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Shutout! The Baseball Writers Association of America fails to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame

Jan 9, 2013, 2:02 PM EDT


It’s possible that this year’s Hall of Fame ballot was the most stacked in the history of the institution.  It contained the all-time home run leader. It contained a seven-time Cy Young award winner who may have been the best pitcher in baseball history since the deadball era. It contained the best hitting catcher of all time. It contained a middle infielder who got to 3,000 hits while flashing superior defense and power. It sported a 609-home run hitter a 583-home run hitter, the second best leadoff hitter in the history of the game and at least five others who, had they been inducted, would not be close to the worst players to make the Hall of Fame.

And none of them got in. Not a one. For the first time since 1996, all candidates on the ballot failed to receive the requisite 75% required for induction.  The leading vote getter was Craig Biggio, who received 68% of the vote. Jack Morris received 67.7%, Jeff Bagwell received 59.6% of the vote, Mike Piazza 57.8% and Tim Raines at 52.2%. No other player received more than 50% of the vote. Roger Clemens received 37.6% of the vote and Barry Bonds received 36.2%. Each of those last two received totals far below even the most pessimistic predictions. The full results can be seen here.

The biggest takeaway from all of this: the Baseball Writers Association of America has, for the first time, unequivocally decided that the use of performance enhancing drugs is a disqualifier for induction to the Hall of Fame. It was suspected that this was the case given Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro falling short in previous years, but there are some reasonable non-PED arguments against those fellows’ candidacies.  Not so with Bonds and Clemens. They were so good and so accomplished that, to paraphrase Bill James, you could cut them in half and have two hall of famers each. Maybe three, actually. Their exclusion is solely because a large portion of the electorate believes that one cannot take steroids and call Cooperstown home.

Which, while understandable, flies in the face of baseball history. There are almost certainly already steroids users in the Hall of Fame. Indeed, Hall of Fame voter and Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell said on camera, in Ken Burns’ “Tenth Inning” that he witnessed a current Hall of Famer taking steroids during his playing career. Maybe his fellow voters ignored him. Maybe, since that player’s induction, whoever he is, their attitudes have changed. Either way, there is certainly now a historical inconsistency baked into the Hall of Fame.  And in no event can anyone who applauds today’s voting results do so on the basis of the Hall of Fame maintaining its purity, for its purity is pure fantasy.

But just as the BBWAA has now clearly stated that drug users are not wanted in the Hall of Fame, it has apparently likewise erected a near-impossible hurdle for those not associated with PEDs to bound, regardless of their merits.

Craig Biggio had 3,000 hits. Tim Raines was one of the best players of the 1980s. Curt Schilling has three World Series rings, was dominant in the playoffs, and was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for several years when being a pitcher in baseball was about as hard as it has ever been.  While I disagree that we should keep the PED players out, I at least understand the impulse. What’s the point of keeping out guys like Biggio, Raines and Schilling? What’s the point of the Hall of Fame if no one can get in in a year as talent-rich as this one?

But that’s where we are. Not one of the players on the ballot made it in. The induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York this summer will honor three men — Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert, and Deacon White — who were elected by the Veterans Committee last month.  All three of those men have been dead since the 1930s, so I don’t presume it will be a joyful gathering of family and friends reminiscing about their storied pasts. It’ll be more like a memorial service.

Which is somewhat appropriate given that, with their votes, the current electorate is, in this writer’s view, hastening the Hall of Fame to its doom.

185 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. klownboy - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    I think the writers were off the mark here. Bonds and Clemens were two of the best players of all time at their positions. For the writers to forget the fact that they were sure-fire Hall of Famers before the allegations was rather short-sighted. Remember, neither Bonds nor Clemens failed a drug test.

  2. jimw81 - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    lol, stark still votes for dale Murphy every year since late 90’s.

    • jimw81 - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      i wonder who was on nate silver’s ballot…

  3. pooinyourface - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Yea but Aaron Sele gets a vote???? You gotta be f*ckin kidding me! This is an outrage people an OUTRAGE. These Jew snobs are ruining baseball.

    • cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Oh fuck off, you halfwit.

  4. jessethegreat - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Still don’t see how Clemens, bonds and piazza weren’t elected… But it is refreshing that the voters didn’t put other players that weren’t as accomplished or deserving over these three.

    I do think that other cheaters should be removed from the hall if they aren’t going to allow these guys in.

    On a plus side to this all, since bonds isn’t going to make it in and hank Aaron is going to be removed by the kids yelling cheater cheater, The Great Bambino can regains his rightful place in history as The Homerun Champ again.

    • bw1980 - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:46 AM

      Who is going to be calling Hank Aaron a cheater?

    • rkb555 - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      rightful place ? What does that mean ? That’s about a bias statement as their is. Babe Ruth is not the home run champ and never will be now that his record is broken.

  5. bw1980 - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:45 AM

    As Red Sox fan I’m ecstatic, that’s right, ecstatic, that Schilldo didn’t get in. He’s a hypocritical loud mouth.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM

      Yes because that is what the HOF is for: celebrating ballplayers that are not loudmouths

  6. Mike Oviatt - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Finally something to applaud. Bonds, Clements and others should never be in the Hall of Fame. It would send the wrong message to kids. I am disappointed that Jack Morris did not get the nod. He was a great pitcher. His performance in the World Series was awesome.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      It would send the wrong message to kids.

      Yes because doing drugs is bad kids, m’kay. Except all these other players who did drugs, and beat their wives, and got drunk and then got behind the wheel of a car, or were bigots/racists, or did illicit drugs like cocaine. All those are ok, but steroids, no no no, those are bad…

      • thereisaparty - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        Using logic won’t work on Jack Morris fans, Church.

  7. mungman69 - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    If they are famous then put them in.

  8. millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    i have only one question! having regard to the position taken by the Hall voters this year which many of you seem to support. Who in your opinion can we expect to be voted into the Hall after this that we can feel satisfied was not taking any kind of PED? I would really like to see this list because otherwise the Hall has of today been closed to future inductees. I challenge any of you to provide me with that list.

    • millybo - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      well? i am still waiting for the list of persons of whom we can be sure never took PEDS! Who can we say were definitely not cheaters at anytime? where are the self righteous people who hold the view that suspicion is enough to keep persons who have never tested positive for any PEDs to be excluded? show me your list of acceptable people! i am waiting!

      • grumpyoleman - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        Verlander if he stays healthy and continues putting up the numbers. Have there been rumors about Jeter?

  9. millybo - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    grumpy, were there rumors about Peititte before his involvement was exposed? We heard that he was a Christian and family man and all around good guy. The fact is everyone is now under suspicion. Any list you prepare is suspect because we just don’t know who did and who did not. Point is in the absence of a positive test or admission it is ridiculous for the voters to exclude persons based on rumors and suspicion.

  10. mackie66 - Jan 29, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    I wonder ,,,what’s hiding in the closets of all the HOF writers? Are the writers squeaky clean? Some how I seriously doubt that. Just sayen. Don’t really care if Bonds nor Clements ever enter the HOF.

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