Congrats to Ripken and Gwynn
The Hall of Fame really feels mighty when you just look today at the only two names that were announced: Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn. As I blogged before, I drove up to Cooperstown just before New Year’s and spent the afternoon in the Gallery room of plaques, and there is plenty of blank wall space just waiting for two former players who fit so beautifully. Ripken and Gwynn. That’s really how this is supposed to work. It’s supposed to sound like that — not a bunch of maybe/"I’d like you to please consider" candidates.
My ballot, revealed by my trusty MLB.com colleagues the past 48 hours, included those two as well as Mark McGwire and Goose Gossage. I was actually very surprised earlier today to find out that Gossage was not going to be among the names Dale Petroskey would announce. He made every MLB.com voter’s ballot. Barry Bloom and T.R. Sullivan were the only other two MLB.com voters who went with McGwire. Now it will be interesting to see whether Big Mac has to wait over a decade like a Bruce Sutter until the landscape and tectonic plates move, or whether a first-year’s punishment sufficed for many, or indeed whether McGwire himself will come forward. Either way I feel good about my vote and always have utmost respect for my BBWAA colleagues.
Someone asked how I became a Hall of Fame voter. I’m one of 500-something, and cherish the moment when the ballot arrives in my mail each December. I covered the Giants for the San Jose Mercury News in the 1990-91 seasons, spent virtually all of the remaining 1990s as a writer/managing editor/VP at The Sporting News, and after the required 10 years received my Lifetime Honorary membership as a BBWAA voter. I take it seriously and respect all of the voices that spoke loudly during the the most remarkable "voting season" that I can recall. I also don’t hold any negative thoughts toward the two voters who mailed in blank ballots so that they could ensure neither Ripken nor Gwynn would be the first unanimous inductee. To each his/her own. I think the "unanimous" issue is silly, anyway. Who cares??? This whole voting process has spawned so many silly news stories (such as the AP survey story a while back) that I have to laugh. Babe Ruth was just another inductee in the first class, when you look closely at Cooperstown. Ty Cobb led the way.
The voters have spoken, and that’s a beautiful announcement: Ripken and Gwynn. The system worked again.