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Lee Smith, Lou Piniella on Hall of Fame ‘Today’s Game’ ballot

The former Cubs closer and former Cubs manager could be elected to Cooperstown next summer.

Photo by: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Every year, the Hall of Fame considers players from a past era for induction to Cooperstown via a Veterans Committee vote.

This year’s vote will be among players, managers and executives from “Today’s Game,” which covers the era from 1988 to the present day.

Former Cubs closer Lee Smith and former Cubs manager Lou Piniella are on the ballot for consideration this year. Here is the entire ballot:

Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner are the candidates the Today’s Game Era Committee will consider for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2019. Baines, Belle, Carter, Clark, Hershiser and Smith are included for their contributions as players. Johnson, Manuel and Piniella are included for their contributions as managers, and Steinbrenner is included for his work as owner of the New York Yankees. All candidates except for Steinbrenner are living.

Personally, I think Smith should have been inducted long ago by the BBWAA. He was one of the first pitchers used in the modern “closer” sense, and his 478 saves still rank third all-time. He had 10 30-save seasons in his career, though he only participated in two postseasons in 18 years (1984 Cubs, 1988 Red Sox).

Piniella likely would be a lock if he’d have won the World Series with the Cubs, but his first two Cubs teams, though they won division titles, got swept out of the first round. Still, Lou has one World Series title as a manager, with the 1990 Reds. He also has 1,835 wins as a manager, which ranks 16th all-time. The only managers with more who are not in the Hall of Fame are Bruce Bochy (who will be), Gene Mauch (who had a losing record as a manager) and Dusty Baker, whose career was quite similar to Lou’s, except he never won a World Series.

One thing that should be considered with Piniella is that not only was he a good manager for a long time, he had a very good 18-year playing career in which he was named A.L. Rookie of the Year (1969), had 1.705 career hits and played on four World Series teams, three of which won the WS.

All told, I think I’d vote to induct Lou on the basis of his entire baseball career, which spanned nearly 50 years.

The committee who will be doing the voting will be named next month. It will likely be similar in composition to last year’s “Modern Era” committee, whose members were:

The Modern Era panel includes eight Hall of Fame inductees: George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, former Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Reds president Bob Castellini, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Royals chairman David Glass, veteran BBWAA members Bob Elliott and Jayson Stark and historian Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sport Bureau make up the remainder of the group.

As noted above, I would vote for both Smith and Piniella. I don’t think I’d vote for any of the other nominees, though I suspect the committee will induct George Steinbrenner.

Smith? Piniella? Both? Neither? You make the call.


The Hall of Fame should induct...

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Lou Piniella
    (11 votes)
  • 36%
    Lee Smith
    (102 votes)
  • 49%
    Both Piniella and Smith
    (137 votes)
  • 10%
    (28 votes)
278 votes total Vote Now