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  • Hall of Fame Flap Brewing?

    Almost two weeks ago, I posted my take on this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. I listed the 10 players I would have voted for and then I predicted that none of the players on this year’s ballot would garner the necessary 75% support to be elected to the Hall by the actual voting members of the BBWAA this year.


    I thought, at the time I wrote my piece, that my prediction that nobody would be elected this year would be a “fringe” prediction. I’d seen some people predict Biggio would be a first ballot HOFer and others thought Piazza might have a shot or that Morris might finally get elected.
    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.)

    But since I posted my opinion, I’ve noticed that a lot of people… including a significant number of voting members of the BBWAA… are likewise predicting that nobody will be elected. What’s getting a lot of attention, in light of those predictions, is the anticipated public reaction, should the BBWAA voters indeed throw a shutout.

    [Editors note: Indeed, none were selected.]

    I guess that hasn’t happened in something like 15 years or more, so I suppose it is a bigger deal than I thought it would be. But really, I can’t believe people should be all that surprised, considering the combination of:

    • An unusually large ballot.
    • A significant number of big name players eligible for the first time, almost all of which carry the yoke of suspected or confirmed PED usage.
    • Few carry-over players from last year that have slam-dunk HOF credentials, even absent PED suspicions.


    The bottom line is that if you want to try to make a case for NOT voting for them, you could do so for every player on the ballot, without even having to resort to the silly, “I won’t vote for anyone his first year of eligbility,” thing. That being the case, why should anyone be surprised if more than 25% of the voters do, in fact, choose to make a case for not voting for each player?

    Some people, though, think the result would be a travesty. Other than the Hall, itself, which could see attendance at the annual induction ceremony dwindle to an all-time low, since none of the inductees by the Veterans Committee are even still alive (should be a short ceremony, eh?), I’m not sure why anyone should really mind.

    I’ve read articles making the case that a shutout would indicate the process is broken… that the voters must be allowed to vote for more than 10 players. I disagree. If anything, I think it indicates that the process is working the way the Hall has always seemed to want it to work. They’ve liked that it’s a tough admission ticket in to that club.

    As I’ve written in the past, I don’t like the idea that many voting members of the BBWAA have chosen to designate themselves as the morality policy for potential HOF ballplayers. I just don’t think that they, as a group, are in any way morally superior to the players they’re sitting in judgment of.

    But, unless the rules change would be to clarify to voters that they must not hold suspected PED use against a player and instead must vote purely on his talent between the lines, changing the rules won't stop voters from exercising their right to stick it to Barry Bonds.

    No, letting the voters vote for more players will just make it easier for the borderline players to get elected. It would also make it much easier to get the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot for another year. Over time, I think we’d see ballots with 50-60 names on it. Is that really what they want? I hope not.

    Look, I believe Jack Morris is worthy. I believe Tim Raines is, too. I also am aware that with the high quality players scheduled to be added to the ballot in the next couple of years, it could very well mean those and other players I think are worthy will not ultimately be elected. That’s unfortunate.

    It’s also the way it’s supposed to work.

    The nervous nellies who would have us believe that we’ll have more years, in the future, where nobody is elected than we have when the writers do elect someone are just plain over-reacting. I know… sports writers over-reacting… hard to believe, isn’t it? But the rules changes being advocated would, I believe, be an over-reaction that would make the decision to give the league that wins the All-Star Game the home field advantage in the World Series seem thoughtfully well-measured, by comparison.

    Next year, we’ll see Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine added to the ballot. If we go through the process with those guys eligible, not to mention holdovers like Morris, Raines, Biggio and Piazza, and we still don’t see anyone elected, I’ll be shocked. Not gonna happen. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see three players elected in next year’s class.

    If the Hall did change the rules to allow voters to vote for, say, 15 players, you might see twice that many elected… maybe more. I’m a “big Hall” guy, but even I have limits and I don’t want to see Baseball’s HOF start to look like the NFL’s, where half a dozen or more players get elected every year.

    But that’s exactly what is likely to happen if you let voters check 15 boxes. How many writers would NOT consider Maddux, Thomas and Glavine among the 15 most worthy players? How many would take advantage of the relaxed standard to vote for Morris, Raines, McGriff, Martinez, or any of the other borderline players?

    Relaxing the voting rules to allow voters to put a check mark beside more than 10 players would be a stupid thing to do and I’m pretty confident the decision makers at the Hall of Fame will refrain from doing that.

    We should thank them for their restraint… and thank God that Bud Selig isn’t in charge of making the rules for the HOF.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Hall of Fame Flap Brewing? started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Biggentleben, Jack Morris did not pitch MLB in the 60's. A 17 year career started in 1977.
      Never said he did. I'm saying if he pitched in the 1960s, no one would EVER consider him a HOF pitcher.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      Ugh. Where to begin.

      First, amphetamines weren't "cheating" when Aaron used them, because they weren't banned by MLB until 2006, 15 years AFTER steroids.

      Second, amphetamines aren't performance enhancers. They don't make you stronger or faster, they just make you less tired.

      Third, the "Guilty until proven innocent" rationalization is beyond silly. If you cheat, you shouldn't get in. If Bonds cared about the Hall of Fame, he shouldn't have cheated, and he'd be in today. Now he can buy a ticket like everyone else if he wants to get in. Same for the rest of the 'roid morons.

      Rewarding dishonesty is always a bad idea. So is patting someone on the back for injecting themselves with dangerous chemicals. Nice messages for America's youth: 'Cheat and abuse your body! See you when you and your shriveled grapes get voted in!'.
      Except that every sport has them considered performance enhancers, and they've always been illegal without a prescription in the form that was utilized in baseball. Greenies aren't your old Excedrin. They're concentrated amphetamine, and ABSOLUTELY a performance enhancer. You do realize that there are more evidenced research studies done that find steroids do NOT enhance quick twitch performance (basically hitting or throwing a baseball). There are plenty of other studies that state that steroids actually slow down quick-twitch reactions, so they make a baseball player worse, not better. Not every person responds the same to every drug, but to claim amphetamines are not enhancing and steroids are as a blanket statement is simply incorrect.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      How on earth can you make that claim?
      As easily as someone can claim anyone currently in the Hall is clean...
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      Except that every sport has them considered performance enhancers, and they've always been illegal without a prescription in the form that was utilized in baseball. Greenies aren't your old Excedrin. They're concentrated amphetamine, and ABSOLUTELY a performance enhancer. You do realize that there are more evidenced research studies done that find steroids do NOT enhance quick twitch performance (basically hitting or throwing a baseball). There are plenty of other studies that state that steroids actually slow down quick-twitch reactions, so they make a baseball player worse, not better. Not every person responds the same to every drug, but to claim amphetamines are not enhancing and steroids are as a blanket statement is simply incorrect.
      Yup, Bonds, MM, and SS all fought through the disadvantage of steroids to get their tree trunk arms around on those fastballs at a suddenly record-setting pace. Way to triumph over adversity!

      Unbelievable. If you want to think there's moral equivalency between Mays/Aaron and the roid freaks, have at it. You're making the argument that using a publicly illegal drug (a character issue) is the same as using a league-banned substance (a rules violation). It's the same mistake that most of the Pete Rose defenders make at some point.

      And the semantics of performance-enhancing vs. -altering aside, there are medical journal studies showing that amphetamines have either minimal or even no detectable effect on most kinds of athletic performance.

      On the other hand, steroids had an incredibly easy-to-detect effect on the roid users. They became ridiculously muscular and began hitting more homers at a phase in their careers where most players begin to hit fewer, or retire.

      Bonds, for the record, tested positive for amphets too, about 10 minutes after they started testing.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      Yup, Bonds, MM, and SS all fought through the disadvantage of steroids to get their tree trunk arms around on those fastballs at a suddenly record-setting pace.

      Unbelievable.
      And Ken Caminiti lost his life due to steroid use. Many players went downhill after reported steroid use, just like many improved. You want to see only those who gained from the drugs, just like only seeing those who are mentally ill and attack someone will confirm a bias someone has against the mentally ill. Neither is correct.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      I'm sure Caminiti's problems with cocaine abuse had nothing to do with it, it was the steroids.
    1. jacku641's Avatar
      jacku641 -
      Here's my take on the players that used or are suspected of using PEDs. The voters for the HOF will make sure they stay on the ballot until at least one "clean" player is elected. For pitchers that happens next year when Maddox and possibly Glavine get in. For hitters, it will happen after Ken Griffey Jr. is elected. (And possibly Jim Thome if he decides 2012 was his last year.) I think this is how the BBWAA makes its stand.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      And Ken Caminiti lost his life due to steroid use. Many players went downhill after reported steroid use, just like many improved. You want to see only those who gained from the drugs, just like only seeing those who are mentally ill and attack someone will confirm a bias someone has against the mentally ill. Neither is correct.
      Caminiti experienced a huge power spike in the same years (including his MVP year) the other roid users did, so swing and a miss there. His death, if anything, is an indirect argument against your apparent desire to ignore the cheating (a distinction you have ignored in every post) of the roid candidates.

      Why endorse a deadly drug by rubber-stamping the HOF bids of some of the most notorious steroid abusers in sports? The mental illness analogy is an incredibly sad effort to create the illusion of victimhood in a discussion where none exists.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      I don't have a problem with the result of yesterday's vote as much as I do the reasoning (or lack thereof) behind it. When you read some of the published explanations for ballots, it's hard not to come away feeling like the process is completely broken.

      For example, you've got Wallace Matthews saying things like "You can argue that I should have voted for Jack Morris (I have in the past but wasn't feeling it this year)....

      Really? He wasn't "feeling it"? Last I checked it was the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Wallace Matthews' Feelings.

      I read another guy who said that he "needed more time" to decide on Biggio. More time? Don't they get these ballots months before they're due? If you can't do the job in the time alloted, step aside and give it to someone who can.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      Remember, when McGuire and Sosa were banging HR's the emphasis was how are the balls being juiced. At least among us naive people there was no assumption there were HR pills.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post

      Unbelievable. If you want to think there's moral equivalency between Mays/Aaron and the roid freaks, have at it. You're making the argument that using a publicly illegal drug (a character issue) is the same as using a league-banned substance (a rules violation). It's the same mistake that most of the Pete Rose defenders make at some point.

      And the semantics of performance-enhancing vs. -altering aside, there are medical journal studies showing that amphetamines have either minimal or even no detectable effect on most kinds of athletic performance.
      Ohhhhh... so all those guys using greenies were doing it just for recreational purposes! OK.

      Look, 'roids and greenies did not have the exact same effect, but to argue that either of them aren't PEDs is pretty silly. There are reasons players took both drugs. They may not be the SAME reason, but both involved "enhancing performance." Steroids were taken to make a guy stronger and greenies were taken to give a guy more energy, get him through a long season, etc. And don't even bother with the "greenies ddin't aid performance" crap. I took them in the 70s and all I was doing was playing HS baseball. They certainly didn't turn my sorry skills in to MLB skills, but they made me better than I would have been without them (I worked 10 hour days in construction that summer).

      If Mays took greenies and it helped them with their focus through a long season, didn't that put a pitcher who didn't use them at a competitive disadvantage? If Aaron used greenies and that allowed him to retain the necessary energy to keep hitting HRs later in a long season, should there be a * next to his HR record because he had a chemical advantage Babe Ruth didn't have?

      Just because their bodies didn't transform in to bigger versions of themselves doesn't mean they didn't give make themselves better through modern chemistry (or at least what passed for modern in their time). And they knew they were breaking the law, too. That lack of "moral character" in an effort to perform better tells me all I need to know about whether they also would have taken steroids if they had been as readily available to them in their day as they were to Bonds, et al.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Remember, when McGuire and Sosa were banging HR's the emphasis was how are the balls being juiced. At least among us naive people there was no assumption there were HR pills.
      I remember Sosa. Not sure about this other guy. Nevermind that both of them have admitted to andro and creatine, both of which were available at your local GNC at the time.
    1. jm3319's Avatar
      jm3319 -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      So because a cheater has already been admitted, we should open the door to all of them? That's a pretty thin arguement. I could care less if Perry got kicked out of the Hall, but his spitball rates at about a 1 on baseballs scandal meter. The steriod cheats made the embarasment of the 1994 strike look like a funny little sidenote in the games history. These guys did significant damage to the game. They knew there would be consequeces if they got caught.
      Bogus! These guys SAVED baseball in 1998. The game was dull and boring, then came history assaults on the homerun record books. Hell, MLB should give them medals for putting their long-term health at risk in order to revitalize the fans' interest in the game. (not really, but I would still argue they helped the game despite the HoF mess they have caused) and YES! it did make the strike look like a "funny little side note in history" That's the whole point!

      "Rewarding dishonesty is always a bad idea. So is patting someone on the back for injecting themselves with dangerous chemicals. Nice messages for America's youth: 'Cheat and abuse your body! See you when you and your shriveled grapes get voted in!'.

      So you're against rewarding dishonesty, yet are totally cool with completely ignoring how hypocritical MLB and all of the baseball writers are? How many of the HoF writers were gushing over how awesome 1998 was, and how insane Barry Bonds was during the end of his career? Some of them even voted for his MVP's and Roger's Cy Young Awards. Yet now they pretend to be abhorred about how awful these guys are for the game and their cheating ways. Sure, some of them didn't know what was going on in 1998 (neither did I, but I was a 9 year old kid, not some beat writer in the clubhouses seeing how ripped these guys actually were with all their backne and swollen heads) but other people close to the game (players, coaches, GM's owners, writers) HAD to have known what was going on, yet did nothing. Maybe the commish even knew, yet did nothing. Why? Because it helped bring interest back to the game. Now MLB is turning their backs on these players, scolding them for their wrong doings. The whole thing is a joke.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      Ohhhhh... so all those guys using greenies were doing it just for recreational purposes! OK.

      Look, 'roids and greenies did not have the exact same effect, but to argue that either of them aren't PEDs is pretty silly. There are reasons players took both drugs. They may not be the SAME reason, but both involved "enhancing performance." Steroids were taken to make a guy stronger and greenies were taken to give a guy more energy, get him through a long season, etc. And don't even bother with the "greenies ddin't aid performance" crap. I took them in the 70s and all I was doing was playing HS baseball. They certainly didn't turn my sorry skills in to MLB skills, but they made me better than I would have been without them (I worked 10 hour days in construction that summer).

      If Mays took greenies and it helped them with their focus through a long season, didn't that put a pitcher who didn't use them at a competitive disadvantage? If Aaron used greenies and that allowed him to retain the necessary energy to keep hitting HRs later in a long season, should there be a * next to his HR record because he had a chemical advantage Babe Ruth didn't have?

      Just because their bodies didn't transform in to bigger versions of themselves doesn't mean they didn't give make themselves better through modern chemistry (or at least what passed for modern in their time). And they knew they were breaking the law, too. That lack of "moral character" in an effort to perform better tells me all I need to know about whether they also would have taken steroids if they had been as readily available to them in their day as they were to Bonds, et al.
      You contradicted your entire pointless argument about greenies vs. roids with the single sentence bolded above.

      So they made you "better" by reducing fatigue. By that silly, nonsensical standard, SLEEP would be an unfair competitive advantage. Or just not having a demanding job. So you're seriously comparing that to making massive alterations to human physiology with constant chemical usage. Bit of a stretch.

      As silly as that is, it isn't what makes your argument pointless. And neither is your bizarre implication that once one cheater is in, there's no reason to keep others out.

      No, what makes it pointless is that you're equating the use of a substance that was banned by Major League Baseball to the use of a substance that was not banned. Apples/pianos comparison. Major League Baseball set the acceptability standard for the former. You're setting the standard for the latter. Attempt to defame players like Mays and Aaron all you want with your ridiculous equivalencies and sad little conjecture that they 'would've cheated'. The roid freaks violated MLB rules, the amphet guys didn't.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by jm3319 View Post
      "Rewarding dishonesty is always a bad idea. So is patting someone on the back for injecting themselves with dangerous chemicals. Nice messages for America's youth: 'Cheat and abuse your body! See you when you and your shriveled grapes get voted in!'.

      So you're against rewarding dishonesty, yet are totally cool with completely ignoring how hypocritical MLB and all of the baseball writers are? How many of the HoF writers were gushing over how awesome 1998 was, and how insane Barry Bonds was during the end of his career? Some of them even voted for his MVP's and Roger's Cy Young Awards. Yet now they pretend to be abhorred about how awful these guys are for the game and their cheating ways. Sure, some of them didn't know what was going on in 1998 (neither did I, but I was a 9 year old kid, not some beat writer in the clubhouses seeing how ripped these guys actually were with all their backne and swollen heads) but other people close to the game (players, coaches, GM's owners, writers) HAD to have known what was going on, yet did nothing. Maybe the commish even knew, yet did nothing. Why? Because it helped bring interest back to the game. Now MLB is turning their backs on these players, scolding them for their wrong doings. The whole thing is a joke.
      You failed to justify your defense of the roid cheaters, so you changed the subject and made up a stance on it for me?

      My post was addressing the unworthiness of the roid cheats for the Hall. If they vote Selig into the Hall, I'll be just as unhappy, and not just for his role in the steroid trainwreck. Good luck finding anything in what I wrote that implies otherwise.
    1. jm3319's Avatar
      jm3319 -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post

      No, what makes it pointless is that you're equating the use of a substance that was banned by Major League Baseball to the use of a substance that was not banned. Apples/pianos comparison. Major League Baseball set the acceptability standard for the former. You're setting the standard for the latter. Attempt to defame players like Mays and Aaron all you want with your ridiculous equivalencies and sad little conjecture that they 'would've cheated'. The roid freaks violated MLB rules, the amphet guys didn't.
      Amphetamines were still illegal unless you had a prescription (hey, just like steroids!) before 1971. I doubt all MLB clubs got a team prescription to legally allow them to brew a cup of coffee with greenies in them for the whole team to enjoy. Also, it's pointless to say something is illegal in MLB if there wasn't any testing until the early 2000's. Sure, steroids were illegal after 1990 in the eyes of MLB but they did nothing to enforce the rules.

      And yes, greenies enhance performance. Say you're tired and worn out at the end of the season so you're at 80% but you pop some pills to get you back to 100%. That's boosting performance above your natural state. Say steroids take you from 80% at your fatigued state to 120% of your normal, unenhanced state. Either way, both enhance performance beyond what is your current natural state. I'll admit steroids probably help more than greenies, but to compare greenies to a full night sleep is just silly. Sleep is not a competitive advantage because it's 100% legal in the eyes of MLB and federal law. Nice try though.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      The thread has predictably become another debate about the worthiness of 'roid users in the HOF and that really wasn't what my article intended to focus on. Rather, it is the contention among some writers that this issue and the resulting failure to elect anyone to the HOF this year necessitates changing the voting to, say, allow voters to list 15 players on their ballot. Can I suggest, since none of us are going to convince others to change their minds on 'roid issues, that we focus on the voting process, instead?

      I understand that the HOF will need a steady influx of live inductees. I think they'll have them, but if that's really the only (or best) reason to change the rules for how the voting takes place, think about this... Leave the ballot limit at 10 players, but with the caveat that every year the top vote getter, regardless of what % of the vote he gets, is declared elected to the HOF. In addition, naturally, any OTHER player who gets 75% or more is also elected. Solves that problem a lot simpler than letting voters name 15 players on their ballot and doesn't come with all the other potential side effects of increasing to 15.

      Would Biggio's election this year come with a stigma attached to it? Yeah... but no more so than if he only got 75% because writers were allowed to vote for 15 guys. Anyone who gets elected as a result of a change in voting rules will enter somewhat tarnished, but I'd argue that getting the most votes, even if it's fewer than 75%, may be more significant in future years than getting 75% has been in the pre-roid era of voting.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Jim, I believe on your first point, the #1 thing that needs to be done is to publish all ballots. There are grandstanding reporters who have announced they did or did not vote for certain guys (or for anyone), but, by and large, most BBWAA guys aren't owning up and sharing their ballots. I think being accountable for the BS vote may reduce that BS vote significantly. If you're voting for Aaron freaking Sele, you should be ridiculed for it. If you're denying Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell the HOF, you should have to answer for why you chose that. Writers making assumptions and becoming moral police on players without accountability for their own morals in voting is complete BS in my opinion.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      Jim, I believe on your first point, the #1 thing that needs to be done is to publish all ballots. There are grandstanding reporters who have announced they did or did not vote for certain guys (or for anyone), but, by and large, most BBWAA guys aren't owning up and sharing their ballots. I think being accountable for the BS vote may reduce that BS vote significantly. If you're voting for Aaron freaking Sele, you should be ridiculed for it. If you're denying Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell the HOF, you should have to answer for why you chose that. Writers making assumptions and becoming moral police on players without accountability for their own morals in voting is complete BS in my opinion.
      I totally agree. All ballots should be public, as should the identity of those eligible voters who fail to cast a ballot.
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