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America’s Moral Arbiters Botch Another Vote

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Well, at least good for the three very deserving players who got in. The fourth deserving player who didn’t get in by two votes in part because of voters with idiotic personal vendettas of some sort was not so good. (Of course, the BBWAA will continue to let blogger Murray Chass vote while stripping the vote of the guy who turned his over to an electorate that actually takes the vote seriously.) And then there’s the greatest-hitting catcher in baseball history, who was kept out although there’s exactly as much evidence that he used PEDs as there is against the three guys who were voted in. And then there’s two players among the 10 greatest ever, who got about 35% of the vote despite not breaking any rules of the game of their time because of incoherent narcissitic moralizaing about nothing of substance.

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  • DrS

    Irony, thy name is Jon Heyman

    • Sherm

      Is he really that stupid? Does he know what the word “sanctimonious” means?

      • I really don’t understand why baseball fans are so passionate about who gets into the Hall of Fame. It’s a stupid popularity contest. It doesn’t matter. If you care about the game, you have your own opinions as to who is great anyway. And I am not aware of these arguments even going on with respect to other sports. MAYBE Ray Guy not being in Canton, but that’s about it.

        I detect that a lot of what is going on here arises out of the whole sabermetrics movement. Obviously, those advanced statistics have been accepted where they count, in front offices. But they aren’t accepted among Hall of Fame voters. But again, who the hell cares? It doesn’t matter who is in the fricking Hall of Fame. The only thing that matters is what happens when they play the games.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I have almost no interest in the stats thing. I go to a game, watch it, root for the home team, and when it’s over go home and on to something else. I think it just gives people something to talk about when it’s -20 degrees and the earliest game is three, four months out

        • Brien Jackson

          Nah. The new stats/old stats stuff is mostly friendly peripheral discussion at this point. Outside of a few old cranks afraid of losing their venerated status if the language changes (not counting anonymous internet commenters) there’s really no “war” going on between stats geeks and writers. Disagreement is mostly friendly, and a lot of times trivial.

          The contentious stuff is all about The Steroid Era. Namely: The attitude of a dispositive portion of the writers that they’re going to take it upon themselves to exact vengeance against a large number of the best players of a pretty important period in the game’s history, and to do so with only minimal amounts of logic or fairness.

          And to a lesser extent, the reality of the internet has pushed more voters to write explanations for their ballots, and the sheer stupidity of a lot of that offends some people.

        • R. Johnston

          I really don’t understand why baseball fans are so passionate about who gets into the Hall of Fame.

          It’s politics, of the good kind. Do you believe in empiricism, or are you a Republican?

          People who shun empiricism have no place in polite society.

        • junker

          Who exactly appointed you king of how to enjoy sports? Perhaps those of us who have strong opinions about the HOF want it to be more than a popuarity contest. Deadspin is fighting to reform the system.

          • Mark D’ski

            What is the HOF? The temple of the baseball religion?A money making venture of some rich guys? This is the central argument. As a private business venture let the investors decide how to run it (including who is to be so “honored” in it). If it is the temple of the baseball religion, well, go schismatic if you disagree with whom they (HOF) honor. In other words build your own temple!

      • timb

        His picture is right next to it in the dictionary. One would think he would be outraged to learn that he doesn’t know what it means

  • brad

    Just be glad Morris didn’t make it, and hope the VC doesn’t do what seems inevitable.
    Morris falling off does seem to be good news for David Eckstein’s “candidacy” in a year or two, tho.

    • sharculese

      Eckstein cut a fake commercial for the law firm on Parks and Rec they named after him (Babip, Vorp, Pecota & Eckstein) , in which he describes his legal skills using only sportswriter cliches. If nothing else, he has earned a place in the Having a Sense of Humor About the Whole Thing Hall of Fame.

      • wjts

        That is hilarious.

      • brad

        That deserves a linking.

        And yes.

      • CaptBackslap

        Especially considering that Michael Schur used to destroy Eckstein on FJM.

        • sharculese

          Def. Merits of Schur’s arguments aside, it probably sucks a lot to have praise for your abilities singled out as What Is Wrong With Baseball Journalism, and I’m impressed that Eckstein could apparently take it in stride like that.

  • Sherm

    Just pathetic. I can never recall such a worthy pool of candidates, and only three got in. And Lee Smith got more votes than Mussina and Schilling. WTF? I liked the Deadspin ballot btw. My only disagreement was Edgar over Raines.

    • Breadbaker

      Both Edgar and Raines shouldn’t have been on the ballot this year. They both should have been voted in years ago. If you picked 10 obvious Hall of Famers out of the 15 or so obvious Hall of Famers on this year’s ballot, no one should complain.

      • Yeah, Raines was one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time, and Martinez was a terrific run-producer, with great all-around lifetime stats.

        Also too – imo – Albert Belle, who, while being a total dickhead and asshole, put-up 10 years of run-producing stats worthy of a HOFer!!!

  • mark f

    I’m sort of reconciled to the reality that Clemens and Bonds won’t get in, which I don’t agree with. Who are the voters who picked one but not the other? It makes no sense. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe voted for Clemens but not Bonds. If you’re going to allow only of them in, Bonds seems like the better choice.

    I think Frank Thomas is a well-deserved selection, and I’m glad to see the DH position get a little respect (put Edgar in too). But just for fun I checked some numbers on Bonds and Thomas. Thomas, unlike Ken Griffey Jr, didn’t have any significant negative WAR years affecting his career total (according to baseball-reference, Thomas had one -0.2 year), and he retired with 73.6. Barry Bonds had 99.6 — at the end of the 1998 season. Even if you limit it to oWAR they’re close to equal; Thomas’s career bested the alt-verse Bonds who died on his way to 1999 spring training by 1.5 oWAR. And it’s not like traditional baseball people didn’t recognize Bonds’s dominance at the time: 3 MVPs, 8 Gold Gloves and 7 Silver Sluggers. He was also already a member of the 400 HR-400 SB club, of which he remains the only member.

    It’s absurd even before you factor in the plaudits these same voters were bestowing upon known users at the time.

    But it’s almost worse that some are being so stingy based on principles that aren’t just arbitrary but also fickly applied. I think it was Dan Shaughnessey who said Tim Raines just never looked like a Hall of Famer to him . . . except, apparently, in the years in which he voted for him. Buster Olney pointed out that some writers wouldn’t vote for more than 4 or 5 candidates even if the ballot were composed of an all-time All Star team. Now we’ve got a backlog with more coming, so it’s only going to get worse.

    TL;DR fuck these guys are annoying and stupid.

    • Sherm

      I neither know nor suspect that the Big Hurt was a PED user, but simply because he was outspoken against PEDs and Giambi winning an MVP over him shouldn’t have been a factor in determining his innocence over Piazza and Bagwell. Its really odd that his mouth was enough for him to escape suspicion from these voters despite his massive size. Hell, I remember when ARod was outspoken against PEDs and was going to save the record book from the evil Barry Bonds.

      • mark f

        Yeah, I remember when Curt Schilling, post-Game of Shadows, I guess, called ARod the only “legit” 40-40 guy.

      • Denverite

        Read the SSS article. In addition to his longtime public stance, he aged — both physically (he got fatter and slower) and stat-wise (his 30s stat lines read like a quintessential decline phase) — like pre-PED players.

        • Sherm

          His age 38 and 39 seasons were hardly quintessential evidence of a standard decline phase. But I’m not here to smear the Big Hurt, just to defend Piazza and Bagwell and to bemoan the hypocrisy of the voters.

          • Denverite

            The ones that were 50 and 100+ points off of his career OPS?

            Decline phases — especially for the really great players — usually don’t look like a smooth downward-sloping curve. It’s an injured year here, a bad year there, with bounce-back seasons (though never as good as their peak seasons) sprinkled in.

            • Sherm

              Fair enough. But if you want to discuss a typical decline phase of a career pre-steroid era, look no further than at Mike Piazza.

              • DrS

                That just proves how fragile he was due to the PEDs

    • mpowell

      The thing is, if Bonds and Clemens don’t get in, the HOF becomes a joke. It would be much more prudent to vote in Clemens and Bonds while stiffing guys like Sosa, Palmeiro and McGwire. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but it seems like it would serve their purposes better. Unless their purpose is to make a big stink out of things until MLB does something dramatic like take their vote away.

      • Well, Palmeiro lost his eligibility this year, so…

      • The HoF has always been a joke.

        Pete Rose isn’t in because of things he did as a manager not a player.

        The thing that’s amazing to me is that the players in the Hall are even worse about this stuff. Basically, they don’t want anyone else in, except players that were much better than themselves, to increase their own glory.

    • Brien Jackson

      “Buster Olney pointed out that some writers wouldn’t vote for more than 4 or 5 candidates even if the ballot were composed of an all-time All Star team. ”

      If Murray Chass is good for anything, it’s no longer giving enough shits to keep the secrets of the crusty old club a secret. He once actually published a declaration that he never voted for me than 3 (I think it was 3 anyway, might have been 4 but it was something around there and well below 10) people on anyone ballot…because if more than that were inducted everyone would be late for dinner that night.

  • snarkout

    15% of voters think Jack Morris is a more worthy selection than Rock Raines. At least Ken Gurnick has said he’s not going to vote in the future.

  • CaptBackslap

    How the hell did Mussina get only 20% while Glavine got in easily? Moose was pretty clearly the better pitcher (although Glavine’s relatively good hitting for a pitcher was a nice bonus).

    • snarkout

      Four additional 20-win seasons, two Cy Youngs, and 35 more wins.

      • CaptBackslap

        The Cy Youngs are a reasonable argument (if you tend more towards looking for the best peak), but 35 more wins in almost 1000 more IP isn’t impressive even if you care about wins.

        • I hadn’t really looked at how similar their statistics were until you raised the point. Mussina better? It’s not a clear-cut call, but I can see an argument can be made for it.

          That said, Glavine was the second or sometimes first best pitcher on most of the league champion teams he played for, and he played for quite a number with Atlanta. Would you make the same case for Mussina, given the staff he pitched on? I’m not sure you can, and it’s hard to factor out that kind of subjective viewpoint in a HoF vote.

          • Sherm

            You can’t just look at the final career stats, you also have to look at how the player got there. Glavine had more impressive seasons, including two Cy Youngs and two second place finishes. Mussina never sniffed one. Both HOFers imo. But Glavine was better.

            • CaptBackslap

              Mussina had a second-place Cy year*, and a bunch of other top five finishes. Mussina had 10 seasons with an ERA+ of 130 or more; Glavine had 8 (and Mussina had 18 seasons total as opposed to 22 for Glavine).

              *although it is correct that he had no chance at first place, as the year was 1999

            • Brien Jackson

              Actually, I think this is probably backwards too. Glavine had ~6 +5 bWAR seasons (I’m rounding a 4.8 and 4.9 up just for the sake of argument), with two +6 seasons and one +8 season. Mussina had ten +5 seasons (none rounded up), four +6 seasons, two +7 seasons, and one +8 season. So, no, I’d say Mussina is the better pitcher on that metric too, it just isn’t as appreciated because of a mix of retrograde stats/TBS/and not being part of a famous group of pitchers.

          • Rob

            Clearly Glavine playing for a better Atlanta teams makes up for 18 WAR.

            Mussina was a significantly better pitcher.

            • Anon21

              I wouldn’t use fWAR to measure a career. The things it knocks Glavine for—maintaining a low ERA by stranding runners and generally changing his style of pitching with men on base—do not stabilize within a single season, but over 4400 innings, they do. Glavine was better than his FIP.

              • Sherm

                This.

              • Brien Jackson

                As a general rule, fWAR is more useful if you’re trying to predict future performance. To make after the fact determinations of performance, bWAR’s use of runs allowed is a better method, IMO, unless you run in to some sort of really wacky outlier.

                • Funny how the strengths and weaknesses of the two WAR methods align so well with the goals of the two sites. Almost as if it was planned!

    • mpowell

      Yeah, Glavine’s case is actually pretty weak.

    • Sherm

      Lee Smith got more votes than Mussina and you’re worried about Glavine? Your anger is misplaced.

      • brad

        Lee Smith got about the same number as Moose and Walker combined.
        That’s under 30 career WAR being valued more than about 150 combined.

        • mark f

          That Larry Walker is basically a HOF afterthought is perplexing. His case is much more interesting than Lee Smith’s or Jack Morris’s.

          • Scott Lemieux

            It’s not 100% obvious that Raines should be the Expos cause celbre of choice. Walker was really, really good.

            • brad

              Had I a vote and the ballot was unlimited, I’d want to vote for him, but I don’t know that he’d make my top 10. While low info voters are wrong to hold their inability to see more than just the pre-humidor Coors effect in his numbers, health is a skill and it’s the one major one he lacked.
              He really is an interesting case, but I doubt he’ll ever make it in.

              • DrS

                Assume worst case scenario, and they filled in for walker with a replacement player. Fill in his stats with expected production for said player. Iirc, he still looks really good, but been awhile since I played with that stuff.

      • CaptBackslap

        Smith shouldn’t get in, but comparing a starter with a reliever is tougher.

        • Sherm

          Very easy comparison. Reliever = fungible asset not good enough to be a good starter who is much less valuable than a good starter.

  • JMG

    I am a Hall voter (ex-writer division. To get it out of the way, I voted for Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Bagwell, Raines, Schilling and Biggio in addition to the three players who did get in, the maximum 10 choices. I post this just to express modest disagreement with Mr. Lemieux’s contention in Deadspin that the PED pariahs don’t get votes because they have shattered the writers’ nostalgia for their youths.
    IMO, the hatred for the PED users, known or merely suspected, is a form of self-hatred. As journalists, the voters, almost all of whom covered that era, are deeply ashamed of their professional failure to report on PED use or even to suspect it was a story in the first place.
    I failed to do that myself, and I regret it, but I got over feeling bad about it years ago. It’s not Roger Clemens’ fault I never won a Pulitzer.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I think that’s part of it. But that doesn’t explain 1)why nobody cares about PED use in the NFL, and 2)why Andy Pettite, say, isn’t a pariah.

      • JMG

        Nobody cares about PEDs in the NFL for two reasons, one little, one big. The little one is that the NFL routinized PED crime and punishment so that the fans and media accept it as part of the game. The big one is that even the dimmest football fan knows the game is so brutal and filled with so much pain that I believe there is more of a “whatever gets you over” attitude about PED use.
        Look at Rodney Harrison. Had a four game (equivalent to 40 games in baseball) suspension for human growth hormone use. Now he’s a lead commentator on NBC. Imagine that happening in baseball!
        As for Andy Pettitte, only the most delusional of Yankee fans ever think of him as a Hall candidate. Bonds, Clemens, etc. are disliked because they were great and PEDs made them greater. Nobody draws attention to themselves not voting for Andy.

        • brad

          68 career WAR and a season’s worth of same level postseason production to find some way to value don’t make for a blithely waved away HOF case, sorry.
          I wouldn’t vote for him, but he’s got a better case than Morris ever did, and no one questioned his legitimacy on the ballot.

          • Sherm

            Pettitte had such a unique career in that its rare to see a player put up his career stats without ever being more than just a good pitcher. He had no career peak to speak of and was never considered one of the best pitchers in the game, but he was able to pitch at a very good level for a very long time. In all of my years of following baseball, I can’t think of a good comp for him.

            • brad

              He had two Cy caliber seasons, tho. 97 and 05 are HOF quality seasons, as is, arguably, 96. But that’s not to really dispute your point. I wouldn’t vote for him because I value peak over consistency, but especially if you simply just value his postseason numbers as another full season plus worth of prime regular season stats added to his totals, then he has 275 wins and probably about 75 WAR.
              There is a case to be made, even allowing for the fact that not many players get the chance to build up that much postseason value. But he did do it, too.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                “value peak over consistency”

                it’s funny. I feel the other way round about it. I think in something as difficult as pro sports, it’s more of an accomplishment to be good over a long span than really great for a season or two

            • Denverite

              He does have an odd track. If you squint you can see a bit of a peak from age 28 to age 35, with a couple of bad/injured seasons thrown in.

              But looking at pitchers I assumed would be comparable — Tommy John, Morris, Kenny Rogers — they have a lot more variability and aren’t really all that comparable.

              • Sherm

                Yeah, he’s basically a guy with a career 3.90 ERA or so who had a 3.90 ERA or so every year of his career. Most guys with his final stat line had great years in their primes, and then shitty years at the end of their careers to drag their numbers down. He really had neither.

                • brad

                  Well, to further draw on the Pettitte/Morris comparison, Andy’s career 3.85 ERA is a 117 ERA+. Morris’s 3.90 is 105. Morris’s career best ERA+ was 133, Pettitte bested that 3 times and fell a point shy of matching it another time.
                  Pettitte, to me, is the definition of the fence. There’s nothing to clearly define him as a HOFer, but the more you look the harder it is to find reasons to rule him out. I compare him to Morris because I think 15 on the ballot then maybe the VC backdoor would be appropriate and more deserved.

                • Sherm

                  Neither are HOFers imo. Morris belongs in the Hall of the Massively Overrated. Pettitte in the Hall of The Very Good.

                • brad

                  I don’t disagree, I mean as to whether one or both get in. If Pettitte ended up in the HOF via that route it wouldn’t be a travesty, despite JMG’s opinion. I’m not saying he deserves the spot, but all in all he’d be lower middle class in there, not on the list of worst inductees.

                • howard

                  i’m late to this party, but i wanted to note that i agreed completely with sherm: there’s nothing wrong with being a damn good player (as pettite was), but that is not qualification for the hall in my estimation.

                  i think pettite was the epitome of a high calibre #2 starter, an asset to his team, a great competitor who never gave in, but while he had his dominant games, he wasn’t a dominant pitcher.

            • Tucker

              Don Sutton

              • Tucker

                “In all of my years of following baseball, I can’t think of a good comp for him.”

                My previous comment was in response to Sherm and Don Sutton is in the hall presumably because he won 300 games.

        • efgoldman

          Nobody cares about PEDs in the NFL for two reasons….

          I’d make it three: there’s no murky morals/character clause for NFL voters.
          Once upon a time, I thought the MLB system of voting by any credentialed individual was superior to the NFL’s committee system. No more.
          Also, nobody sees more ball games than broadcasters. Somebody like Vin Scully or the late Ernie Harwell certainly is as qualified as some BBWA member who might not even a baseball writer any more.
          [OTOH, if Vin Scully gets a vote, then Hawk Harrelson does too. Never mind.]

          • Brien Jackson

            There’s no reason beyond inertia to outsource voting for the Hall of Fame to the BBWAA anyore. Not only are they not especially privileged when it comes to seeing games anymore thanks to television, but the explosion in media means that they aren’t even that representative of the overall baseball media either. The Hall really should do away with that and figure out a new method of getting a much superior voting pool.

          • CaptBackslap

            Zombie Ernie Harwell would be an improvement on Murray Chass.

            But you wouldn’t care, because your brain would be lonnnnnnng gone.

            • rea

              Stand there like a house by the side of the road while I point out that Zombie Ernie Harwell would be an improvement over just about anyone.

      • JKTHs

        1)why nobody cares about PED use in the NFL

        Obviously because there is none. Do you see NFL players setting single-season home run records?

      • Brien Jackson

        For what it’s worth, I’ve never talked to a writer who’s actually given me any reason to believe that there’s any validity to this theory, and that goes especially for some of the most stringer anti-PED voices. Just yesterday I was going back and forth on this with Howard Bryant on Facebook, and far from essentially saying he was covering his ass, he out and out admitted to still being pissed off at having players taking shots at him for bringing up juicing at the time.

        So while it’ss true that the worm has turned on the matter, I don’t think there’s any “self-loathing” aspect to it, so much as the writers seem to be following the attitude of the audience.

      • Larry

        From out of left field, Scott, I think people identify with the individuals in baseball much more than they identify with the individuals in football. Baseball seems more of an individual sport too. You can see the player batting and get to know his stance and his home run trot. You can recognize him without even seeing his number. In the same way you can identify a pitcher by his windup (Juan Marichal!) or some players just by the way they walk on the field. You can see their faces more as well. In baseball, also you have a lot of time waiting around for something to happen, and when something happens you get to see how your favorite player reacts – and you’re pulling for him to do well and your hopes can rise and fall with him. You see it in real time and not on instant replay. It’s the emotional involvement.

        Andy Pettite isn’t a pariah because he’s a lefty. Just kidding, but maybe because only one pariah per team at a time is allowed in the popular imagination. And you have to admit he does come off much less terrible than did Clemens at the same exact moment in time. Maybe it was an “at least he’s not a lying asshole like Clemens” thing.

        • Pettite fessed up. His justification was reasonable– he was trying to recovery from injuries– and plausible. As noted above his hallmark was his consistency. Clemens’ PED use bumped his numbers, and that’s the thing that the writers seem to object to. In addition, Clemens was a jerk and Andy was generally liked by the writers who covered him, so when Clemens threw Pettite (and his wife) to the wolves it became another reason to dislike Clemens.

          Would I vote for Pettite? Probably not. Would I vote for Clemens? I’d like to think that the objective case for his induction would overcome my dislike for him. As it is, I take comfort in knowing that he had a winning record against every team he played against– except the Mets.

          • DrS

            His justification was reasonable– he was trying to recovery from injuries– and plausible.

            I didn’t realize that there was a theraputic exception for PEDs

          • Sherm

            He fessed up twice because his first confession was less than candid. A real truth teller!

  • Denverite

    And then there’s the greatest-hitting catcher in baseball history, who was kept out although there’s exactly as much evidence that he used PEDs as there is against the three guys who were voted in.

    This may be technically true, but Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza aren’t exactly similarly situated with respect to PEDs. One was a longtime and outspoken critic of PED use in baseball. One wasn’t.

    http://www.southsidesox.com/2013/12/24/5213682/frank-thomas-long-strong-stance-against-steroids-in-baseball

    • Sherm

      And I could easily lecture on the evils of alcohol, but please don’t take a look inside of my over-sized recycling bin.

      • Denverite

        If you click through the link, they address this.

        Sure, Thomas could be a huge, glaring hypocrite and have used PEDs despite be a vocal critic of them since at least the mid 90s. But he’d have to be a huge, glaring hypocrite. Piazza has has been silent on the issue. Like I said, they’re not similarly situated.

        • mark f

          I’m pretty sure Piazza has been silent on every issue except nu-metal.

        • Sherm

          But why should silence equate to guilt in the absence of any evidence against him? Both big guys. Neither failed a drug test. Neither was implicated in any PED scandal or distribution ring. That’s similarly situated enough for me.

          • mark f

            Hey, look, Gary Hart said he wouldn’t fool around on his wife so he is obviously more faithful than that lusty-hearted Jimmy Carter.

            • Epsilon

              We have a winner of the Internets for today…

          • Denverite

            I didn’t say that silence should be taken as evidence against Piazza. Indeed, I said that the statement that there is just as much evidence that Piazza was using as there is that the other three were using was technically true.

            What I said is that the two aren’t similarly situated on the issue of PED use. They’re not.

            • Sherm

              But the only alleged distinction is Thomas’ words v. Piazza’s silence. I have never vehemently denied killing Nicole Brown. Does that mean that OJ and I are similarly situated with respect to her death?

              Sorry for the snark. I’m a Mets fan, and I’m pissed about Piazza getting screwed again.

              • Denverite

                I would put it more like this.

                In this day and age, there is an inherent suspicion that players who played most of their career from the mid 90s to the mid 00s were using PEDs. This suspicion is especially strong when the player was a big slugger. One way to overcome that suspicion is to be a vocal PED opponent, especially when that opposition was voiced in the mid 90s, when PED use was a much less publicized issue.

                • Matt

                  Piazza was quoted the other day saying he never used PEDs other than amphetamines, which he said he tried a couple of times and didn’t like because they made him jittery. I don’t know if that’s the first time he’s said anything or not, but my understanding is that’s his official claim. I don’t actually care if it’s true, I’ll admit.

              • Brien Jackson

                Rafael Palmeiro swore he was clean in front of Congree. Fuck, Roger Clemens requested that he be called before Congress so that he could deny using “PE”Ds. This is…not a compelling standard.

                • howard

                  let’s go a step further: why is it any player’s job to agree that peds ruined the game or were cheating?

                  i don’t agree and i sure as hell don’t expect a player to have to agree as a precondition to being regarded as one of history’s finest players.

                  alternatively, we could throw out all the amphetamine users, all the ball scuffers, all the vaseline throwers, all the bat corkers, and everyone who benefitted from segregation in baseball to fatten up their numbers, at which point i’m fine with keeping out the ped users too.

    • How many star players have taken a strong stance against PEDs?

      And an implication of your suggestion is that a vote for Thomas may have been cast as a “fuck you” to Clemens, et al and not an actual vote on the merits of Thomas’s performance. What does that say about his induction in light of Piazza barely cracking 60%?

      • Denverite

        You could argue Schilling, but Thomas’s opposition dates back well before his. (Thomas apparently saw a lot of PED use while playing football at Auburn and didn’t like it.)

        Thomas’s career looks like Ted Williams for the first half, and Fred McGriff for the second half (when he was injured a lot). He won two MVPs and was robbed for a third in 2000. He’s inarguably one of the ten greatest righthanded hitters in baseball history, and you could make an argument he’s in the top five. He deserves to go in. (Piazza does as well, but Thomas is more deserving.)

        • Sherm

          Everyone here agrees that Thomas deserves to go in. The disagreement is with the voters’ arbitrary decision to declare him clean and Piazza and Bagwell dirty.

          • Denverite

            The disagreement is with the voters’ arbitrary decision to declare him clean and Piazza and Bagwell dirty.

            Again, I think a better way to look at it is that Thomas did enough (through his public stance, which again, could be an Armstrongesque acting job) to dispell the general suspicion that applies to mid 90s and early 00s sluggers, whereas Piazza and Bagwell didn’t.

          • If it seemed I was arguing that Thomas didn’t deserve in, I apologize. He does, but so does Piazza. My argument is over snubbing Piazza in favor of first balloter Thomas.

    • Scott Lemieux

      but Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza aren’t exactly similarly situated with respect to PEDs.

      If your logic requires the belief that Lance Armstrong was clean in 2010, it’s probably not a very useful metric.

      • Denverite

        There was a LOT of evidence that Armstrong wasn’t clean in 2010. If there was no evidence, and you were comparing him to another cyclist who had been silent for years in the face of rumors of doping, then yeah, you’d expect that Armstrong was more likely to be clean than the hypothetical other guy. (This is setting aside the assertion that Armstrong’s times were impossible absent doping, which I’ve heard but don’t really know enough to evaluate.)

        • L2P

          I think you’re missing all the Armstrong PED-bashing (until he got banged for doping, of course). And don’t forget Rafael

          Piazza and Thomas are different re TALKING about PED use. They aren’t different about ACTUAL PED use. It’s bullshit to think that vocal opposition to PED use, or lack of it, makes you any more or less likely to have used them.

        • Jay B.

          But there is NO evidence that Piazza used PEDs at all. None.

          • Sherm

            That a man who wore catching gear for three hours a day in the heat might have had some acne on his back is not evidence of steroid use?

            • ninja3000

              Hey, come on, I had bacne after a summer of being a tree surgeon during college. Of course, that was back before the East Germans invented PEDs…

        • Actually, it was his 2009 and 2010 blood samples that led the USADA to issue their finding which cracked his wall of silence.

  • Mrs__B, who knows nothing about baseball other than what she’s picked up working on her tan over the last seven years as I watch games at Shea/CityF, does not know Glavine’s name but liked to watch him and refers to him, based on his demeanor, as “the undertaker.”

    She will be pleased.

    • efgoldman

      Glavine did pretty well for a hockey player.

  • Stan Gable

    Interesting that the Deadspin vote was less than 100% for Maddux. I’m not sure how you can claim to follow baseball for any length of time and not cast a vote for him.

    • mark f

      And a higher percentage of them voted for Maddux than credentialed HOF voters did!

      • ASV

        The HOF voters at least had a reasonable excuse — if you wanted to vote for 11 guys, Maddux is the obvious one to leave off, because he’s the most open and shut case on the ballot and you can be very confident he’ll get to 75% without you. The Deadspin people probably voted for Ray Durham and nobody else, for the lulz.

    • brad

      There are trolls on the internet.

      • Stan Gable

        I guess so but the internet community has harped on the “no one gets a unanimous vote” thing for a while. It just seemed funny to me.

    • When Seaver was inducted with nearly 99% of the vote, two voters came forward and stated that no one, not even Tom Seaver, deserved to be inducted on the first ballot.

      So there you go. That’s a mentality to deal with.

      • TT

        I heard recently that one of those two voters was Bill Conlin. Yeah, that Bill Conlin.

    • Mark Field

      Considering that there were writers who didn’t vote for Willie Fucking Mays or Henry Fucking Aaron, I can’t say I’m surprised that some failed to vote for Maddux.

      • Mike Schilling

        Nolan Ryan got 491 votes out of 497. 98.8%
        Wille Mays got 409 votes out of 432. 94.7%

        I can’t explain this without using the word “morons”.

        • Denverite

          I can think of another word.

          • sharculese

            To be fair, racists are a subset of morons.

            • Denverite

              My relatives in the south would disagree with you.

              (Not that they’re racists. Well, some of them. But they would say that some people are racists because they’re brought up that way and are never really exposed to the view that it’s wrong, or they’re constantly bombarded with the message that some of their cracker views aren’t really racist. I have no opinion on the issue.)

              • Denverite

                Juuuuuuust for the sake of clarity, I have no opinion on the question of people with moronic racist views can be non-morons in other contexts.

                • I think the correct phrases are:

                  fucking racist morons for those that qualify as racists, and,

                  fucking morons for the rest.

        • Stan Gable

          FWIW, Ryan and Mays aren’t great comps – different era, different positions etc.

          Wille Mays got 409 votes out of 432. 94.7%
          Mickey Mantle got got 322 votes out of 365. 88.2%

          While Mays is the better player, it’s pretty hard to argue that Mantle doesn’t belong and he was white/played in NY for his entire career etc. It may just be that the number of old curmudgeons has been trending lower over time.

          Mays also scored higher than Williams or Musial.

          • rea

            it’s pretty hard to argue that Mantle doesn’t belong

            If you think morals ought to keep the likes of Bonds out, what do you make of Mantle, who repeatedly let his team down badly as a result of out-of-control drinking and amphetamine use?

            http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/1/7/5284236/time-to-delete-mickey-mantle-from-the-hall-of-fame

            • howard

              i swear i hadn’t read this before my 9:56 posting up above that said we can keep the ped users out of the hall as soon as we throw out the amphetamine users, the ball scuffers, the beneficiaries of segregation, etc.

              • Anonymous

                The difference is: Bonds used abused subtances to win games; Mantle did it and lost them.

        • It’s hard to say that a guy who held nearly every “strength” pitching record (Ks, no-hitters, one-hitters and yes, BBs) and is one of only two pitchers in the HoF with more strikeouts than innings pitched shouldn’t have an enormous percentage. Mays was great, perhaps the best at his position ever, but he wasn’t as far above his class as Ryan as a power pitcher.

    • Crunchy Frog

      In any on-line poll 1-5% of the replies will be wrong on any question. By “wrong” I mean “aren’t what the person believes”. Causes include everything from intentional sabotage/trolling to data entry error to misunderstanding the question.

      This is how we get polls that show things like “4% of registered Democrats think that Fox is the most accurate TV news source”.

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym

      Well, you could only vote for 10 players, and there have to be some well intentioned and intelligent voters thinking “Greg Maddux is definitely in, Bonds and Clemens and Raines and Martinez and six other guys definitely need my vote.” There is a certain logic to that.

      • Crunchy Frog

        But the Deadspin poll was a simple yes/no question for each of the candidates, which makes it hard to understand “no” for Maddux. Either these were in error, or intentional troll votes, or perhaps there are a few people harboring grudges against Maddux for one reason or another.

        • Mike Schilling

          It’s an internet poll. Some of them thought they were voting against Gary Maddox.

          • efgoldman

            Some of them thought they were voting against Gary Maddox.

            Or Greg’s brother, Mike Maddux, a journeyman MLB pitcher, now a pitching coach.

          • sparks

            It’s an internet poll. They could have thought they were voting for/against Lester Maddox.

        • Bartleby

          Cubs fans?

        • MattT

          Yeah, but their final ballot could still have only 10 votes, so there was still a zero sum aspect to it. If I had a HOF vote this year, I could actually imagine not including Maddux, since he was obviously going to get in anyway, and there were 10 other people who I also thought should get in and weren’t guaranteed it. Although I agree that people screwing around and trolling is the most likely explanation.

          • efgoldman

            If I had a HOF vote this year, I could actually imagine not including Maddux, since he was obviously going to get in anyway

            If I lived in VA, i might not have bothered voting of AG, because the Dem was going to get in anyway.
            Wait! What???

            • MattT

              That was a case where you wanted one outcome to happen and one not to happen, and the two outcomes were mutually exclusive (one office, it can go to the Dem or the nutcase). This is a case of wanting multiple outcomes that are not mutually exclusive (Maddux gets in, other people who also deserve it get in)

              If you could vote for unlimited candidates, there’s no reason not to vote for Maddux. If you think Maddux will get in without your vote but say, Trammel might not, I can see the justification. It’s just a totally different kind of vote.

              • Brien Jackson

                Right, and even if by a weird fluke Maddux somehow didn’t get 75%, you’d at least be beyond confident that he’d definitely be getting in next year. If you were worried about Mike Mussina or Edgar Martinez not clearing 5%, that would mean they wouldn’t even be on the ballot again.

        • Cubs fans who never forgave Maddux for wanting to win a world series.

          Misery hates folks who find a better way.

    • Brien Jackson

      I was thinking about that, but to be honest, if I had a real vote this year, I probably would have left Maddux off and voted for 10 other people myself, simply because if I was going to have to leave off someone who deserved induction I’d feel better about leaving off someone who was going to get voted in anyway. I have no idea if any actual voters did that, though.

    • Brian

      So why didn’t Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb get 100% in the initial vote, or anyone else thereafter, like Henry Aaron or Ted Williams? Simply no understanding the thinking of some of these writers….

  • Scott, I take comfort in the fact that Piazza’s percentage edged down very little (MoE even) while the three roiders — Clemens, Sosa, and Bonds — dropped like stones. And Palmeiro is no longer eligible, having drawn under 5%.

    Piazza will get in eventually, I think, altho he may have to do some more lobbying. Maybe rescue a kitten from a tree or something.

    • Sherm

      He’ll get in, but it’ll take a few more years I suspect.

      • MattT

        His numbers went up this year. He probably won’t get in next year with the Martinez/Johnson glut of new eligible candidates, but his numbers should creep up over the few years after that and get him in. I was more concerned to see Trammel, Raines and Bagwell get fewer votes, although if you are going to insist on only voting for 2-3 people regardless of how many good candidates there are, I guess it is to be expected.

        • rea

          Well, they’ve jammed up the ballot (partly but not compeltely, over the steroid business) to the point at which there are more than 10 players on the ballot who clearly deserve to get in.

        • Yes, I misread the percentages. He gained about 5%. He’ll get in, just a matter of next year or 2016.

    • TT

      I think Piazza certainly deserves to get in, but we are definitely in Bizarro territory when the greatest-hitting catcher (or definitely one of the top two) garners 62% of the HOF vote while arguably the greatest hitter of all time, period, gets only 34%.

      • Denverite

        I agree with you, but just to play devil’s advocate, you could argue that Bonds is unique among the PED users because no one else was actually convicted of a crime related to their PED use.

      • Brian

        The greatest hitter of all time was Babe Ruth, and there is no dissent allowed (unless you mention Ted Williams. You’d be wrong, but it’s a permissible erroneous opinion).

  • Scott P.

    I don’t know what it is that turns Progressives into Repiblicans when it comes to drugs. A bunch of privileged men gamed the system, harming the health and careers of others in the process. But it wasn’t “against the rules (wink, wink)” so taking any action at all in response would be unfair.

    The bankers at AIG applaud that twisted logic in defense of the indefensible.

    • Joe

      The problem I have is comparing this to things like criminalization of marijuana as the two things, to paraphrase the ‘dumb hysteria’ link is really “alike” except in a very narrow way. It is not merely some “hysteria” to be concerned about steroid use. The rule includes discouraging young players (including minors) from using them. Making A-Rod some sort of victim, especially since he is being targeted for more than allegedly using something but for allegedly interfering with the investigative process, is really tiresome.

      If usage is “incoherent narcissitic moralizaing about nothing of substance” why is the stuff not allowed? It is OUTRAGEOUS really, since there is no substance to it. It isn’t outrageous because there is a decent reason to draw lines here. We don’t want to encourage teenage ball players to use steroids to be good athletes. We aren’t putting them in jail for it. Perspective, please.

      • Brien Jackson

        Actually, I think drug war hysteria is intrinsically linked to PED hysteria, if only subconsciously. After all, no writer would seriously consider ranting about how awful it is that modern ballplayers can get LASIK surgery to fix substandard eyesight (pretty important!) or get surgeries that didn’t exist in the 1930’s to fix injuries that would have ended Warren Spahn’s career. It’s only drugs that are different*

        And, of course, there’s the similarity where any presence of drug hysteria makes everyone forget about such irrelevancies as the 4th amendment or the collective bargaining process. What, you think the witches accused DRUG USERS have rights?!

        *(And even this is weirdly applied. You can’t take HGH after an offseason surgery even if your doctor recommends it…but you can pump yourself full of all the painkillers you can ingest until you can’t feel your toes in the locker room 30 minutes before a game. Any 50 year old man can get testosterone supplements just to make him get a tingle in his pants again, but it’s banned for professional athletes who want to heal the wear and tear injuries they incur during a season. Makes no damn sense…just like the War on Drugs!)

        • Taking harmful drugs to enhance performance is really a problem, because it means that those who don’t accept the harm are disadvantaged.

          The problem is that, in men’s[1] sport, the evidence of harm from steroids and HGH is pretty arguable (the evidence of harm from painkillers is blatant; banning painkillers would protect players far better than banning steroids).

          No-one seems to be interested in analysing drugs into ones that enhance performance without a significant risk of harm, and ones that enhance performance without such risk.

          [1] Evidence of harm for steroids in women’s sport is another matter. Andreas Krieger is the tip of a very nasty iceberg there.

          • The problem is that, in men’s[1] sport, the evidence of harm from steroids and HGH is pretty arguable

            Tell that to Chris Benoit’s widow.

            Oh wait….!

            • Brien Jackson

              Yeah, Benoit having the brain of a 90 year old Alzheimer’s patient probably had more to do with taking HGH and anabolic steroids than it did with spending 230-250 days on the road wrestling matches where he was taking even more head shots, and more vicious shots, than even the average wrestler of the time period did. This is completely logical.

              • 90 year old Alzheimer’s patients don’t have the strength to act out a violent fantasy.

                • Brien Jackson

                  The fuck’s that got to do with anything? It certainly doesn’t prove that steroids had more to do with destroying his brain than doing a tope straight into a fucking chair shot or a steel rail did.

                  Besides that, steroid use was rampant in wrestling through the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s…and yet it’s not like crazy family murder was common.

    • Crunchy Frog

      A good amount of it is the persistent nostalgia that somehow the older players were much better. We don’t see that much nostalgia in other sports so much as it is painfully obvious watching film from the 50s of basketball, football, and hockey that the old-timers were nothing like modern players. But baseball still looks like baseball – the differences aren’t obvious from old-time movies.

      And a lot of that nostalgia has to do with the money and the era of free agency – something that many baseball reporters have never internally reconciled themselves to. The argument against PEDs is in many ways a proxy for an argument against rich baseball players who can play for any team they want.

      Of course, complaining about how today’s players don’t have the same soul as old-time players is nothing new. Every generation does it. One of my favorite editorials, which I’ve unfortunately lost, complained about baseball players being overpaid and insufficiently dedicated to the sport, unlike the players of the previous generation. The kicker was that the dateline of the editorial was 1927.

      However the explosion in player salaries from the mid-1970s to today has been as crazy as the explosion in CEO salaries during the same time – and a lot of people just can’t deal with that.

    • Brien Jackson

      Wait, what? Unethical and rich or not, I certainly would hope that progressives wouldn’t demand people have the weight of the legal system and state incarceration brought to bear against them for actions that weren’t against the law. And that’s without even addressing the silly comparison at a basic level.

    • Darkrose

      Except that the bankers at AIG, in this case, would be the MLB brass and the owners, who happily raked in the big bucks because “chicks dig the long ball”. As it stands now, the only people getting punished are the players. Bud Selig can sit in front of Congress wide-eyed and say he never knew nothin’ ’bout no steroids and everyone pretends to believe him. Tony La Russa can claim that he had no idea! None! that Canseco and McGuire were juicing, and he gets unanimously voted into the Hall.

      I can’t stand Curt Schilling, but he said one thing that I do respect him for last year, when he commented on not getting voted in: that everyone in baseball at the time was either using PED’s, or knew that other people were and said nothing. If that’s true, then the managers, owners, and yes, sportswriters who kept quiet shouldn’t be tossing rocks around.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t know what it is that turns Progressives into Repiblicans when it comes to drugs.

      Indeed. It’s really weird how many progressives believe in ignoring the collective bargaining process and submitting to drug war hysteria when STEROIDS are involved.

      • There’s your lost innocence trope, Lemieux. It may colour the writers, but it definitely influences the fans.

  • shah8

    I think the sport is genuinely trivialized by the fact that you have to win a popularity contest from a bunch of fickle writers in order to get in.

    • Joe

      The issue here is not getting in to the “sport” but its hall of fame. This amounts to fickle people choosing people. How do you usually get placed into halls of fame? Some select group by subjective standards put you there.

      • JMG

        The Baseball Hall of Fame election process is very flawed. So are the elections processes of the other three pro sports Halls of Fame. Baseball’s is actually the one with the largest electorate.

  • mike in dc

    Either lift the ban on PEDs entirely, or institute across the board Olympic style testing, done quarterly or bimonthly. This in-between state is nonsensical. If you can make tens of millions of dollars before you get caught(if you get caught at all), what’s the point of a ban?

    • TT

      Frankly I’m at the point where I think all PEDs should be 100% legalized with all athletes subject to periodic testing, but without penalties of any sort for their use. Let fans, the media, the general public make up their own minds. After all, it’s not like any of these athletes are melting down the financial system, instituting torture, or lying us into a war.

      • Despite the inference above that I might be against PEDs, I’m not. I’m with you, with a further condition. Every rookie heading to a training camp at any professional level should be forced to sit through a class, complete with videos featuring folks like Lyle Alzado and the blowback to Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong, and be told “Use PEDs. Be our guest. Just is it worth it to you to lose 40 years of your life, your reputation and your penis to use them for a few years of a shot at some fleeting temporary glory that the next guy with a test tube can beat?”

        Hell, make ’em sit through it every frikkin’ year.

    • Brien Jackson

      What in between state?

  • dp

    Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. The BBWA needs to get over itself.

  • Gwen

    ^^^^ biased Astros fan.

    WTF… why did they reject Craig Biggio? I know some people think he and Bagwell were juicing, but there’s no real evidence.

    http://www.crawfishboxes.com/2013/12/27/5246924/baseball-hall-of-fame-craig-biggio-and-a-story-of-suspicion

    • Well, when you play with Ken Caminitti…

  • passwordistaco

    As Dave Cameron notes on Fangraphs, more than two voters left Biggio off the ballot because they could only select 10 players.

  • Arbiters macht a mess.

  • Test. I have a comment with no links in moderation.

    • I guess bad taste is grounds for moderation. I’m in trouble.

      • Bill Murray

        you should never have let any of the moderators taste you

  • Brian

    Biggio’s lifetime BA over 20 years was .281, his OBP .363, slugging .433. His 162 game average was 17 dingers and 67 RBI’s. Total HR’s were 291. I’m not sure those are HOF numbers even without all the drama. By contrast, Frank Thomas’ numbers were .301/.419/.555, and 162 game average over 19 years included 36 HR’s and 119 RBI’s, with 521 total HR’s in his career.

    Thomas clearly had HOF numbers. Biggio–not so much.

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