Inside the voting for the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame class

Spitting incident could be reason why Roberto Alomar fell short.
Spitting incident could be reason why Roberto Alomar fell short.

Hall of Fame election results announced Wednesday were as surprising for who didn’t get in as who did. Few figured Andre Dawson would be the only player to gain election, while Roberto Alomar was the candidate most figured would get the call.

Well, Dawson knows where he’ll be July 25: In Cooperstown to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. And Alomar? Maybe next year.

Lessons learned from the announcement:

Patience pays: Dawson made the Hall on his ninth time on the ballot. He said he had a feeling the call would come this year. "It was worth the wait," he said. His numbers in today’s offensive framework don’t look Hall worthy: .279 average, .323 OBP and 438 homers — but Dawson was a dominant player in the 1980s. He also was one of the game’s most respected players by his peers and the fans.

Patience is a must: After falling just five votes short on his 13th try, Bert Blyleven could have cried. Instead, he smiled and actually was upbeat talking to reporters. One reason: He had a bigger jump in support than Dawson, who went from 67 percent to 77.9. Blyleven had an 11.5 percent bump, all the way to 74.2 percent. That number brings us to another reason: After coming so close, he can count on getting the call next year.

The incident was costly: Alomar is widely regarded as the best second baseman since Joe Morgan and one of the best half-dozen or so ever. The only explanation for him falling eight votes short was payback for spitting in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, even though Hirschbeck forgave him long ago. Another reason Alomar could have fallen short: He did not make any friends with the media for his approach in his two years with the Mets.

Steroids matter: Mark McGwire again failed to garner 25 percent of the votes, the 23.7 percent he received was just slightly more than the 21.9 percent a year ago. Stay tuned next year. McGwire is supposed to talk with the media at some point before he begins his new job as the Cardinals’ batting coach. What he says undoubtedly will have an impact on his support from voters for the Hall of Fame.

DH’s time has not arrived: Edgar Martinez, one of the top hitters of the 1990s, was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots. The Mariners were not expecting him to make it, but he got enough votes for them to continue to work on his case.

Market factors: Barry Larkin was the first shortstop to have a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season. He won an MVP, three Gold Gloves and was among the first shortstops to excel as much on offense as defense. So why didn’t he get more than 51.6 percent of the votes? My reason: He spent his entire career in small-market Cincinnati.

Closer still not that close: Lee Smith was the all-time leader in saves when he retired, and still is No. 3 behind Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Yet Smith still hasn’t received 50 percent of the votes in any of his seven times on the ballot. At least he is going in the right direction. His 47.3 percent this time was 2.8 percent better than last year. With such a slow climb, though, Smith needs to be patient. Hey, it worked for Andre Dawson.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

Spitting incident could be reason why Roberto Alomar fell short.
Spitting incident could be reason why Roberto Alomar fell short.

Hall of Fame election results announced Wednesday were as surprising for who didn’t get in as who did. Few figured Andre Dawson would be the only player to gain election, while Roberto Alomar was the candidate most figured would get the call.

Well, Dawson knows where he’ll be July 25: In Cooperstown to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. And Alomar? Maybe next year.

Lessons learned from the announcement:

Patience pays: Dawson made the Hall on his ninth time on the ballot. He said he had a feeling the call would come this year. "It was worth the wait," he said. His numbers in today’s offensive framework don’t look Hall worthy: .279 average, .323 OBP and 438 homers — but Dawson was a dominant player in the 1980s. He also was one of the game’s most respected players by his peers and the fans.

Patience is a must: After falling just five votes short on his 13th try, Bert Blyleven could have cried. Instead, he smiled and actually was upbeat talking to reporters. One reason: He had a bigger jump in support than Dawson, who went from 67 percent to 77.9. Blyleven had an 11.5 percent bump, all the way to 74.2 percent. That number brings us to another reason: After coming so close, he can count on getting the call next year.

The incident was costly: Alomar is widely regarded as the best second baseman since Joe Morgan and one of the best half-dozen or so ever. The only explanation for him falling eight votes short was payback for spitting in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, even though Hirschbeck forgave him long ago. Another reason Alomar could have fallen short: He did not make any friends with the media for his approach in his two years with the Mets.

Steroids matter: Mark McGwire again failed to garner 25 percent of the votes, the 23.7 percent he received was just slightly more than the 21.9 percent a year ago. Stay tuned next year. McGwire is supposed to talk with the media at some point before he begins his new job as the Cardinals’ batting coach. What he says undoubtedly will have an impact on his support from voters for the Hall of Fame.

DH’s time has not arrived: Edgar Martinez, one of the top hitters of the 1990s, was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots. The Mariners were not expecting him to make it, but he got enough votes for them to continue to work on his case.

Market factors: Barry Larkin was the first shortstop to have a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season. He won an MVP, three Gold Gloves and was among the first shortstops to excel as much on offense as defense. So why didn’t he get more than 51.6 percent of the votes? My reason: He spent his entire career in small-market Cincinnati.

Closer still not that close: Lee Smith was the all-time leader in saves when he retired, and still is No. 3 behind Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Yet Smith still hasn’t received 50 percent of the votes in any of his seven times on the ballot. At least he is going in the right direction. His 47.3 percent this time was 2.8 percent better than last year. With such a slow climb, though, Smith needs to be patient. Hey, it worked for Andre Dawson.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

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