11:01 AM EST, January 10, 2013
So, I guess 12.5 percent of the Hall of Fame voters actually believed Sammy Sosa’s cockamamie Flintstones vitamins story.
But 87.5 percent believe he cheated, and the voters kept him out and will forever.
The amazing thing about the way the voters feel about Sosa is that he got fewer votes than an admitted juicer (Mark McGwire), a convicted juicer (Barry Bonds) and a near jail-bird juicer (Roger Clemens).
Sosa has no options. He denied on Capitol Hill that he juiced, but there should be no interpreter required to understand the slapdown the writers gave to a Sosa they believe to be a liar.
Sosa could tell the truth, but that has helped nobody in any Hall voting, so he might as well continue living his fairytale.
He just won’t be able to clown Cooperstown with that fable, saving Chicago no little embarrassment.
So, 2013 was a good year for us, and 2014 will be even better. Next year, Chicago takes over the Hall. Next year’s Hall class -- and there will be a Hall class, believe me -- features something for everybody, North Side and South Side alike.
In fact, you couldn’t ask for safer choices in the steroid era. I know that every major leaguer since Jose Canseco is a suspect, and I know that baseball is a co-conspirator in the dirty and embarrassing decades that followed.
But for me, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux are gimmes.
Now that we know how dirty Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez were, Thomas arguably stands as the best right-handed hitter of his era. He finished with 521 home runs and a career .974 on-base-plus-slugging percentage that ranks 14thall-time. He won two MVP awards and had a third one stolen by juicin’ Jason Giambi.
Maddux, meanwhile, clearly glistens as the greatest right-handed pitcher of his era now that Clemens has avoided jail but not the stain of performance-enhancing drugs. He won 355 games and finished with a 3.16 earned-run average. But his wins-above-replacement numbers are crazy, ranking 25thall-time overall and eighth among pitchers.
Thomas and Maddux should be unanimous selections, but Hall voters annually have their individual manifestos. Sane people know what the deal is. Thomas and Maddux pass the numbers test. Thomas walked with the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Maddux won more than 300 games in an era that will be the last of such winners.
They also passed the eye test. Thomas entered the majors with a physique that screamed tight end and went out looking the same way. Bonds and Sosa came in looking like licorice and went out looking like bratwurst.
Maddux? Do you have to ask? I mean, just look. That’s what the eye test is all about. Maddux always looked like the guy trying to sell you a home-and-auto discount policy.
They were the truth. They were real. They did it as honestly as we can believe. With any luck, Thomas and Maddux both will become first-ballot Hall-of-Famers in the year that Sosa gets so little support that he drops off the ballot completely -- Chicago’s perfect 1-2-3 Cooperstown inning.
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