The Baseball Hall of Fame made some interesting headlines Tuesday when, for the first time since 1996, nobody was elected to an inducting class. Amongst others, caught in the crosshairs were two former Detroit Tigers, who are both deserving of landing in Cooperstown soon.
Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, two players well justified of hall honors, didn’t make the grade yet again. Morris narrowly missed induction garnering nearly 67 percent of the vote, and Trammell was still stuck at the low number of 36 percent, well short of the 75 percent total needed to get hall certified. Each player was then lost in the shuffle of a firestorm of controversy. Should Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens get any votes? What should the hall do with these players, who’ve had professional allegations swirling for years?
Voters and Cooperstown are both missing the point equally. Lost in all the talk about which steroid era players (and users) should be inducted or not are the actual players deserving of the honor. Morris, despite his elevated ERA, is a rock solid candidate with 254 wins, five all-star appearances, four world championships and a World Series MVP. Trammell, comparable to Biggio, deserves to get more votes as well. He’s a six time all-star, World Series MVP and was a consistently valuable defender.
There’s an obvious solution to end this whole steroid-era debate. The Hall of Fame should add a specific wing dedicated to the period in question, say 1998-2004. Then, they should hold separate inductions for all the eligible players from that time who had issues, documented or suspected. Plaques and notes should explain exactly what happened so there is no confusion. In essence, they should make a special allowance to split up the hall temporarily so players like Biggio, Mike Piazza, Trammell, Frank Thomas and Morris don’t face the overflow simply because they are victims of timing and circumstance.
The question being posed now is, was a giant mistake made? Quite frankly, yes. Tuesday was an embarrassing day for everyone associated with baseball, from the BBWAA to Cooperstown itself. The hall of fame itself should feel a level of shame for letting this spectical play out instead of formulating a plan in advance. What did they think would happen when Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and Sosa became hall eligible? Things wouldn’t ultimately be go away simply because 10 years had passed, nor would the questions about how to deal with this particular period in baseball history.
Thus, deserving players such as Morris and Trammell suffer, and that may continue into the future. They’re forced to get pushed aside due to a steroid era spectacle. It’s completely unfair. Morris was one of the best big game pitchers of his day, while Trammell was as steady as they come. Everyone at Cooperstown needs to wake up in order to solve this injustice, which will only get worse with the passage of more time.
Whether my particular plan makes the most sense or not, something unique has to be done quickly. This situation is one that requires some outside of the box thinking for a proper solution. Without one, baseball will continue to spin its tires, and may never truly be able to move on from the discretions of its past. If baseball’s reasonable names begin to suffer because of the actions of a handful, then the shame of the steroid era will be manifesting itself in a completely new way.
Nobody wants to see that happen. It’s time to hash out a plan and get this problem fixed sooner rather than later. There’s no need for two of baseball’s good guys in Morris and Trammell to have this hanging around their Cooperstown candidacy amongst all else.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax