Greg Maddux is my favorite pitcher in baseball history. To me, he was the Michael Jordan of his sport: not perfect, but better and smarter than most of his competitors on most days. Naturally, my friends thought I would be outraged when word got out that writer Ken Gurnick left Maddux off of his Hall of Fame ballot, assuring the pitcher would not be the first-ever unanimous HOF selection. Maddux was eventually left off of 16 ballots actually. Which is fine with me.
First, if no player has ever been selected unanimously, then what is the big deal? Should it really even matter? If such an honor has not been bestowed upon the greatest to ever play the game, then who are we to say it should happen during our watch? It's a part of history, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe no one ever should be selected unanimously? Maybe it implies a notion of perfection in a game where no one is ever perfect. Maddux lost 227 games, remember? And while I'd argue he was the best of his era, many would give that title to Roger Clemens. So 97% of the votes seems about right to me.
As for Gurnick, he has stated that he simply will not vote for anyone who played during the steroid era. My opinion is that he has every right to do this. If the people in charge are fine with this AND if he consistently sticks to his word (Jeter? Rivera?), then at least he is being upfront about it. His ballot listed only Jack Morris, and no one should really fault him for that. The other alternative for someone morally opposed to the use of steroids is to attempt to decide who used and who didn't without any proof. Right?
The system is flawed. Look no further than the recent Deadspin story for that evidence. Guys, people voted for Jacque Jones and JT Snow! Who really cares at this point? As long as they get it right, that's all that matters. And, for the record, in the cases of Morris, Craig Biggio, Tim Raines, and others, they haven't yet gotten it right. So the Maddux situation really isn't very shocking or disappointing. He's in, and that's enough.
Honestly, there are many other current issues I'd like to see get worked out before I really start to worry about a club for retired players. Maybe I'll explore some of those after Blogathon.