Look away, Mariano Rivera fans.
The legendary Yankees closer is still on track to become the first unanimously elected member of the Hall of Fame. But that is much to the chagrin of voter Bill Ballou, who in a nearly 1,500-word treatise for the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., argued why Rivera doesn’t belong in Cooperstown.
“… The Save — the baseball kind — is the lowest-hanging fruit on the game’s statistical tree,” wrote Ballou, who covers the Red Sox. “Closers are its naked emperors.”
Now, the headline of Ballou’s piece — “Mariano Rivera not getting this writer’s Hall of Fame vote” — is a bit misleading. After bashing at length the role of the closer and its supposed limited influence on the game, Ballou concedes that instead of voting “no” for Rivera, he’s abstaining entirely.
So, Rivera’s 100-percent mark is, as of Sunday morning, intact with 21 percent of the ballots known. The Hall of Fame class of 2019 will be announced on Jan. 22.
Here’s what Ballou is driving at:
“Rivera never won an ERA title because he never pitched enough innings – about 70 a season on average – to qualify,” he wrote. “Would you award a pennant to a team that only played 70 games no matter how good its record in those games?”
Never mind the fact that Rivera made shutting down teams his day job for virtually his entire 19-year career, using a signature cutter that even the game’s best hitters never quite figured out.
“A submitted blank ballot is ‘no’ vote for every candidate, so I’m doing a Switzerland and not sending one at all,” Ballou concludes.
Maybe he should make that a Christmastime tradition. He can ask the guy who didn’t vote Jacob deGrom for the NL Cy Young to join him.