Hall of Fame weekend “kind of sad”, “not as much excitement”

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The Baseball Writers Association of America opted not to elect any new living members to the Hall of Fame for the first time since 1965. Scott Miller of CBS Sports asked some living legends about the atmosphere in Cooperstown, New York, and the sentiment wasn’t very positive.

“This year, it’s kind of sad,” former Cardinals great Bob Gibson said.

[…]

“There’s not as much excitement on Main Street as there usually is, and there are fewer guys,” Reds infield legend Joe Morgan said. “There’s usually 40 to 50, and I heard there’s 34. So obviously, that’s a little different.

“But it’s still the Hall of Fame, know what I mean?”

When balloting was completed in January, first-timers Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and others fell short of the 75 percent requirement. Biggio came closest with 68.2 percent of the vote. Jack Morris, in his 14th year on the ballot, received 67.7 percent and will have one more shot at getting in next year.

Major League Baseball seems to enjoy shooting itself in the foot over the performance-enhancing drugs issue. By allowing the BBWAA to make a moral stand against PED users, known or suspected, they effectively kill interest in the Hall of Fame. What reason do fans have to visit the Hall of Fame, or watch the induction ceremony? By suspending Ryan Braun for the rest of the season, what reason do Brewers fans have to keep up with the team over the final two months? MLB is its worst enemy, even when they outsource outrage to the BBWAA.

Eventually, the process will need to be amended to get a more diverse set of opinions and to ensure that at least one new member is inducted every year, lest we have a second consecutive year of… well, nothing. The 2014 ballot will feature a handful of shoo-ins, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Mike Mussina.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.