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The Hall of Fame results are in, and as expected, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected to the HOF. Here is the final tally (the list got cut off at the end. Surhoff, Boone, and Santiago also got at least one vote):

Alomar and Blyleven were absolutely deserving of induction, and as Rob Neyer has been tweeting all afternoon, both are strong Hall of Famers and do not lower the bar for inclusion at all. Barry Larkin made enough progress to suggest he may get in in the near future, while Jack Morris stagnated a bit and may have maxed out his support. Jeff Bagwell actually did fairly well considering the commotion surrounding him, and it seems likely that he will get in eventually. Tim Raines also saw a bump, and I think he will get in at some point, possibly as his eligibility reaches its final years.

From a more negative point of view, Alan Trammell looks to be finished as a viable candidate, and the steroid boys (McGwire and Palmeiro) did poorly enough to suggest that even guys like Clemens and Bonds may struggle to garner votes in the near future. Edgar Martinez actually lost support, but I think his status as the best DH will become clearer over the coming years, and his base of support should be strong enough for him to get close. Finally, Kevin Brown fell off the ballot entirely, which is really a shame. His statistical profile is similar to that of Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, and John Smoltz. I believe he is the worst of the four and may be just on the wrong side of the in-out line, but he deserved better than falling off the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

For a more comprehensive look at the implications of this ballot, check out this post from Craig Calcaterra.

A few days ago, Mike Vaccaro of the Post made the following comment on Twitter:

1 more on Hall/PED: I think we did way too little to find out what was happening in ’90s, seem way too hellbent on meting out justice now

I think that Vaccaro is right on the money, and a search through the TYU archives will bring you to a number of articles in which I decry the inherent hypocrisy of writers condemning steroids well after the fact. This morning, Jim Caple of ESPN wrote a stunning article in which he rants about this point. I strongly encourage you to read it, but here is the money quote from my perspective:

Hey, I get that you think steroid use is really, really bad. Or at least, that this is your view now. Your anti-steroid stance wasn’t so clear when we were all glorifying these players a decade (and less) ago. And I’m with you — I wish steroids had never entered the game and I’m very glad they’ve been banned. And I sympathize with voters who are simply uncertain about the whole issue and the stats of the era and are holding off until they sort it out better.

But as for the rest of you? I would agree more with your pompous Hall of Fame voting stance if it weren’t so hypocritical, inconsistent and impossible to defend…..

It’s also hypocritical. We knew Mark McGwire used androstenedione during the 1998 season. We didn’t know he also used steroids but if we didn’t suspect it, we were even more naive than bloggers accuse us of being. And we didn’t care! We held the great andro debate for a couple of weeks and then decided it didn’t matter. We were having too much fun following McGwire and Sammy Sosa around for two months, glorifying both. Sports Illustrated printed special editions in their honor and declared them the Sportsmen of the Year, posing them on the cover in Roman togas with olive leaf crowns. I even compared McGwire to the original Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Lindbergh, saying that he carried the entire nation on his broad shoulders that summer.

We continued to praise these players up until 2002, when the excellent baseball writer Tom Verducci got Ken Caminiti to admit he used steroids. Two years later, President Bush used the bully pulpit of the State of the Union address to decry steroid use (though it would have meant more if he had mentioned this when he was the Rangers president and Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro were on his team). And ever since then we’ve cared a great deal about steroid use, vilifying the players we previously glorified.

In other words, we are holding them to a standard now that we didn’t during the majority of their careers. We are vilifying them for actions we not only condoned but unintentionally encouraged with our praise.

Vaccaro’s comments sent me into the archives to see how some prominent reporters treated this issue in 1998, and Caple’s comment provide the perfect segue into these articles.
Continue reading »

Jan 052011

Since releasing my hypothetical Hall of Fame Ballot back in December (Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, E. Martinez, McGwire, Palmeiro, Raines, Trammell, Walker), I’ve been silent on the Hall of Fame process (at least on here–I’ve done a lot of yapping, even with SI’s John Heyman, about the HOF on Twitter).

So, on the day the Hall of Fame results are announced, I thought I’d spill some Cyber Ink on what’s gone down of late:

The Jeff Bagwell Issue: This, frankly, annoys the hell out of me. William touched on this beautifully earlier but I just want to get my thoughts out here. That some writers have accused Bagwell without a single shred of evidence is appalling. Absolutely appalling. There is literally no other word or feeling for it. Enough people have said enough things much more eloquently than I will here, but I can’t help but be outraged and disappointed. Hopefully more writers allay my fears and in a few hours, Jeff Bagwell will be punching a ticket to Cooperstown.

On Blyleven: He needs to get in. I’ve made this case tons of times all around the Internet. Please, writers, PLEASE, get this right.

On Morris: I still see Morris as nothing more than a durable, above average pitcher. That’s not a Hall of Fame pitcher. The “you had to be there” argument to me is beyond ridiculous. To me, the Hall of Fame is about NOT having to be there. Being in the Hall of Fame means that I DIDN’T need to be there to realize how good you were. I wasn’t alive for much of the 20th century but I understand just how good the players who came before my time because their numbers are transcendent.

On the STEROIDS!!! Issue: I understand the trepidation when it comes to steroids. It’s a murky area and we all get a little queasy when dealing with such murky areas. I choose not to make a big deal about steroids, even when considering the Hall of Fame, because I am a skeptic. I am not convinced on the effect of steroids. I am not convinced that steroids affect players as positively as many would suggest. Does this make me naive? Maybe. Does it give me a bit of Ostrich Syndrome? Perhaps. My inflated ego, though, says I’m just a skeptic.

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