Hall of Fame Thoughts

I’m happy that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven are finally in the Hall of Fame. Both players should have already been in on their statistics but people looked for excuses to keep them out. The entire “first ballot HOF,” is an error by the first group of writers that has been perpetuated by current writers. A player is not eligible for consideration until five years past their last season which gives voters five years to review statistics and remove any bias that comes from fresh memories or covering that player.

 

If that player is not hall-of-fame worthy when they’re first on the ballot, after having five years to review their case, that should be it. The fact that a pitcher who is fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth all-time in shutouts, 13th all time in wins above replacement for pitchers, and finished in the top ten ERA’s of his league ten different times in his career had to wait 15 times to get in is preposterous. He did not throw a single pitch from 1993 to 1998 and yet he only got 18% of the vote the first time he made the ballot. He actually lost votes in his second year before beginning his painfully slow climb to his glorious day today. He was a better pitcher than Jack Morris and yet there are voters out there that continue to vote for Morris and not Blyleven based mainly off of the fallacy that Morris was a superior big game pitcher that is driven from  his awesome Game 7 performance in the 1991 World Series. Nevermind the fact that Blyleven had better post-season numbers than Morris. That said, this is still not even the biggest travesty of the voting results this year.
We had voters this cycle refusing to vote for Jeff Bagwell over what he may have done during his playing career.

 

SI’s Tom Verducci:

Bagwell’s numbers look worthy of Cooperstown, but he has been tied to steroid speculation enough that he “defended” himself in an ESPN.com interview last month. His defense? “I have no problem” with a guy juicing up, he said. To take such a position today is wildly irresponsible. It also invites the very talk that Bagwell claimed to be “sick and tired of.”

Bagwell was an admitted Andro user who hired a competitive bodybuilder to make him as big as he could be, who claimed, McGwire-like, that Andro “doesn’t help you hit home runs,” who went from a prospect with “no pop” to massively changing his body and outhomering all but six big leaguers in the 13 seasons before steroid penalties (Ken Griffey Jr. and five connected to steroids: Bonds, Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Juan Gonzalez), and who condones the use of steroids — but said, “I never used.”

Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker:

With Bagwell, though, it’s an entirely new question.

To date, there is no evidence anywhere, other than rumor and supposition, that Bagwell took steroids.

And I do consider myself somebody who believes in innocence until guilt is proven.

The problem is, the rumor and innuendo with Bagwell has been awfully strong for a long time and others in similar positions who denied, denied, denied — McGwire and Palmeiro — have since tested positive or admitted their use. We saw baseball writers take a heap of abuse from fans over the past decade for “closing their eyes” to steroids in the 1990s.

That wasn’t entirely true, but there are limits to what you can write with no evidence. I don’t want to ever have my eyes closed and be looking the other way. Whether it’s about steroids, or some other baseball issue. I don’t want to wake up embarassed in five years because I voted in a bunch of guys who are later found to have been some of the biggest cheats in the game’s history.

 

He never tested positive nor was he  implicated in the Mitchell Report, and the only tie in anyone can put on him is a self-admission to using andro during his playing career. Essentially, he is guilty of using a substance that was not banned by major league baseball until the 2004 season.  I’d like to rant on about this but Jim Caple hit this topic out of the park this morning.

 

My biggest beef with the voting process is that it is completely subjective rather than objective which allows voters to push forth an agenda. TYU went back and looked at the comments that today’s sanctimonious writers made ten years ago in the height of the steroid era.  If writers were complicit to this issue in the 90’s and whistled past the graveyard while writing your stories, they have no right to now step up and punish these players with their ballot. That stinks of hindsight hypocrisy; writers had their chance to punish those players while those players were active. Instead, they waited until they were safely behind their keyboards to start speaking their mind when they don’t have to worry about silly things such as the burden of proof or retribution.

 

Today’s voters may not have voted for cheaters like Gaylord Perry or admitted greenie users, but they are part of the BBWAA organization. That organization exists to ensure its members have access to players and others in the game so members’ reporting can be accurate, fair and complete. At least one of those conditions seems to be severely lacking in this voting cycle.
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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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