Nov 28, 2012, 6:52 AM EDT
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.
May 4, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT
The Astros hadn’t lost a game since April 22.
May 4, 2015, 10:43 PM EDT
Ramirez suffered the injury when he ran into the wall along the left-field line while attempting to make a catch.
May 4, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT
Anthony Rendon’s long road back from a left knee sprain has hit a roadblock due to an oblique strain.
May 4, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
Jeff Karstens hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2012 due to injury and today he took to Instagram to announce his retirement from baseball.
May 4, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT
Jackson sprained his ankle during Sunday’s game and will require an extended absence.
May 4, 2015, 7:34 PM EDT
MLB brought the hammer down really hard on Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby for an incident with the umpiring crew while the team was in Boston last week.
May 4, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT
Rays right-hander Alex Cobb has been sidelined since the middle of March due to forearm tendinitis and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in the near future.
May 4, 2015, 5:29 PM EDT
Ottavino finishes the season with a 0.00 ERA and 13/2 K/BB ratio in 10 innings.
May 4, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT
The pitchers and rookies of the month were also named.
May 4, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT
Not so long ago Rosario was viewed as a very good prospect, but …
May 4, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
Are we now to the “when,” rather than the “if” portion of the Rose reinstatement debate?
May 4, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
He’s being paid $15 million this season and is owed another $15 million in 2016.
May 4, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
And can we determine that in 21 games?
May 4, 2015, 12:25 PM EDT
The Selig rule requires that requires that every club consider minority candidates for manager positions. There really wasn’t a search for Ron Roenicke’s replacement in Milwaukee.
May 4, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
0-4 with a 6.29 ERA.
May 4, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT
Milwaukee now has the guy who had easily the best batting stance of any current manager.
May 4, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
Nearly a month ago Hardy was said to be “close” to starting a rehab stint.
May 4, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Seven errors in 21 games.
May 4, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
He says “it’s family business” and that “the old A-Rod is gone.”
May 4, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
This is getting ridiculous.
- Rangers snap Astros’ 10-game winning streak 0
- UPDATE: Hanley Ramirez exits game with a left shoulder sprain 15
- Nelson Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez named Players of the Month 13
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 94
- Report: Brewers hire Craig Counsell to replace Ron Roenicke 26
- Brewers fire manager Ron Roenicke 55
- Jordan Walden lands on disabled list with biceps injury 11
- Rays place outfielder Desmond Jennings on 15-day disabled list with bursitis in his left knee 1
- Torii Hunter doesn’t care what Floyd Mayweather has done outside of the boxing ring (140)
- The Orioles will play to no fans tomorrow; this weekend’s series will move to Tropicana Field (125)
- Buck Showalter had some wise words about what’s happening in Baltimore (123)
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights (120)
- Some anti-DH counterpoints (102)