Ken griffey jr ez9fua

The votes that determine the 2016 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame get tallied up in January, an it’s a lock that Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr.—now in his first year of eligibility—is headed to Cooperstown. But because of an archaic unwritten rule, he won’t be voted in unanimously. Repeat: Some “baseball experts” will cast a ballot this year that says Ken Griffey Jr. is not worthy of the Hall of Fame. And they’ll do this because on the original 1936 ballot players like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb weren’t unanimously voted in, so a certain block of voters believe no player should ever get 100 percent of the vote.

Out of all recent big leaguers, Griffey deserves unanimous approval. No player in the modern era combined power hitting with defensive wizardry like Junior. The Kid dominated baseball for a decade, and his offensive peak from 1996 to 1999 was almost mythical, averaging 52 homers and 142 RBI per year and unreal wins over replacement, or WAR—analytics nerds’ go-to stat for combining offensive and defensive value—of 9.7 and 9.1 in ’96 and ’97. (Only six players have posted a higher WAR since then.) One could even use the voters’ own logic against them: If they are not going to vote for great players because of steroids (Barry Bonds) or even completely baseless suspicion of steroids (Jeff ­Bagwell), shouldn’t they send a real message by lauding the one slugger of the era who everyone thinks did it clean?

But you know what’s even more crucial? Ken Griffey Jr. was cool. He was the backwards hat-wearing, video-game-endorsing, poster-adorning, home-run-hitting superstar who radiated charisma. He single-handedly made the former laughingstock Mariners nationally relevant. Children connected with him because he seemed like a fun-loving backyard baseball kid who happened to be playing for the major leagues. And cynical ​America’s pastime​ purists couldn’t help but have their hearts melted by the sheer, effortless beauty of his swing (the prettiest of all time). Even stoic badass Ichiro Suzuki geeked out like a 10-year-old fanboy when Griffey rejoined the Mariners at the end of his career. And we totally understood.

Harden not your hearts, voters. Vote for Ken Griffey Jr.—all of you. Because baseball is supposed to be fun.

(Now vote Edgar in too, you morons.)

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