HOF Class of '15
MLB Hall of Fame is probably the hardest out of all the 4 major sports for a player to be inducted into. Like the other sports' leagues HOFs, a group of well respected writers have to vote you in, which I think is a gift and a curse. Of course sportswriters have a great knowledge for the game, but I also think current Hall Of Fame players should be included on the voting too. In order for a player to claim membership, he must receive 75% of the votes. 34 players and managers were eligible for selection but for the first time in 60 years, 4 players were selected.
Randy Johnson, Pitcher (LH), 1988-2009 (7 different Teams)
3.03 ERA, 4,875 strikeouts, 303-166 (W-L) 4,135 IP
In his first year on the ballot Randy Johnson received 97% of the votes, a total of 534. I'm disappointed that this man didn't receive 100% of the votes. I'm not sure what it takes for a player to receive 100% of the votes, but I think Randy is definitely worthy of that.
"The Big Unit" is probably one of the best players in my generation, not just pitcher. His 6'10 frame helped him be one of the most powerful pitchers in MLB history with a fastball that exceeded 100 MPHs on a regular, he was also one of the most intimidating players in all sports. I was a big fan of Johnson's because he did what a pitcher is supposed to do, strike people out. It was rare you seen Randy shy away from a batter.
In the 1993 All-Star Game, held here in Baltimore, John Kruk came to the plate to face Johnson. Johnson put a steaming fastball right at Kruk's head who hit the ground to avoid being hit. Kruk later struck out and called the at-bat a "success because he survived".
Johnson made his MLB debut September 15, 1988 for Montreal Expos, with a 9-5 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1989, Johnson went 0-4 with a 6.67 ERA in seven games, by May 25th, Expos traded Johnson to the Seattle Mariners, and by 1990, Johnson was selected to his first all-star game. Johnson spent 10 years with the Mariners, help make them become one of the hottest teams in the 90s. Despite having him, Griffey, and A-Rod, the Mariners didn't win any titles. Johnson then went on to play for the Arizona Diamondbacks, teaming with Curt Schilling to create one of the best 1-2 rotations ever. That rotation would help the Diamondbacks win a World Series, defeating the New York Yankees in 2001, where he pitched 17.1 innings and a shutout.
Johnson won his first Cy Young award in 1995 at the age of 31 and didn't win another one until 35. He would then go on to win it for the next 3 years. He pitched his first No Hitter in 1990 and a Perfect game 2002. He is also a triple crown winner and 9x strikeout champ. Randy Johnson was nothing short of consistent and great. Batters knew when Randy Johnson was on the plate. I'm sure he caused some sleepless nights, all during the "Steroid Era".
Pedro Martinez, Pitcher, 1992-2009 (5 Teams)
2.93 ERA, 3,154 Strikeouts, 219-100 (W-L)
Without question one of the most charismatic players in MLB history, another personal favorite of mine. Pedro Martinez is also apart of the 500 club, with an even 500 votes. Never the biggest, like Randy Johnson, but was also a powerful pitcher with a nasty curve ball and heavy fastball. He didn't have the prototypical "Big League" pitcher frame, but the talent said it all. Straight from the Dominican of Republic, Pedro left his mark at every stop he was at. Not only was he a great pitcher but he was great in front of the camera. Pedro is to the MLB what Shaq is to the NBA, think about that.
We all remember the infamous "Who's your Daddy" chants that the Yankees used to heckle the great Martinez. Martinez owned up to being outplayed by the competition, creating fuel for thousand of Yankee fans, then made money off of that infamous chant 10 years later. That's just one of the reasons why Pedro is a fan favorite of all baseball fans, including Yankees fans.
Pedro began his career in 1992 with the Dodgers September 25th, throwing two scoreless inning against the Reds in relief duties. His first start came against the Reds, 6 days later, but resulted in a loss, giving up two runs. Rumor has it that Tommy Lasorada thought Pedro was too small to be an effective pitcher. His brother Ramon, a star big leaguer pitcher at the time, thought the younger Pedro was better than he was. All Pedro did was show and prove that size wasn't an issue. The following year, Pedro went 10-5 in relief duties (65 games) but the dodgers traded Martinez to the Expos, where he went 11-5 in 23 starts. In 1995 he retired 27 batters before giving up a hit in 10th inning against the Padres. And in 1997 he became a two time All-Star and Cy Young winner.
In that '97 season, he threw 13 complete games, 1.90 ERA, and 303 strikeouts. By this time Pedro was a household name and his stardom grew even bigger once he joined the Red Sox. In 7 seasons with the Sox, Pedro won 117 games with only 37 loses. He also has 6 wins and 2 losses in 13 playoff games. All Pedro did was win throughout his career and be a fan favorite in the process. He was apart of that memorable 2004 Red Sox team that took home the World Series, ending the 86 year old "Curse of the Bambino". It's no question that Pedro is a Hall of Famer, and that's just off of charisma alone.
John Smoltz, Pitcher, 1988-2009 (20yrs-Braves)
3.33 ERA 3,084 Strikeouts, 213-155 (W-L)
When I think of John Smoltz I think of consistency. As you can see with the first two HOF'ers, sticking with one team for a long period of times is not a given, and that's in any sport. Smoltz was apart of that great Braves reign that won 8 division titles between 1990-1999, along with 5 NL Pennants, and a World Series title in 1995. Smoltz was a main piece during that run, making it to 3 all-star games and winning the Cy Young award in 1996. Smoltz was also a member of one of the greatest pitching staffs of all times, in rotation with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all 3 combined won 6 Cy Youngs during the 90s. Longevity is also another word to describe Smoltz cause 21 years with one team is un-heard in today's free-agent era of sports.
Craig Biggio, 1988-2007, 2B, OF, & Catcher, 1988-2007 (Astros)
.281 avg, 1,175 RBIs, 291 HRs, 3,060 Hits
One of the best athletes from my generation. A former high school football standout from Long Island New York, Biggio decided to take baseball serious by accepting a scholarship from Seton Hall and the rest is history. Another player who showed consistency and longevity, Biggio became a staple in Astros franchise history, as one of their greatest players. He and Jeff Bagwell helped turn the Astros into a National League contender for a over ten years, even making it to the World Series in 2004.
Back to his athletic ability, Biggio also has 414 steals, averaging 24 a season. He managed to keep his speed and add some power, eclipsing 20 HRs eight times, along with playing 3 different positions. Biggio is a pure athlete along with Baseball player, one of the good guys from the steroid era.
A very good debate between "Mad Dog" Christopher Russo and Brian Kenny about Hall of Fame criteria, and even though I'm not real familiar with Mr. Russo, I agree with him on this one - not necessarily about the players, but on criteria. I do think that ALL Hall of Fames should include the greatest of the greatest, not the very good. Fans do know whether or not a player is a HOF'er by watching them over time, without necessarily looking at the numbers.
The numbers are still necessary but not the extra stuff like "WAR" or any of the other sabometrics. When you look at these 4 players, I think we all agree they're deserving of their selection, along with that "IT" factor that is also needed to be HOF. A few players I thought should have made it in by now like Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Gary Sheffield, but hopefully the 574 Baseball Writers get those guys in somewhere down the line. As far as the darkhorses such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens we all know they belong but circumstances won't allow that....for now.