Piazza, get angry? At this point in the hellish Hall-ride process, he should be

Mike Piazza, in Dodger gear, circa 1998.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

Mike Piazza, in Dodger gear, circa 1998. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

In all unfairness to Mike Piazza, who for the second year in a row will not be able to sign baseballs with the notation “HOF #31” despite the fact he’s the greatest hitting catcher in the game’s history, the process by which someone qualifies for a Hall pass into Cooperstown has gotten curiouser and curiouser.
baseball-hall-of-fame-by-sports-espn-godotcomWe squeamishly hold the former Dodgers All-Star up as an example of how this whole staged production has gone down the rabbit hole following Wednesday’s announcement of those who have gotten the benefit of the doubt for the Baseball Hall of Fame vote.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas had the stats, accomplishments, awards and, apparently, clean enough urine sample to prove their worthiness.
Piazza, for some rhyme or unreasonable set of circumstances that seems to always circle back to a case of back ache, does not. Suspicious minds aren’t convinced he should be separated from the inflated, infrared statistical freak category that has been created for Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero and Roger Clemens.
They, by all the accounting procedures displayed on the backs of their baseball cards, should already be in the Hall at this point. Except the keepers of the game have been trying to protect us from ourselves, choosing to ignore all those already voted in who have done far more morally bankrupt things such as support segregation.
This has become an annual event that generates more disappointment and discouragement than the celebration it deserves.
As the years go on with this Hall selection process, much of the focus circles back to those who, for whatever reasons, have been certified by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to determine what’s probably right and what they think was wrong.
The question now isn’t so much, “Who’s in?” as it has become “How many votes did so-and-so fall short this time?” The “why” question never seems to produce anything of substance.
Piazza should be angry at what happened Wednesday, more so than Bonds, McGwire and those who have admitted to some degree that they’ve made a mistake along the way in how they generated their numbers. Bonds doesn’t seem to want to go to that extreme, feigning ignorance. Others would rather the whole thing just go away, and not be voted in so that they avoid having to do interviews again about how they were able to produce such grandiose statistics.
When the New York Mets voted him into their franchise Hall of Fame last September, Piazza said of what it would take for him to enter Cooperstown: “It’s a process. I’m very proud of my career. Obviously, I put my body of work up against anybody, I’ve said before. But you know what? I truly feel that the process is a beautiful thing as well.”
Innocent until proven guilty is another part of the process we say we hold dear, but don’t always take to heart.
Would it take someone like Piazza getting so miffed at this whole charade that he lashes out? Or would that serve any purpose in the grand plan? He does have 13 more years in this system for enough people to fix this on his behalf.
To get the stamp of approval this time around, Piazza needed at least 429 of the 571 votes cast. He fell 74 short, finishing in fifth place at 62.2 percent.
We are supposed to be optimistic, since it was just a year ago when he had 100 fewer votes, for 57.8 percent of the 569 ballots.
All because Piazza, with a.308 lifetime batting average, 427 home runs (396 as a catcher), 1,335 RBIs and a .545 slugging percentage, can’t say anything on his behalf? The stats speak loudly. But the whispers apparently speak even louder.
“He was certainly the greatest-hitting catcher of our time, and arguably of all time,” Glavine, Piazza’s former Mets teammate, once said.
But Glavine’s in today; Piazza isn’t.
Granted, in an autobiography that Piazza came out with last year, he said he experimented with androstenedione and Ephedra, before the MLB listed them as banned substances. He denied taking steroids.
No matter. It’s phony and insincere at this point for BBWAA writers to not include players on their Hall ballots that they wrote about and raved about during the glory days of their career, only to now decide they did it all illegally, and this is the way to make a statement.
Make a bigger statement: Stop trying to prove a mute point and vote in Piazza. And a contemporary such as Craig Biggio, with his 3,000-plus hits. Revisit the qualifications of a Tim Raines, probably the second greatest leadoff hitter of all time behind Rickey Henderson.
To summarily and arbitrarily decide that a certain period was the “Steroid Era,” and then ignore everyone in it is not just counter productive, but sanctimonious and duplicitous.
The ballot will add more and more “can’t miss” players in the coming years, creating a ridiculous logjam of talent. With the BBWAA limiting their ballots to 10 selections per year, will there ever be justice served? Or is the grand plan: Put some of these suspect players in a time out, then let the veterans committee filled with their contemporaries deal with it properly years from now?
It’s too late at this point for a Jack Morris, who, after 15 votes, didn’t quite get there. But he had his run. That’s how the process should work.
Morris was damn good in his day. But not good enough to be Hall material. That’s where the consensus stands.
But then there’s Palmiero, who had 3,020 hits, 569 homers and 1,835 RBI, getting less than five percent of the vote this time and he will not be on any future ballots. Sosa (609 home runs) will likely fall off the radar next year after getting just 7.2 percent of the vote this year.
McGwire, after eight tries, has slipped to 11 percent. In his first year of eligibility in 2007, he was at 23.5 percent. He got as high as 23.7 in 2010 but has decreased rapidly in the years since.
Instead of trying to fix an oversight of just how Steve Garvey, Gil Hodges or Maury Wills have been excluded, or trying to get Pete Rose back into the discussion, or making a statement with a group called the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (which I am a member)  already “voting” Piazza last year, there’s this ongoing misguided messiness to deal with instead.
Lump in the Deadspin.com caper in getting Dan LeBatard to give up his ballot and allow the website’s readers to cast their vote on who to add. (Yes, Piazza was included at No. 4 on their list of 10 to pick, but that’s beside the point).
Voting to null and void a certain period of the game’s history from the Hall is trying to rewrite it with invisible ink. You’re not fooling anyone anymore.

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