KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Incredibly, 16 voters left Greg Maddux off their Hall of Fame ballot.
I guess I shouldn’t be totally surprised. George Brett wasn’t a unanimous choice. Neither was Nolan Ryan, nor a host of other sure-thing Hall of Famers.
Players such as Maddux, Brett and Ryan absolutely scream out Hall of Fame induction. That’s why I voted for them the first time. I just don’t believe in the voting philosophy that a player is more attractive as a Hall of Fame candidate two, three or 10 years into his candidacy than he was his very first year.
Granted, we are allowed to vote for only 10 players on each year’s ballot. And sometimes the ballot can get crowded, which certainly applies in recent years as all voters wrestle with the moral issue of the steroid era.
Players with incredible statistical resumes such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others are getting passed over because of moral concerns — and I’m not launching into that debate again here. But the issue and debate do crowd the ballot and possibly impede new and deserving candidates when they first appear.
But that overcrowding shouldn’t apply when considering the once-in-a-lifetime greats such as Maddux. There is no excuse for not voting for him.
Maddux simply was one of the best ever, notching 355 career wins and four Cy Youngs. I had the privilege of covering him in the World Series and at several All-Star Games. He was the overall best I ever saw.
Maddux was a magician with the baseball, making the ball dance and dart the way few pitchers ever have. But he also understood the art of pitching and the mental side of it as well as anyone.
As one former player once told me, "He knew your hitting approach better than you did, and a lot of times you were mentally defeated before you ever got out of the batting circle."
The other two candidates voted into the Hall on Wednesday were deserving as well.
Glavine won 305 games, fourth most among left-handers, and won 14 playoff games while posting a 3.30 ERA.
Thomas was among the most feared hitters of the 1990s and broke the Royals’ hearts on numerous occasions. Overall he hit .301 with 521 homers and was a run-producing machine, amassing 1,704 RBIs in 19 seasons.
I know that the one hitter Royals pitchers feared the most in the ’90s was The Big Hurt — he had a career .401 on-base percentage against the Royals and a .540 slugging percentage.
A couple of other thoughts from the vote:
— I certainly feel for Jack Morris, who won 254 games during his 18-year career but missed out in his 15th and final year on the ballot.
— And I was puzzled that Mike Piazza, who belted 427 homers and is considered one of the greatest-hitting catchers of all time, didn’t gain more traction this year. He had 57.8 percent of the vote last year but moved up to only 62.2 percent as apparently long-standing rumors of his potential steroid use apparently continue to sway voters.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.