You know what question really annoys me? Any of the variations of a question that goes, “If Player X plays two more seasons, and gets Y number of hits, do we need to start thinking of him as a Hall of Famer?”
Just by having to ask the question, the answer is “no.”
If a player is a Hall of Famer, you already know it. You know it because of the prolonged dominance. You don’t realize it after you see he got a certain number of some stat. Frank Thomas didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he hit his 500th home run. He became a Hall of Famer when he dominated the American League for ten years. When you focused on him whenever you were playing the White Sox. Greg Maddux didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he won his 300th game. He became a Hall of Famer when he was the best pitcher in the league for five to ten years and you breathed a sigh of relief if you missed him when the Braves were on your schedule.
Which is why Craig Biggio didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he reached 3000 hits. Which is why Mike Piazza didn’t become a Hall of Famer when he hit more home runs as a catcher than anyone else. You can’t look back and go, “Huh…maybe they were Hall of Famers after all.” You have to already know it.
I’ve mentioned my personal qualifications to reach the Hall many times. I need ten years of all-star caliber play. I don’t need actual election to the team. Especially since Joe Torre, the selection of the team has very little to do with ability. But, if I asked you who should be on the all-star team, the guy’s name should come up at some point. Or, when you look at the stat line you should assume that he was on the team that year. Of those ten, I need five otherworldly years. I need five years where if you’re talking about the best player in the game (or at least at his position) his name leaps immediately to mind. Beyond those ten years, I’m not giving you much additional credit. Just don’t embarrass yourself.
It’s that second category that most of the borderline guys are missing. I don’t get those five years when I look at Biggio, or Schilling. I don’t care that they played for a long time and piled up numbers. Being pretty good for a long time is not what it takes to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s for elite players. The best of the best. It doesn’t mean the people who don’t make the cut are bad players. There’s no shame in just being a multiple all-star. It just means you weren’t the next level.
Which is why I was bothered yesterday by the discussion over Craig Biggio. Immediately after the announcement, the hosts on MLB were mentioning that he’ll get in next year. It was practically a certainty that he would pick up those two votes. They didn’t even leave it up for a question. So I’ll ask it.
Why will he pick up those two votes?
Were there two people who would have voted for him, but used up all ten of their slots on someone else? Or, are they assuming that Biggio would become a Hall of Famer in the eyes of at least two voters? How? Are his stats going to go up? Is he going to move up on any career rankings? Is he going to win any championships? Is he going to do anything that two people base their votes on? Not that I can see. So, is he a Hall of Famer, or not? The voters should have known the answer to that question at least ten years ago.
I know I did.