Wednesday, December 27, 2017

This year's Baseball Hall of Fame voting process needs investigating

This is my 20th year of voting for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame and I have never been so confused. More conflicted than the Last Jedi I am.
It’s hard enough differentiating between the Steroid Era and the Golden Age of Baseball – I like to call it the “Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle Era” – but now we, fellow Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voting members, have one Hall of Famer essentially telling us who not to vote for and a bunch of other Hall of Famers basically telling us who we should have voted for years ago.
I used to simply rely on the Baseball Encyclopedia and my own eyes to decide which candidates to check on my HOF ballot, but now I feel Special Counsel Robert Mueller is needed to investigate and sort out this mess.
It started, of course, with a mysterious email from Joe Morgan that, in the eyes of some sportswriters and talking heads on TV, is as curious and controversial as any email Hilary Clinton produced. Or didn’t produce.
Morgan is royalty, a two-time National League MVP who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. He is also Vice Chairman of the Hall of Fame. In his out-of-leftfield email the HOF second baseman pleaded that known or suspected steroid users should never be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, i.e. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Wink. Wink.
I had two questions when I received the email: 1) How did Joe Morgan get MY email address? and 2) why is he speaking out now when Bonds and Clemens have been on the HOF ballot for five years?
Well, 1) I have never met or ever spoken to Joe Morgan and from what I have been told he has long disparaged baseball writers and now he is appealing to them for logic and reason, i.e. help? I suspect he got my email from the Baseball Hall of Fame roledex, which made me wonder if his email is a rogue act against ‘roids or part of a wider Hall of Fame conspiracy to block Bonds and Clemens from having their plaques in Cooperstown? Like keeping Roy Moore and his horse out of shopping malls.
And 2) Because Bonds and Clemens are creeping closer to receiving the required 75 percent from the voting body of eligible BBWAA active and honorary members, Joe decided he needed to get his feelings off his chest and confess as if it was his last dying wish. I do not know if he has a serious illness because he has not consented to numerous interview requests since the email.
So what am I to make of this?
I have never voted for Bonds – by far the greatest, most amazing player I have ever watched -- and Clemens, though I am inching closer to it. The email did more to turn me off than tune me in. It stopped me dead in my track of thinking. I do not like being told who to vote for – or not – but it causes me to pause and reassess.
For example, Sammy Sosa hit 609 career home runs, 243 in an incredible four-year period, and wound up ninth on the all-time list. Would he be Hall of Fame worthy without the use of performance enhancing drugs? Mark McGwire is 11th on the all-time HR list and yet he’s already been banished from the ballot.
We could go on and on debating this. Like CNN and Fox debating who had a better year: Alec Baldwin or the President he impersonates?
I have previously stated my reasons for not checking Bonds and Clemens on my ballot for the fundamental reason of not respecting the game. But a column by Sport Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, another HOF voting member, touches on all the bases about I how I feel about not voting for steroid users.
Hence, I cannot yet vote for Bonds and Clemens – or other steroid users such as Manny Ramirez in his first year on the ballot -- with full conviction. I am not comfortable. Not yet. Game of Shadows, Greg Anderson, and Brian McNamee were not Fake News.
Of course, if Bonds and Clemens are not voted into the Hall of Fame after the maximum of 10 years on the ballot, they can get a mulligan. The Baseball Hall of Fame Modern Era Committee – a 16-member crew that includes Hall of Fame inductees George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield, and Robin Yount – can vote them into Cooperstown.
That’s how pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammel will be inducted into the next Hall of Fame class. After failing for 15 years to receive the prerequisite number of votes from BBWAA HOF voters, Morris and Trammel were out of bounds, yet the new Modern Era panel gave them another shot from the tee on the other fairway.
So what I am I to make of this?
Do I lower the bar on my criteria for HOF induction? If Morris and Trammel are deemed Hall of Famers by Hall of Famers, then should I now vote for Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling, who are the cusp of Cooperstown in my mind? Or Fred McGriff and Larry Walker? Or Billy Wagner? Or another shortstop Omar Vizquel, who is on the ballot for the first time this year? He won five more Gold Gloves than Trammel.
This is a time of the year -- when a no-trade clause has more veto power than Santa Claus – that I have come to dread. Time is running out again for me to make up my mind as my ballot needs to be postmarked by New Year’s Eve, which means I could slip past Ryan Thibodaux’s HOF tracking device and escape to the closest rebel base for the Resistance.
I wish I had more time. Or Robert Mueller.
I can vote for up to 10 players. I voted for eight – the most I have ever voted for on one Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 20 years:
Chipper Jones: One of only nine players in history with at least a .300 batting average, .400 on base percentage, a .500 slugging average, and 400 career homes. The others are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Frank Thomas, and Manny Ramirez.
Jim Thome: 607 career home runs in 22 seasons.  One of only five players in the history of the game – along with Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mel Ott, and Barry Bonds -- with at least 50 home runs, 1,500 runs scored, 1,600 RBIs, and 1,700 walks.
Vladimir Guerrero: I messed up and gave too much credence to his less than glowing career defensive analytics last year instead of going with my gut feeling about his offensive prowess. Only seven other players in history of the game have at least a .318 batting average and .553 slugging percentage. Their names are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx and Rogers Hornsby.
Trevor Hoffman: Seven-time All-Star as dominant relief pitcher. Second all-time in games saves (601). Finished top 10 in Cy Young Award voting four times, including second in 1998 and 2006 – eight years apart.
Edgar Martinez: If we are making room in the Hall of Fame for pitching specialists than we should save space for hitting specialists. Seven-time All-Star with Mariners and two-time AL batting champion. One of only nine players in history with 30 homers, 500 doubles, a career batting average better than .300, a career OBP higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage higher than .500.
Jeff Kent: MVP in 2000 and finished in Top 10 three other times. One of the greatest power hitting second baseman of all-time with 351 career homers, a rare feat among middle infielders. If he had been a corner infielder with those career numbers he would be off the ballot by now.
Mike Mussina: Though he finished in the top three of Cy Young Award voting once in 18 seasons, he is one of only six modern-era pitchers with at least 250 wins and a winning percentage of .638. The others are Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens.
Curt Schilling: Runner-up for Cy Young Award three times. One of only four pitchers with at least 3,000 strikeouts and fewer than 1,000 walks. If only he had better control with his Twitter account.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

#EdgarHOF and #MooseHOF ������high five ��

December 27, 2017 at 12:57 PM  

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