At long last, it's all over but the shouting. Baseball's Hall of Fame debate can shut down for another year with Wednesday afternoon's announcement of the results netting three new inductees to the Hall. A year after the voting members of the BBWAA pitched a fit and a shutout by electing no one, they have chosen the pair of great Braves pitchers, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, as well as long-time White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.
3,000 hit club member Craig Biggio came up agonizingly short, receiving 74.8% of the vote on ballots returned. With the number of ballots returned, that is estimated to represent a margin of exactly one vote short.
A player needs to be named on at least 75% of the ballots to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. At the lower end, a player needs to be named on at least 5% to continue on to the ballot the next year. A player can remain on the ballot for up to fifteen years. This was the 15th and last year for the divisive candidacy of starting pitcher Jack Morris, whose support has been growing in recent years, but not quite enough. He received 61.5% of the vote on his final year of eligibility for election by the writers.
Of interest to Orioles fans, Mike Mussina was named on only 20.3% of ballots, a lamentable percentage for a pitcher whose credentials are excellent in every way other than the easy and convenient narratives that some writers love to emphasize. Whether he was harmed by the ten-person limit on ballots and being seen as the 11th- or 12th- most worthy (but still worthy, just not this year) or by significant numbers of writers not even acknowledging that his accomplishments indicate greatness is not clear. 116 voters still found him worthy, but many more did not.
Still, given that initially, you could be concerned that Mussina would get ignored and not even receive 5%, getting that percentage suggests he has a stronger base of support than we thought, which should bode well for his chances in the long run.
If it's a matter of his star not shining as bright when compared directly to some of the greatest pitchers of all time, he will again encounter difficulty next year, when Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez enter the ballot, as well as the third of the great Braves trio of the 1990s, John Smoltz.
If it's a matter of being seen as not having "necessary" benchmarks, it's unlikely that he will over the next year get 300 wins or a fresh chance at the 20-win seasons he was denied in 1994 and 1995 due to the baseball strike. He will not get another chance at the 1997 playoffs, where his bullpen hosed him out of a chance to earn the ultimate postseason glory. It's also not likely that the BBWAA will look back and realize they screwed him out of the 2001 Cy Young Award, so they will continue to ding him for never winning that, as well.
Towards the bottom of the ballot, former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro fell off from further consideration after receiving only 4.4% of the vote. As the only player on the ballot to actually be suspended for failing a test, it's no surprise he had the toughest time getting support even though he was across the 3,000 hit and 500 home run marks.
The villain of that 1997 postseason, Armando Benitez, was also on the ballot this year. Benitez received one vote. Everyone reading this post is more qualified to vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame than at least one idiot with a ballot.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of Mussina's time on the ballot, his will be the only chase of interest to Orioles fans in Hall of Fame voting for some time. While at least a couple of probable Hall of Famers like Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome have passed through at the end of long careers, there hasn't been a Hall of Fame-caliber Oriole since Mussina left. Odds are against there being one on the team right now, but wouldn't it be nice if there was?
The full results, and selected ballots, can be found on the BBWAA web page. The other players who crossed 50% were Mike Piazza (62.2%) and Jeff Bagwell (54.3%). Curt Schilling out-polled Mussina with 29.2% of the vote, which is actually ridiculous.