I think Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox are no-brainer Hall of Famers. Congrats to them and to the Committee for voting them in.
I think that the rest of the Hall of Fame ballot contained mostly borderline selections. I’d vote for Ted Simmons. I’d consider Steinbrenner for historic reasons. But I shed no tears for them not getting in. They clearly aren’t as deserving as those three managers who made it, and realistically you’re never going to see more than three guys get in from such a small group of voters.
But I do have two problems with this vote, one direct and one indirect.
The direct problem is one I’ve mentioned many times before, and that’s the horrendous exclusion of Marvin Miller. He’s been passed over multiple times now, and he’s probably never getting in. I’ve accepted that. I’ll never accept, however, that the Hall of Fame is anything approaching legitimate without Miller’s inclusion. Many owners, executives and commissioners — many feckless at best, some actively harmful to the game — are in the Hall. Very few of them if any have had as big an impact on how baseball operates than Miller.
The only reason people care about these Winter Meetings is free agency and the hot stove league. The only reason we have free agency and the hot stove league is Marvin Miller. Also: there are a lot of players on the Veteran’s Committee who made way more money playing baseball than they would’ve if not for Marvin Miller, if at least that subset of the committee didn’t vote for Marvin Miller, well, shame on them.
The indirect complaint: we now have three managers in the Hall of Fame whose greatest fame and success came during what has come to be known as the Steroid Era. La Russa has at least one less World Series ring and three fewer pennants if it was not for PED poster boys Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Torre has two fewer rings and three fewer pennants without Roger Clemens. There were certainly other PED dudes on the Yankees, Cardinals, A’s and Braves teams managed by Cox, Torre and La Russa. The Veteran’s Committee obviously does not consider their accomplishments to be any less worthy, even if they were aided by performance enhancing drugs. Why, then, does the BBWAA still consider that a disqualification for the Hall of Fame?
I don’t suspect anyone will provide a satisfying answer to that. We’ll all just have to continue to live with that ridiculous contradiction. And ridiculous exclusions. It’s an imperfect process and an imperfect institution. But it’s still worth pointing out the absurdities, because they never cease to be galling.