With the hot stove season winding down, my favorite annual meme begins to pick up steam:
With Spring Training less than three weeks away and arthroscopic
surgery on his left knee more than three months behind him, Griffey
figures to be in much better shape.
“I’m not saying he will look like he did in 1995, but I think
he will look better [than last year],” Mariners head athletic trainer
Rick Griffin said. “I haven’t seen him recently, but he told our
general manager that he will be ‘ripped.'”
He’s ripped, I’m torn. On the one hand I’d obviously like to see Griffey make a meaningful contribution to a team that looks like it’s going places. On the other hand, seeing a future Hall of Famer walk around like Fred Sanford always made me feel a bit better about my own conditioning, and I’m gonna miss that Ken Griffey.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.