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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. braddavery - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:37 PM


    Give me a break. The HOF will be fine. Anyone who doesn’t like it isn’t being forced to enjoy it or even care about it. Leave it to those who do.

    • cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      The HoF Is losing millions annually. Still think it will be fine?

      • johnchesterny - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        “The HoF Is losing millions annually.”

        Not sure what your point is here. Are you saying that the BBWAA should be influenced by revenue when they vote?

      • cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        My reaction is to the phrase

        The HOF will be fine

        It will NOT be fine. The HoF president is on record supporting the BBWAA’s vote. THAT’S the point. The museum is losing money and the guy in charge is saying to the people who get to elect players “this is fine”. It means something like “We’ll induct a bunch of people no one will pay to come and see.”

      • johnchesterny - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        I think the HoF losing money is more about the economy than about what players are (and aren’t) being voted in. I think if the HoF were located in a major metropolitan area rather than in the ‘middle of nowhere’ it wouldn’t be losing money. A 4-hour drive from the nearest big city isn’t as affordable nowadays with the price of gas the way it is. So this ‘losing money’ point really shouldn’t even be part of this who’s in/who’s not argument.

      • cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        Certainly has some weight to what you say. Nevertheless, electing a bunch of dead guys isn’t packing them in, either.

      • johnchesterny - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        …and to COMPLETELY digress…I would nominate Hoboken, NJ if the HoF ever decided to relocate. There is not only baseball history there, it is just a short ride on a PATH train from the biggest city in America!

      • cur68 - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        I’d like to nominate Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After what MLB allowed to happen to The Expos, its the least that baseball could do to have their HoF museum there.

      • jm91rs - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        I would have to bet that all museums are money losers and require government subsidies. Getting new exhibits might temporarily increase ticket sales, but it’s never going to pay the bills. Adding bonds and company aren’t gonna stop the bleeding, it will never be a stand alone business and MLB doesn’t care

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      maybe they should just close down the HOF……………………..

  2. shaggylocks - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Posted at 2:02! Methinks someone had this written and ready to roll before the vote was even announced…

  3. magicrat13 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    not saying the voting is not flawed because i believe it is…as i’ve mentioned on other posts, too many “really good” players have been voted in that should not have in my opinion…

    so personally, i am happy no one got voted in….biggio is the closest in my opinion, and the voting showed that….he will get in eventually but was not a “slam dunk first ballot” in my view…

    i know i am in the minority, so let the flaming begin…

  4. jeffbbf - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    HOF has rendered itself meaningless? HOF is doomed? Good God…worse than a bunch of 16 year old girls cackling about a breakup between the quarterback and the head cheerleader. Guy drama is *so* stomach-turning. The HOF will survive and thrive once was economy picks up. Like it or not, it’s an expensive trip as there are no major airports in the area and the hotels charge an arm and a leg. This will probably give the HOF more awareness, and attendance will probably rise as a result. Besides folks from SF, who would go to the hall to see a Barry Bonds bust anyway? I take my kids to see the memorabilia and learn about the old-timers.

    • escapingexile - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      And one day your children can take your grandchildren to see a larger group of old-timers, which would include those who played in your era.

      The only problem with the Barry bust is that an organization which is already teetering financially may not be able to afford the cost of the bronze to produce a bust that big.

  5. randygnyc - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    I’m glad the writers kept bonds and Clemens out. Eventually, they’ll get in. Maybe next year. Probably not. In the meantime, their exclusion makes a definitive statement about the morality of steroids. Aim your ire at the players association and the owners.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      Aim your ire at the players association and the owners.

      Why just those two groups? The writers were just as complicit in not reporting on the “wide spread” use of steroids. We, as fans, continued to pour tons of money into the game through buying tickets and merchandise.

      So if the players didn’t care, the owners didn’t care, the fans didn’t care, and the writers didn’t care….Who is left?

  6. mreezybreezy - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Jose Mesa did not receive a single vote, so at the very least, Omar Vizquel is satisfied with today’s outcomes.

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

      And by Craig’s logic, no RP will ever be elected because Jose Mesa didn’t get a vote.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        Not trying to be snarky here, but if memory serves me Craig is on record as saying Mariano Rivera should definitely get in, maybe Trevor Hoffman as well, but I could be disremembering.

  7. wpjohnson - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    With Maddux, one of the five best pitchers in history, and Glavine on the ballot next year, one would hope that voters will continue to realize that Morris is not a Hall of Famer.

    • Rich Stowe - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      Next year’s ballot is going to be even “tougher” than this one

    • cackalackyank - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      If Maddux and Glavine do not coast into the Hall next year as first ballot electees the HOF will officially be irrelevant. They really should just call it the Baseball Museum, drop HOF from the title.

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

    Dear Hall of Fame,

    So you already have a business which is losing millions annually. When that happens, you have two choices: Change your services provided or shut the doors. Since you all seem hell bent on choosing the latter, let me offer an alternative. The same way you have constructed a Babe Ruth wing, a women’s wing, an African-American wing and so on and so on, how about we make the leap and create a steroid-era wing? After all, a statistic is just a factual recording of history, and even you can’t be so ignorant to say that many of this years candidates were statistically unworthy…. Can you? Maybe we can get real creative and just say that, oh I don’t know I’ll throw some numbers out there, if you played the majority of your career between the years of 1985-2005 and you are deserving enough to be elected in the hall, then your place will be in this wing. This isn’t implying that anyone is guilty or not, merely that this is the era in which they played and produced hall worthy numbers. Get off your high horses, folks. You want to have a character clause and deny entry based on that? Get real. This isn’t the early 20th century anymore people. Besides, Ruth was an adulterer and Cobb was a racist. Amazingly enough, a fire from the depths of hell has not burnt the place to the ground. Allow entry based on elite numbers with some flex in the character clause, and stop allowing entry to those with borderline numbers but “gee they were great with the media” types. You cannot have a credible hall of fame in which the all time hits leader, the all time home run leader, and the all time Cy Young award winner are not included. Period.


    A Pi$$ed Off Fan.

    • grumpyoleman - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      The character issues of Ruth and Cobb did not enhance the numbers they put up on the field. Big difference.

      • escapingexile - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        Well, my inclusion of that point was to address those who are outraged over the lack of morality shown when certain players decided to use PED’s. Gaylord Perry is in the hall with numbers that were certainly “enhanced”. I see your point though. My feelings are the writers are exercising a bit of revisionist history. There has always been something. Be it spit balls, or pine tar, or emery boards, or amphetamines…. The list goes on and on and it was never an issue before. This is no different than that. It’s just players trying to gain a competitive advantage. The fact of the matter is, they put up those numbers and gained those achievements regardless of how we feel about the morality of their choices.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        @escaping…very true and don’t forget corked bats….some were caught..but certainly not all.

      • caeser12 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        No but the exclusion of Men based on their color did.

  9. 49ersgiants4life - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Here is the thing that makes no sense to me why did the hall of fame want Barry bonds 756th home run ball if they were just going to put an asterisk on it and he wasn’t going to make the hall of fame?

  10. mungman69 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Close the hall. So many have done so many _____.

  11. schrutebeetfarms - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    “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. ”

    Hyperbole much? Geez, while I don’t agree with the results, lets’ remember to take a deep breath and relax.

    • stex52 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:03 PM

      Don’t think so. I think that is exactly what they were saying.

  12. tominma - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Im just real happy that Bonds didnt come close. He was a HOFer before the steroids but he got greedy to own the home run record!! Clemens was an overweight, out of shape pitcher who was 41 -41 in his last 4 years in Boston!! THEN he magically went on to win FOUR MORE Cy Young Awards. You cant tell me that steroids didnt help him recover between starts and help his strength and conditioning.

    I think none of these steroid users whould be elected to the HOF while they’re still alive! Strictly MY opinion!

    • 18thstreet - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      Far be it from me, a long-time Clemens hater, to defend him, but Clemens’s win-loss record does not define his last four years in Boston.

  13. moogro - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    This controversy could end up being a good thing.

    • cackalackyank - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      If it leads to honest, sensible change for the better, I absolutely agree.

  14. bh0673 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    What irks me most is all of us, the fans, the sports writers, the team owners, and MLB knew the players were doing more then just lifting weights and working out and still loved the heroics as well as the attendance. Anyone who says different is either naive or a liar and that includes Bud Selig. Lenny Dykstra was the epitome of something was up between his Mets years and Phillies years. Yet now all of a sudden we all want to put blinders on and act surprised, oh my they were on performance enhancing drugs. Yes it was cheating but let’s not also be no blind to the fact cheating was not limited to the steroid era. The holier thou attitude of the sports writers to me is a joke.

  15. runteddyrun - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Sad day for baseball.

  16. mommy59 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    These guys can be allowed into the HOF when pete Rose is allowed.Simple as that.

  17. psousa1 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Not to speak ill of Aaron Sele’s baseball career, because it is quite an accomplishment becoming a big league ball player, but we have a BBWA voter giving Aaron Sele a vote. Why? These are the kind of imbeciles the BBWA is all about.

  18. seacab1972 - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    They voters should be ashamed. I get why you kept the roids users out, but someone like Edgar Martinez at the DH should have gotten in. No wonder why I hate baseball more and more every year. Pathetic.

  19. contraryguy - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Bernie Williams, second all-time in postseason plate appearances, off the next ballot. Hmph.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      Bernie Williams, above-average player on some of the best teams in baseball history, off the ballot.

    • ctony1216 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      Hey, if only Bernie took steroids, it would have juiced his numbers just enough to not get in for doing steroids. See the problems these steroids create?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        Hey, if only Bernie took steroids, it would have juiced his numbers just enough to not get in for doing steroids. See the problems these steroids create?

        Except good player + steroids != great player. Steroids aren’t some cure-all to make you into one of the best players in the game. How is this difficult to understand?

  20. djpostl - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    “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.”


    I have been talking with lots of fans, read all the sites and absorb just about anything I can get my hands on about baseball but I feel that maybe they exceeded what people expected them to get.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM

      Exit polls had Clemens and Bonds closer to 50%

      • djpostl - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        I think people (fans, most somewhat reasonable writers) thought that Bonds & Clemens probably warranted a spot, but I don’t think a whole lot thought they’d actually get in.

        It’s been pretty clear that the people who had the best access to the players when all of this stuff was going on, and never wrote a peep about it, were going to take a ridiculous “holier than thou” attitude.

        Frankly, anyone who was covering the sport in that era and didn’t say anything should get the same damn stigma attached to them.

        They are, after all, the “caretakers of the game” and they failed MISERABLY.

  21. allen227 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    It’s a joke that these writers are the ones who decide who gets in the BASEBALL hall of fame. I would love to know how many of these keyboard pushing, non athletic queers have ever toed the rubber or stepped in the box? That’s why baseball is no longer relevant like football or even college football are now.

  22. ridgeavenuehr - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Close the Hall of Fame. It means nothing anymore. If you get 3000+ hits and don’t get in, than it minimizes what all the other guys who hit 3000 did.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      Why does everyone love this milestone? Palmeiro has 3,000 hits. Regardless of steroids, Palmeiro has a shaky HOF case.

  23. ctony1216 - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Here’s the deal: If you break the rules and take steroids you might have a great career, you might make a lot of money, but … you don’t get into the Hall of Fame.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:20 PM

      Which players took steroids? And what if there was no specific rule?

      • ctony1216 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:32 PM

        Anabolic steroids are illegal in the U.S. — and have been for decades. If using them wasn’t cheating, why would guys go to such lengths to hide the fact that they’re taking them?

        He’s a list of rule breakers;

        And another list:

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 9, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        Amphetamines are illegal in the U.S. — and have been for decades. If using them wasn’t cheating, why would guys go to such lengths to hide the fact that they’re taking them?

        So you are for kicking Aaron, Mays, and Mantle out of the HoF as well then, right?

      • ctony1216 - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:44 PM

        Amphetamines aren’t steroids. If amphetamines were as powerful as steroids, players would use them instead of steroids. Athletes switched to steroids and HGH — despite the legal risks, the health risks and the risks of banishment — because steroids let you turn on a pitch and hit the ball farther and more consistently than any other product that’s out there, including amphetamines (which could be argued actually hurt performance!).

        Steroids changed the game, and their use by a select group of pro athletes puts athletes who don’t use them at a huge competitive disadvantage. They don’t belong anywhere near the game, the guys who use them don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

      • ctony1216 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:03 PM

        Comparing steroids to amphetamines is like comparing a serial killer to a pickpocket. Yeah, both are lawbreakers, but one deserves a far more severe punishment than the other.

      • ctony1216 - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        If all Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, etc., did was take amphetamines, I’d vote them into the HOF — if their stats were good enough.

  24. schmedley69 - Jan 9, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Can’t blame the baseball writers for not voting anyone in. There were no slam dunk candidates. The undeniably clean players (Dale Murphy) didn’t have the stats to get in, while the guys who did have the stats were questionable from the PED side. The reason that the ballot was so stacked this year was because most of those guys padded their stats by taking steroids. The stats from the 90’s and early 2000’s are completely inflated across the board. There might be a clean guy in there who put up good numbers and is unfairly being kept out, but I doubt it. Just about all of these guys were steroid users and don’t deserve to get in. Unless there is some kind of scientific formula to calculate what the stats of clean guys like Dale Murphy would have been had they taken steroids so you could curve his stats up, you can’t let the users in based on stats, because the stats from the steroid era are completely skewed and don’t mean anything now.

    • hk62 - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      And you have what evidence that Dale Murphy was “undeniably clean”? Fact is – you don’t. And Biggio is questionable on the PED side? Or does he not have the stats in your eyes?

  25. mrznyc - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Had Barry Bonds not crushed the home run record, no one would have paid any attention to any of it.

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