Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

It was announced today that Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken were voted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now, I’m not a big baseball fan, but I’m a little baffled by the votes. It was announced that Ripken got the third highest percentage of votes ever for induction, but I just have one question: who the hell voted against the guy? 8 of the voters voted not to put this guy in the hall of fame. Forget the consecutive games streak for which he’s famous, only two right handed hitters in the history of the game have more homers and hits than he does, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. This is a no brainer. The same is true of Gwynn, who had 13 people vote not to put him in the hall of fame. The guy had 19 consecutive seasons with a .300 batting average, is a career .338 hitter and won 5 gold gloves. If that’s not good enough to get you in the hall of fame on the first ballot, what exactly would it take?

Comments

  1. #1 Sean
    January 9, 2007

    I read some blurb (one twelve hour shift ago so the particulars of the source are now fuzzy) which gave two reasons for the expected lack of unanimity.

    1. Some voters were submitting blank ballets in protest of what they call ‘the steroid years’. No one knows which players of the recent past had enhanced statistics.

    2. A deliberate attempt to keep Ripken from getting the highest induction percentage. Ripken wasn’t the greatest player of all time so why should he get the highest percentage.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. Am only the parrot.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    January 9, 2007

    Well, that makes a lot more sense than anyone actually believing that those two guys don’t belong in the hall of fame.

  3. #3 Mark Olson
    January 9, 2007

    I heard reason #1 (above) mentioned this morning referring to a Daily Southtown sportswriter on the radio this morning. Ask him. “Mike and Mike” (ESPN radio) were going to interview him. You might also find that on podcast … if you care.

  4. #4 FishyFred
    January 9, 2007

    Those two are probably the closest anyone will come to unanimous induction in the next twenty years. All of the future HOF’ers on their way or still playing have SOMETHING that will turn voters off.

    Them’s the breaks when you have 500 people voting for the Hall of Fame.

  5. #5 kemibe
    January 9, 2007

    I’m wondering how Barry Bonds is going to fare when his time comes. Obviously his career numbers would make him a lock in a (very recently) bygone era, but the fact that McGwire only got about 25% of the votes needed — something that really shocked me — says something. McGwire admitted to using the OTC testosterone precursor androstenedione, and appears to have been a steroid user as well, but in fact baseball had not yet instituted a no-’roids policy during Mac’s playing years (and like track & field and cycling, probably wouldn’t do so even now if it could keep its image intact without one). Bonds, while admitting to exactly nothing, has consorted with BALCO felons and is not exactly a favorite (on a personality level, anyway) of sportswriters, so I don’t see how his 700+ homers and slew of stolen bases are going to have him resonating with voters that much more strongly than McGwire.

    I’ll be thrilled if Bonds never reaches Aaron’s all-time dingers record, but whether or not to vote for the guy for Hall inclusion would be a tough call for me despite Bonds’ shadier-than-thou dealings.

    What really sucks is that an unknown number of non-users are now caught up in the entire drugs mess. Tony Gwynn played his entire career with one team, and is an ebullient, hard-working fat guy who seems extremely unlikely to have used anything to string together the amazing career he did.

  6. #6 Lettuce
    January 9, 2007

    Re: McGwire

    In fact, using illegal drugs has was against the rules of baseball during McGwire’s run; the fact that steroids weren’t specifically banned doesn’t mean their use didn’t violate the rules.

    Unless, of course, the players in question had prescriptions, which they could produce to clear their names.

    Of course, that will confirm they were steroid users and the voters will punish them.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    January 9, 2007

    I think Bonds will be forced to wait a few years before being voted in, just like McGuire. We know damn well that Gwynn didn’t do steroids; he averaged about 5 home runs a year and wasn’t exactly a specimen of physical strength.

  8. #8 Matthew
    January 10, 2007

    A lot of voters refuse to vote anyone in on the first ballot because “Babe Ruth didn’t get voted in on the first ballot”. So basically they are letting people in the past decide how they vote.

  9. #9 Jim Anderson
    January 10, 2007

    Proof that Gwynn was one of the smartest hitters in the game: his lifetime average against Greg Maddux, the most studious pitcher, was over .400.

  10. #10 FishyFred
    January 10, 2007

    A lot of voters refuse to vote anyone in on the first ballot because “Babe Ruth didn’t get voted in on the first ballot”. So basically they are letting people in the past decide how they vote.

    I am puzzled, because Babe Ruth was one of the charter members of the Hall of Fame.

    Re: Bonds

    The Baseball Writers Association of America instructs its members to vote based on “the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” In my opinion, Bonds has stained the game, not just with his steroid use, but with his continued lies and the way he treats everyone around him. His numbers would get him in if everything else didn’t clearly keep him out.

  11. #11 The Decidenator
    January 10, 2007

    We know damn well that Gwynn didn’t do steroids

    We don’t know that at all. There have been plenty of weaker players who are now known to have juiced. Marvin Benard jumps out as a joke of a player who was on the sauce.

  12. #12 Rufus
    January 10, 2007

    who the hell voted against the guy?

    Hacks who know they’ll sell more newspapers by stirring up controversy. They’ll also get to be on TV news, AM radio, etc.

  13. #13 David C. Brayton
    January 10, 2007

    kemibe–Get your facts straight. Bonds admitted to using the “Clear”, a steroid cream, but said that he was told by Greg Anderson (who is still in prison because he won’t testify) that it was something else. Why this doesn’t register in baseball’s collective consciousness is beyond me.

    Whaddya mean like cycling? Cycling has had a no ‘roids policy for as long as I can remember. The reason you hear about cycling so much is because there is an effective testing policy in place. The top three in every race always get tested, random people for each race are tested and there is random testing both in season and out of season. All cyclists must make themselves available within 5 hours of being asked to give a random blood sample. This is 24/7/365. Lance Armstrong was tested well over 100 times in his career.

    And there are effective penalties in cycling…2 year suspension from all competition and another two year ban racing for a top level team. Get caught twice and you’ll never race again.

    Geez, in baseball I think you need to be caught 5 times before you are suspended for a season.

  14. #14 Lettuce
    January 10, 2007

    Cyclists don’t have an effective union policing working conditions. That’s either good or bad, depending on your perspective, but it’s not the same as baseball.

    A first positive in baseball is a 50 game suspension.

    A second is a hundred game suspension and a third is a lifetime ban.

    These are contractual issues. Typically, the press and the cartel that controls Major League Baseball obscure that, and perhaps if there was an honest owner in the bunch over the past hundred years everything wouldn’t be a working condition; but there hasn’t been.

    It’s never been labor’s job to say “no, those penalties aren’t draconian enough…”

    The CartelĀ® has only itself to blame.

  15. #15 MarkG
    January 10, 2007

    Off topic (sorry), but I saw this in today’s Guardian, and because it was about the Church and gay discrimination, I thought you would be interested:

    Religious rally opposes new gay rights laws

    I thought this paragraph was particularly ironic:

    Rod Lewis, a pastor from Staffordshire, said: “[The law's supporters] propose that children in primary school should have government-recommended literature that homosexuality is an OK lifestyle. I’m not against homosexuals, I’m against the influence of young minds.”

    Priceless!

    (BTW, do you have an email address which people can use to inform you of aticles?)

  16. #16 RickD
    January 10, 2007

    1) There were two blank ballots submitted.

    2) I don’t think anybody has offered the opinion that either Ripken or Gwynn should be kept out of the HoF.

    FWIW, I think Ripken’s long been overrated, and his consecutive game streak was based more on his own ego than on a sincere desire to help the team. A rest day here and there would have resulted in a greater total contribution. Having said that, Ripken is clearly a no-brainer Hall of Famer.

    As for Bonds, he might end up in danger of being dropped from the ballot (<5%) if things develop in a certain way. I think most observers believe Bonds lied under oath about whether he knowingly took steroids. If that ends up being proven (and we still have 5-6 years for more information to come forward), then Bonds is toast. Right now his image is tarnished worse than McGwire’s even without a perjury charge thrown on top. And McGwire at least was a great teammate and well-loved by fans around the country. Bonds? Not so much.

  17. #17 Ed Brayton
    January 10, 2007

    MarkG-

    Yep. Click on “contact” just under the logo at the top of the page.

  18. #18 doctorgoo
    January 10, 2007

    I can easily see McGwire getting voted to the Hall eventually (in 9-10 years), especially if Bonds gets voted in one of his first few years of eligibility, being the first to get in in spite of steroid use.

    There’s no question that when McGwire hit 70 HRs he made baseball relevant in America again after the strike-shortened season a few years before. So his significance to baseball cannot be disputed. Add that to his gaudy HR numbers, and all that he’s needing to get in is to get past the bad publicity he’s (deservedly) received over steroid use.

    And I don’t see the McGwire/steroids issue going the way of the Pete Rose/gambling issue, either. The fans, and many voters want him in. But the main reason why Rose isn’t in the Hall is because of the politics coming from the Commissioner’s office. But since steroids technically weren’t banned from baseball when McGwire used them, the commisioner cannot take such a firm position against him like he did with Rose.

    I fully believe that the fans (and also the HOF voters) will eventually forgive McGwire and realize that LOTS of future HOFers from this, the so-called Steroids Era will get voted in even though many likely did steroids too.

    Just look at Shawn Merriman of the football Chargers… He tested positive for steroids, served a quarter of the season on suspension, and STILL made the Pro-Bowl team, and almost was named the defensive Player of the Year. If the fans can forgive him so quickly, they’ll eventually forgive McGwire too.

  19. #19 Dave S.
    January 10, 2007

    I think Bonds will be forced to wait a few years before being voted in, just like McGuire.

    I’m not so sure he’ll get in at all. His initial total was a limp 23.5%. Usually when you start out that low, you don’t ever raise to the required 75%. It can happen. Don Drysdale did it. But there are only 5-6 players ever to overcome a sub 30% first year to make it.

    I’m more bummed that Goose Gossage didn’t make it than McGwire.

    Maybe next year boys.

  20. #20 doctorgoo
    January 10, 2007

    Yes, Bonds has bad press too, making it very difficult for him to be voted in. But what about all of those players who likely benefited from steroid use who managed to stay off the front pages so far?

    How many of the Domincan or other Central American superstar sluggers used steroids to advance their game before getting signed to play in the US? We might never know for sure, but certainly most HOF voters realize that to keep the Hall free of steroids, they won’t have anybody to vote for for the next few years.

    In my opinion, all that it will take is one questionable user to get voted in first, and then the voters will start to consider voting for McGwire. He was just unlucky that he’s the first of the steroid era to be considered.

  21. #21 kemibe
    January 10, 2007

    David,

    I see a lump of tongue in your cheek, but you do seem to think that cyclists are strongly discouraged these days from using because by the penalties in place. Not so (ask Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and many others). The storied Tour de France car-trunk raids in 1998 didn’t reeally amount to a hill of shit. Dopers and their chemists are usually a step ahead of the drug-testers and probably always will be. New blood-boosters are available long before they can be banned or even come to light. Tack a new methyl group or something onto an existing compound and persto! You have something bioactive that doesn’t wave a red flag on a urine screen. Endurance athletes haven’t stopped doping, they’ve just modified their strategies.

    My point, though, is that the governing bodies of sports have little inherent impetus to clean up their athletes. If track and field truly becomes drug-free, we’ll never again see another world record, especially on the women’s side. What meet promoter or league commissioner really wants to face that prospect? They don’t give a shit about athletes’ long-term health or even what kids think about the ability to eventually compete at the top level without doping. People want to see someone hit 80 homers or run a 3:40 mile even if the “human” responsible is basically a genetically modified equine, a stbale-dwelling, whinnying pseudo-quadriped like the ones Pinocchio’s buddies were turning into after too much Pleasure Island.

  22. #22 AndyS
    January 11, 2007

    Ron Dibble says it as well as anyone: “Some writers will always make a guy wait. They don’t want anybody to be a unanimous choice. But how can you be a Hall of Famer on the fifth or sixth ballot but not the first one? You don’t get better after you retire. I find it ridiculous that some writers play that game.”

    There has never been a unanimous pick for the Hall. Both Willy Mays (94.7%) and Babe Ruth (95.1%) got smaller percentages than Gwynn (97.6%) and Ripken (98.5%).

    Among some voters this is standing up for tradition: “…after the first election in 1936 until 1962, no first-year eligible players were chosen.”

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