Not voting for Maddux indefensible

Published 12:03am Sunday, January 12, 2014

Greg Maddux was not a unanimous hall of famer, which makes about as much sense as a waterproof towel.

I’ve always said the litmus test for whether a player should make the Baseball Hall of Fame goes something like this: If you’re having to ask whether or not a player should make the hall of fame, that tells you he’s not a hall of famer.

With Maddux, an emphatic “yes” should jump out of your mouth before you even finish that question.

Maddux carries a career earned-run average of 3.16, a number that would likely be even lower had he not pitched into his 40s. He has 355 wins, 3,371 strikeouts and was a four-time NL Cy Young Award winner. He was also a member of the 1995 Atlanta Braves World Series championship team.

Maddux didn’t overpower anyone but instead relied on exceptional command and mechanics to get hitters out. He was also known for his ability to seemingly outsmart hitters. Hall of famer Wade Boggs once said this about Maddux: “It seems like he’s inside you’re mind with you. When he knows you’re not going to swing, he throws a straight one. He sees into the future. It’s like he has a crystal ball hidden inside his glove.”

Put simply, the man was a professor, and he didn’t give out A’s — or B’s, for that matter. Probably not even C’s.

This past week, Maddux was named a first-ballot hall of famer, securing 97.19 percent of the votes. In other words, 16 voters didn’t think Maddux was hall-of-fame-worthy.

Considering that Maddux is likely one of the top 10 pitchers to ever play the game, not voting him into the hall of fame is indefensible.

One voter, MLB.com writer Ken Gurnick, said he didn’t vote for any “steroid-era player” because he “didn’t know who did and who didn’t” use performance-enhancing drugs.

With all due respect, that’s a ponderous attitude to take. Even if you don’t want to include steroid users, the fact is, there were no rumors, no whispers, no anything surrounding Maddux with regard to PEDs. There is no justifiable reason not to vote for him — none.

One prevailing thought among voters is there should never be anyone who is a unanimous hall of famer, because it’s never happened before. No doubt that line of thinking was the prevailing thought for at least some of the 16 voters who left Maddux off their list.

So, tradition for the sake of tradition. If there was anyone deserving of a unanimous selection, it’s Greg Maddux. Mariano Rivera is also deserving, but if Maddux wasn’t a unanimous choice, I doubt Rivera will be when he’s finally eligible.

Maddux is in the hall, which is the most important thing. But it would have been fitting for someone who was such a gem when it came to the art of pitching to be baseball’s first unanimous selection. Instead, at least one writer looking to make a statement and others likely not wanting to “buck a trend” prevented that.

I’m more likely to figure out Maddux’s train of thought on the mound than I am to understand that kind of logic.