It’s that time again

Today, in just a few minutes, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its inductees for 2006. Some speculation surrounds this year’s list of eligibles because there are no slam-dunk first ballot inductees. Where next year will be a no-brainer with the likes of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, this year’s class will not include first-timers Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Dwight Gooden, or Albert Belle. I’d make a case for Clark, and I believe Belle’s numbers are good enough, but his behavior will forever block his path into the Hall. But all of that is marginally important to me, mostly because I like baseball. I don’t get excited because this will be little more than another year for Hall of Fame voters to show their selective, short-term memory in excluding Dale Murphy.

Because I respect Jayson Stark, allow me to excerpt his support for Murph’s qualifications:

Here’s another guy whose candidacy, in theory, ought to be reexamined in the wake of steroid-mania. There was, after all, no one cleaner than Dale Murphy. So shouldn’t it carry some weight that back in the ancient ’80s, Murphy led all National Leaguers in runs and hits, tied Mike Schmidt for most RBI and was second only to Schmidt in home runs?

Oh, and did we mention those back-to-back MVP awards? Or five Gold Gloves? Or that the Murph Man was a 30-30 clubber, a leading vote-getter in the All-Star balloting and a guy so classy that any congressman would be proud to interview him? But at this point, the only Hall of Fame drama involving this man is whether he can just stay on the ballot. As recently as 2000, Murphy was getting more votes than Bert Blyleven. Last year, Blyleven outpolled him, 211-54. We get the message. But we’re still voting for him.

I get the message, too, although it makes me respect the writers less, not Murph. As Mr. Stark points out, every nonsensical argument against Murphy (and most other ’80s greats) should be reconsidered given what we now know about the new standards. Anyone who leads a league for an entire decade should at least get more than 54 votes. So, while I know it won’t happen this year, still I believe. Maybe it won’t be until the Veterans Committee considers him, but I’m convinced Dale Murphy will receive his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame someday.

Previous Murphy Hall of Fame entry: Awwwwwwww, skunked again

Update: Murphy received 56 votes this year.