Piazza gets bypassed again for the Hall and same could be next year

By Rich Mancuso

Say what you want about the election process for enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There may be some inequities in the system of voting by the baseball writers. They may also be getting it right.

Mike Piazza, perhaps the best hitting catcher that baseball has seen was bypassed again. Maybe that was another indication of Piazza and rumors of steroid involvement. Next year, Piazza may have another tough road because Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, two of the most dominant pitchers of the last ten years will probably get their day as first ballot inductees.

Say what you want, but the writers got it right when it came to Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. They were the center of attention of the baseball steroid era and their stock and value diminished more with the latest election process.

As for Rafael Palmeiro, who once pointed his finger at a congressional committee and said, “I did not do steroids,” this was his last shot at enshrinement and any further talk of consideration is over, and it should be.

“On behalf of the organization and our fans, Mike is a true Hall of Famer. We proudly display his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame, and we’re hopeful that he’ll soon have one hanging in Cooperstown.”

That was a statement released by the New York Mets moments after Piazza was denied enshrinement a second straight year. And, perhaps, soon Piazza will have his plaque hanging in Cooperstown. But the writers may very well be putting Piazza in the category with Bonds, Sosa, Clemens and company.

And regardless of how the owners, and the main culprit, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig handled the steroid post-strike situation, cheaters have no business having a plaque hanging on the walls up in Cooperstown New York. Yet, Piazza has been denied again amid speculation that he was a part of a group that followed.

Until otherwise known, Piazza does deserve his due, and going in the Hall as a New York Met. But that debate may never be determined with a regular percentage of the vote from writers who are, a part of what some say is not a fair and proper process.

The fact is, Mike Piazza and his credentials deserve recognition. And it will get more difficult because the class for 2015 and beyond gets more competitive because the writers are rare to vote in three players the same year. Piazza could be the exception, if not there is always the veteran’s committee vote, but that is a waiting process and not the way a player with his credentials should get the nod.

So where do we go from here? A player needs to have 75 percent of ballots cast to get in. And in 2016 the class gets tougher with a name like Ken Griffey Jr. eligible. To say the least, and with the percentage of 62.2 in this vote for Piazza, the road to fame does get more difficult. Piazza did see an increase in percentage of votes from last year that favors his status.

Piazza, and even Craig Biggio, who fell two votes shy are first ballot Hall of Famers.

There is a debate brewing that more players should get their recognition, more than three a year. And that is open to consideration with more recognizable names appearing on the ballot the next few years. After all you can’t induct all 33 names, some credible and others not, that were up for induction this time around.

So the writers have to carefully evaluate the statistics. And that tight knit group of the Baseball Writers’ of America needs to evaluate who has the honor of getting to vote in the process.  Some who get to vote hardly cover the game of baseball and then there are the credible many that do.

The Mike Piazza steroid implications may be playing a role the past two years of his eligibility.  Yes, one can say that Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens and that group may be credible. They had the numbers, but the steroid role that is so known has been their culprit.

There is, no disputing three names that got first ballot nods this time. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas would have got the vote of this writer. Added would have been Piazza and Biggio if the BWAA would expand the process.

In other words, the Baseball Hall of Fame voting process, as with so many other issues that surround the game, may need some adjustments. In the meantime the day will come for Mike Piazza and his well -deserved induction.

The question is when? One thing is certain. Piazza should not have to wait for a veterans committee to make that decision.

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