Sele Not Elected to HOF

The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) announced that no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. Former Met Aaron Sele received only 0.2% of the vote — falling far short of the 5% necessary to remain on the ballot next year. A travesty.

Remarkably, Sele received only one stinking vote. ONE. What the hey? Was Sele not a first-round draft choice? Did he not finish his illustrious 15-year career with an abundantly winning record (148-112 / .569)– quite a feat in the era he pitched? Did he not finish with a WHIP under 1.50 (1.49)? Did he not strike out nearly 6 batters per 9 innings in his career (5.9)? Did he not almost win 20 games in 1998, a.k.a. The Year That Steroid-infused Sluggers Destroyed Pitching And Saved Baseball?

Look at it this way: Sele won only 17 less games than Sandy Koufax, more than twice as many as Bruce Sutter, and 25 more than Rich Gossage (who, like Sele, spent time both as a starter and reliever).

Sure, some of Sele’s numbers look a little bloated compared to other pitchers in The Hall. But Sele pitched during The Steroid Era, and when starting pitchers weren’t expected to finish what they began. Further, he pitched at a time when wins and losses were ignored by anyone who respected sabermetrics. His high ERA (4.61) was likely

the result of someone who “pitched to the scoreboard” — i.e., like C.C. Sabathia, he pitched just well enough to win (as opposed to pitching just well enough to lose).

Despite all this, Sele received one lousy vote. He’ll never again be seen on a Hall of Fame ballot.

Maybe the writers thought Sele’s vast accomplishments came thanks to illegal PEDs. But, Sele never failed a test, and never was the subject of rumors related to PEDs. NO ONE EVER EVEN REPORTED ON THE EXISTENCE OR NON-EXISTENCE OF BACK HAIR NOR BACK ACNE.

So tell me, please, how the heck was Aaron Sele denied entry to the Hall of Fame?

Sele wasn’t the only former Met denied by the BBWAA. Roberto Hernandez, Shawn Green, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Jeff Conine, Mike Stanton, and Julio Franco were also eliminated from the ballot forever. (Maybe Stanton should have let the BBWAA know that he changed his name to Giancarlo Stanton — that might’ve helped his chances.) Mike Piazza gets another shot, but like the others, also denied entrance.

In all seriousness, I’m content with the BBWAA’s decision — or, perhaps it should be called indecision. They’re several years too late for this universal snubbing — steroids entered baseball before the 1990s — but at least they’ve finally come to their senses. Well, that’s not exactly true, considering that obvious ‘roiders such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa received significant amounts of votes. But I expect as much from people who have only watched, and never played, a competitive sport. For those unaware, it ain’t cool to take a PED when running a race against someone else. Or throwing a baseball against someone with a stick. Or wielding a stick against someone throwing a baseball to you. It’s simply unfair, and unsportsmanlike.

For those who haven’t played competitive sports, it’s kind of like this: imagine if you were taking the SATs, GMATs, bar exam, or similar test. You studied your butt off, but some of the others taking the test were given the answer key the day before the test. How would that make you feel? Times it by ten, and try to imagine you having that feeling as you took the test every single day, for, say, 162 games over 6 months.

I don’t feel bad for the players who were denied access the Baseball Hall of Fame — they made their bed, they made their hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, and now they can lie on their cash-stuffed beds. I do, however, feel bad for the kids, and further, for the parents who have to explain to the kids the reality of greed and unsportsmanlike conduct — it has to be similar to “the talk” about Santa Claus.

Thank you, Bud Selig, Gene Orza, Donald Fehr, the silent players, coaches, owners, and writers, and the many, many others who felt it more important to generate and protect revenues over the short-term, rather than protect the sanctity of sport. And congratulations on succeeding in transforming baseball into another form of entertainment — no different from NFL football, NBA basketball, the WWF, or a Hollywood movie. As John Lennon once sang, “Instant Karma’s gonna get you, gonna knock you right on your head.” This year’s HoF non-election got you. The rest of us will all shine on.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy January 10, 2013 at 8:04 am
    Was Bernie Madoff elected to the Met HOF? After all if not for Bernie we would not have Freddie!
  2. DaveSchneck January 10, 2013 at 9:28 am
    Well said, especially with the last paragraph (I managed to read the entire post this time).
  3. Joe January 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm
    Baseball on par with the NFL? The horror!
  4. Paul Festa January 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm
    I didn’t realize Mrs. Sele had a vote.
  5. friend January 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm
    I’d sooner see the Hall of Fame boarded up and sold for scrap, than see it used to honor the product of an ugly era that can only be properly viewed as the antithesis to fame.
    • SiddFinch January 10, 2013 at 5:50 pm
      I’m a life-long baseball fan but the sanctimonious attitudes and self-righteous posturing about the “Hall of Fame” and its bastion as some sort of sacred place of the sport is ridiculous. The HOF’s creation wasn’t anything more high-minded than being a tourist attraction and help “Mountain” Landis frame his legacy.

      I don’t see anybody clamoring for asterisks to be added to all individual or team statistics during the so-called “steroids era.” There’s no one suggesting to obliterate all trace of wins, championships, losses, etc…

      The Hall of Fame is run like some sort of archaic “country club” where only those who played in the early to mid-20th century belong. All of those who came along to the sport after the Dodgers and Giants moved West must prove themselves worthy of matching the “legends” of those by-gone pre-expansion days.

      Nevermind that during the majority of that halcyon era, an entire segment of the population were not allowed to play on MLB fields. So during this “Golden Age” of baseball you had generations playing not against the best but rather the best available. This takes nothing away from the accomplishments of these MLB players but you can’t argue that these bedrocks of the Baseball Hall of Fame foundation were not playing against the best of the best, but rather the best of who were their own color.

      No blacks, asians, latin american hispanics played, yet, this era is what all others must live up to.
      In 1958 there were 16 MLB teams. There almost double the teams now. Rather than paraphrase, I’ll quote this information directly from Joe Sheehan:

      “Take 1927, just as an example. Per the Play Index, in an eight-team league, there were 52 Hall of Famers playing that year, in a 16-team league. That’s more than three per team. In 1965, a time I think we’d all agree featured a tremendous density of stars as African-American players continued to make inroads and change the game, there were 38 Hall of Famers active in a 20-team league — about two per team. So despite the addition of a class of stars heretofore separate, two generations of improvement in physical development, playing skill and the scouting and development of baseball talent — including the first wave of Latin stars — there were fewer Hall of Famers playing baseball, in an absolute sense and per team, than there had been in 1927.”

      This idea that the talent pool, post-expansion and integration has diluted is ludicrous. MLB has increased its pool of talent exponentially during this time, yet the talent-level has decreased? That flies in the face of facts. The point is, you can’t compare eras anymore than you can penalize those who played in them. Especially out of some kind of nebulous, “integrity of the game’ ideal.

      Athletes are always look for an edge on the competition. That’s why athletes used steroids and their usage was known since at the least the late ’60s:
      Yet, MLB players who took the field decades later are being penalized for something that could’ve been done by many previous Hall of Famers.

      Should Sandy Koufax’s plaque be removed from the HOF because he used cortisone shots to prolong his career. Of course, cortisone isn’t an anabolic steroid but it was a drug, and one not available to players of previous eras.

      The fact is that once you start along the path that HOF is now headed, where long-outdated methodology and criteria are still in use, and the unarguably best players are being made examples of by hypocritical fans and writers, its a slippery slope indeed. One that has now led to a logjam-like collection of players HOF worthy but not allowed in and behind them are several more years of eligible players like Maddux, Glavine and Thomas next year. I ask this, if you’re going to suspect Piazza, Biggio, et al. why not the three new HOF-eligibles next year?

      Everyone involved with MLB was complicit in what occurred in the steroid era: Owners, management, managers, coaches, networks, fans and the media. It’s easy now to punish the players. Why? Because they’re the easy target. Which is scapegoatism of the highest degree.

      I’ll close with this quote from ESPN’s Buster Olney because I think it sums up the futility of the moral police’s stand on steroids and the HOF:

      “Drug use in baseball is part of the sport’s history, just as it is in the NFL and the NBA and the NHL. Drug use is part of the history, just like segregation and the 1919 Black Sox and game-fixing. You cannot have a Hall of Fame without players from the steroid era any more than you can erase the accomplishments of Babe Ruth and Lefty Gomez and others because they didn’t play any major league games against African-American players. ”

      On the bright side, I’m sure the relatives and family friends of Jacob Ruppert, Hank O’Day, and Deacon White will have a great time on July 28th. Only baseball would elect three from the 19th century/early 20th century and ignore the modern day, in the name of “integrity of the game” some of the best players to ever step on the field. But baseball worships its idyllic past in a way that both holds it back and punishes all who came after. Steroids isn’t really the issue here. Oh, it is on a superficial level and there are some who sincerely believe this, but beneath the surface its just another way of damning the modern ballplayer to prop up those of the past.

      Clemens, Piazza, Biggio, Bonds and Bagwell are among the best to ever play the game, regardless of era or possible chemical enhancements.

      • friend January 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm
        I’m sorry you feel this way, but these so-called best players no more belong in the baseball hall of fame than Bernie Madoff would belong in a portfolio manager’s hall of fame, for being one of the best at his trade. (During his peak seasons, no one else could come close to his level of performance.) What the players did was entirely by choice and is shameful. There can be no justification for honoring them in ANY way.
  6. Jason January 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm
    comparing Aaron Sele to Sandy Koufax… okay.
  7. argonbunnies January 12, 2013 at 4:33 am
    There’s only one word to describe Aaron Sele: WINNER. He played on the 2001 Mariners team that set an ALL-TIME RECORD with 116 wins. On that team, Sele didn’t miss a single start, going out there every 5th day to pitch his 6.5 innings and hand the ball off to the best bullpen in baseball. Bulldog. Warrior. But everyone already knew that: in 2000, Sele had already done the exact same thing! 30+ starts, 15+ wins, 200+ innings, and the Mariners in the playoffs.

    Renowned for his great curveball, Sele led the American League in victories during the height of the steroid era (1998-2001). Not Pedro. Not Clemens. Aaron Sele.

    No hall of fame is a true hall of fame without him. It’s as simple as that.

    This message brought to you by Mitch Williams and the Hyperbolic Committee to Bronze Jack Morris’s Mustache.