By Sweeny Murti
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Ken Griffey, Jr. was the player I had the most fun watching in my lifetime. It was mostly on TV, except for a few trips to Yankee Stadium.
By the time I joined the beat in 2001, Junior was in the National League. But I do recall going to the Stadium as a fan in 1995 and 1996 and seeing him in his prime Yankee-killing years. That swing. What a thing of beauty. And you’ll get to see many highlights of it between now and induction day this summer.
Mike Piazza had as pretty a right-handed swing as there ever was. So powerful, with more opposite field power than anyone I’ve ever seen. Man was he an imposing figure in the batter’s box. How loud was the ball off his bat? Watch again the last out of the 2000 World Series, the fly ball that died in left-center, caught by Bernie Williams. The reaction off the bat by Mariano Rivera is frightening, like he just heard a gun shot. Almost every Yankee I’ve ever spoken to about that says they thought it was going out. Of course, it didn’t. But it just made me remember that his outs were loud, too.
It should be a great day again this summer in Cooperstown for these two stars of the 1990s.
Mike Mussina jumped from 24 percent to 43 percent. Pretty good jump thanks in good part to the logjam of pitchers that have come off the ballot the last two years. Mussina is a step behind guys like Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz. But time will continue to shine the light on his outstanding career, same for Curt Schilling, who went over the 50 percent mark this year. I would expect both will get in at some point down the road.
Tim Raines made a good run. With one more chance on the ballot he seems likely to pick up the 23 votes that left him short this time.
That Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are still so far from election isn’t surprising. Their gains were minimal, even with a partially new voting body in place. Unless there is some uniform standard or guidance given regarding the PED issue, it seems the murkiness of it all will continue and keep these two poster boys out of the plaque room in Cooperstown.
The fact that three voters left Ken Griffey, Jr. off their ballots is not surprising, just idiotic. I really hope they aren’t the same people who actually did cast votes for David Eckstein and Jason Kendall.
There are lots of arguments to be made all day and night, on the radio and on Twitter. But I have said it before and I will say it again: It is hard to get 75 percent of people to agree on anything. So it’s a real special honor when you can get that many people to say you are the greatest of the greats. And not voting for a player for the Hall isn’t the same as saying that player stinks. Voters have to draw a line. As long as they can explain their thinking with some sort of straight line logic, that’s all you can ask.
The folks I know who vote take their process very seriously. I just hope they aren’t the ones who voted for Eckstein and Kendall.
Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN