I'm a big Harold Baines guy with him being a top 10 all-time favorite for me. That being said his election to the Hall of Fame has me conflicted. Baines, who was dropped off the writer's ballot after only five years maxed out at 6.1% of the vote in 2010. That tells you there never was much of an argument for him. He was an excellent hitter but really didn't bring much else to the table. He did lead the league in slugging one year but power really wasn't his deal (he did finish his career with 384 homers). He played 22 years, much of it at DH which is an obvious knock on him in the eyes of most voters (though I think that view is changing).
When I watched him play back in the day I just never thought "this guy is a Hall of Fame guy". Again he was an excellent hitter. You don't get 2,866 hits and a career .289/.356/.489 slash line over a career without being very good. Unfortunately he is now the center of the argument about how these guys get in and the "good ole boy network". And that bugs me that he'll always be thought of in that way - he's that guy. You won't talk about how great a player he is but how he got in. I'm still happy for him but I too will forever look at this and wince a little.
The story behind the Harold Baines autographed card above can be found here.
Lee Smith of course loses out in all this as well. He at least received up to 50% of the vote in his days being voted on by the writers but the Baines narrative has overshadowed that some. I think there is a strong argument for him and think he is deserving. How the closer has been looked upon of course affected the voting for him. I'm happy to see Lee Smith get in the Hall of Fame.