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 18, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
With Johnny Cueto slated to return from a lat strain on Monday, the Reds have optioned left-hander Tony Cingrani back to Triple-A Louisville. Neftali Solo has been called up to take his place on the active roster. Cingrani was pretty impressive during his first stint in the majors, posting a 3.27 ERA and 41/9 K/BB…
May 18, 2013, 2:02 PM EDT
Nolan Reimold hasn’t played in a game in a week and now the Orioles have placed him on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. Reimold has been nursing a hamstring issue since the first week of the season, but he has remained on the active roster until now. However, it’s likely a big…
May 18, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
The Yankees designated infielder Alberto Gonzalez for assignment this afternoon in order to make room for the newly-acquired Reid Brignac. Some thought that Ben Francisco‘s roster spot could be in jeopardy, as he’s hitting just .114 (5-for-44) in 21 games, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman joked to reporters today that he’s keeping him around…
May 18, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
Matt Garza has been cleared to return from the disabled list and will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, according to CSNChicago.com. Garza didn’t throw a pitch after July 21 last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow and was forced to begin this season on the disabled list due to…
May 18, 2013, 11:50 AM EDT
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees have acquired infielder Reid Brignac from the Rockies. Colorado will receive cash considerations in return. Brignac was designated for assignment by the Rockies on Thursday after he batted .250/.294/.375 with one home run, six RBI and a .669 OPS in 53 plate appearances this season. Originally drafted…
May 18, 2013, 11:27 AM EDT
Curtis Granderson was moved to left field when he returned from the disabled list this week, but he’ll make his first career start in right field this afternoon against the Blue Jays. According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Granderson was “fine” with the latest move when they discussed…
May 18, 2013, 10:59 AM EDT
It turns out that Diamondbacks reliever Heath Bell made his return to Marlins Park on Thursday night, not for last night’s series opener. According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Bell said that he took in Thursday’s Reds-Marlins game from the stands. The D-backs arrived in Miami in the wee hours Thursday morning and Bell took…
May 18, 2013, 10:35 AM EDT
The Marlins signed veteran reliever Jon Rauch to a one-year, $1 million contract over the winter, but he has been designated for assignment after making just 15 appearances with the club. Duane Below has been called up from Triple-A New Orleans to replace him on the active roster. Rauch has really struggled in the early…
May 18, 2013, 10:09 AM EDT
UPDATE: Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post this afternoon that there’s no deadline for a decision to be made on Davis’ status. 10:10 AM: Ike Davis finally broke his 0-for-24 hitless streak yesterday with a single to center field in the sixth inning, but he’s still at risk…
May 18, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT
The Astros aren’t just losing a ton of ballgames, they are losing ugly. After Edgar Gonzalez pitched himself into a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth last night against the Pirates, he induced a fairly innocent looking pop-up to shallow right field which would have sent the game into extra…
May 18, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT
After tossing a one-hit shutout against the Angels in his last start on Sunday, Chris Sale got the best of them again last night. Sale struck out a season-high 12 over 7 2/3 scoreless innings as the White Sox topped the Angels 3-0 at Angel Stadium. The 24-year-old southpaw gave up just three hits and…
May 17, 2013, 11:55 PM EDT
MLB.com Twins beat writer Rhett Bollinger spoke to Twins assistant GM Rob Antony, asking how Rich Harden’s rehab was going. Antony replied, ”Slow. Not very well to be honest with you.” The Twins signed Harden to a one-year Minor League contract in December, agreeing to pay him $1 million if he made it to the Majors.…
May 17, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
Jose Reyes is making progress on an ankle injury suffered on April 12 against the Royals. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports the shortstop had a walking boot removed and talk part in stretching prior to tonight’s game against the Yankees. Another surprising piece of news: Reyes was expected to be out until the All-Star break, but…
May 17, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
You’re probably not going to see a prettier grand slam this season, folks. With his team down 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning against Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez, Braves left fielder Justin Upton crushed a 1-1 fastball deep to left field to give the Braves a 6-4 lead. ESPN Stats & Info reported…
May 17, 2013, 10:25 PM EDT
Phillies third base coach Ryne Sandberg is expected to be the next Phillies manager if and when the Charlie Manuel era ends. Sandberg started his playing career with the Phillies but went to the Cubs in the infamous Ivan de Jesus trade in 1982, arguably one of the worst trades in baseball history. With the…
May 17, 2013, 9:55 PM EDT
Recently, Padres third baseman Chase Headley said he won’t negotiate a contract extension with the team during the season. Headley is eligible for his fourth year of arbitration going into 2014, after which he would become eligible for free agency. Headley has, for a while, been one of the most bandied-about names in trade rumors,…
May 17, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
At the end of March, the Diamondbacks unceremoniously signed first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to a five-year, $32 million contract extension. Just seven weeks later, that contract is looking like a steal. The 25-year-old entered tonight’s game with ten home runs and a 1.013 OPS, marks that not only put him near the top among first…
May 17, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT
Derek Albin at Pinstriped Bible looked at the numbers and concluded that Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki isn’t likely to be much more productive than he has been thus far in 2013. The 39-year-old has a .239/.280/.328 line in 145 trips to the plate, putting him on pace for the worst season of his career…
May 17, 2013, 8:15 PM EDT
The Pirates aren’t known as one of the more Sabermetrically-savvy teams like the Rays and Athletics, but they do have Dan Fox (formerly of Baseball Prospectus) as the director of baseball systems development. Thanks to Fox and others, the Pirates are able to use stat reports to prepare lineups and pitching match-ups with greater specificity. SB…
May 17, 2013, 7:45 PM EDT
Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says that although the Rays haven’t announced anything officially, prospect Jake Odorizzi is likely to replace the injured David Price in the starting rotation. The Rays placed their defending AL Cy Young award winner on the disabled list yesterday with a strained left triceps muscle, an injury they…
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