Despite being universally loved and one of the greatest home run hitters of all time (and doing it all clean, which stodgy baseball writers who have burdened themselves with upholding the moral values of our society are obsessed with), Ken Griffey Jr. somehow did not get 100% of the vote for induction into the Hall of Fame this week.
Granted, he did get the highest vote total of all time – 99.3% (437 of the 440 ballots cast) – but that means three writers out there looked at Griffey’s resume and figured 630 clean dingers and a swing that made the angels weep wasn’t enough for them. These are people who should be hunted down, shamed, and then stripped of their ability to vote for the Hall of Fame. If you can’t make freaking Ken Griffey Jr. and his awesome backwards cap a first-ballot inductee, then it’s obvious your ability to reason has been compromised, and one has to wonder if you’ve ever even understood how the game of baseball is played.
Even though he was hampered by injuries for much of the later stages of his career, Griffey still put up massive overall numbers. That alone should make you quiver at his talent; his 1997-1999 seasons are enough to make you believe in God. There’s no doubt Griffey had the ability to pass Hank Aaron’s career home run record. He just couldn’t stay healthy once he went to Cincinnati.
It’s most likely these three writers either had aneurysms while filling out their ballots or simply did not want a player to ever achieve 100% of the vote “because…because…because WE SAID SO.” Jesus Christ could reappear and hit .400 for 20 straight seasons and some jabroni out there wouldn’t vote for him. If baseball writers are hoping someone will get 100% of the vote someday, they’ll probably want it to be a guy who incessantly harps on the unwritten rules of the game and takes it upon himself to make sure no one on the field displays any signs of having fun at any point. So, probably a St. Louis Cardinal, I’d guess.
Like any kid growing up in the ’90s, I thought Griffey was the coolest baseball player to ever live. One time, the Mariners were in Cleveland and I was lucky enough to be in the Jacobs Field dugout suites with my dad, sitting right behind the visitors’ on-deck circle. While Griffey would take his practice swings, he’d look back at me and mug, stick his tongue out, and laugh at my reactions. I was in elementary school, so you can imagine how unbelievably awesome this was for me. Then certifiably crazy person Lou Piniella gave me a baseball. It was a good time!
Ken Griffey Jr. wasn’t just a transcendent baseball player – he made the game fun, too. That might rub some crusty sportswriters the wrong way, but that’s okay, because hey, at least Griffey is in. Besides, I really need to save my malice in case Jim Thome isn’t a first-ballot inductee.