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The Hall of Fame announces its Veterans Committee nominees

Nov 4, 2013, 1:17 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets Getty Images

We are in an era when the BBWAA can’t get it together to elect any of nearly a dozen deserving candidates for the Hall of Fame through the usual channels, so the Veteran’s Committee nominees maybe take on more significance than usual these days.

And, given that the VC is, this year, dealing with the so-called “Expansion Era” candidates (i.e. those from 1973-present), if there is going to be an induction of anyone who still alive next summer, this is the election that matters.  Here are the candidates:

Dave Concepcion
Bobby Cox
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Tony La Russa
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Dave Parker
Dan Quisenberry
Ted Simmons
George Steinbrenner
Joe Torre

I’ll get to what I think of all of those guys in a minute, but I do have to note that there are players from this era who dropped off the regular ballot way too fast and way before anyone really gave them a chance. Guys like Lou Whitaker, Dwight Evans and Bobby Grich. Why they’re not on here while dudes like Steve Garvey are is beyond me, but this is the ballot we have.

As for my personal choices:

  • Dave Concepcion: No. There were way better all-glove shortstops than him and being part of a winning team like the Big Red Machine shouldn’t get him extra points.
  • Bobby Cox: Sure. Knock him for only having one World Series ring, but if it’s true that the playoffs are a crap shoot and that a manager’s most important job is to put his team in a position to win and to keep an even keel, Cox has to go in. Plus: that Braves run of the 1990s and early 2000s was kicked off by moves Cox made while he was the Braves GM. Plus: he was a helluva a manager in Toronto and led them to winning seasons back when people thought the idea of a winning Blue Jays team was a pipe dream.
  • Steve Garvey: No. He has the “Fame” part down, but he was probably one of the more overrated players of the past 40 years.
  • Tommy John: You don’t get in for surgery being named after you. John has a decent shot on the mertis, though. But juse decent. Points for durability and longevity, but never really had the peak you expect from a Hall of Fame starter.
  • Tony La Russa: Yup. And twice on Sundays. Not my cup of tea aesthetically — I really loathe the degree to which we now have bullpen specialization, in large part due to La Russa himself — but the guy won like crazy and, whether you like it or not, his bullpen use did make a huge mark on the game of baseball.
  • Billy Martin: I go back and forth on him. He definitely made an impact, winning quickly in most places he went. And he won a couple of titles, of course. One wonders, however, if he didn’t ruin some pitching careers too. And he was a sour sonofabitch, of course, but I don’t care about that stuff. Lots of Hall of Famers were. I would vote for him simply because I’d love to hear the posthumous roasts he’d get for several weeks on either side of the induction ceremony.
  • Marvin Miller: Yes. I’ve written about this many times. The man changed baseball. Not just the business of it, but the game itself in terms of how teams are built and rosters populated. No one with the impact he had is out of the Hall of Fame. Many with far less impact are in.
  • Dave Parker: He’s better than a lot of guys already in, but do we compound mistakes made in the past with greater mistakes? Let’s spend the time on his campaign to get Jim Rice taken out, OK? OK, maybe not. But Parker had a peak that could have been Hall of Fame worthy, but he blew a hole in it with drugs and ineffectiveness. I don’t think his case recovered from that.
  • Dan Quisenberry: I feel like if Bruce Sutter is in Quisenberry deserves it. I also don’t feel like “well, Bruce Sutter is in!” is a great argument. Borderline.
  • Ted Simmons: The best catcher not named Piazza not in the Hall? Maybe he and Bill Freehan fight over that. I dunno. I think we need more catchers in the Hall. So many good ones unrepresented. Sure, I vote for Simmons.
  • George Steinbrenner: I think so. Owners are hard cases, but the guy did certainly make a mark. And presided over lots and lots of success. Much of it, to be fair, that was only possible by his being unable to meddle with it for a while. But he really did take advantage of baseball’s era of free agency in ways many other owners wouldn’t at the time, and he forced teams to be less conservative.
  • Joe Torre: Sure. Both because of managing and because of a fine, fine career as a player. And because I feel like we need to have Cox, La Russa and Torre on the same stage. We didn’t really appreciate it until it was over, but the late 70s through the mid-2000s were pretty much dominated by three of the best managers in baseball history. They should go in arm-in-arm-in-arm.

So. What say you?

  1. mgv38 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    cox, larussa, miller, quiz, simmons, torre

  2. chill1184 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    I still have a faint hope that Keith Hernandez will one day get his spot in Cooperstown

    • petey1999 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      Maybe the mustache hall of fame.

    • cackalackyank - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      I mustache why you think he can get in to the HOF. See what I did there?

  3. chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    I actually agree with Craig’s choices (which makes me feel all sorts of dirty)

    And, while he’s not on the ballot, I’ll stump for Jose Canseco. Not for anything he did as a player, because that ship has sailed, but take a look at what Craig said about guys like LaRussa and Marvin Miller – how they impacted the game.

    This entire steroid era we’re in now with testing and penalties can be traced back to Jose Canseco opening his big mouth. It’s hard to find anyone over the last decade who has impacted the game more than Canseco outside of Bud Selig himself.

    • chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      …and, for the record, I’m no fan of Canseco, but the Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to baseball’s history and this clown has really impacted it in a way none of his contemporaries have done.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Hall of Fame – Museum dedicated to baseball
      Being Elected to the Hall of Fame – Honor bestowed upon players/writers/managers/executives for contributions to the game

      No reason why Canseco should be elected to the hall. They can, and do, mention steroids AND Jose Canseco in the museum. But let’s not put up plaques due to infamy.

      • chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 10:50 PM

        I’m not suggesting honoring him for anything he did as a player, but if the bar for electing executives and others is “impact on the game” then you have to put Jose up there with Marvin Miller.

  4. proudlycanadian - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    How did these guys do at WAR?

    • chip56 - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Do you mean the card game?

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        Of course!

  5. kicksave1980 - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Miller, La Russa, and Cox are my 3 definites. Everyone else, I’m either a ‘no’ or on the fence. And also, I remember guys like Garvey and Simmons, but I’m too young to REALLY remember their careers, so I don’t feel qualified in judging them.

  6. rickscherger - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    I have been saying for years that Simmons deserves a spot. His numbers compare very well to his contemporaries bench, fisk and carter

  7. Paul White - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Yes to all of Craig’s yeses, plus I’d add Quiz and Parker, but I’m a big Hall guy.

  8. chinahand11 - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Conception, Tommy John, La Russa, Cox, Torre, Simmons, Miller and Steinbrenner. And Pete Rose.

  9. cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Man…I’ve tried to post 3 times about Ted Simmons and none of them showed up(and no cuss words either!). What up with that WordPress?


    Ted Simmons ranks among catchers
    2nd in hits
    12th in home runs
    2nd in RBI
    9th in WAR

    He had a reputation for being a poor defensive catcher, but Bill James and others have shown that reputation was pretty unwarranted. He should be in Cooperstown and I never really understood what the arguments against him were.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Some may have held him hanging on a few years too long against him, but mostly I think it is bad timing–playing at a time when he was bound to be over shadowed by Bench and Fisk. You’d like to think the BBWAA voters would be objective and see where a player really stands in the history of the game, but if they did guys like him, Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, and Tim Raines would all be in already.

  10. cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    The best part about Torre-Cox-LaRussa is that you can *almost* draw a perfect line between them.

    — Bobby Cox managed the Braves from 1978-1981. He was replaced by Joe Torre (and of course came in 1990)
    –Joe Torre managed the Cardinals from 1990-1995, leaving 47 games in the 95 season. Mike Jorgenson filled in as interim manager until Tony LaRussa took over in 1996.

  11. paperlions - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    How bad is the process when the most deserving candidates can’t even make the ballot?

    When the best players from the relevant era aren’t even on the ballot, what happens really holds no interest for me.

    I can’t imagine any way in which the baseball HOF could possibly become irrelevant faster than it is.

  12. ontherocks1964 - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Way better all glove shortstops than Concepcion? Seriously? You do realize they are referring to Davey with the Reds and not Onix with the Royals? You can’t make that statement and tell me you grew up watching baseball in the 70’s.

    • Paul White - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      If we’re talking about 70’s glove-first shortstops, personally I’d take Bert Campaneris over Concepcion. His case is at least as good and he’s not even on the ballot. And Mark Belanger is way closer to him than you think, too. I wouldn’t vote for any of them, but if I had to take just one it would be Campy. And of course, none of them are remotely close to Trammell or Grich, who should both be elected. Bad Bill Dahlen, too, as long as we’re talking about shortstops more worthy than Concepcion.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        Personally I would put Campaneris and Concepcion as 1 and 1a for best defensive shortstop in the years between Aparicio and Ozzie Smith. However, I would not call either “all-glove” (which I took to mean no bat) as Craig did. Both were excellent base runners and assessment of their batting skills should take into account that they played in a pitchers’ era.

    • joestemme - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:09 PM

      Conception is a marginal candidate. But, if you are going with the Glove as a deciding factor – How the hell isn’t Dwight Evans on the ballot?

      Not only was he considered the Very Best Defensive Right Fielder of his generation – he hit 385 home runs and drove in over 1300 runs during the pre-roids era.

      • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        It never cease to amaze me that the player who ended up having the 3rd best career of the Red Sox late 70s outfield would be the only one to end up in the hall.

  13. makeham98 - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:52 PM


    Next tier Concepcion, Torre, Cox.

    If you’re going to hold back on players who used, how can you not hold back on LaRussa?

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Cox managed David Justice, John Rocker, Gary Sheffield, Mike Stanton
      Torre managed Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Sheffield and Stanton as well

      Why is LaRussa held back but not them?

  14. cur68 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    How is it a spammer gets to comment here TWICE and my simple, cordial reply to chip56 is eaten alive and never sees the light of day?

    Anyhow, chip: in the off chance THIS gets through I happen to agree with your gutsy call on Jose Canseco but fear it would lead to EVEN MORE HEARD FROM JOSE CANSECO. No one needs that.

  15. jdd428 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Yes, this is an important VC list and surely several of these candidates are deserving. However, the initial premise about the BBWA being unlikely to elect anyone of significance – while normally accurate – is probably wrong this year. Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are first-timers on the ballot and all three should be locks. It could make for a very busy weekend in Cooperstown.

  16. 18thstreet - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    I’m a little curious how the people who see a steroid user under every rock (Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza) will justify supporting LaRussa, who turned a blind eye to all of it. Unfortunately, it’s a different set of voters for each.

    Separate issue: Like Craig, I’m very curious how Steve Garvey gets a second shot but Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker don’t.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Again, I ask…why LaRussa and not Cox/Torre? They also had a plethora of steroid users on their respective teams.

      • 18thstreet - Nov 4, 2013 at 8:40 PM

        Is there another Canseco that I’m not aware of? Another McGwire?

      • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 8:49 PM

        So, McGwire’s steroids were somehow worse than Gary Sheffield’s steroids? I’m confused here…

  17. tc4306 - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Joe Torre gets props for managing a team of all stars, and keeping the ship moving in the right direction. Past players speak highly of him.

    Cito Gaston won two World Series and gets slammed for simply filling out the lineup card with the same names every day. Past players speak highly of him.

    One of them was black and managed in Canada. Any guesses?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 4, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      Managerial Records:
      Cito Gaston – 1,731 games; 894-837 (.516%)
      Joe Torre – 4,329 games; 2,326-1997 (.538%)

      And maybe the reason Cito isn’t looked upon fondly is the 3rd/5th/4th/5th/4th/4th/4th place finishes he put up at the end of his career?

  18. cackalackyank - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    I disagree with your reasoning about Tommy John. There is a reason it is called “Tommy John” surgery. He was one of the first guys to come back from it and have any kind of career. Without that surgery, and his recovery from it the points for “longevity and durability” do not exist. Also, a lot of guys careers would have ended sooner than they did. Oh, of course someone else would have eventually had the surgery and done well after it. I’m sure there is WAR and other stats that might explain leaving him out. Well over half of his 288 wins came after that surgery, and he is one of the top 10 left handed pitchers historically with that total. Oh I forgot….wins are a bad stat for judging pitchers.

    • scyankee64 - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      I agree. I also think Dr. Frank Jobe should be inducted.

      • yahmule - Nov 4, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        Agree on John and definitely believe Dr Jobe should be enshrined.

  19. sdelmonte - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I don’t really want Steinbrenner in the Hall, based only on the idea that owners shouldn’t be there. But if an owner should be there, it should be the Boss. With the caveat that he was suspended from the game twice. (There isn’t any way that a plaque will offer the whole story, is there? But it would be interesting.)

    And I don’t think Martin belongs, especially with Torre, Cox and LaRussa ahead of him. But I would love to see the Boss and Billy enshrined on the same day. Reggie can give the speech.

    • cackalackyank - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Sounds like a good beer commercial.

  20. scyankee64 - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Joe Torre wasn’t far from being a Hall of Famer as a player. His playing career combined with his managing career easily qualify him.

  21. largebill - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Not sure of current Veterans process, but this is how I’d rank ’em.
    1. Torre – Close as player & easy choice as manager
    2. Cox – Put him in
    3. LaRussa – Put him in
    4. Simmons – Close. Wouldn’t bother me if he goes in.
    5. Quiz – Same as Simmons
    6. Parker – Wasted a chance to go in with behavior/weight. Couple great years during his lost years and he’d be decent candidate
    7. TJ – Better case than Morris, but falls short
    8. Garvey – Seemed better for a couple years than his record reflects
    9. Concepcion – I’d give some credit for being key player on Big Red, but it’s not enough.
    10. Martin – Took lousy teams and made them contenders over and over. However, he also quickly destroyed the team or himself wearing out his welcome.
    11. Steinbrenner – Um, nah no owners in Hall of Fame for me.

    Miller? Never understood and still don’t get some people’s fascination with the notion of putting some labor lawyer in the baseball Hall of Fame. Just silly.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 4, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      There are commissioners and owners in the HoF. There are players who never played MLB who are in the HoF. Marvin Miller is more responsible for the current state of baseball than almost any man.

  22. misterj167 - Nov 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no group of people has done more to damage the game than the owners, and no group has a greater sense of their own self-importance. Marvin Miller made them wealthy beyond their feeble imaginations and their egos refuse to allow them to admit to it. They even changed the rules to keep him out, the ingrates.

    Apart from Miller, if I had a vote, I’d vote for Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre.

  23. embinoratsicus - Nov 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Dave Concepcion – Nope, it wouldn’t even be a question if he weren’t on the Machine.

    Bobby Cox – Yes, he was massively successful for such a long time.

    Steve Garvey – Nope, the fact that he was telegenic is the only reason we are considering it.

    Tommy John – Yes, because he proved you could come back and pitch at a high level until you are a billion years old with the right surgical intervention.

    Tony La Russa – I suppose, but just barely. And I’m an A’s fan.

    Billy Martin – Nope. The positives are not outweighing the negatives.

    Marvin Miller – Yes, he changed the entire nature of the game in a way that was far more significant than which drugs du jour are the problem.

    Dave Parker – Nope, but Maybe. He was reat when he was great. But was it long enough?

    Dan Quisenberry – Yes, because he did all that as a Royal. So there should be a plus there.

    Ted Simmons – Not really.

    George Steinbrenner – Are you kidding? This guy did more to harm the game than either Rose or Canseco, and he belonged in jail for a number of things. If he was the owner of any team but the Yankees, it would not even be a question.

    Joe Torre – Yes. Player, Manager, Executive. Classy guy as well.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 4, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      This guy did more to harm the game than either Rose or Canseco

      Like what?

      • embinoratsicus - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:33 AM

        He upended any monetary balance in the game as soon as free agency began, he was a dishonest person who was not removed or sanctioned harshly enough for convictions that would have occasioned suspensions for his players, he was the kind of person who set detectives on his players to find ways to invalidate their contracts, and he somehow convinced people that behaving like a douchebag was “the Yankee way.” Hopefully he will become a footnote in baseball history, like Dan Topping, or Colonel Ruppert.

        Rose caused damage to himself, mainly. Canseco basically kept up a longstanding tradition of players doing whatever drugs they thought would help. There were amphetamines, anesthetics and cortisone injected into players daily, and anything else that a player might be able to use to gain an edge.

        Steinbrenner used his position as the richest team in baseball to continually price other teams out of the running for any player that could help them, whether or not the salary made any sense. He raised player salaries way past whatever levels would have made sense, and the followon effects were the raising of the prices on everything else to deal with this massive expansion. Not just for his team, but for all teams.

        Forget him.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM

      Wait a minute…you’d consider Dave Parker ahead of Ted Simmons?

      They played about the same number of games in their career. Here are their respective slash-lines
      Parker: .290/.339/.471 121 OPS+
      Simmons: .285/.348/.437 118 OPS+

      Hmm, pretty even….one of them was a catcher!

      • embinoratsicus - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:36 AM

        Total numbers are one thing, being the batter that scares the other team is another. Had he not wasted a few years on drugs, his numbers would have been higher. But the quality of his dominance on the field and in the batter’s box was much greater.

    • scyankee64 - Nov 5, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Steve Garvey’s forearms should be in the Hall.

  24. yahmule - Nov 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Ted Simmons!

    Anybody who votes for Steinbrenner deserves a kick in the nuts followed by a harder kick in the nuts.

  25. jlilly67 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    Not sure why the author takes a shot at Rice being in. Must not have watched him. He was the most feared hitter of his era and a proven run producer in a time before players juiced up. I’ll take Rice in any pressure spot. For the record, I’m not a Red Sox fan

    • scyankee64 - Nov 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Rice was borderline at best. He should have never won the MVP in ’78. It should have gone to Ron Guidry.

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