The votes are in! The Baseball Writers’ Association of America election results for 2015 were released earlier this week by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sometime after the euphoria of becoming a newly enshrined member of the Hall of Fame wears off, a new member has a decision he must ponder: ‘What cap should I wear on the plaque that will bear my likeness in Cooperstown, forever?’ The decision is made in conjunction with the Hall of Fame and the player. Said player has a lot of say but it’s ultimately the choice of Cooperstown officials. The choice can be rough for some but might be easy others, or rather less difficult. Craig Biggio was one of four former players voted in with the 2015 class and played his entire career with just the Houston Astros. All he has to decide is which star logo he’ll wear on his cap!
The tallest and arguably most intimidating man in this year’s class is none other than ‘The Big Unit,’ Randy Johnson. Johnson played for six teams in both leagues and made five all-star teams with both the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. His prime years came in seasons as member of both teams(with a half of a season sandwiched in between with the Astros). He won a Cy Young Award with Seattle and won two thirds of his games with the Mariners. That’s an astounding feat even before I mention his 2,162 strikeouts with the Mariners. The mark is by far the most in team history and the most for Johnson on any team he played with.
There’s also Johnson’s time in Arizona: shear dominance. Johnson won four-straight(!!!!) NL Cy Young Awards with the Arizona Diamondbacks and during that run he also led the team to it’s lone World Series title in 2001, while sharing World Series MVP honors with fellow ace(and Hall of Fame hopeful) Curt Schilling. Johnson also had over 2,000 strikeouts with the Diamondbacks and was arguably the most feared player(apologies to Barry Bonds diehards) in baseball, much less pitcher. His 6’10” frame, black glove, and scowl peaking just over that glove struck fear into batters(and struck out batters) like no other pitcher in this era.
We highly doubt he’ll lobby to wear Expo cap, or choose to compaign as an Astro. His times in San Francisco and New York weren’t noteworthy. So which cap will he choose and the Hall choose? Sources close to Johnson say he’s a little torn between Seattle blue and Arizona purple. The Diamondbacks organization announced this week that they would be retiring Johnson’s number this year and he will be come a special assistant to the CEO. He would be the first Diamondback-represented Hall of Famer. It’s definitely a tough decision. What about the noggins of the other two inductees?
Pedro Martinez: It might be hard to believe it but Pedro Martinez played for five teams(MON, LAD, BOS, NYM & PHI). His most memorable years were undoubtedly in Boston, where he led a Red Sox staff(and team for that matter) up against legendary Yankee teams(who also happened to be his daddy) in the AL West for seven years. Martinez was an All-Star four times with Red Sox starting for the AL in 1999 game and earning MVP honors for his dominant performance. He won two AL Cy Young awards in a row with Boston(1999, 2000) and was the most feared right-hander in the Majors for much of the 2000’s. Martinez led the AL in wins once while a member of the Red Sox, led the league in ERA four times, and led the AL in strikeouts three times in Boston. Not a hard call here, Martinez will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
John Smoltz: This one is also not a hard call: about as tough of a call as Biggio. Right-handed pitcher John Smoltz spent the bulk of his career as member of perhaps the best three-headed pitching monster in baseball history in Atlanta(the other two, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, were enshrined into Cooperstown, last year). This right hander dominated parts of the 1990’s as a starter for the juggernaut Braves, then dominated the early 2000’s as a closer for Atlanta. He went back to starting at the end of his career when he pitched a season in Boston and St. Louis. Smoltz is the only pitcher with at least 200 career wins and 100 career saves. His best year came in 1996 when he started for the NL in the All-Star Game(against Pedro Martinez) and won the NL Cy Young.