Friday, January 11, 2013

HOF Fallout

I'm not surprised that no one got the necessary 75 percent needed from the writers to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was hoping to see at least Jack Morris get in, but that didn't happen.  Instead we have no one going to Cooperstown from the writers ballot for the first time since 1996.  What's worse, with the new format of the veterans ballot, the three inductees for the class of 2013 all died about 70 years ago.

The real losers in this situation are the good folks of Cooperstown, who depend on all the tourists who come in for Induction Weekend.  With a class of Jacob Ruppert, Hank O'Day and Deacon White, you can't expect too many people to make the trek from all over the country this year.  The Hall is planning something extra, like honoring guys such as Lou Gehring and Rogers Hornsby, who didn't have an induction during wartime, but I doubt it will bring in too many fans.  What they need is a big turnout by the returning Hall of Famers, who should make themselves available to the public as much as possible.

Most members of the media have been blaming the writers for not electing anyone this year.  Why?  Because they didn't elect guys who used performance enhancing drugs to become great?  Yep.  What does that say about you, that you actually want cheaters in the Baseball Hall of Fame?  It's deplorable and anyone that says someone like Sammy Sosa deserves to be in Cooperstown is just not getting it.  I also hope Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro never get anywhere near the Hall and based on the low vote totals for all three, I think that's a safe bet.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, however, both received about 36%, and depending on how much added support they get in subsequent years, they may both get in someday.  In fact, as I said in my last blog entry, even without the PEDs, they would've had HOF numbers.  But it's the way both disgraced the game that will take them a long time, if ever, to get elected.

Here's my question.  Why now, are people saying we should ignore the honesty and integrity clause as stated to me last week by Hall President Jeff Idelson and just let the cheaters in?  While I agree that figuring out everyone who was a user is way too difficult, at least we know Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire and Palmeiro did.  So if we're not allowing Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, two of the greatest ever who made mistakes that (at least in the case of Rose, who knows about Shoeless Joe) have shown remorse for what they did, why should we let in these guys who won't even admit their guilt?  (I guess McGwire did admit it, but his non-PED numbers don't impress me enough to say he's a Hall of Famer.)

I guess it just shows where we are as a society, cheat to win, eh?  I say no to them all, and even though I said in my last blog I said I would vote for Mike Piazza, not anymore.  The reason is sad, though, because Jose Canseco implicated him.  I hate Canseco, but how sad is it that he's the one telling the most truth about the Steroid Era in baseball, which by the way, is still going on, folks.  We may never truly get by it, as long as players are continuing to find ways to cheat the system.  But at least the players union has officially agreed to in season HGH testing and that's a great step to moving on.  I hope I'm wrong about Piazza, though it doesn't really matter what I think.  Besides, his 57.8% on this year's ballot will likely go up in the next few years and my guess is he'll get it eventually.

Here's something else to remember about the Baseball Writers:  they rarely ever elect anyone in their first year eligible, unless they're a very special player.  Craig Biggio may have been a 3,000 hit guy, but I think his 68.2% this year had more to do with it being his first year on the ballot, as opposed to accusations of PED use.  Biggio made a statement saying he thought the voters were lumping him in with the steroid guys, but I don't think that's the case.  I'm sure there are some who do have doubts about Biggio, mainly because he shared a locker room with admitted user Ken Caminiti, but I'm pretty sure next year he'll get at least 75%.

Another likely inductee in the future is Curt Schilling, whose 38.8% was better than Clemens or Bonds!  It usually takes pitchers longer to get into Cooperstown anyway, but my money's on Schill to get in eventually.  (I wouldn't be surprised to see former Red Sox aces Schilling and Pedro Martinez go in the same year.)  Jeff Bagwell's 59.6% in his third year may get him in eventually as well.  Like Biggio, Bagwell is often associated with Caminiti, which has hurt his chances as well.

My biggest problem with this year's vote is the non-PED guys who were slighted, namely Morris, Lee Smith and even Fred McGriff, who got less votes than Bonds and Clemens.  He'll never make it in, even though I think his numbers, which are completely clean, should be good enough.  I'm not a big fan of Tim Raines being a Hall of Famer, but with 52.2% in just his sixth year on the ballot, he'll probably make it in eventually.  Originally I felt that if Morris didn't make it in this year, he'd have no chance next year.  But then again, based on how this year's vote went, the only first ballot guy that's a definite I would say is Greg Maddux.  There's a chance Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and even Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, could all get in, but based on voting history, I would not be surprised if all four were held back.

Besides, if Biggio and even Morris get enough for election next year, along with Maddux, that's a pretty good class of 2014 and that's without even considering the veterans ballot.  In 2014 the Expansion Era committee will be back and four of the great managers of the era will be up for the first time: Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Lou Pinella.  So the fact is the Class of 2014 will be the one that will be the big one some expected this year.  I guess it's just too bad that big manager crop for the vets committee wasn't this year, because that would've been a lot better.

But once again, I feel for the people of Cooperstown.  It's going to be rough getting people to show up to honor three very old school inductees.  It's too bad they didn't reinstate Shoeless Joe this year and have him be elected by the vets committee.  Can you imagine Jackson's family flanked by Ray Liotta, Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones in an homage to "Field of Dreams?"  That would've been the perfect draw this summer.

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