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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. goskinsvt - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    How many articles did you pre-write craig?

  2. hojo20 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    As I’ve said before, Biggio is just a stats compiler, who was lucky to stay healthy for a long time. He’s not an all time great and certainly not worth being elected on the first ballot.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      As has been certainly pointed out to you before, you are extremely foolish in making this claim.

      This mere “compiler” was arguably the best 2nd baseman since Joe Morgan. He had a six year run where he posted a 135 OPS+ along with 40 steals a year. He finished in the Top 10 in WAR 6 times, and is one of the 10 greatest 2nd baseman to ever play the game.

    • strosfan85 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Last time i checked 3,00 hits was an absolute guarantee of being a first ballot HOFer.. and since when is longevity and staying healthy a crime? He might have had a 20 year career but its not like he was washed up and occupying a roster space later in his career, he was still a productive player..

      • contraryguy - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        I’m inclined to agree; although Biggio had 3k hits, he only went over 200 hits in a season once. Since we’re talking middle infielders… last year’s inductee, Barry Larkin, didn’t do it even once, while Derek Jeter has done it 8 times and is still playing. Takes a broader picture than just the one stat to get those last few votes.

      • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        I realize you are a ‘Stros fan, but the case you are making for Biggio is not the strongest. It could be used to argue for Palmeiro as well, who is not a “first ballot HOFer” despite his 3,000 hits.

      • alang3131982 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        Palmeiro played first base and DH…somewhat poorly. Biggio played up the middle defense — if we threw out positions/defense, the only people in the hall would be corners…

      • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        I’m not arguing Palmeiro versus Biggio, because that would be stupid. I was just pointing out that ‘Stros fans case for Biggio lacked the punch of Kirk Van Houten’s.

      • stex52 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        How about All-Star at two positions? Everybody seems to forget he was also a catcher, for which his offensive stats would be all-world.

        But there is no IQ test for posting on this site.

      • strosfan85 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:11 PM

        Palmeiro also tested positive for PEDs, thats why hes not in the HOF.. I know no one is above suspicion but a guy whos 5’11” and weighs 190 soaking wet kinda passes the eyeball test to me.. Yes i am a die-hard astros fan and im not going to apologize for that. I didnt realize we had to make a case for Craig Biggio his numbers should be enough of a case already.. he got shutout this year for two asinine reasons, he never won a world series and he played in a place not called New York, Boston, LA, or San Francisco..

      • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        1. Why would I want you to apologize for being an Astros fan?
        2. You already were making a case for Biggio
        3. I was merely trying to point out that 3,000 hits is a stupid arbitrary milestone.
        4. Ignoring steroids, Palmeiro is a fringe-HOF candidate. But he has 3,000H!
        5. Would Biggio be less hall-worthy had he retired in 2005 with 2,795H? No.

    • alang3131982 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Last time I checked staying healthy was a skill. How many players would be in teh Hall of Fame if they could only stay healthy.

      Biggio played less games than: Pete Rose, Yaz, Aaron, Henderson, Cobb, Musial, Murray, Ripken, May, Winfield, Young, Kaline and barely more games than Eddie Collins, Wagner, Speaker.

      He wasnt the only “compilier” if we’re saying that of the 3,000 hit club…

    • stex52 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      So stats are bad?

      My nomination for most worthless contribution of the day.

    • albertmn - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      The whole idea that some guys deserve to get in but not on the “first ballot” is a bunch of BS. If they belong, they belong. It isn’t like when they are introduced later that they are introduced as “sixth ballot Hall of Famer ______”, they are just a Hall of Famer. So, why the pompous need to push someone back just because some favorite of yours in the past had to wait for 2 votes, or 7 votes, or whatever. It’s just vindictive.

    • alang3131982 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      5 players who had 3,000 hits had less hits per game than Biggio: Murray, Palmeiro, Ripken, Kaline, Winfield, Yaz and Henderson. How many of them played up the middle defense? Sure some brought other things to the table (power, batting average, speed), but so did Biggio. Point is, he’s not a compilier unless all HoFers who stayed healthy are

  3. kirkvanhouten - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM


    Fucking ridiculous.

  4. Chris Ross - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    I’m definitely not disappointed that no players were elected. Whether there were deserving candidates or not, I don’t think we should have this need to always have to vote at least 1 person in every year. Don’t vote based on the fact that you think someone should get in during a year. Vote for someone based on the fact that they deserve it and don’t be concerned that no one will be elected to the Hall that year.

    • teamobijuan - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Downvoted for link to blog

      Also, did not click link

  5. pinkfloydprism - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    What a joke! This needs to be out of the writer’s hands.

    • teamobijuan - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      And into whose?

      • 18thstreet - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        Well, a different writer, to start.

        (A little apostrophe humor.)

      • pinkfloydprism - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:43 PM


  6. Mark Armour - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Not the result I wanted, but at least maybe everyone can write and talk about baseball now, rather than this “who-is-better-than-whom” nonsense.

  7. b453841l - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:08 PM


  8. Kleinz 57 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    BREAKING: Barry Bonds is not a Hall of Famer. Also, the world is flat again now.

  9. brent05cards - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    kudos to not electing the Roiders but very disappointed Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza didn’t get in.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Which ones are the ‘roiders?

  10. strosfan85 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    This is absolute fuc&ing BS! Exactly the reason the voting process needs to be altered! I guess there really are no credentials anymore that make anyone a sure HOFer.. This vote is very telling, if no one from this ballot got in then maybe they just shouldnt let anymore players into HOF. Possibly next year will be different but it’s still complete insanity that not a single person was deemed “worthy” of induction! THe voters owe every single player on this years ballot an apology, especially Craig Biggio.

  11. geoknows - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    What’s really sad is that I’m way happier that Morris wasn’t elected than I am bummed that nobody was.

  12. danaking - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    The votes against Clemens and Bonds could have something to do with them being unrepentant assholes along with being the most flagrant offenders. Leaving out someone like Biggio is incomprehensible. (I would have voted for Raines and Bagwell, too, but 3.000 hits has always been, and should be, an automatic pass.)

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      Palmeiro has 3,000 hits. Even disregarding steroids, he is hardly an automatic pass.

      • danaking - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        I forgot about Palmeiro. Let’s say, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, 3,000 hits should be a pass.

      • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        My point here is that there are more compelling arguments for most players that reach this arbitrary milestone. Biggio should not be defined by this. If he retired after 2005 and finished with 2,795 hits, would you think that much less of him?

  13. skids003 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    What a travesty? Proof these idiots shouldn’t be voting for dogcatcher, much less HOF.

  14. nategearhart - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    If you ask me, in a year where no player is elected to the Hall of Fame, no writer should win the Spink Award.

  15. thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    At least Aaron Sele got a vote!

  16. ireportyoudecide - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Now is the time, bring back Crystal Pepsi! It’s Clear.

  17. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I really have a problem with how mich these guys disrespect Fred McGriff yet apparently really want Jack Morris in the Hall. The Hall is turning into a joke and unfortunately MLB can inly blame itself for looking the other way on it for so long.

  18. cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    The HoF is losing millions annually. This here is a very good reason why.

    • sportsdrenched - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      That’s pretty much what I think about it.

    • Sign Ahead - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      That’s kinda where I’m headed too.

      It’s a nice reward for the players who get in, but for a fan who discovered baseball in the 80s and 90s, there’s not a lot to hold my attention. It looks like most of the stars I grew up watching won’t be in the Hall. Maybe in 20 years, when they start inducting “post-PED” players I’ll rediscover some interest. But for mow? Meh.

    • grumpyoleman - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      How about it’s a small town in the middle of nowhere.

      • cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        If it wants to continue to be as irrelevant as the town its in, then its going about it just the right way.

      • sportsdrenched - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        I don’t buy that. America is littered with chic, small towns in the middle of no-where….the majority of them way more remote than Cooperstown and they get plenty of tourists….there just has to be something to draw them there.

      • strosfan85 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Its no more remote than Canton, OH or Springfield, MA..

  19. wpjohnson - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:13 PM


  20. scovidm - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    No Hall of Fame for cheaters. I don’t care how good they were.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      The HOF has already inducted cheaters.

      • jarathen - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        Lay off. He’s an Incredibly Small Hall kind of guy. Like Kenesaw Mountain Landis is the biggest name in the Hall.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      And that’s why Leo Durocher and Gaylord Perry are not in the Hall of Fame.

      If you want to say that steroid users shouldn’t be in the Hall — because it’s a worse form of cheating — fine. But the Hall of Fame has always welcomed cheaters.

  21. sdelmonte - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Great. Now we have to listen to everyone be angry for the next year.

    But this really stinks.

  22. beefytrout - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    It’s absolute horseshit that Mike Piazza did not get elected in the Hall of Fame today.

  23. logankivo - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Can’t wait to see the loss the HoF suffers this year in terms of revenue. I’d expect big changes next year. I know now I have no reason to visit this summer, I’ll take my daughter to the zoo or something instead

  24. thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    So many things to be upset about. Lee Smith finishing with the sixth-most votes. Kenny Lofton not reaching the minimum threshold. Voters not realizing that David Wells is Jack Morris.

    • ptfu - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Thank you for mentioning Kenny Lofton falling off the ballot. He was better than most people think. I don’t know if he should be in the Hall, but he deserved to be in the discussion.

      • strosfan85 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        i agree very underrated player shouldve at least gotten enough votes to stay on the ballot

      • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        Unfortunately he excelled at parts of the game the Hall often overlooks. But he is joining a nice one-and-done club that includes the likes of Kevin Brown, Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, and Reggie Smith.

  25. cktai - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    On a positive note, this clearly shows that the voting system is significantly flawed and needs to be changed as soon as possible.

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