Major League Baseball To Announce 2016 Hall Of Fame Class
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
If you want to bet on who will be voted into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame today, we have two scoops for you. First, gambling and the Hall of Fame do not exactly go together. And second, Ken Griffey Jr. is a lock to make it in his first year of eligibility. And if you need more than that, we have Jonah Keri formerly of grantland.com and now with Sports Illustrated. Welcome to the show.
JONAH KERI: Thanks for having me.
MCEVERS: All right. So Griffey is considered a sure thing. Can you remind us why?
KERI: Well, he's one of the greatest players of all time
MCEVERS: There's that.
KERI: Extremely popular, yeah. There is all that.
KERI: And the other thing is, he's not really linked to performance-enhancing drugs. And that's something that tends to wear on the resumes of some other players, such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. So in the minds of voters, Griffey is viewed as not only one of the greats but that he did it clean.
MCEVERS: But unless you have a thing for closing pitchers, many of the first-time eligible players might not be known to some of our listeners. So tell us who else has a good shot to make it this year.
KERI: Well, you know, you talk about the closing pitchers. Trevor Hoffman is one of the greatest closers of all time, and he'll be in the mix. But he's probably not going to make it. Jim Edmonds, a very good player - centerfielder for many, many years - is a worthy candidate potentially, but he'll probably fall short just because there's so many other good players out there.
Honestly, the best players - the best candidates to make the Hall of Fame are holdovers from past ballots. One who's very likely to make it is Mike Piazza, a terrific catcher, arguably the greatest offensive catcher of all time. He's a very good bet to make it along with Griffey. And two guys that I have right now falling just short are Jeff Bagwell, an excellent first baseman for the Houston Astros, very much a star player, and Tim Raines, who was a great Montreal Expo and happens to have been my favorite player of all time as well.
MCEVERS: I mean, you mentioned performance-enhancing drugs, and this has obviously loomed over baseball's Hall of Fame for many years now. Most of this - of players who are associated with performance-enhancing drugs have not even come close to getting in. Do you see that changing at all this year?
KERI: Well, it's not going to change in the sense of guys that get in. The thing about Piazza is, he never failed a drug test. And it's all been hearsay, but there have been a few people who've whispered this and that about maybe this or maybe that. But that's about the extent of it. When you get to guys like Bonds and Clemens who are pretty widely known to have used, they have gotten more support this year. It's gotten a little more favorable for their numbers. But we're still not nearly at the point where they're getting the kind of numbers they would be getting if they weren't tainted with that, for better or for worse.
KERI: I mean, for the record, if I had a ballot, I'd vote for all these guys, but I do understand the flipside of the argument.
MCEVERS: I mean, last year's class was pretty amazing. I mean, it's John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson - are not, I mean, just Hall of Famer's, but, I mean, some people regard them as among the best ever. Does this year feel like it could be a letdown after that?
KERI: You could make that case. Craig Biggio also made it last year, so it was a four-man class. And it almost certainly is going to be only two this year. But you know, you have to just look at whatever the hand that you're dealt is. And in this case, this is the way the ballot fell. And you know, Ken Griffey Jr. truly - not only a great player but an iconic player. I mean, for goodness sake, he appeared on "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air." You can't get much better than that.
MCEVERS: I mean...
KERI: So that's fantastic.
MCEVERS: What else do you need to have done in your life? Well, Jonah, thanks so much for the preview. We appreciate it.
KERI: Thank you.
MCEVERS: And that's Jonah Keri of Sports Illustrated. Major League Baseball will announce this year's Hall of Fame class later today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.