This kind of got lost in Monday’s shuffle of season wraps, but the Hall of Fame Monday announced the "Today’s Game" Hall of Fame ballot, which will be voted on by members of the Today’s Game Era Committee (a fancier name for "Veterans Committee") at the MLB Winter Meetings December 5. (If you were wondering, this year’s Winter Meetings will take place in National Harbor, Maryland, which is just south of Washington, DC, across the Potomac River.)
Lou Piniella, who managed the Cubs to two division titles but fell short of his goal of winning a World Series in Chicago, is on the ballot, along with Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Mark McGwire, Lou Piniella, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner. Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser and McGwire are included for contributions as players. Selig, Schuerholz and Steinbrenner are included for contributions off the field, and Johnson and Piniella are included for their work as managers. All candidates except for Steinbrenner are living.
In my view, none of the players listed really clears the bar for induction. It seems likely this committee is going to wind up inducting Selig, and you could certainly make a case for Schuerholz or Steinbrenner for their influence on the game. (Personally, I think Marvin Miller should be in, as he’s one of the most important figures in baseball over the last 50 years, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
So what about Sweet Lou? In addition to his managing career, which included seven postseason appearances and a World Series win with the Reds in 1990, Lou was actually a pretty good player. He was A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1969 and hit .291/.333/.409 over an 18-year career with the Orioles, Indians, Royals and Yankees, and he played in four World Series, getting two rings. He had over 1,700 hits and was worth 12.5 bWAR. This isn’t a Hall of Fame playing career, but I think combined with his managing career, it’s enough for induction. If he’d have won with the Cubs, I think his ticket would have been punched long ago.
As a manager, Lou won 1,713 games. Every manager who won that many is in the Hall, except for Gene Mauch, who never got to the World Series and had an overall losing record.
What say you? Should Lou be voted into the Hall of Fame?