Deshaies gets his due

added 1/18/2001 by Ray Kerby

As the Hall of Fame campaign for Jim Deshaies closes shop, criticism is now coming from all sides about Houston Chronicle writer John Lopez and his decision to cast the lone vote for Deshaies. Before I address that, I would first like to give an enthusiastic "thumbs up" to the Twinspin staff at astros.com website for their outstanding "Put JD in the Hall" website. Great work, guys!

Now let the bashing of Lopez begin anew. Personally, I don't see what all of the fuss is about. After all, it's not like Lopez cast the deciding vote that awarded a Hall of Fame induction to Deshaies. In fact, you could argue that Lopez's "tip of the cap" to Deshaies is the norm rather than the exception. As such, it's hard to get angry with Lopez without getting angry at the rest of the media for similar antics. Of course, maybe that's the proper approach to take. After all, they did award a Gold Glove to designated hitter Rafael Palmeiro two years ago.

The Hall of Fame requires that 75% of the voters cast a vote for a player in order to induct that player. Think about that for a minute. That means that the process implicitly acknowledges that there will be undeserving players that receive a smattering of votes. That's why they need to get 75%. One vote is not enough. Getting 50% of the vote is not enough. The minimum criteria set in place are specifically designed to handle situations like this. In fact, one could argue that the system encourages sportswriters to cast votes to respect local players, since there is no realistic chance that a local favorite could ever receive 75% of the national vote.

Jim Deshaies did not get elected to the Hall of Fame, which is proper. Jim Deshaies did not even garner enough votes to re-appear on the ballot next year, which is proper. I say, "No harm, no foul". In fact, Deshaies has joined an exclusive fraternity of Astros who received token votes for the Hall. Here are his new teammates:

2001 Jim Deshaies - 1
1997 Mike Scott - 2
1997 Terry Puhl - 1
1994 Jose Cruz - 2
1994 Phil Garner - 2
1994 Joe Niekro - 2
1992 Cesar Cedeno - 2
1990 Bob Watson - 3
1986 J.R. Richard - 7
1985 Jesus Alou - 1

These are just the Astros receiving token votes. Every franchise has list similar to this. Lou Piniella, Dave Kingman, Jerry Reuss, Manny Mota, Lee May, Greg Luzinski, Doug DeCinces, Steve Blass, Jack Billingham, Felipe Alou, and many others have received token votes. An entire list would be very long and unnecessary for the purposes of making this point.

John Lopez did nothing wrong. He simply did what local sportswriters have been doing for years: paying a modicum of respect to the local heroes. And for that, I tip my cap to him. Well, actually I'm not wearing a cap right now, so it's more of a figurative tip, not a literal tip.

If you want to talk about real travesties, critique instead the actions that have permanent ramifications: the actual players that are inducted. Personally, I think that you can make a strong case that both Kirby Puckett and Tony Perez (last year) are, at best, borderline candidates for the Hall of Fame. Puckett was very good in his prime, but his peak years were too short and he didn't have the career longevity to make up for it. Sure, it is unfortunate that his career ended shortly. But the "Sandy Koufax" clause should only apply to players that had peaks like Sandy Koufax. In reality, Perez simply rode in on the Big Red Coattails of his teammates. The argument most heard by Perez's supporters was that he had the most RBIs of any player not in the Hall. Well, Dave Kingman has the most home runs of any player not in the Hall, and I don't see a groundswell of support for him. And with respect to centerfielders, Jim Wynn is a more deserving Hall of Fame candidate than Kirby Puckett. It makes no sense that while Puckett would get inducted in his first year, Wynn couldn't even garner a single vote in his first year of eligibility. Now that is a travesty.

My advice is to quit complaining about Jim Deshaies getting a little home-town respect and complain instead about the marginal candidates that are actually getting inducted into the Hall.