I tried a bit of a paradoxical approach to my Disciples of Uecker Hall of Greatness ballot this year in taking my vote seriously, yet not taking it seriously at all. Why?
It all stemmed from the actual Baseball Hall of Fame takeaway earlier this month. Writers like sent in blank ballots and Jerry Dowling left Craig Biggio off his ballot because, I kid you not, he wore lots of padding on his arm when hitting. The holier-than-thou baseball writers left a widespread, lingering bad taste in the mouths of many fans after the voting results were announced. Many–not all, but many–turned from their position of covering the longstanding, historic, beautiful game of baseball and using their platform to induct the game’s best players who they covered for a living to the honor of the Hall of Fame to using that platform for their own agenda and to be moral judges.
The voting process and the rationale for selective voters’ ballots made it the most shameful display of baseball writers fulfilling their duty since the inaugural class of 1939. Biggio, who amassed 3,060 career hits, missed out by .2 percent in part because of a limit of only ten players on each ballot and voters that, in response to the devil-induced, corrupt, and evil steroid era, either turned in a blank ballot or left off all players from that era in general.
It’s time to quit acting like an entire era of baseball in which a high percentage of the top players were juicing never happened. It did. Other players knew about it. Managers–guys like Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox, all of whom will be inducted this summer–weren’t clueless about what was going on in their locker rooms. And if the Hall of Fame is truly meant to encompass the history, is ignoring what happened and now, fifteen-to-twenty years after its peak, start to morally convict these guys actually encompassing the history of the game.
A Hall of Fame vote should be taken seriously. But somehow, Jacque Jones and Armando Benitez got votes on someone’s ballot while some didn’t even put Greg Maddux, one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen, on their ballots. This examples that writers exist that are willing to try to vote in a player whose career WAR Mike Trout beat out last season alone, and that one of the top honors given to some writers isn’t being taken seriously enough. And, sure, there’s the classic “respect vote” given to a player who surely won’t make the Hall, but is given out of respect for service to the game, but we have a system where someone doesn’t vote for a guy with 3,000 hits because he wore padding and “leaned into pitches”, but a guy with a 97 wRC+ for his career got a vote. Icing on the cake.
So, this said, I wanted to take my DoU Hall of Greatness vote seriously, but tackling this vote is far different than elected someone to Cooperstown. We’re not dealing with mass speculation about steroid use surrounding the greatest hitter ever. We’re acknowledging those Brewers greats, fan favorites, top managers, personalities and giving them a page on a nifty blog dedicated to a franchise that has four postseason appearances in 45 years. I’m just waiting for the day I can fill up all my ballot with one Craig John Counsell.
I had some fun with this vote. It wasn’t a joke, but it wasn’t time to let Jim Slaton’s losing career record keep him off my ballot. The ten-player limit was lifted and I took advantage of that. If we were looking to induct the elite into Milwaukee baseball’s hall of greatness, it would probably be cut off after a small group that includes Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, Geoff Jenkins, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and not many more.
While I resisted the urge to include a heavy load of middle relievers near and dear to Brewers fans’ hearts (talking to you, Danny Kolb), I came up with a list of the names that have contributed most significantly to Milwaukee baseball and, at least for this year, straying more so away from the sentimental value.
Here’s who I voted for:
- Bill Schroeder–” Rock” has been the only television analyst voice I’ve ever heard and him and Bob Uecker are two of the few constants from the 90s in the organization, and that’s worth something to me.
- Bud Selig–I mean, the guy brought baseball back to Milwaukee.
- Chris Bosio–Between 1987 and 1992 (his tenure with the Brewers), Bosio’s 21.6 WAR was 14th among all pitchers, ahead of Jack Morris.
- Dan Plesac–All-time franchise saves leader (133).
- Fred Haney–Managed Milwaukee’s only World Series champion with the 1957 Braves.
- Harvey Kuehn–His radical turnaround of the 1982 Brewers shouldn’t be overlooked. 160-118 as manager for the Brewers, the namesake for the famous Harvey’s Wallbangers.
- Jeromy Burnitz–On the dreadful Brewers teams from 1996-2001, Burnitz hit 163 homers (more than Gary Sheffield and Larry Walker) posted a 17.1 WAR. Not even sure if the Brewers won 17 games during that entire time period.
- Jim Gantner–Born in Fond du Lac, played college ball at UW-Oshkosh, played for the Brewers for 17 seasons.
- Johnny Logan–Four All Star appearances in 11 seasons with the Braves. Received MVP votes for six consecutive seasons from 1952-1957. Slick with the glove, too.
- Richie Sexson–Him and Jenkins and Ben Sheets were the 3 annual bright spots on the Brewers teams I grew up watching. 119 homers from 2001-2003. The Sexecutioner. This is pretty self-explanatory.
- Jim Slaton–One of two pitchers in franchise history with triple-digit wins. Slaton’s 117 wins rank first all-time. Over 2,000 innings pitches.
- Ben Oglivie–His 1980 season was incredible. 6.6 WAR, 147 wRC+, .304/.362/.563, 41 homers. Hit 176 homers and posted a 124 OPS+ in nine seasons. Key part of the 1982 American League pennant squad.
- Teddy Higuera–If injuries had never plagued him, Teddy could’ve been easily the top pitcher in franchise history. Posted consecutive 5.5/7.1/6.1 WAR seasons from 1986-1988.
- Ted Simmons–Simba is a cool nickname and he was good at hitting or something.