Baseball Hall of Fame should expedite Roy Halladay's induction

Baseball Hall of Fame should expedite Roy Halladay's induction

Roy Halladay is a Hall of Fame pitcher. I don't think that can be disputed. But I think Halladay should get special dispensation to become a 2018 Hall of Fame pitcher.
 
As of right now, Halladay is not yet eligible for induction. The current rules for eligibility were set in 1954. Players must be retired for five full seasons to be eligible for induction. If a player passes away before becoming eligible, he must be dead for six months before appearing on a ballot. 

Only once since 1954 was an exception made: Roberto Clemente was inducted in 1973, after dying in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.
 
When the balloting takes place later this month, I believe that exception should be made again, for Halladay.
 
Halladay's death earlier this week hit the Philadelphia sports community hard, myself included. As someone who remembers watching Steve Carlton pitch at the Vet as a child, I was excited when the Phillies traded for Doc before the 2010 season, and bought a partial season ticket plan for the first time. Every time he pitched was appointment viewing, and he delivered, night after night.
 
Although Phillies fans saw only two seasons of Halladay's excellence on the mound, his prime lasted a decade — the 2002 through 2011 seasons. Here are Halladay's ranks among all MLB pitchers during that span:
 
• 170 wins (1st)

• .694 win percentage (1st)

• 63 complete games (1st - by 30!)

• 18 shutouts (1st)

• 4.57 K/BB ratio (1st)

• 2.97 ERA (2nd)

• 148 ERA+ (2nd) — this means his ERA over that span was 48 percent better than league-average

• 2194⅔ innings (2nd)
 
He also made eight All-Star teams, won two Cy Young Awards, and he finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting seven times in that 10-year span.
 
From 1995-2017, Halladay has more complete games that any pitcher (67). Here's the thing: Halladay only pitched from 1998 through 2013.
 
Being the best pitcher in baseball for a season is a feat. Being the best pitcher in baseball for an entire decade is something that is truly special. We all remember how great Tim Lincecum was at the start of his career. He also won two Cy Youngs. He didn't even make it to 10 full seasons in the big leagues before a degenerative hip injury derailed his career.
 
The end of Roy Halladay's baseball career, and his life, occurred far, far too soon. Voting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this month would not be.

Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines among 5 inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

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USA Today Images

Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines among 5 inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- "Pudge" Rodriguez stared out at his father, wiping away tears as he spoke.

"I love you with all of my heart," Rodriguez said. "If I'm a Hall of Famer, you're a Hall of Famer -- double."

Those words punctuated Rodriguez's speech as he was inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, along with former commissioner Bud Selig and front-office guru John Schuerholz also were enshrined on a picture-perfect summer day in front of over 27,000 fans.

"It's always emotional when you see the fans cheering for you, and my whole family in front of me," Bagwell said. "I'm an emotional person. It's a dream just to be part of this beautiful group. Now I have that plaque forever. It's unbelievable."

Before he started, Rodriguez received a standing ovation from hundreds of fans, many wearing red-and-white jerseys with Puerto Rico emblazoned on the front, and proceeded to give half his speech in Spanish.

"This is such an incredible honor for me," Rodriguez said. "A little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream. Never let them take your dream away from you."

The 45-year-old Rodriguez holds major league records for games caught (2,427) and putouts by a catcher (12,376). He hit 311 homers and batted .296 in his career. He's also only the second catcher elected on the first ballot, following in the footsteps of his childhood idol, Cincinnati Reds star Johnny Bench, who was seated on the dais behind him.

After speaking in Spanish, Rodriguez went back and repeated in English, concentrating on a message to youth.

"You have the right to dream," he said. "Everything in life is possible. I speak from experience."

Bagwell, who played his entire 15-year career in Houston, took the dais to an extended applause from the Astros fans who made the trip.

"You know I don't like attention," Bagwell said with a tinge of nervousness. "I'm so humbled to be here. I'm just really trying to figure out what's going on."

Bagwell started his speech by thanking his family, singling out his parents and wife.

"Mom, you are just the most amazing person in the world," he said. "You've been a pillar for me. I can't tell you how much I love you and what you mean to me. My father, Bob. There's something about a dad. You brought me to love this game of baseball. Something my father instilled in me was to never quit. Deep inside, I just never gave up. That drive got me a long way."

The 48-year-old Bagwell was one-third of the famed "Killer B's" of the Astros, along with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman. Together they helped transform the Astros from a last-place team to the World Series in 2005, the first team from Texas to do so. Elected in his seventh year on the ballot, Bagwell is the only first baseman in history with 400 career home runs and 200 stolen bases.

"I tried to do everything well," he said. "I wanted to score for my team and for my other players. I enjoy the stolen bases more than anything else. For a little guy with not much speed, I truly appreciate that. I could help us win in different ways."

Bagwell ended his career with 449 home runs and from 1996-2001 had at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs per season, only the sixth player in major league history to reach those marks in at least six straight years.

Raines was greeted by scores of fans from Canada, many of whom came aboard several buses. He thanked his mom and dad, who were seated in the front row and later focused on Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, his teammate with the Montreal Expos when he first broke into the major leagues in the early 1980s.

"Without Andre Dawson there's no telling where I'd be," said Raines, who fought cocaine problems early in his career. "I wanted to kind of be like you and he finally accepted and I followed. Thank you so much for making me the player I became."

The 57-year-old Raines, a switch-hitter, batted .294 and had a .385 on-base percentage in his 23-year career, finishing with 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs and 808 stolen bases. His stolen base total is the fifth-highest in major league history and included 70 or more steals in each season from 1981-86, a streak that stands alone in baseball history. And his 84.7 percent success rate tops the list among players with at least 400 steal attempts.

Raines also cited former Kansas City Royals star George Brett and base-stealing king Rickey Henderson, both Hall of Famers who were seated behind him on the stage.

For Selig, who was celebrating his 83rd birthday, it was a reversal of roles. For more than two decades he gave out the Hall of Fame plaques on induction day.

"It's an overwhelming, stunning feeling," said Selig, who dropped his speech midway through it but never skipped a beat. "You're getting the highest honor."

Selig left a large imprint during more than 22 years as the leader of the game. He was instrumental in the approval of interleague play, the expansion of the playoffs, splitting each league into three divisions with wild cards, instituting video review and revenue-sharing in an era that saw the construction of 20 new ballparks.

His tenure also included the Steroids Era and the cancellation of the 1994 World Series amid a players' strike, but he left baseball in excellent shape economically -- without labor strife and with a strict drug-testing policy that has helped clean up the game.

In 26 years as a GM for the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, Schuerholz stood alone. His teams won 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series, one in each league, a first. He credited divine providence and fate for his good fortune, starting with a case of German measles that left him deaf in his right ear at age five, which he said forced him to be more attentive.

Schuerholz, who played second base at Towson University, said he quickly figured out where he should concentrate his future in baseball after a two-day tryout when he was told to time the players on the second day instead of taking the field.

"The message was delivered," Schuerholz said. "I'd better concentrate someplace other than trying to be a professional baseball player. Divine providence. Fate. I truly believe so."

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to baseball's Hall of Fame

NEW YORK -- Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received a majority of votes for the first time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell , on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

"Anxiety was very, very high," Bagwell said. "I wrote it on a ball tonight. It was kind of cool."

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Lee Smith, who had 478 saves, got 34 percent in his final time on the ballot. Jorge Posada, Tim Wakefield and Magglio Ordonez were among the players who got under 5 percent and fell off future ballots.