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The Hall of Fame ballot will be announced today

Nov 28, 2012, 6:52 AM EDT

Brace Yourself

Many of you hate Hall of Fame arguments. Many of you hate steroids arguments. If that’s the case, you may want to skip about half of all baseball content written between now and the end of the year. Why? Because the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot will be announced at noon today, and it represents a watershed moment for both the Hall of Fame and the subject of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. The arguments, they shall be epic. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The main event, obviously, is the debut of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa on the Hall of Fame ballot.  All three were considered locks for the Hall at one point, their cases so obvious that detailing them here seems superfluous. But their associations with PEDS — or, less charitably, their perceived public relations deficiencies in handling their association with PEDS — makes all three extreme long shots at induction. Indeed, I would bet there is a non-trivial chance that Sosa gets such little support he could fall off the ballot in the next couple of years.

But it’s not just those three. Also making their debut today will be Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling. Biggio had 3000 hits and no one has yet to publicly accuse him of taking PEDS, so you’d have to think he stands a good shot. Schilling’s baseball case was less of a lock — he had big moments and great years, but not as many as other inductees — but he has many supporters. Piazza would seem to be a no-brainer inductee, but a whisper campaign about his alleged PED use has existed for some time despite there being no public evidence whatsoever that he used them. It will likely give many voters pause.

Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are holdover candidates. Morris has been on the ballot since 2000 and is running out of time (players can appear for 15 years without being inducted before falling off). He received 67% of the vote last year, so he’s a good bet to receive the 75% necessary for induction this year, despite his on-the-merits baseball case being among the weaker ones in recent memory. In contrast, Tim Raines — who does not have PED associations and whose bonafides are ridiculously strong — has received short shrift and will likely fall short again. Bagwell was one of the best first basemen in baseball history, but unsubstantiated steroid allegations have kept his vote totals low. They will likely remain too low for induction.

If you’ve gotten the sense that the Hall of Fame voting process is in Bizarro Land, you are correct. The most worthy candidates like Barry Bonds are and likely will continue to be shut out. The more marginal candidates like Jack Morris are being ushered into Cooperstown. Cold hard facts of a stat sheet are being wholly ignored while gossip, rumor, innuendo and in some cases flat out slander are being elevated to imperative-creating gospel. In short, the Baseball Writers Association of America has damn near lost its mind when it comes to Hall of Fame voting.

The reason: an epidemic of puritanism in the Hall of Fame electorate, which seems to believe that examples need to be made of the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens of the world despite the fact that (a) huge numbers of ballplayers in their era used PEDS, not just them; (b) despite rampant use, no one else came close to their production and greatness on the field; (c) Major League Baseball and the very media which forms the electorate turned a blind eye to their PED use at best and actively encouraged it at worst for about 20 years; and (d) every past era has seen players cheat and dope their way to greatness and ultimately into the Hall of Fame, and no one seemed to care.

Those who defend their exclusion of Bonds et al. will do so based on the clause on their Hall of Fame ballot which commands voters to consider, in addition to a candidate’s baseball talents, his “integrity, sportsmanship, character.” It should be noted that these words, commonly referred to as the “character clause,” did nothing to keep racists, segregationists, criminals, cheaters and drug users out of the Hall of Fame before Mark McGwire first appeared on the ballot a few years ago. Indeed, the Hall is home to some of the worst human beings to ever don a baseball uniform or wield an executive’s pen, most of them happily voted in by a baseball press who couldn’t care less about candidates’ moral shortcomings as long they had the numbers or the fame. But it has been dusted off for the PED crowd. Hall of Fame voters feel an odd sense of betrayal about these guys. A betrayal that is both lacking in coherence and intellectual consistency, even when they try their hardest to explain its nature.

But here we are.  The ballots will be released today. The arguments will commence. The voting will ensue. And on January 9, 2013 the results will be announced. For the next month and change, we here at HardballTalk will be making arguments for and against the candidates, will be engaging that lack of coherence in the Hall of Fame electorate and, hopefully, highlighting instances of the fever breaking and reason being restored in the case of some voters. If that is not your cup of tea, you should be able to easily avoid such content based on the headline of individual posts. Again, don’t say you weren’t warned.

In the end I suspect that Jack Morris and Craig Biggio will be the two inductees, with Curt Schilling falling a bit short and Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Piazza, Bagwell and Raines falling considerably and damn near criminally short.  I’m hoping to be surprised, but I’m not at all optimistic.

Gentlemen, start your outrage.

121 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. omniusprime - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    We don’t need any stinking steroid cheaters in the Hall of Fame, otherwise it should be renamed the Hall of Shame. Bonds, Clemons and Sosa are steroid cheating scum, they don’t deserve to be so honored. Piazza, on the other hand, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I gave up on pro baseball after seeing all of these steroid cheaters wreck the integrity of pro baseball, if the steroid cheaters get elected to the Hall of Fame then I’ll just give up on pro baseball altogether.

    Just Say No to Steroid Cheaters!!!

    • blackandbluedivision - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      “suspected” Steroid Cheaters

    • frankiesant - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      How many times is this Craig character going to make his absurd case for Baroid Bonds and Roger Clermens? Give it up, my friend. You’re NOT going to see either of them in the HOF for a long time — IF EVER.

      They’re cheaters, they’re liars and they lied under oath. Move on to a new hobby.

  2. midwestgamr - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I like the Bizarro Land theme! In keeping with the opposite universe concept there should be a “Hall of Infamy” for “racists, segregationists, criminals, cheaters and drug users”. When the votes are tallied each inductee will stand at the pearly gate and Saint Selig will point them towards baseball heaven or hell!!

    • skids003 - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM

      Me too, Bizarro!!

  3. historiophiliac - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    This whole thing just makes me hate Bud Selig all over again.

  4. wmjbruce - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    The argument that others doped, so it is what it is, is simply facile. Just ask Lance Armstrong. He was one of many. But the International Cycling Unit, albeit much too late, seems to grasp what Major League Baseball does not. Cheating diminishes not only the contributions and integrity of those that came before but the sport itself. If Bonds, Clemens and Sosa get into the Hall the message is quite clear: Cheaters win.

    • frankiesant - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      Agreed. Armstrong has been stripped of his titles and publicly vilified and disgraced.

      If there’s anything resembling justice, the same thing will happen in the case of professional cheaters Bonds and Clemens.

      No HOF induction for people who willingly and cavalierly disgrace their profession — EVER.

  5. dexterismyhero - Nov 29, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Sean Bean should get in………………just sayin

  6. onehokiefan - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    You mean Mr Bean ?????

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