A week ago, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn Sr. were elected to the Hall of Fame, and Mark McGwire was not. Those were the headlines, but not the news. Anybody who cared already knew Ripken and Gwynn would make it, and McGwire would not. There was, in fact, only one piece of real news: a year from now, Rich Gossage will finally be headed to Cooperstown.
As you might have heard, among the 15 holdovers from last year's ballot, only two got a higher percentage this time around: Gossage and Dave Concepcion.
Concepcion moved from 12.5 percent to 13.6 percent. Not much news there. But among the legitimate candidates? Only Gossage gained even a smidgen, and he actually gained a bit more than that; he picked up 52 more votes to move from 64 to 72 percent. Given the general tendency for holdovers to gain support in years that don't feature sure-thing first-timers, Gossage apparently is a lock next year, when the top first-timer is Tim Raines, who will (unfairly) receive (at best) middling support. Why did Gossage move up this year? This is just one man's theory, but I think it's because a number of voters realized it's patently indefensible to vote for Bruce Sutter one year, but not Gossage the next.