Mike Schmidt hit 548 home runs and was a three-time NL MVP when he played for the Phillies. He was among the 64 Hall of Famers who voted in this week's election for players who began their careers after 1943; no one was elected.
The Hall of Fame members spoke. Goose egg, no new post-1943 veteran faces at the 2009 induction.
That should stir up some serious conversation in the hot stove arena. This will not be the case with the writers' vote, as Ricky Henderson is a shoo-in, and Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith and Andre Dawson are inching up the vote ladder.
The current members have no say in that big election, which is open to the normal opinions with which baseball's sportswriters must deal.
So-and-so was a nice guy, and so-and-so didn't get along with the press. So-and-so played in a weak division, never was in the postseason, hit for a low average, played in a small park, only had a couple HR titles and MVPs.
Yeah, but so-and-so has better career stats than 10 current members. On and on we go. Maybe this is what makes it what it is - subjective and controversial. No cut-and-dried reason one guy gets in and another doesn't.
Consider that becoming a Hall of Famer changes one's life. It's the stamp of approval that fans and corporate America need to validate your career. Suddenly, if by some chance the political wave breaks in your favor, your time becomes more valuable. The phone rings much more than it ever did.
You're published, you're a master professional, baseball's version of an Academy Award winner. You're introduced as a Hall of Famer everywhere, and they even want "HOF" under your autograph.
And guess what? A group of men and women who never played the game have the first say. Maybe that's good, maybe it's right. Is there another way?
When this system was put in place, there was a small pool of candidates who were easy to judge, and there weren't millions of endorsement dollars at stake. Is it time to consider change?
As for the new veterans vote, suppose you were a Hall member. Would you want more members? Obviously, the more members in a given club, the less exclusive it is. It seems we members only want "our" guy - an old teammate, countryman or close friend - and won't return the favor.
The vote gets split and nobody's guy gets in. I voted for three candidates this year. But I admit, I like the exclusivity. Truthfully, that went away a long time ago. It had to, simply because there is no minimum requirement, there is no defined criteria, it's all subjective.
The LPGA did it right. Achieve 27 points based on performance and you're a Hall of Famer, 26 and you're not. You either are, or you're not. Close only counts in horseshoes . . . wrong! Close only counts in horseshoes and Hall of Fame voting. He's getting close, he's closer, now he's a Hall of Famer! He hadn't swung a bat or thrown a pitch in 20 years and his career got better.
I'd bet if you polled 100 "almost" Hall of Famers over the past 50 years, they'd agree that stringing them along for a number of years was worse than yes or no in their first year of eligibility. I know most baseball writers take their vote seriously. Imagine how serious they'd take it if it was yes or no. You're a Hall of Famer or you're not. No statement to make with a vote, no "he's a second-ballot guy" or making him wait because he snubbed the press.
The current system works, I suppose, unless you're Smith, Rice, Blyleven or Dawson, and you don't get in. If you're Blyleven, you had to play in Minnesota and you have more wins, 287, than Jim Palmer, Robin Roberts and Ferguson Jenkins. Do you think the system works?
If you're Jim Kaat, age 70, with 283 wins, 16 straight Gold Gloves and a life dedicated to baseball and broadcasting it, you're kept out while many with fewer achievements are in. Do you think the system works? Guess who I voted for?
Who has the clout to suggest a change is needed? One thing for sure: With the recent vote, we have solidified that you don't have to be in the Hall of Fame to have had a Hall of Fame career. We know several who did.