We’ve Got To Talk About Trevor Hoffman

It’s everybody’s favorite time of year – Hall of Fame voting season! Every year, we gnash our teeth and argue in circles over mostly stupid things. The most recent trend seems to center on excluding players who played during the “Steroid Era” (but not those who we perceive as being clean, because you can just tell…you know?), which completely avoids context and usually devolves into general shouting at clouds. And then there’s Curt Schilling, who deserves to be in, but is an all-around awful/racist/xenophobic human being…which was probably enough to keep him out (for now), but several writers have finally decided he was bad because he posted a picture a shirt implying journalists should be hanged. Which is awful, but that was the tipping point? Anyway, enough garbage – we’re here to talk about Trevor Hoffman’s candidacy.

First, let’s get this out of the way – Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Famer. 601 saves (2nd), .887 save %, 3rd all-time in relief pitcher fWAR, etc. etc.. Subjectively, I believe anybody who was once the all-time leader in a major category should be in the Hall of Fame. The voters seem to agree Trevor belongs, with 67.3% of them voting for him on his first ballot. Hoffman’s first-year total was the highest ever achieved by a pitcher who threw exclusively in relief. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Now, Hoffman’s enshrinement should not a slam dunk just because you are a Padres fan! I am a Padres fan. I love Trevor Hoffman. I watched 400 on tv, I made sure I was there for 500, and I made damn sure I was there for the record-breaking 479th save. I want to see him in the Hall of Fame ASAP because he’s a Padres legend. Also, because I like to see good and worthy people rewarded. Also, we need SOMETHING to celebrate in San Diego sports right now.

The biggest issue is that there are 34 players on the ballot and you are only allowed to pick 10 players. There are 15 (or so) players on the ballot who are worthy of serious consideration, most of whom do belong in the Hall of Fame. Whether you like it or not, position players and starting pitchers are almost always going to get the nod. Considering the 10 vote limit set by the BBWAA, this strategy makes more sense than most of us care to admit. If you ask me, those who refuse to change that rule are the parties at whom you should direct your ire.

Except for the writers who refuse to vote for relievers as a principle. These people have bad opinions. Most of them disregard closer and DH, holding on to their idealized version of how baseball should look while ignoring how the game has been played for over 40 years. These are positions of some importance, regarded as such during playing careers and shoved aside upon retirement. “He was ONLY a relief pitcher” or “He was ONLY a DH”. Neither of those arguments make sense, and it’s just idiotic when combined.

I’ve also seen fans who are concerned about Trevor being “overshadowed” by going in after Rivera, or with Rivera, or perhaps another East Coast candidate who could draw a massive crowd. As someone who made the trip out to Cooperstown for Tony Gwynn’s induction ceremony, let me tell you how silly this is. Gwynn/Ripken drew the largest crowd in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I’m probably underestimating the Baltimore contingent by saying it looked to me to comprise about 80% of the crowd. Everybody’s there to have a good time, and the one thing you will find at the HOF is that everybody who made the trek LOVES and respects baseball. There aren’t many fans who make the flight/drive out to a New York backwater who are tepid about the game. They’re all there to pay homage to the greatest who ever played, and this is the lucky weekend where YOUR guy enters the club. It’s a celebration.

Crowd at Tony Gwynn's induction. We were very far away.

Crowd at Tony Gwynn’s induction. We were very far away.

It didn’t make the experience any less incredible, being so “outnumbered” – the other fans were great! The museum itself doesn’t play favorites – everything you see is divided equally amongst all of the inductees. Nobody’s being short-changed by the Hall of Fame. The only one shaping your Hall of Fame weekend experience is you.

They got their own display cases! I didn't take a picture of Ripken's because WEST COAST BIAS

They got their own display cases! I didn’t take a picture of Ripken’s because WEST COAST BIAS

I’m not here to tell anybody how to act. If you want to yell at every writer who leaves Hoffman off of their ballot – fine. That’s your business. If you want to be upset if Hoffman doesn’t make the HOF this year, have at it (I’ll be right there with you). I’m proposing that we, collectively, try to look at things a little more objectively and consider the reasoning before doing so. While we might want him in “today”, and he deserves to get in “today”, it’s okay if it ends up being “tomorrow”. We’ll live. “Tomorrow” WILL happen, and that’s still a pretty good place to be.

After all, the man Trevor Hoffman passed for the all-time saves record, Lee Smith, is in his final year of eligibility – and he’s not getting in. That’s a damn shame.


The Vocal Minority posts every Monday. LOL NO WE DON’T. I hope Trevor gets in this year and writing this was a huge waste of time. Subtweet me on Twitter.

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