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Quote of the Day: Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson

Jan 11, 2013, 8:28 AM EDT

Jeff Idelson

Joe Posnanski interviewed Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, who says he’s totally cool with the BBWAA failing to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame and totally fine with the BBWAA’s process:

“When you walk through the gallery of plaques, like I do every day, you can look at the walls. Certainly I can’t find anyone the BBWAA elected who is undeserving.”

Have you seen Idelson? He looks to be in great shape. I credit walking a great distance over a circuitous route each day, allowing him to get through the gallery of plaques in such a way so that he does not have to see Luis Aparicio, Jim Rice and Don Sutton.

I kid, of course. I’m cool with those guys being in, even if I may have had a hard time pulling the lever for them. The bigger problem — and Idelson should know it — is the BBWAA is way too stingy with its Hall of Fame vote, not that they let undeserving people in.

  1. natslady - Jan 11, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    What you got against Little Louie???? One of my absolute favs, growing up a White Sox fan on the South Side. He’s active on the Twitter, too, seems pleasant and friendly.

  2. sfm073 - Jan 11, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    What I don’t get is how did the writers allow the steroid era to go on for so long before they started getting suspicious? Some of these writers saw these guys more than their families and never once thought “hey this guy with a size 9 hat size might be on steroids”.

    • hank10 - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      If they made it an issue, then they would have ran the risk of not getting interviews of certain players. Some reporters would not have cared, but most needed access in order to write puff-pieces and feel important.

  3. darthicarus - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Judging by the fact the HoF is losing money every year he must be one of the few people to be walking the halls some days. Sure inducting people like Bonds, Clemens, et al could cause some controversy but it would like also drum up a few more tickets through the front door. But if the writers don’t want to allow any new members to the Holiest of Holies club than far be it for the club’s president to want more visitors to his shrine anyway.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      No offense, but I doubt adding Bonds & Clemens will put them perpetually in the black. I think they face the same funding/attendance issues that most museums face. I don’t think adding more HoF’ers is going to create a rush of traffic.

      • darthicarus - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:26 AM

        I believe that actually having a class to induct would generate more interest during the summer during & after the induction. This year I don’t see families flocking to Cooperstown to see what ever event they have planned for the Veteran’s Committee inductions. People would have flocked there to see what sort of speech Bonds or Clemens would give. It obviously would not be enough of a boost to make previous losses disappear but the ability to ensure there would be a large spike in attendance, if even just for a few weeks, as opposed to a flat line of constant numbers coming through the doors is something any business would aspire to have.

      • paperlions - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        I think the HOF is probably doomed to financial problems. Poor economy. Poor administrative model (17 administrators with the titles Director, Senior Director, VP, or President, that’s likely more than $4M/year in salaries…there is almost no way any of those people are making less than $150K/year). Poor location. Disenchanted attitude toward the HOF by nearly everyone. Access to video, photos, and information on players is quick and easy on-line.

        About the only thing the HOF can really offer is to be in the presence of baseball history artifacts in the museum, is that getting people to spend $100s on gas to drive to the middle of upstate NY?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        I meant over time (which is why I said “perpetually in the black”). I am certainly aware that it will create a short term burst of attendance. This is why most museums and historical societies have halls of fame. What I mean is, I doubt over the years people won’t come if Bonds isn’t in, if they won’t come for Ruth, Mantle, etc. It would be really great — with all the money in baseball — for there to be a foundation set up that is funded sufficiently that they don’t need to rely on such events to get by. But, again, that’s the same problem all such organizations face.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      I think the major problem the Hall is facing is that *in the middle of fucking nowhere*. I didn’t realize this before I moved to the East Coast….

      Google Drive Time to Cooperstown From Major Cities (over 100,000):

      -Philadelphia: 4 hours, 23 minutes
      -Boston: 4 hours, 10 minutes
      -New York: 4 hours, 2 minutes
      -Providence: 4 hours
      -Buffalo: 3 hours, 51 minutes
      -Hartford: 3 hours, 10 minutes
      -Rochester: 2 hours, 54 minutes

      If you live in a city of 200,000, the *closest* you are to the Hall is 3 hours away.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        Well, that certainly cuts against the “if you build it, they will come” myth.

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

        More East Coast bias.

      • pauleee - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        You East Coast / little state people are funny sometimes. Out in the great wide west, 4 hours of driving means just getting started.

        4 hours to Las Vegas. 5+ to Phoenix. 8 to San Francisco. 12+ hours to my inlaws.

        Of course I see your point. Just being snarky. 8)

      • Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        I’ve done that drive from suburban NY and your description is accurate. You get to the highway exit in just north of 2 hours and you think you are making great time.

        You: “Holy crap, I’m exiting the highway already. I gotta be close and I’m making epic time.”

        HOF: “Sit tight, tiger, you have 2 hours of one lane roads before you get to Mecca.”

        You: /sadface

      • American of African Descent - Jan 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        Rochester is not a major city. Neither are Hartford or Providence.

    • ramrene - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM


      So you’re suggesting we vote people in for the economics of ticket sales? Isn’t that the same faulty logic that created this whole mess in the first place… the economics of ticket sales which is why people were willing to look the other way in the first place?

      One mistake is bad enough, two damns everyone’s soul to hell. Sorry, too much to risk here. Try to pitch your PED users to the non-PED crowd in another way. Slapping lipstick on that pig doesn’t make her better looking, it only makes her look like a pig wearing lipstick.

      • darthicarus - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        I didn’t say to vote people in for ticket sales….though one would think that the president of the Hall of Fame would feel a little better at night knowing there will be additional ticket sales coming during the “induction ceremony” if there were in fact new players to induct (that the majority of people know about).

  4. markfrednubble - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:05 AM


    I don’t know if you have time to reply to comments much. If you do, I have a question:

    What’s wrong with a BBWAA voter’s approach to the players of the steroid era that says, “we still don’t have enough information. More will inevitably come out over time and a fuller and more credible picture will emerge in terms of how widespread this abuse was and which “great” players can fairly be considered culprits. Maybe I’ll decide so many players were juiced that they cancel each other out and the great numbers should be judged at face value. Or maybe I’ll learn that guys like Bagwell and Piazza and Biggio were also juicers and that had a big effect on their performance and longevity. Why vote any of those guys into the HOF without knowing, since we probably would never be able to remove them once they’re in? I’m going to wait.”

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      What’s wrong with a BBWAA voter’s approach to the players of the steroid era that says, “we still don’t have enough information. More will inevitably come out over time and a fuller and more credible picture will emerge in terms of how widespread this abuse was and which “great” players can fairly be considered culprits.

      Two problems with this line of thinking, and I’ll take the shorter response first. If the writers continue this “wait and see” approach, the ballot is going to get extremely bloated in the coming years. Next year you can make the case for anywhere between 15-20 viable HoFers and that doesn’t include Jack Morris. A few years beyond that it’s going to continue to grow. This also has the unfortunate side effect of removing guys who should get some HoF consideration from the ballot entirely. Guys like Kevin Brown and Kenny Lofton got Whitakered this ballot even though they have better cases than many in the HoF.

      The bigger issue is “what more information are we actually going to get”? For Bonds, the only person who would have direct knowledge of his steroid regimen is Greg Anderson, and he’s already gone to jail rather than testify against him. The chances of us finding out anything more about Bonds vis a vis steroids is nil. Clemens is in the same boat. Piazza/Bagwell, unless someone comes forward with proof, or they admit it*, how are we ever going to find out anything more? We still can’t conclusively prove how much steroids actually help a player, yet some writers have no problem saying these guys were entirely creations of a drug.

      *I think McGwire showed that if anyone is thinking of admitting use, they should seriously think twice about it. Since his confession, his vote totals have actually dropped. You have more and more writers saying they’ll never vote for anyone who took PEDs. Better to have the cloud of suspicion over you than admit it and seal your fate.

      • markfrednubble - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Your first reason is a good one in practical terms, I hadn’t thought of it that way. For me it’s not a compelling enough reason to vote for someone I am unsure of. If I were a voter I would consider it important to enshrine only deserving players and to err on the side of doubt for a reasonable period of time.

        I disagree with your second reason, or “the bigger issue.” It’s not as simple as guys deciding to admit PED use. More information always comes out. It’s like water flowing downhill. Journalists dig, people with direct knowledge decide to talk, a fuller picture emerges with or without the player’s cooperation. My hope is that this week’s voting has the effect of galvanizing more reporters and authors to dig harder, maybe out of a sense of guilt for not pursuing the story while it was staring them in the face.

        We (broadly, apparently most HOF voters and the general public) think we know enough about Bonds and Clemens already. If the evidence on the table is incorrect and either of them deserves credit for being wrongly accused, the onus is on them to show it. Both guys have considerable resources. They are like Lance Armstrong — if you’re innocent, the public will listen to you trying to show it. If any of them were wrongly accused, I believe we would have reason to believe that already.

        Bagwell, Piazza, Biggio, Raines, Schilling — some of these guys who excelled during this era are, at the moment, being excluded because we don’t know. I include the so-called “suspicious” guys in that list as well as guys we assume are clean. We don’t know about any of them! I understand we never will completely know. I just think we will know more in the next few years than do now, and I would wait if I were voting.

        If it turns out that we learn almost all players used PEDs at some point, I think the voting patterns will reflect that by enshrining guys like Bonds and Clemens on the logic that if a juiced-up hitter was cranking bombs off juiced-up pitchers, it’s a wash and it all counts. If it becomes clearer that the PED users were in the distinct minority and really gained advantages against clean opponents, I think the voters will keep them out and elect more presumably clean players from this era.

  5. Mark - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    “Certainly I can’t find anyone the BBWAA elected who is undeserving”

    Unfortunately the issue isn’t with finding players who are undeserving. It’s that the BBWAA can’t bother to elect anybody who is deserving. And making things worse is that several borderline guys will be thrown off the ballot because of how many talented players are going to be eligible for voting within the next few years.

    Kenny Lofton was victim #1, and there will be more to come in the following years.

    • cur68 - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Hey, we agree. And, if you’ll humour me, I’d like to add one thing. These assholes waited on Ron Santo and he died in the meantime. What was the ‘effin point with that? You may agree of disagree with Santo as deserving of HoF enshrinement but stats don’t change after retirement. Either they are as good as anyone else in the HoF or they are not. My point isn’t if Santo was good enough its that Lofton might well be, Bagwell definitely is, as is Biggio and the rest of the “never failed a test, never admitted, no one has ever come forth and said they saw” group of PEDs accused players. If they pass away while the BBWAA fiddle-faddles around and the HoF officials act like their insulated little world is perfect just the way it is while their ship slowly sinks, well what an all ’round loss that will be. As it is, nothing in the way the HoF is going about its business makes me want to go there: its a place that’s full of umpires, owners like Tom Yawkey and general assholes like Cobb. There’s nothing there worth seeing.

      • Mark - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        I totally agree with you. And for the record, I do believe Santo, Lofton, Bagwell, Biggio and more were and are deserving of being in the HoF.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        What if he only agrees to “humor” you?

      • cur68 - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Then I shall dang him. I shall dang him to heck.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        Oh my, are you Phil. The Prince of Insufficient Light?

      • cur68 - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM

        I’ve only ever wanted to be Dogbert.

  6. paperlions - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    IMO, the biggest problem with the HOF right now is how many non-players they are enshrining. Seriously, there are very very few executives, owners, or umpires that deserve to be elected. Being a long-time owner should be viewed the same as having a long career, in fact, it shouldn’t even be viewed as equivalent. As soon as players are no longer productive, they are replaced. Owners can suck at owning for their entire tenure, collude against players and actively work to keep minorities out of baseball and STILL be enshrined.

    As Jim Caple pointed out recently, over the last 6 years more executives and umpires (10) have been enshrined than players (7). Many fans that rail against suspected and confirmed steroid users invoke the honor and sanctity of the baseball HOF….but seem to ignore the fact that the undeserving elections are not the players, but continued bloating of the list of non-players that are enshrined. Compared to any owner or umpire Jack Morris is far far more deserving of recognition.

    In general, I am against the political process of honoring executives and owners (most of which were actually bad for the game, especially the list of commissioners that are in the HOF). If you need evidence that it is 100% political. If there is a single suit that deserves enshrinement, it would be Branch Rickey (mostly because he created the minor leagues and organized player development); number 2 on that list should be Marvin Miller. Not sure if there is a viable #3.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      I don’t know what you’re talking about, honey. Do these guys play for me? None of them are fruits, are they? Recycle your paper clips.

      — dead Marge Schott

      • paperlions - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        Marge Schott’s greatest hits:

        -“Some of the biggest problems in this city come from women wanting to leave the home and work.”

        -“Sneaky goddamn Jews are all alike.”

        -“Never hire another n—-r. I’d rather have a trained monkey working for me than a n—-r.”

        -“Only fruits wear earrings.”

        -“Everybody knows [Hitler] was good at the beginning, but he just went too far.”

        – “million-dollar n—-rs.” (in reference to Dave Parker and Eric Davis)

      • cur68 - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        I kind of miss Marge Schott. She was easy to hate and she deserved all the infamy that came her way. I guess its only a matter of time before she’s in The HoF, Tom Yawkey Wing. After all, she has no steroid taint.

  7. raysfan1 - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    However, induction week sees by far the greatest number of visitors to that museum each year. I do not know the HoF’s actual expected intake for that week itself, but dome local businesses say they rack up 15% of their annual sales that week. Losing that is like losing Black Friday. The HoF did report losing $2.08 million last year. Forget the known PED users, not electing Biggio, Raines, Trammell and other deserving players about whom there is no real suspicion could really hurt the HoF financially.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      See above. lol

  8. kirkvanhouten - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    “Certainly I can’t find anyone the BBWAA elected who is undeserving”

    Well, seeing that apparently every person who played baseball in 1930 is in the Hall of Fame, I don’t know how he could say this with a straight face.

    List of players in the Hall of Fame who are less deserving than Ray Lankford (who himself is not at all deserving of Cooperstown and no one has ever claimed he was)

    Lower WAR than Lankford:

    -Lloyd Waner
    -High Pockets Kelly
    -George Wright
    -Ray Schalk
    -Rick Ferrell
    -Freddie Lindstrom
    -Chick Hafey
    -Ross Youngs
    -Bill Mazeroski
    -Jim Bottomley
    -Pie Traynor
    -Miller Huggins
    -George Kell
    -Rollie Fingers
    -Bruce Sutter
    -Rube Marquard
    -Catfish Hunter
    -Jesse Haines
    -Bob Lemon

    • paperlions - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      Add on the fact that replacement level was in the sub-basement because the quality of competition was horrible in the 1930s, and you really have a lot of guys that if they played today wouldn’t even make it to the majors.

    • Paul White - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      You missed a key distinction Idelson made. He said he couldn’t find anyone undeserving in the Hall who was elected by the BBWAA. Most of the people you just listed weren’t elected by the BBWAA, they were chosen by various incarnation of the Veterans Committee. I actually read that and was somewhat pleased…I’ve never heard even a hint from anyone connected to the Hall that some of the selections by the Veterans may not really be worthy. Idelson sort of did that for the first time, which I find refreshing.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        So, maybe he was artfully saying: Hey, the BBWAA does a hell of a lot better than what we had before?

      • blacksables - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        What about Luis Sojo?

      • paperlions - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        He’s in there…he just didn’t play in the 1930s.

  9. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    It’s not really about there being guys in the hall that are undeserving. It’s that there are guys being left out that are clearly better than over half of the enshrined that were never linked to PED’s and a couple guys that are in the top ten (or whatever) of all time being kept out because they were linked to PED’s.

    Since its their baseball careers and not their souls being enshrined, I think Bonds and Clemens should be in. But I understand the debate against it. But anyone that thinks Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza, etc should be kept out are really, really missing the point.

  10. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Jayson Stark was being interviewed on my local radio and he made some very good points that I have also made. He voted for 10 guys this year and since nobody got in, with Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, and Kent getting on the ballot next year, which 4 guys get knocked off his ballot if he wants to vote for those 4?

    The hypocritical and ludicrous fact about this entire process that nobody seems to want to discuss, probably out of fear of hurting some player’s feelings, is that NOBODY can be called 100% clean. Period. And all these righteous assholes are going to vote in Greg Maddux saying things like “Never had any link to steroids and he was as clean as a baby’s bottom” Oh really? How the @$#%# do you know that? Because he’s Maddux? Because he didn’t get big? Maybe he took some HGH to get back from an injury early. Maybe he did some other PEDs that helped him stay fresh or something else. You don’t know and I don’t know. Anymore than back acne or big “bicepts” made Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell steroid users.

    Any member of the BBWAA who votes for ANYBODY from the steroid era and doesn’t vote for Bonds or Clemens is a hypocritical asshole. This includes the media heroes like Griffey Jr, Jeter, Thomas, Maddux, Glavine, etc. Because NOBODY and I mean NOBODY can say for 100% sure that those guys didn’t dabble in performance enhancing drugs.

    • paperlions - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Chris, I know we don’t agree particularly often, but I agree with you 100% on the entire content of your post.

    • ramrene - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      >…which 4 guys get knocked off his ballot if he wants to vote for those 4…

      Not too tough actually…

      Take Bond’s and Clemen’s off. That’s 2 right off the bat. And if McGwire is still on the ballot take him off and that’s 3.

      Give me two minutes and a ballot and I’ll be able to whittle it down for you quickly enough.

      • zzalapski - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        It only takes you two minutes to climb down that high horse of yours?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Hmm. Interesting. So take off one of the greatest hitters and one of the greatest pitchers of all time? Clemens was better than Glavine, right? Why not just leave Glavine off? Bonds was better than Kent so why would I even put Kent on? Same goes with Thomas…why put him on over Bonds? Interesting.

  11. simon94022 - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Chris Fiorentino is exactly right. Well said.

  12. cggarb - Jan 11, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    No link to the Poz piece? Poor form.

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