Today's been pretty boring as far as baseball's concerned, so it's lucky that the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot was released. This year's ballot features 34 players, 17 of whom are new to this year's list. Among those 17 are two names eminently familiar to Red Sox fans: Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra. And it's perfect that they're going to be on the ballot together, even though only one has any real shot of entering the Hall.
Nomar was Boston's top pick (12th overall) in the 1994 draft, and saw limited playing time in 1996. He took over the shortstop position from chronically underrated incumbent John Valentin at the start of the 1997 season, and swiftly made his mark on the league, winning Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote with an absurd .306/.342/.534 line, racking up 30 homers, 44 doubles, and 11(!) triples among his league-leading 209 hits. That .306 average, remarkably, would be the second-lowest he put up in a full season while with Boston. The following years would see that average climb closer and closer to the mythical .400, last reached by Sox legend (and friend/mentor to Nomar) Ted Williams. It wasn't to be, though, as a wrist injury cost Nomar the bulk of the 2001 season, and took a few milliseconds off his lightning-fast swing. Despite the slightly slowed bat, Nomar still hit incredibly well for a shortstop in 2002-03, but it famously ended badly in 2004.
Pedro came to the Sox via trade after the 1997 season, already having established himself as an ace with a Cy Young campaign for Montreal (17-8, 1.90 ERA, 305 K). The move to a hitter's park in a hitter's league did affect Pedro's performance a bit, as he put up "only" a 2.89 ERA with 251 strikeouts. The next two years, though... Oh, those next two years. 23-4, 313 K, 2.07 ERA in 1999; 18-6, 284, 1.74 in 2000. Utter, ridiculous dominance, and all of it taking place at Fenway Park, when the American League was OBPing .348. In his seven years in Boston, Pedro posted an ERA+ over 200 in four of them. A game where he didn't strike out ten was a rarity, and those tales you've heard about Fenway fans groaning whenever the first hit of a game occurred are true. A little dude with a killer fastball, deceptive curve, and nigh-unhittable change, Pedro was the walking embodiment of command on the mound.
That Pedro and Nomar are on the ballot together this year is entertaining, especially given this week's free agent spree and the mild outcry it's raised. Boston has signed Hanley Ramirez, maybe/probably signed Pablo Sandoval, and is still gunning hard for Jon Lester, and people are concerned. That the Red Sox might be spending too much money on good players, I guess. It's easy to forget that during Pedro and Nomar's prime years with Boston, they were basically the entire talent base of the squad, particularly in Pedro's case. It's a bit maddening, looking back, to imagine what Boston could have done in those years with someone other than Pat Rapp as the No. 2 starter. An ownership group willing to take full advantage of all its resources is really quite something.
As mentioned above, Nomar, despite his eye-popping dominance in his nine-year Boston career, doesn't have the long-term greatness required for Hall entry. He's a Sox Hall of Famer, and he was for half a decade the best shortstop in the East, and that'll have to be enough. Pedro, on the other hand, is a surefire lock. Winner of three Cy Youngs (and probably deserved two others), shoulda-been MVP in 1999, owner of 3,154 career strikeouts and the souls of an entire generation of hitters, he'll be making a speech in upstate New York next summer. And in just six weeks, we can be mad at everyone who didn't vote to hear it.