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99.3% is Perfect

January 7, 2016

He was the greatest of his generation. He was one of the 50 best of all time. He was the best ever at his position. And when it was time to vote for him to enter the Hall of Fame the question was not a question of if he would be elected, but what percentage of people would vote for him. 

In my job, perfection is 99.95%. I’m responsible for the availability of our systems. Anything above 99.95% availability and we have no penalty. Less than that and we have to pay. I spend much of my day figuring out how to keep our computers running. As long as my percentage stays above 99.95%, it doesn’t matter if I have a 5 min outage or a 15 minute outage. Green is green. 

When I was working at Microsoft, support engineers had to take Microsoft certification tests. We already knew the matieral, but to “eat our own dog food” we decided we wanted to pass the exams that our end users would pass. If you passed the test with the exact score needed to pass, it was considered a perfect score. If a certification exam needed a 749 out of 900 to pass and you scored a 749, you didn’t study too much or too little. You studied the perfect amount. Thus, you got a perfect score. So, 749 was perfect.

George Washington is the only US President who ever received a unanimous electoral vote for president. He really did get 100%. Next closest was James Monroe who received 231 out of 235 for 99.57%. The two modern presidents with the highest percentages were Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 with 98.49% and Ronald Reagan with 97.58%. And yet, even Washington, who was elected unanimously not once, but twice, didn’t receive all the electoral votes. In that first election, John Adams received 34 electoral votes. The system was different back then. Electors voted for two candidates. The one who got the most votes was president the one who got the second most was Vice President. So, even when a vote was “unanimous” it might still not be total. 

Yesterday was an important day for baseball and a really important day for Seattle Mariners fans. There are 310 people who’ve been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of those, 215 are former Major League players. Not a single one of those men were Seattle Mariners players. Sure, some played for the Mariners. For example, last year Randy Johnson who pitched for many years in Seattle, was elected. But, he went into the Hall wearing an Arizon Diamondback’s cap. I can’t complain. After leaving the Mariners, Johnson won two World Series Championship, won a Cy Young, and pitched a perfect game. 

But, there is no player in Cooperstown that is wearing a Mariners cap in his bronze plaque. The closest they came was when Dave Niehaus, the radio voice of the Mariners was inducted in 2008. That changed yesterday. Well, it hasn’t changed yet, it will change in July when Ken Griffey Jr, long time Mariner’s center fielder takes his place in baseball’s Shrine of Heroes. 

The question wasn’t whether Griffey would be elected. It wasn’t even a question of whether he would be elected on the first ballot. The real question was whether Grifey would be elected unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s never happened. Not Ty Cobb, not Cy Young, not even the great Babe Ruth was elected with 100% of the vote. Think about that. Someone filled out a Hall of Fame ballot and decided that Ruth might not be the type of player who belonged in the Hall. 

There are 440 people who vote for Hall of Fame inductees. Of those, 437 checked the box next to Ken Griffey Jr’s name. Three people left him off their list. As a self professed baseball geek it’s inconceivable that anyone wouldn’t include Griffey on their ballot. 

But, he did make history. He’s the first person to be chosen at the #1 pick in the draft at the beginning of his career and then elected to the Hall of fame at the end. His 99.3% first ballot percentage was the highest in history. Were there people who could have voted for Griffey that didn’t? Sure. But, as a long suffering Mariners fan, who’s seen the team achieve great success but alway fall short of the ultimate prize of a World Series or a player’s induction into the Hall of Fame, I could finally smile at the thought that the long drought was over. And that was perfect. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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