount will tend to get you overlooked), then climbed steadily year after year before he was finally inducted in his sixth year of eligibility in 2003.
Carter was an 11-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and five-time Silver Slugger recipient. He also hit only .262 over his 19-year career, failed to score 100 runs in any of those seasons and never hit more than 32 home runs or drove in more than 106 runs. Piazza, meanwhile, was a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Silver Slugger recipient (no Gold Gloves - nobody's perfect). Piazza hit .308 over his 16-year career, crossed the plate 100+ runs twice and reached or surpassed Carter's career-high in homers nine times while steamrolling past the Kid's career-high RBI total five times (and had another season in which he drove in 105 runs).
|Gary Carter's numbers might have been dwarfed by Piazza, but Carter did have Piazza beat in one shiny category.|
Suffice it to say, as good as Carter was, he would've been Piazza's backup had they been teammates. But that wasn't good enough for Piazza to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. And it may not be good enough for him to go in next year as well.
Whatever reason the writers had for keeping the best-hitting catcher of all-time out of Cooperstown this year won't be acceptable to me. Mike Piazza deserved to enter the hallowed Hall that is reserved for the all-time greats of the sport in his first year of eligibility.
The BBWAA might have been afraid a few blemishes on Piazza's back. But in my opinion, keeping him out of the Hall of Fame in 2013 was a far greater blemish.