Both photos are credited to Getty Images.
The Cardinals Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to commemorate former players that have left their mark on one of baseball’s prized franchises. Every year, a group of experts selects six to ten players that they feel have significantly impacted the organization. Then, the selected players are placed on a ballot for fans to nominate the two that they feel are the most obligated of being inducted.
There are eight candidates on this year’s ballot, including Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, Joe Torre, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Keith Hernandez, Scott Rolen, and Edgar Renteria.
After some internal arguing, doubt, and numerous shifts in opinion, I have decided that my votes will be cast in favor of Carpenter and McGwire, though each player has a solid case.
The impact that Carpenter left on the Cardinals is still seen today. One of the team’s premium starting pitchers since the Cardinals signed him as a free agent in 2003 through 2012, when injury got the best of him, a great deal of Carpenter’s wisdom and genuine ability to pitch effectively is visible whenever current starter Adam Wainwright perches on the mound.
“The mental approach [I learned] from Chris Carpenter,” responded Wainwright when asked of what helped him reach the majors and helps him stay during an interview with msblnational.com. “I just followed Chris Carpenter around like a shadow. He has mental toughness that I wanted to mimic. That was the one thing I thought I was missing, so he’s been able to rub off on me a lot and teach me those kinds of things. You can always turn to that.”
In his nine-year tenure in the Gateway City, Carpenter helped the Cardinals secure two World Series titles, took home the 2005 National League Cy Young Award, was selected to three All-Star teams, and boasted the NL’s lowest earned run average (2.24) in 2009.
And who could forget winner-take-all Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series? It featured a dream pitching matchup between Philadelphia Phillies frontline starter Roy Halladay and Carpenter. Halladay surrendered one run in the top of the first inning. After that, he shut the Cardinals down and pitched a wonderful ballgame: eight innings of one-run ball. Nevertheless, Carpenter was one small, but pivotal, step better; he would only need that one run to earn the win. Nine scoreless innings and a mere three Philadelphia baserunners later, the Cardinals mobbed Carpenter on the mound to congratulate their beloved hurler for pitching one of the best games in postseason history and advancing the team further in the postseason.
There is no discounting the monumental season that McGwire displayed in 1998. He and Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa smashed and swatted baseballs out of ballparks like nobody’s business; some believe the home run chase saved the sport.
McGwire’s usage of performance-enhancing drugs has caused the magnitude of his epic ’98 season to diminish. However, McGwire has fessed up. McGwire admitted to his many spectators and the people who awed over him during his historic home run spree that he had messed up. The fact that he faced the music means something to me, especially since many of today’s steroid users act cowardly and would never publicly accept their wrongdoing. McGwire coming forward makes him more respectable as a person.
“I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player,” said former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig in 2010, when McGwire claimed his actions. “This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s re-entry into the game much smoother and easier.”
And it did. McGwire served as St. Louis’s hitting coach from 2010 to 2012 before taking the same position with the Los Angeles Dodgers and later joining the San Diego Padres as a bench coach, where he is today.
Balloting for The Cardinals Hall of Fame closes on Wednesday, April 20, sat 11:59 P.M. (CST). The two candidates with the highest amount of votes at the conclusion of balloting will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 27 at Cardinals Nation at Ballpark Village, where they will be permanently enshrined for generations of players to come.