The professional baseball writers who guard the gate to the Hall of Fame are a peculiar lot. On most days, they are unrelenting about the robust standards for admission to the sacred shrine, but every once in a while their fanboy side gets the best of them and a borderline case sneaks in the Cooperstown side door. Case in point: Pedro Martinez.
Don't get me wrong. I love Pedro for all the same reasons the Hall of Fame voters love him: funny guy, quick with a quote, intense and fearless competitor and a helluva pitcher on his good days, which outnumbered his bad ones by a considerable margin. But a first ballot Hall of Famer? Time considerations preclude listing all of the pitchers with more career wins than Martinez's 219 who aren't Hall of Famers, but one name that jumps out at me is Luis Tiant, who was in many ways the Pedro his generation but barely got a sniff when he was on the HOF ballot. Among ex-Expos, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter had to wait longer than Pedro to make it to Cooperstown, Tim Raines is still waiting and Dennis Martinez probably won't ever make it despite 245 career wins, a perfect game and an uplifting personal story that serves as a powerful example for recovery from addiction.
Again, none of this is to denigrate Pedro. His Hall of Fame credentials are legitimate enough, but first ballot induction for the 76th winningest pitcher of all time while equally or more deserving candidates get passed over is a testament to inconsistent standards and smacks of a popularity contest.