Alomar's time will come

KEN FIDLIN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

Days like this, you look in the mirror and have to admit that, when it comes right down to it, "ya don't know nuthin."

It seemed so obvious that Robbie Alomar would sail into the Hall of Fame in his first ballot. How could he not? This is a guy whose credentials put him in the conversation as the greatest second baseman in baseball history, yet somehow 142 of 539 voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America saw fit to leave him off their ballots.

As a consequence, Alomar fell eight votes shy of induction. He will get in next year. That's a virtual certainty. There are still some dinosaurs in the writers association who believe there is a "Hall within the Hall" and it is reserved for first-ballot candidates with impeccable credentials. My problem is, how much more impeccable did Alomar's credentials need to be?

"What can you do? It's out of my hands now," Alomar told MLB.com. "I'm disappointed, but I feel good."

Wednesday's denial probably comes down to the handful of voters who refused to vote for him because of the incident at the SkyDome in 1996 when Alomar, then playing for Baltimore, spit in umpire John Hirschbeck's face. It was an ugly scene, but Alomar has long since made his amends, building a lasting friendship with Hirschbeck in the process. The two spoke by telephone Wednesday.

"I called to tell him not to worry about me," Alomar said. "He felt really sorry about (the vote) and I didn't want him to feel that way. He thought that, because of the incident, I didn't make it. It's nobody's fault. We'll move on with life and we're still friends."

This was a Hall of Fame ballot that had multiple storylines.

The steroid controversy remains the major stumbling block between Mark McGwire and his Cooperstown dreams. His candidacy is stagnant at between 22% and 24% of the vote. Until, and unless, he comes clean, as did Andy Pettitte, offers an apology to give voters an opportunity to forgive and forget, McGwire will gain no traction.

Another angle on Wednesday's results revolves around the designated hitter. Edgar Martinez might be the greatest DH in the sport's history, a hitting machine during his days in Seattle. But the voters were not moved. Martinez received just 36.2% of the vote.

Another issue is the curious trend that sees players make remarkable gains after three, five, even 10 years of languishing on the ballot. In Dawson's first year of eligibility, in 2002, he received just 45% of the vote. He has made incremental gains every year, adding an astounding 59 votes this year alone to put him over the top.

Bert Blyleven received just 18% of the vote in 1998, his first year of eligibility. In the past three years, he has gone from 48% to 74.2% this year and is a shoo-in next year, his second-last year of eligibility.

That bodes well for the candidacies of players such as Jack Morris, Barry Larkin and Tim Raines. Morris has been making slow gains, in the vein of Blyleven, and has now reached the 52% level after 11 years. Larkin was on 52% of the ballots in this, his first year, on the ballot, leaving him plenty of time to gain momentum.

And Raines is gaining in appreciation, going from 23% last year to over 30% this year.

Looking ahead (he said, optimistically), the voting members of the BBWAA have a couple of years to set a few things right.

The next two classes of eligible players are not strong. Next year's crop includes Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, both of whom may get the nod eventually, but not in their first years. The 2012 class has nobody worthy of induction, first year or any year. The best candidate in that group is Bernie Williams, a long shot at best. This is an opportunity to right some wrongs.

Blyleven and Alomar should slide in easily next January. In 2012, Morris, Larkin and, if there really is a god, Tim Raines should follow.

Then again, what do I know, besides nuthin'?


Videos

Photos