It's a Hall of Fame day

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It was a great day to celebrate the awesomeness of Greg Maddux, after a Hall of Fame election in which he reeled in a thunderous (but disappointing) 97.2 percent of the vote.

It was a fantastic day to ponder the coolness of two longtime teammates, Maddux and Tom Glavine, floating into Cooperstown on the same afternoon.

It was a perfect day to behold the remarkable career of Frank Thomas, and to wonder whether we might even have underrated him while he was making all that history.

It was an amazing day to see the Hall of Fame voting results come rolling in and be grateful that it's still possible for these voters to actually elect three players on the same day for just the fifth time in almost eight decades of balloting. What a concept.

But before we all start humming "Kumbaya," let's not book that vacation to Nirvana quite yet -- because it sure wasn't a perfect day in the life of Hall of Fame voting, either. Not even close.

It wasn't exactly a perfect day for Jack Morris, a man we put through 15 years of voting torture, dangled his election just 42 votes away as recently as a year ago, then told him this time around: "Hey, good luck with the Veterans Committee."

It wasn't exactly a perfect day for Craig Biggio, it's safe to say. There hasn't been a member of the 3,000-Hit Club who needed more than two ballots to get elected since 1952 (Paul Waner). But after falling two votes short, Biggio now knows precisely what that sort of rejection feels like.

And above all, it wasn't exactly a perfect day for any of us who care about this process, because it sledgehammered home this painful reminder of the enduring Hall of Fame crisis of the 21st century:

We still have no idea how to resolve the fate of many of the greatest players of all time. Now do we?

Barry Bonds, owner of seven MVP trophies and 762 home runs, got only 198 votes in this election. That's eight fewer than last year. Even if he doubled his vote total next year, he would still be more than 30 votes short of heading for an induction day I'd pay to cover.

Roger Clemens, a man with seven Cy Youngs and more victories (354) than all but five pitchers in the modern era, got 202 votes. He, too, lost 12 votes since last year. He'd need 227 more to get elected. Well, good luck to him.

But they weren't the only historic figures who were told Wednesday to stay the heck out of Cooperstown until further notice.

So was the greatest offensive catcher in the history of baseball -- Mr. Mike Piazza.

So was the man who broke Roger Maris' magical home run record -- Mr. Mark McGwire.

So were a 609-home run man ( Sammy Sosa), and the only first baseman in the 400-Homer, 200-Steal Club ( Jeff Bagwell), and a 3,000-hit, 500-homer hit machine ( Rafael Palmeiro) who actually dropped off the ballot forever and ever.

Not that any of that was a huge surprise. But shouldn't we be looking at the continued exile of those men, and the magnitude of what they achieved, and asking this momentous question:

What kind of Hall of Fame is this?

Is this the Hall of Fame we want to see shining in the Cooperstown sun 100 years from now?

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