Dear anonymous voter who chose to exclude Derek Jeter from their Hall of Fame ballot,
Are you proud of yourself?
Of 397 voters, you were the one who thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I singlehandedly prevented Jeter from being the second unanimous inductee in history?”
I’m not here to argue whether or not Jeter is overrated, or whether he’s more of a product of his team’s success than individual performance. I won’t even bother with statistics or records, because there’s no debate here. The indisputable fact of the matter is that Jeter, the face of baseball for well over a decade, is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. And if someone belongs in the Hall of Fame, you vote yes. It’s as simple as that.
Because let’s be real, you voted no for the sake of voting no. There was plenty of talk leading up to this year’s class that Jeter would likely join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only two unanimous members in Cooperstown. Voting no therefore offered a unique kind of power, forever leaving your mark on the vote count. If I could revoke your voting privileges, I would.
On one hand, I don’t care. Jeter is in the Hall where he belongs, and the plaques look no different if you’re a unanimous inductee or not. Voting against him accomplished nothing. But here’s the part that irks me: the ballot was anonymous.
If you’re going to be the one idiot who decides to go against the pack, at least take responsibility. At least attach your name to your ballot and stand by it, perhaps even provide an explanation as to what kind of senseless logic led you to that decision. While I would guess you probably didn’t expect to be the single hold-out and the target of so much vitriol, hiding behind anonymity only makes the vote look cowardly and baseless.
I’ve seen plenty of arguments defending the ballot, so allow me to address those.
Was Jeter never an elite defensive shortstop? Absolutely. I can’t say that Jeter, especially in the latter half of his career, was not a defensive liability at times. But if baseball was just about defense, then fellow shortstop Omar Vizquel would be a no-doubter — and he fell over 100 votes short this year. Not to mention that some of Jeter’s most iconic moments — The Flip, the dive into the seats, the jump throws that every Little Leaguer tried to replicate — were at short, not at the plate.
More evidence that Jeter getting 99.7% of the vote isn't even close to the craziest thing the writers have ever done… pic.twitter.com/f1LLbtBGq8
— Jason McCallum (@JMacSC) January 21, 2020
Were other former inductees more deserving of unanimous inductions? Without a doubt. It is ludicrous that three voters kept Ken Griffey Jr. off their ballots. The system is inherently flawed. I mean, Joe DiMaggio didn’t get into the Hall until his fourth year on the ballot. That’s absurd.
But that argument misses the point. You cannot possibly form an argument that Jeter — like Griffey, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, or plenty of other players who did not get 100% of the vote — doesn’t belong in Cooperstown. The five World Series rings, the 3,465 hits, the postseason individual dominance all speak for themselves. Just because there were idiotic voters then doesn’t excuse the idiotic voters now.
Mariano was a better baseball player than Jeter. But he won’t be the first and last unanimous inductee, nor should he be. When Mike Trout eventually decides to hang it up, there better not be a single voter who leaves him off the ballot.
So, to whoever cast that lone vote this year, since I can’t address you by name, here’s the attention you so badly wanted. I hope you take your job — one that many people would love to have — a little more seriously in the years to come. The Captain is in the Hall as he deserves, but he deserved unanimity too.