Nov 28, 2012, 6:52 AM EST
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.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:04 PM EST
Who said this year’s Winter Meetings were boring? According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, two unidentified agents got into a fight in the parking lot outside the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel this afternoon. At issue was that one of the agents apparently tried to take a client from the other. Read it and…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:35 PM EST
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Braves and reliever Jordan Walden have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.49 million contract. Walden was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Acquired from the Angels for Tommy Hanson last November, the 26-year-old right-hander posted a 3.45 ERA and 54/14 K/BB ratio over 47…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:02 PM EST
The Blue Jays announced this evening that they have granted right-hander Thad Weber his release so that he can sign with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization. The move clears a spot on Toronto’s 40-man roster in advance of tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft. Weber has enjoyed success as a starter in the minors,…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Astros are in “serious discussions” with free agent Michael Morse. If he goes to Houston, he’ll be reunited with Bo Porter, who was the third base coach during his time with the Nationals. Morse, who turns 32 in March, batted .215/.270/.381 with 13 home runs and 27 RBI…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:16 PM EST
The Orioles have been pretty quiet at this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but it sounds like that could change soon. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles have made offers to outfielder Nelson Cruz and closer Grant Balfour. No word on the specifics, but the thought is that they are willing to offer…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:07 PM EST
That seven-year offer to Shin-Soo Choo we heard about earlier? Well, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com has the scoop on where it came from: According to a source, the Rangers have a seven-year offer on the table to free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and he is giving it serious consideration. The offer is less than the…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:46 PM EST
The Mariners took two first baseman off the board earlier today by agreeing to a deal with Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison from the Marlins. Could Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis be the next domino to fall? While nothing appears to be imminent, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio reports that the Brewers, Rays,…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
An answer on “Jeopardy!” tonight totally buys in to the PED hysteria: Oh GFY, Jeopardy — #TeamBonds pic.twitter.com/kRmi2daChD — James Kannengieser (@jameskann) December 12, 2013 That’s sad, man. I’d expect that from Sajak, but I figured Trebek was way cooler on the nuances of the whole PED thing and could see through it all…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:10 PM EST
Jose Veras served as the Astros’ closer this past season before a trade to the Tigers in July and now it appears that a return to Houston could be in the cards. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported this afternoon that the Astros made an offer to Veras which was turned down. The two sides are…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:52 PM EST
We heard earlier today that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was looking for a seven-year, $140 million contract, but he’s actually aiming a bit higher. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the “general sense among teams involved” is that Choo will sign with whoever offers him an eight-year deal. The belief is that he…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:30 PM EST
After pulling off a three-way trade yesterday to land slugger Mark Trumbo, the Diamondbacks are currently looking for an impact starting pitcher via free agency and trade. And FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that they have one name at the top of their list. Sources: #DBacks' No. 1 target is Tanaka. Continue to explore trades,…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:16 PM EST
Yesterday I ranked major league managers by handsomeness. Ron Gardenhire came in at number 28, unfortunately. Couldn’t be helped. It’s just science. Well, his inner beauty is off-the-charts, because here he is, quite pleased, about his ranking: I do not know if Clint Hurdle (30) and Ron Washington (29) feel the same way and, frankly,…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:47 PM EST
You may have heard … it looks like the New York Yankees will retire Joe Torre’s number. That is absolutely the right thing to do — heck Billy Martin’s number is retired — and it brings us just a little big closer to one of the cooler number things in sports: Very soon the first…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:37 PM EST
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Joe Torre just addressed the media at the Winter Meetings to announce the latest developments on instant replay. The latest: not many developments. Torre said that the matter was discussed at length with managers and general managers here this morning and that, while the league has given general approval of…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:27 PM EST
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Mets have agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with Bartolo Colon. Colon going from out of baseball in 2010 to throwing 507 innings with a 3.32 ERA over the past three seasons is a remarkable story, especially considering he was 38 years old when the comeback began.…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:17 PM EST
No doubt feeling pretty bullet proof after fixing Francisco Liriano the Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have taken on any even bigger reclamation projection in Edinson Volquez. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Volquez has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal, which is pretty nice money for someone coming off a 5.71 ERA.…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:10 PM EST
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Joe Torre and Sandy Alderson just announced that the MLB Rules Committee has voted to outlaw collisions at home plate. The decision is now subject to approval by the players. If the players do not approve the rule change it will not go into effect in 2014, but MLB would…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
That’s all I can assume he’s doing here anyway, when he was presumably asked if the Phillies might pursue Matt Garza and Ruben Amaro talked up his incumbent pitcher Kyle Kendrick: Amaro: “Kendrick has 64 wins. You know how many wins Garza has? 67.” — Matt Gelb (@magelb) December 11, 2013 A second possibility:…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:51 PM EST
Houston picked up some pitching help, getting right-hander Anthony Bass from San Diego for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Bass had a 4.08 ERA in 187 innings for the Padres, making 18 starts and 57 relief appearances, but he’s gotten progressively worse following a very strong 2011 debut with shoulder problems…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:38 PM EST
And no, this is not a continued riff on my managerial handsomeness rankings. I mean, yes, the guy is an absolute dreamboat, but I actually sat through his press availability here at the Winter Meetings a few minutes ago and I cam away impressed for baseball reasons as well. It’s hard to put a finger…
- Report: Two agents rumbled in the parking lot at the Winter Meetings 4
- Mets sign 40-year-old Bartolo Colon for two years, $20 million 33
- MLB rules committee decides to eliminate collisions at home plate 38
- Mariners sign Corey Hart to incentive-laden deal 27
- David Price would not consider an extension with the Mariners if he’s traded there 35
- Robinson Cano agrees to $240 million deal with Mariners (260)
- Report: Mariners willing to offer Robinson Cano a 10-year, $240 million deal (143)
- Report: Yankees have agreed to a three-year deal with Carlos Beltran (125)
- Brett Gardner is drawing “significant” trade interest (113)
- Managers, GMs to meet today to discuss the abolition of home plate collisions (113)