Friday, February 21, 2014
Pulling the one chair out from under Conlin.
The picture of the late Bill Conlin that is used most often in stories about him these days (including this one) is a shot from the ceremonies in Cooperstown. He is wearing a pair of those old man glasses with yellow lenses and he has the white hair and the little white beard and he is at a podium that reads “National Baseball Hall of Fame” on the front. His right hand is in the air and he is reading from a prepared script and no doubt he is being loud and strong and opinionated, the way he was during his 45 years as a Philadelphia sportswriter.
This was his day of days. July 23, 2011. He was the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which moved him into a small corner of sportswriter immortality near the best of the baseball players he covered. His name was now on a list with Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, Red Smith, Jim Murray and assorted other famous baseball wordsmiths.
...The J.G. Taylor Spink Award is chosen by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the same BBWAA that chooses the baseball players for the Hall of Fame. Conlin received 188 votes from 434 ballots cast by BBWAA members to win the 2011 award. These are the same people who have wrung their hands in the past few years, held their noses and refused to allow the all-time leading home run hitter, the all-time hits leader, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner and other assorted famous players into the building for assorted transgressions. If they had known about Conlin’s transgressions, there is little doubt that they also would not have allowed him to enter.
All they need now is a second chance. Change some bylaws. Bend some rules. Take a vote to rescind the 2011 vote. This is an arbitrary election, an arbitrary process. Miss America, for example, would have been dethroned in a heartbeat for much less serious charges. There does not have to be any due process. There does not have to be any statute of limitations.
Just get the guy out of the picture.
Posted: February 21, 2014 at 05:30 AM | 12 comment(s)
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Bill Conlin, the legendary former Philadelphia sports columnist whose career came to a crashing end 25 months ago after he was accused of molesting children as far back as the 1970s, died Thursday in a hospital near Clearwater, Fla. Conlin’s son, Pete, confirmed his father’s death in a text to NJ.com. Bill Conlin was 79.
Conlin was a longtime baseball writer and columnist for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and Philadelphia Daily News whose distinguished career ended just before Christmas 2011 after the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that three women and a man alleged he had molested them in the ‘70s, when the accusers were children. One of the women making the allegations—a prosecutor in Atlantic City—was Conlin’s niece. In the next few days, other alleged victims came forward.
The bombshell allegations came a little more than one month after the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal had first rocked Penn State. Conlin was never charged with a crime because the statute of limitations on the allegations had long expired.
A longtime Conlin friend told NJ.com that Conlin had been suffering from kidney failure. The friend learned in a text from Conlin’s daughter that Conlin died Thursday morning at while in the intensive care unit at Largo Medical Center.
Posted: January 09, 2014 at 07:27 PM | 45 comment(s)
Will they turn their ballots over to Deadspink?
[Dan] Le Batard is right. Reform is needed. At minimum, a redefinition of what the Hall of Fame should represent to baseball fans.
The fact his vote was turned over to Deadspin misses the point.
The best thing the BBWAA and the Hall can do is announce a plan to turn the vote over to the public or something similar on its own next year.
Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martínez, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Bonds, Clemens and Piazza. Give Deadspin’s readers credit, feels like they got it mostly right.
The writer sees this as a case in favor of transparency…. interesting info either way.
Extrapolating the results for anonymous voters from the full results and the Ballot Collecting Gizmo, here’s how the two groups voted on the serious candidates:
Just in case there are any lawyers here.
Dan Szymborski alerts me to something that is potentially – and I stress “potentially” — quite delicious. It seems that the BBWAA Constitution — under which the BBWAA suspended Dan LeBatard for giving his vote to Deadspin — requires notice and hearing before disciplinary action. Notice and hearing that could not have possibly taken place before his suspension today…
That said, there is another section in the Constitution which works against this, as it suggests that one-year suspensions — which LeBatard recevied — can happen “automatically.”...
This is a little problematic in that neither section references the other, which you would normally expect when one term limits another term of such a document. It’s possible that this is just bad drafting. It’s possible that the one-year “automatic” suspension refers to different kinds of suspensions — ones by local chapter chairs instead of the Board of Directors, for example — than the one LeBatard got. It’s also possible that LeBatard indicated to the BBWAA that he’d waive all hearing and appeal rights and just take his medicine so none of this potential ambiguity matters in the least.
If he did want to challenge this — and if I’m not simply missing something in the BBWAA Constitution — he could theoretically sue to be reinstated or something, arguing that his organization didn’t follow its own rules. But really, it’s highly unlikely he’d bother given that he basically gave the BBWAA the big kiss off with his comments in Deadspin yesterday.
Craig Biggio should be in the Hall of Fame. So should Tim Raines. A river of red tape and ######## is preventing that from happening, and it’s a damn shame.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Lots of fascinating stuff in this one: Ray Ratto talks about Thomas Boswell’s swinging ####; Richard Justice on Bagwell; Jose Canseco lying in bed talking about steroid users; TJ Quinn on overhearing Bonds’ testimony. RTFA.
Baseball writers knew, right? They knew and they didn’t tell us. Well, by the mid-‘90s, they knew something. But it was hard to square what they knew with what they could get past their editors.
Back then, before McGwire and Braun and Melky Cabrera, a scout would lean against the cage and nod at certain ballplayers. “See that guy?” he’d say. “He’s making my job hard.” Players like Frank Thomas and Tony Gwynn would complain loudly; Ken Griffey Jr. did the same, but usually off the record. But the players would hesitate to name their colleagues, and they had little evidence.
“It was truth without portfolio,” said Ratto. “It was quote marks, truth, close quote marks.”
Pro and con, in one thread so we don’t spread out the discussion.
The main link is to an article by Ed Sherman that lays out the argument against writers voting for the HoF:
Once again, my argument falls under a basic rule of the business: Journalists don’t make news; they report the news.
The writers will be making the news Wednesday. It will be their votes that will be dissected and critiqued. They will be writing stories in which they had a direct impact on the outcome. In many cases, they will be quoted in other stories asking to explain their votes.
An editor wouldn’t allow a court reporter to be on a jury and then write about the case, right? Isn’t this the same scenario?
On the other side of the argument is C. Trent Rosecrans:
The arguments I’d put up for the BBWAA — and again, trust me, the process is far from perfect and could be changed — aren’t iron-clad, but they are arguments.
For one, we do have an organizing body with rules and regulations. That doesn’t seem like a big deal to many, but to me, it may be the main reason the BBWAA still gets the nod. While there are others — former players, executives and broadcasters, among them — that are qualified, there isn’t the active organization for those. That sounds lame to those who haven’t tried to organize a vote, for those who have, I’d hope that makes sense.
Secondly, we’re a group that believes in transparency. The BBWAA recently began releasing the individual votes for its award-winners (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year), and every meeting I go to (the BBWAA has meetings at the All-Star Game, the World Series and the Winter Meetings), releasing individual votes is brought up. Apparently, this is the Hall of Fame that controls this, we can ask, but they do not want to do it. However, individual voters are not discouraged from releasing their votes. I know the voters at the Enquirer — John Fay, John Erardi and Paul Dougherty — all release their votes. This isn’t to pump their chest and brag that they have a vote, but it’s to be as transparent as possible.
Finally, while the BBWAA’s selections aren’t always right (in either the Hall of Fame or the yearly awards), I will put the record up against the results of players (player’s choice awards, veterans’ committee), coaches and managers (Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers) and fans (All-Star starters).
If there’s a better way, I’m all for it. I’d personally be disappointed if I never got to vote, but from what I’m told, no matter the complaining that’s done this time of the year, the BBWAA will continue to vote on the Hall of Fame in the near future. I keep hearing that the voting system is “broken” or “corrupt” — and I wouldn’t go that far, I’d say it’s “far from perfect” — but I’ve yet to see a concrete, working model of a way that would be better.
Posted: January 08, 2014 at 11:15 AM | 69 comment(s)
hall of fame
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Baseball Writers Association of America held its annual meeting this morning and admitted three new members to its ranks. They are: Grantland/ESPN’s Jonah Keri, Yahoo!’s Dave Brown and ESPN’s David Schoenfield.
All three are deserving, hard-working baseball writers. All three are also top representatives of online baseball media. It’s very good, both for them and, especially, for the BBWAA, that they are now part of its ranks. It will help the organization move forward and, over time, will hopefully help the results of awards voting and Hall of Fame voting better reflect newer metrics and advanced analysis.
Thanks to Zevo.
Posted: December 10, 2013 at 04:15 PM | 6 comment(s)
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Congrats to LaVelle E. Neal III and Jose de Jesus Ortiz!
LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has become the first black reporter to head the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The 48-year-old Neal, who has covered baseball for the paper since 1998, was elected Saturday at the BBWAA’s World Series meeting to succeed Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slusser was the first woman to head the organization, which was founded in 1908.
Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle was elected vice president, putting him in line to become president next October.
Posted: October 26, 2013 at 04:34 PM | 6 comment(s)
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