Do the right thing Contemporary Baseball Era committee, and vote in Albert Belle
They say time heals all wounds, and I think in this instance I have to agree. In November of 1996, Albert Belle left the shores of Lake Erie, headed west to the shores of Lake Michigan and donned a White Sox jersey. Fast forward to this winter and he's up for Hall of Fame consideration, and I'm here for it! The only thing standing in his way is the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.
As a young fan I was ticked when Belle left, and I can still remember when he returned in the 1997 season, with fans hurling coins in his direction. He's also the same guy who famously chased after a group of teenagers with his vehicle following a Halloween egging of his house. Don't forget the time he also leveled Fernando Viña for standing in the base path. But despite his many imperfections, I still think he should/could get the Cooperstown nod.
Again, Belle was never the warm, huggable figure with the media; his antics angered many. But he was one of the most feared hitters of the '90s. His 50 double, 50 home run 1995 season is still the only one of its kind in MLB history, and it should have earned him AL MVP honors that year (more on that later). From 1990-1999, Belle hit 351 homers, 1,099 RBI, slashed .299/.376/.581, and carried a 150 OPS+. He also appeared in five All-Star games and won the Silver Slugger five times to boot.
There are only three others who hit more home runs during that period; Mark McGwire (405), Ken Griffey Jr. (382), and Barry Bonds (361). However, Belle's 1,099 RBIs were the most of any player that decade. Now, some of those names aren't the best to be associated with in today's day and age, but there's no arguing that each of them were generational talents. And to his credit, Belle was never associated with steroid usage. Corked bats are another story.
Besides his dislike by the media, the one thing Belle has going against him was that he only played in Major League Baseball for 12 seasons, and his first two only saw him appear in 71 games. Had Belle been able to play for another three to four years I believe he would have a much better chance at induction. But a bum hip prevented him from obtaining that longevity.
Belle is joined on the ballot with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling. The 2023 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election will be announced on January 24, so we have some time. As a Cleveland fan, I sure hope Belle gets inducted; it may be a long shot, but here's to hoping!
Oh, and by the way, Mo Vaughn only won the 1995 AL MVP award because the media liked him better. Belle was so clearly robbed, plain and simple. And having to see those Mo Vaughn trucking signs on the shipping containers in right field all those years only added salt to the wound. Yeah, I said it.