Hall of Fame

In Defense of Not Voting for Junior

The Kid fell a few votes short of being the first player elected to the Hall of Fame by a unanimous vote. Junior’s accomplishments have been recited many times: He hit 630 home runs, compiled over 83 WAR, won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves at a premium defensive position and seven Silver Sluggers. The list goes on.

Yet, brave writers found the power to resist the call of a historic career. And rightfully so. Let me tell you why: Junior’s problem with performance enhancing drugs. There was very little written about this during his career, but a thirty minute documentary that aired in 1992, right before the steroid era, clearly shows that Junior was addicted to “Brain & Nerve Tonic.” Here is photographic evidence of him in uniform with a bottle of the tonic in his back pocket:

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Here is a clip of Junior consuming it, in front of his teammates:

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And if you think back acne was a bad side effect of using PEDs, check out the consequences of Junior’s addiction to Brain & Nerve Tonic:

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The documentary plainly shows Junior in a wheel chair guzzling nerve tonic while struggling to regain his ability to play baseball. This could not have come at a worse time for his team as they were slated to play in a championship bout with their crosstown rivals. Had it not been for one particular teammates’ great use of his head and a wonderful bat, they might have lost the championship.

For those of you who didn’t see this documentary when it first aired, it’s titled: Homer at the Bat. It provides the only legitimate reason for leaving Junior off of a Hall of Fame ballot.

To a certain generation of baseball fans, The Kid was our superhero; the swing, that smile, his effortless defense. Junior played baseball with the heart of a little leaguer and the skill of a legend. Throughout his career he captivated our imagination and brought us closer to the game.

Today, The Kid is in The Hall.

30 thoughts on “In Defense of Not Voting for Junior

  1. It’s funny how nearly all of the highlights and stats on ESPN yesterday about how good Junior was and why he deserves to be in the Hall were only from Seattle (under 30). If they had just listed his numbers from the 8.5 years in Cincy, no one would have voted for him. I personally never saw “the kid” that was being described in the highlights. Injuries are not really an excuse for the Hall (nor is never stretching before games at all) so I could imagine someone not voting him on the first ballot. Heck, several people did not vote for EVERY HOF player!

    • Very true about people finding a reason not to vote for every single HoF player. That said, even the back end of Griffey’s career, as injury filled as it was, had a lot of positives. In those 8+ seasons he averaged over 24 HR and 70 RBI a season. He hit .270, had a .362 OBP, and .514 SLG. He made 3 All-Star game appearances and garnered MVP votes in 2005. Those numbers generally won’t get you in the HoF but as primarily a CF and on the tail end of an amazing first 11 seasons, that decline isn’t too dreadful. It’s a shame we didn’t see more of “The Kid” in Cincinnati though.

    • A parallel between Jr and Barry Bonds in regard to your comment…. It has been written and said by a number of folks that based on what Bonds had accomplished before there was ever a whisper or iota of suspicion to link him with PEDs was enough on its own to earn him a spot in the HoF; and therefore he should be in.

      And so it is with Jr and mid to late career injuries. If he had done what he did in Seattle over a decade then walked away like Jim Brown did in football or had his career ended at point by a catastrophic injury, he was already and still an HoF player.

      What the world and Jr himself did not know as he returned “home” to Cincinnati was that a decade of playing on the thinly covered concrete floor of the King Dome had sown the seeds of his career demise by setting him up for the series of leg injuries that followed.

    • If you just look at the numbers for almost every player post age 30, they don’t look like Hall of Famers. That’s just how it works.

      There’s ZERO reason to not vote for him on the first ballot.

      • I personally think it was about right, highest percentage ever, but not unanimous. The argument that he aged similar to other HOF suggests that he is not far far better than other HOF players (who were also not unaminous). We have to leave room for someone who is even better yet to come.

        He is definitely the only modern player we are certain never did steroids.

        • I don’t buy into this argument. Either you are a Hall of Famer or you aren’t. Just because better players,the few that exist, didn’t get all 100% of the votes doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have. There is zero argument against voting for Griffey as a Hall of Famer. Just like there was for Greg Maddux. Or Willie Mays.

          And while I fully believe Griffey was clean, we don’t definitely know he was. We don’t know that about anyone.

    • “Never stretching before games at all” ??? That comment is akin to “Get off my lawn!” Stretching before exercise has been debunked. Not stretching did not have anything to do with KGJR’s injuries.

      • I will use my doctor trump card on that one. I have never posted that before but there it is. Most of his injuries were hamstrings, which is entirely due to not stretching. I do this for a living, it’s true.

        • I remember going to games after the screws in his hamstring. I watched him stretch after the injury. Usually with the aide of a trainer who was leaning quite heavily on the leg to stretch the hammy at an impressive angle. It made an impression because I just assumed he had no flexibility either.

  2. That was a great episode. I was also tickled by the episode of the Cleveland Brown Show guest starring Joey Votto as he describes a great way to commit credit card fraud. Come on now.

  3. Ok, thanks to the fantastic investigative reporting skills of one Michael Maffie, the mystery can be put to rest!

  4. How has Michael Maffie not been picked up by Bob Ley and Outside the Lines? This is hard-hitting journalism!

  5. This article was awesome! Be sure to remove your tongue from your cheek before eating anything. Thanks for the chuckle.

  6. I see no defense for not voting for Ken Griffey, Jr. to the HOF. And likewise for Willie Mays, who I regard as probably baseball’s all-around greatest player.

  7. People can say they see no defense all they want for not voting for Griffey. The fact remains that people are allowed to have opinions, regardless of whether or not we think they are valid. Maybe 0.7% of the electorate thinks that you must not have had an 8 year period of being a replacement level player. Maybe you don’t agree with that opinion, but folks can still have that opinion.

    He’s in the Hall and that’s what matters. Who cares if he wasn’t unanimous? No one will be, until someone is, and then lots of people will be because it won’t be special anymore.

    Kirby Puckett was a first ballot HOFer and it’s possible Votto could pass him in career WAR this season…could you see Votto going in first ballot after this season? Me neither.

    Folks need stop looking for logic in the HOF voting system. It’s not there.

    • I care that the Griffey, Jr. vote was not unanimous. Yes, folks are allowed to have an opinion, including myself, even if others don’t agree with that opinion. I try to give my opinion and not put down other commentators opinions. I like logic and will keep looking for it, even in the HOF voting system.

      • Keep fighting the good fight, then. I hope you find that logic and then share it with the rest of us who have long-ago given up! 😉

        • I’ve long ago found the logic that suits me and will do my best to not bore you with it.

  8. What I found interesting is that the guy who finished 11th in the voting, Alan Trammell, had 40 percent of the vote. So a voter might have wanted to cast a vote for Nos. 2 through 11, especially to help guys like Trammell, who was in his last year on the ballot, and Tim Raines, who has only one year to go.

    If somebody overlooks the steroid suspicions, then the list of actual candidates gets kinda long: Raines, Bagwell, Hoffman, Schilling, Bonds, Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mussina. And when they’re getting 40-plus percent, somebody is voting for them.

    I’m not defending leaving Griffey off the ballot, but just saying I can see someone trying to use the ballot to help those who weren’t the slam dunk that Griffey actually was.

  9. I have an anecdote about Griffey I’d like to share. I went to a game with my son in 2006 I think it was… and I had moved us from the bleachers to good seats in the 6th inning or so… well the game was tied in the 9th and Jr. was in the on deck circle. My son who was 6 years old goes down to the rail and says something to Jr. He comes back and I ask him what he said and he told me: “Junior does your barbeque grill have a flat tire?” LOL… that was an inside joke we had but it was never intended to be for Griffey…. anyhow Griffey goes up and hits the walk off game winning double… it was terrific. Love Griffey Jr. my favorite player! Congrats on the HOF, Jr.!

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