So, Greg Maddux Won't Be a Unanimous Hall of Famer Because...

Well, maybe somebody else would have voted against him, too. But we have one writer, Ken Gurnick, on record as voting ONLY for Jack Morris. Nobody else, just Jack Morris.

And why nobody else? I’ll let the genius explain for himself:

“Morris has flaws – a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.”
Sigh… never mind that Jack Morris probably doesn’t deserve the honor. THAT point has already been argued to death.

But for crying out loud, if Gurnick wanted to make some kind of “statement,” he COULD just have sent in a blank ballot. Or he could have announced “I can’t and won’t vote for steroid era players- so I’m giving up my voting privilege, for good.”

Instead, he screwed over people who deserved his vote.

Since the next decade will bring us nothing but candidates from the steroid era, Gurnick should have the decency to quit voting forever.

Yeah, he should give up his privilege to be a Hall of Fame voter and let it go to someone else. By the way, Morris did pitch in “the steroid era”.

It hardly matters that a person gets into the Hall without a unanimous vote. The important thing is that he gets into the Hall.

When you give what amounts to a popular vote to hundreds of people you will almost never get unanimity. Would it be any less acceptable if the voter were a Pirates fan and hates the Braves because of 1992, or that he played for a team with a “racist” name, or even that he caught Maddux on a bad day and disliked him ever since?

With all of the people already in the Hall, can you really say that Maddux should be elected unanimously when others were not? I know it’s a spurious argument, what came before shouldn’t impact the future, but if a guy like Willie Mays can’t get 100% nobody ever will. Also, it’s not like they compare percentages or that it measures a player’s actual value.

My argument is not that Maddux deserves a unanimous vote more than any predecessor did- merely that it’s petty and stupid not to vote for someone you know deserves your vote SOLELY to deny him a unanimous vote. Many guys before Maddux deserved a unanimous vote. The fact that they didn’t get one is a silly excuse not to vote for Maddux this year or Randy Johnson next year or Mariano Rivera later on.

It’s a petty and ludicrous result of the process.

The problem isn’t this guy, the problem is that they give the BBWAA the vote in the first place. If you give the vote to 500 guys most of whom are old, bitter alcoholics working in a dead industry, get ready for a few stupid votes.

Who didn’t vote for Henry Aaron? Mike Schmidt? Tom Seaver? Willie Mays? I don’t remember, so who cares who exactly they were. It’s the process.

Note that Gurnick has said he will do exactly what astorian suggests; he’s no longer voting after this year. No loss, but the process will remain stupid.

Add in “seeking to get attention and readership in any possible way” to that as well.

Tru dat. And add in all the less-than-deserving types that the Old-Timers Committee (if I recall the name correctly) has put into the HoF over the years, outside the regular balloting process, and it’s hard for me to take the HoF too seriously.

Airman Doors:

I disagree - the first person who gets voted in unanimously will have been done a great honor. I said this elsewhere, and I’ll repeat it here - if that jerk’s ballot is the only one that comes between Maddux and unanimity, I hope Maddux gives him a personal “F U” in his induction speech.

I doubt anyone will ever get voted in unanimously. I had no expectation Maddux would be the first. This guy is a dumbass who made up a bullshit reason to vote against him, but then again, there was no good reason to vote against Rickey Henderson either. I do think there’s a good chance Maddux will break the record for highest percentage of the vote, which is honor enough. It’s really trivia.

Again, Greg Maddux himself isn’t the issue for me. Yes, he definitely SHOULD be a unanimous pick, since he’s one of the greatest pitchers ever. But many guys who should have been unanimous picks weren’t (Mays, Aaron, Mantle, Musial, et al.), and many guys who should have been first ballot picks weren’t (Dimaggio, most notably). In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that important.

Still, it’s preposterous that even a handful of writers won’t vote for guys they KNOW are deserving solely on the grounds that “If Joe Dimaggio didn’t get in on the first ballot, then nobody should” or “If Mays didn’t get a unanimous vote, Seaver shouldn’t” or “I’ll vote for Barry Bonds eventually, but I’ll ‘punish’ him by making him wait a few years.”

Come on, don’t overthink this! If you think a guy is deserving, vote for him, NOW. Not later. The only “statement” your vote should ever be making is, “I think this guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”

This is the only time of year that the national media pays attention to the BBWAA, so there will always be people who use their hall votes to make “statements.” Baseball makes more money and myth out of its history than any other sport - I’m becoming convinced that that’s why the PED thing is a huge deal in baseball and not that big a deal in other North American sports - so you will probably always have people who base their votes on unrelated stuff that happened decades ago.


I agree with all this, except for the first sentence. It’s clear that over time, the blanket attitude against unanimity has clearly been bred out of the voting body. Tom Seaver had only 5 voters not vote for him, which is fewer than slam-dunks like Mays, Musial, Spahn, etc. had. Following the BBTF Hall of Fame Tracking Gizmo, it really looked like Maddux could have been the one, and if he got this close, I’m sure someone will be (as long as Gurnick sticks to his word to stop voting, since all new candidates for decades will have his bogus “PED Era” bias).

We’ll see. We might just as well have a bunch of people who say “if Greg Maddux didn’t get in unanimously, how can Randy Johnson?” And people do send in blank ballots.

I don’t really understand the uproar about Maddux not being a unanimous choice. You could poll 550 ‘experts’ on any subject, and you’re not going to get 100% agreement, even on basic fundamentals to their specific field. And unlike many fields, you don’t have to pass a battery of tests or write a thesis to become a member of the BBWAA. Half the writers are relying on WAR and OPS+ and ERA+, while many of the other half don’t even understand or care about those stats.

I’ve been watching baseball for about 50 years, which makes me about 10-15 years younger than some of the old retired writers that still have votes. If you asked me to name the top10-15 pitchers I’ve seen over 15 years, then Maddux doesn’t make the list. Gibson, Koufax, Marichal, Carlton, Seaver, Jenkins, Palmer, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez all leap to mind before Maddux. It’s only when I look at Maddux’ numbers in Baseball-Ref or Fangraphs that I see how great Maddux was. And If was a 75 year old fart writer, that had actually been at a Koufax-Marichal duel back in 1966 then I’d have an even stronger feeling that Maddux was not in the categories of those giants.

It’s all perception. And I can understand the old-time writers’ attempt to put some separation between Maddux and the truly elite, even if, statistically, I strongly disagree. It has less to do with dumping on Maddux then it has to do with elevating Gibson, Koufax, Marichal, etc.

And the reason that Gibson, Koufax, Marichal didn’t get voted in unanimously is because 35-40 years ago, old-time-farts were comparing them to Bob Feller and Lefty Grove.

The only one I didn’t get was Willie Mays, but maybe a few old time racists, or writers that were pissed the Giants left NY. Only crazy reasons I can come up with for not seeing Willie Mays as one of the faces of Baseball’s Mount Rushmore.


If there are a bunch of people who didn’t vote for him, it’s not an uproar, what happened to him is simply what happened to all of those other guys you named, who also should have theoretically been named on every ballot. If in the end, it turns out to be only that one guy who didn’t vote for him, and the reason was because he played in “the PED era”, then it deserves an uproar that he should have been denied unanimity due to the crimes of others.

This is not a stats thing. Look at Maddux’s wins and ERA and tell me you can understand a BBWAA voter thinking he wasn’t that good.

Getting elected to the Hall of Fame is the highest honor available. At least, that’s how it is supposed to be, until somebody decided that that was enough, and that being elected unanimously was somehow a higher honor.

I don’t care about the unanimous issue. It is silly IMHO, to think that not being elected unanimously somehow tarnishes the HOF honor.

The baseball writers ought to go to secret ballots too. And as Bill James suggested, the voting process ought to be opened up. I should have a ballot, as should RickJay, and numerous others on this board.

It can’t taint the honor because there’s never been a unanimous choice. The “tradition” does make the Hall look stupid, but there are a lot of things that make the Hall look stupid.

Because they’ll use other criteria like looking at his only having (2) 20 win seasons with a very good team, while Fergie Jenkins had 7 in a row for a crappy team. And yes, Fergie pitched in a 4 man rotation, before specialization of bullpens, and thus had more chances to win/lose his starts. But old-timers will point to that and maintain that pitchers have it easier and last longer because of the 5 man rotations and with setup guys and designated closers.

Not to mention the much despised (by stat geeks) “Eye Test.” If you saw Maddux throw a gem, you were impressed. But if you saw Pedro throw a gem, you were IMPRESSED. It counts for something, doesn’t it. Surely not as much as the despicable Murray Chass maintains. But it’s there to debate.

And while not defending the weight they give to those factors, I do acknowledge that they matter somewhat. Pedro Martinez is a sure fire HOFer, but would he have lasted long enough in a 4 man rotation. And if Jack Morris* had remained in a 4 man rotation, would he have had more starts in his prime to get higher counting stats, and a lower ERA.

*(Morris is an interesting case, btw. Not to reopen a can of worms, (and I’d vote no) but IMO, he was hurt by being a pitcher that started in the 4-man rotation era, and then ended up in a 5-man rotation,who was managed by Sparky who used Morris like 4-man guy. I’d planned on analyzing how many times Morris “took one for the team,” which inflated his ERA, based on a couple of games I’d witnessed, live, when Sparky left Morris in, when he had nothing, but got lazy. Maybe I’ll prepare it for some veteran’s committee.)