Sunday, January 22, 2017

2017 Inductees

2017 Inductees

     Congratulations to this year's Hall of Fame inductees. The voters have spoken.

     Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez will grace the beloved Hall after their induction this coming summer. All three had lengthy careers, were multiple All-Stars, and were great players.
     When I look at the final ballot tally, I see that Trevor Hoffman was just five vote short of induction, so perhaps he may get in on the next vote. And that Vladimir Guerrero was fifteen votes shy. 
     I posted recently my picks for this year's ballot, and I stand behind that mythical vote. I would have voted for Mr. Guerrero, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Kent before I voted for Mr. Raines. That is not to besmirch The Rock of his accomplishment in being inducted, nor his accomplishments during his playing days either.

     It is worth noting that some of the players that have been accused of (or strongly suspected of) performance enhancement substance use and abuse, received stronger support with this year's ballot. Perhaps the time may come when these players garner enough support to be inducted despite their various dalliances.
     I am speaking of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

     Both of these greats became eligible for the Hall of Fame for the 2013 vote. Both are acknowledged to have been amongst the all-time greats before their PED use allegedly began. And neither had garnered more that 50% of the Hall of Fame vote. Until this year.

     Interestingly enough, the all-time home run king, both career and single-season has never been able to get more votes than "The Rocket".  Bonds has been able to garner a bit more support though, gaining 48.6% more votes in 2016 versus 2013. (Clemens only improved by 43.9%) So perhaps the day may come when these two are welcomed into the hallowed hall in Cooperstown.

     But, do they belong there? Well, yes they do. As does Pete Rose, as does Joe Jackson. These are the greats of the game. But, they did break the rules. And as such, the consequences are dealt with.

     But that is not to put Rose and Jackson in the same class as Bonds and Clemens. Rose and Jackson have been banned from baseball, while Bonds and Clemens have not. This past season saw Barry Bonds as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. They are eligible for the Hall of Fame. It is then up to the baseball writers to vote on their worthiness. Of this, there are no parameters. Numbers, anecdotal evidence, personal relationships, grudges and favors do all take a part of a writer's vote. And yes, so does politics.
     The one baseball writer that voted for Tim Wakefield for the Hall, instead of voting for Guerrero, Martinez or even Bonds, still retains the right to cast a vote in the 2018 election. Then, he could cast that vote for Chipper Jones, Jim Thome or even Brian Fuentes.

     So, is the problem the procedure itself? The current procedure calls for no mandate t elect any player, which was exactly what happened in 2013, when Craig Biggio was the highest vote getter, but still fell 39 votes shy of enshrinement.
     It is hard to fathom, in this day and age, that Yankee great Joe DiMaggio didn't get elected until his fourth year on the ballot. That's right...fourth. Hank Greenberg...nine years. In fact, beginning in 1956, the baseball writers voted only in even numbered years, and any inductees in those years were selected by a select committee of Veterans. And then, the writers didn't vote to induct anyone until 1962.

     With the high price of collectible memorabilia, and the big amounts that the players charge for signing said pieces, the Hall of Fame inscription carries a financial weight that wasn't there when the Hall was begun. It really has taken off in the last twenty years or so, so that may also factor into a feel, or a need, to vote for someone, if only to help them make some extra money in their retirement. But with this generation of ballplayers, and the guaranteed contracts and deferments, that shouldn't be in the equation at all.

     The Lords of Baseball are in a precarious position. Sure, they have decided to admit (via a special committee) Commissioner Bud Selig this summer, the man who allowed for many changes to the game. They have not addressed the players of the 'steroid age', but who's to say who did or didn't use enhancements to further their career? And that being said, does that cast a doubt on pitchers who may be having surgery to pre-empt any possible arm issues ahead of time? Does that fall under the performance enhancement category? Or having surgery to remove a rib, like a couple of pitchers have done, does that institute performance enhancement?

     I don't know what the answer is. But surely, someone has some idea of what to do.

     Just my two cents.

1 comment:

  1. Well we have a few comments. Most importantly I'd like to commend Mike on another well written, interesting and informative blog. As much as I think I know he does usually educate me with a tidbit or two I didn't previously know. As for the topics covered by the blog, I have a scattering of thoughts. As to the voting results I must first admit my ballot was more restrictive than this blog. My ballot would have contained Guerrero and Kent. As to who got in I have wavered on Bagwell and Pudge solely on the basis on possible PED use. If this was year 10 for both gentlemen I would have probably voted for them. It may not be fair but as long as they have eligibility there was no rush to put them in now, especially Pudge as this was his first year. Personally I am still against any PED user getting in to the Hall and I see no reason to soften or change that sentiment. As to innuendo or non proven players just suspected as users then innocent until proven guilty. And that's where using 6-7 years of eligibility to wait and see what new facts if any appear.
    As to Raines and also Hoffmann (who will probably be in next season) while they were very good I did not feel they were Hall of Famers. I understand new age stats and sabermetrics that many including this blog subscribe to make a case these two players belong but being of an age to have seen these players over the course of their careers I can use a different set of criteria. It is called the eye test. I saw them play. And while watching players a knowledgeable fan can look and say if they are watching a Hall of Famer or not. When you think of watching Trevor Hoffman what do you remember? Blowing the All Star Game? Blowing the playoffs? Blowing saves like the one I remember giving up a HR to Mike Piazza? Do you remember watching a dominant closer? When you think of Raines in his prime on the Expos was he the guy you feared in the clutch? Over Dawson or Gary Carter? Again I don't think so.
    As to the Blog's points: Guys are now having 2nd Tommy John procedures and ribs being removed is based upon a medical need. So the argument comparing it to PEDS is more than apples and oranges it is a false analogy.
    I never understood the NFL rule that 4 players must be elected. That kind of logic leads to players not deserving the honor being enshrined. While it is not desirable from a marketing point of view but if no one is deserving than no one should get in that year.
    Yes voting for Tim Wakefield may be a wasted vote or an insult to the Hall but the voters are free to vote for their ten. If a player is on the ballot then you can not penalize someone for voting for him. The only answer is creating a committee to reduce the ballot before it is sent to the voters. But what kind of committee would that be? who would be on it? Who gets eliminated? Would the voters be able to vote on borderline players like Al Oliver, Fred McGriff, Vada Pinson, Jeff Kent? I think minimal criteria and ambiguous criteria is the way it should be done. Otherwise get rid of the voters and just leave it to computers. Decide what the WAR value for enshrinement is and when a player reaches that number he's in. Please note that last comment was sarcasm.
    My final comment pertains to Pete Rose. I would not enshrine Pete Rose for what he did but I still think the agreement between MLB and Rose should have been honored. And when asked at the press conference A Bart Giamatti said it would be up to the writers to decide if Rose went in and that ability was taken away from them at the last minute.