We start tonight with my holiday wish for equality: A concept the Baseball Writers of America apparently have a hard time understanding.
Because designated hitters are people too – and they belong in the Hall of Fame.
One month from today, we learn who will be inducted into Cooperstown next year. Edgar Martinez has two years left – this year and next – to earn 75 percent of the vote. According to ballot tracker, Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs), Edgar has received 82 percent of 101 publicly-known ballots so far, which is about a fourth of the total vote. He’s also picked up 13 votes from voters who didn’t vote for him last year.
Considering Edgar received just 27 percent of the vote three years ago, those are really promising numbers. But what we do know is – it’s going to come down to the wire – and frankly, it shouldn’t be this close.
Listen, I don’t profess to know a fraction of what many longtime writers know (or think they know) about the game. But I do know that, at its core, baseball is a game that relies on two key skills: Pitching and hitting. So it seems a bit odd that the best pitchers make it in, but one of the best hitters has been left out so far because he didn’t play a majority of his games in the field.
“Mr. Traditionalist” says, “He didn’t play in the field every day.” Well, neither do pitchers, who sit on their butts most of the week until it’s their turn in the rotation!.
Plus, Frank Thomas was inducted into the Hall three years ago after playing less than 43 percent of his games in the field and David Ortiz will go to the Hall one day having spent 88 percent of his starts as a DH.
Edgar sits in the middle of both, having started more than 27 percent of his games at first or third base.
So it’s time for the crabby old voters to stop labeling Edgar as a “lifetime” designated hitter in order to justify looking the other way. In this day and age, when we’re on the cusp of inducting players who are suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs, it’s outrageous that a completely clean player like Edgar, who has all the statistics to prove he belongs in the Hall, continues to be overlooked and ignored. It’s also a shame that Cooperstown has inducted known racists, womanizers, alcohol abusers, drug users, and those involved in point shaving scandals, but Edgar – and his sparkling reputation – is still on the outside looking in.
No, Edgar Martinez wasn’t a “complete” player. But neither was Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. He couldn’t hit. Neither was Ken Griffey Junior. He couldn’t pitch.
But Edgar specialized in hitting, just like Dennis Eckersley specialized in closing games. Were both primarily one-trick ponies? Yes. So why discriminate one skill over another?
To their credit, the Mariners continue to do all they can to convince voters to vote Edgar in. But this is the time for all of us to keep the pressure on, using #EdgarHOF on social media and continuing to spread the word. Because whether he’s voted in this year or not, the preliminary numbers show us that he’s certainly on the brink.
It’s a cause that’s worth it for a player that’s worth it and a human being who certainly deserves it too.
And for all of us in Seattle, Edgar Martinez will always be a Hall of Famer, whether they vote him in or not.