Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were voted into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Jeter fell one vote short of being a unanimous selection while Walker just crossed the voting threshold on his final year on the ballot. The contrasting circumstances surrounding their votes should serve as an important reminder that both guys will have the same-sized plaques in Cooperstown.
Only one player has ever been a unanimous selection-- Jeter's Core Four teammate, Mariano Rivera. So Jeter shouldn't feel bad. Rivera is the ultimate exception. Jeter is the rule. Rivera's unanimous selection was probably a mistake after a few stuffy old baseball writers mixed up their years to not vote for anyone in their first appearance on the ballot. The only people who look bad in these situations are the baseball writers.
Jeter and Walker are both obvious Hall of Famers. Their resumes are stuffed with Golden Gloves, Silver Sluggers and MVP awards. Walker won three batting titles and Jeter won five World Series titles. Some coward didn't vote for Jeter. A bunch of cowards didn't vote for Walker over the last decade. In 2014, Walker got just 10.2% of the vote. What has he done over the last six years to make his case so emphatically that he changed the minds of hundreds of people? The only acceptable answer is that these writers' grandchildren finally set up their internet and showed them his Baseball Reference page.
I'm sure if the BBWAA had their way, there would be a vote on every player every year. If Walker can go from 10.2% in 2014 to 76.6% in six years, I'm sure there are some guys who were barely voted in wouldn't make it today. Anyone who got in and didn't maintain their vote would have their plaque put into the Hall of Very Good, which would be located in one of the barns at the Farmers Museum across town. If the player did enough to get back in the good graces of the almighty writers over the next year, he could find his way back to the Hall of Fame. It would be utterly sanctimonious and perfectly baseball.
No matter how Walker or Jeter got in, they should both be happy. The idea that nearly 400 people could agree on anything in 2020 is incredible. If there wasn't at least one person willing to take the other side of Jeter's case this year then it wouldn't feel right. Just look at LeBron James. One of the greatest players ever and you can turn on your television any day of the week and find someone willing to say LeBron isn't fit to polish Kawhi Leonard's statue.
Jeter and Walker are going into the Hall of Fame together forever. 10, 20, 50 years from now percentages and years on the ballot will be forgotten because they ultimately do not matter. And the guys who acted like it did will all be gone. Guess which group will be remembered then.