There was this baseball player, really good, but was he great? Writers and bloggers and fans have been asking that question for years, but to this point Dale Murphy has not been considered Hall of Fame great by three-fourths of the writers who vote for which players enter and which ones do not. A bunch of writers are releasing their ballots and writing about who they voted for (and didn't) and why. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is one of them who voted for Murphy, and offers this explanation as to why:
He was great for a while (two straight MVPs), but is also known as one of the greatest guys to ever play the game. He did a lot of things right (he won five Gold Gloves and stole 161 bases), and he did them every day (he played 162 games four straight years). His refusal to take a day off (not to mention his clean living) may have led to a steeper, quicker decline. But he still represented a whole era of Braves baseball.
My opinion on Heyman is looking up. Of course, of the three writers at CBS Sports who can vote for the Hall, only Heyman voted for Murphy. Here in lies Murphy's problem, well, it's not Murphy's problem, really, it's the writers' problem.
I've written ad nauseum about the reasons Murphy should be in the Hall, specifically in this 2009 piece I did and yesterday. I could probably be convinced of a few more who are worthy in addition to the players I thought were worthy back in 2009. But that's what these writers do all the time, give players more votes or less votes based on changing opinions.
Anyway, everyone has their own damn opinion ... you know mine.
In addition to Murphy, there are a ton of other former Atlanta Braves players on this year's ballot. Many of them will get the requisite courtesy vote, but one or two might get the Murphy-10-percent treatment. Fred McGriff is on the ballot once again. He got 18% last year, more than Murphy's 13%, so if it's a good year for Murphy, perhaps McGriff will also get a much deserved boost in voting.
The best Braves catcher before Brian McCann is also on the ballot: fan favorite (especially with the ladies) Javy Lopez makes his first appearance; as does Vinny Castilla, Terry Mulholland, and Brian Jordan (who will surely get into the hall one day based on his announcing skills*). None of those folks will likely get anything more than a passing hello vote, but it's still an honor to be listed on the ballot.
Of course, this will likely be the last year we talk about silly little things like this. Next year the steroids bomb gets dropped big time on the Hall ballot, as Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa all enter the voting, not to mention Piazza, Schilling, and Biggio. Then in 2014, it will truly be a magical class for the Braves, as two great pitchers will almost certainly be elected, when Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux appear for the first time. 2014 will also be the next year that the Veterans Committee will consider managers for induction into the Hall, and you can bet that Bobby Cox will make the list.
John Smoltz should round out the Hall of Fame rotation of the 90's when he appears on the ballot in 2015. So, yeah, Braves fans are all grumpy about Murphy this year (and for the last dozen years), but those complaints should be gone in a couple of years as the Hall welcomes four new Atlanta Braves inductees. That list could also expand to include John Schuerholtz, who will also be eligible for inclusion on the Veterans' ballot along with Cox in 2014.