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Monday, December 30, 2013

Bob Smizik: My Hall of Fame ballot

This year, for reasons beyond my control, my ballot will have the maximum number of 10 on it. I’ve gone from extremely discriminating to the type of voter I used to laugh at. My excuses for this behavioral twist? My colleagues made me do it. The Hall of Fame made me do it. MLB made me do it.

I will not leave a player off my ballot because he is tainted by the performance-enhancing drug scandals of the 1990s and that includes those annually rejected by well more than a majority of the voters. If MLB or the Hall of Fame, which is a separate entity, don’t want a player to be enshrined then do what was done to Pete Rose. Take him off the ballot.

I will not leave off a player tainted by the drug scandals and vote for a player who is not tainted when for all I know that player was a bigger cheat. I choose not to serve as the judge and jury on alleged cheaters of the steroids era.

Ten votes: Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Glavine, Maddux, McGwire, Palmeiro, Piazza, Raines, and Thomas.

On the whole, I think that’s a pretty good ballot.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:49 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: general, hall of fame, sportswriters

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4626624)
Good ballot. Not my ballot, but a good ballot nonetheless. Again, there are about 15-17 well qualified players and he's chosen amongst the entire pack available. He must like Raffy's hits/HR combo which is fair enough for a HOF voter.

Good to see he filled in all 10 slots...has anyone mentioned yet that this is a good thing?

   2. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4626633)
Excellent ballot. I'd flip McGwire for Biggio on my personal ballot, but that's picking nits. Good job, Bob.
   3. JRVJ Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:11 PM (#4626647)
I would replace McGwire and Raines for Mussina and Schilling, but ultimately, there's easily 15 HoF level players on the ballot today.

FWIW, I am starting to suspect that the backlog is going to clear up a little this year (I could actually see 4 players going into the HoF in 2014).
   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4626657)
FWIW, I am starting to suspect that the backlog is going to clear up a little this year (I could actually see 4 players going into the HoF in 2014).


It can't clear up as long as the steroids players are there.
   5. Publius Publicola Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4626660)
I'd bounce Bonds, Clemens and McGwire and replace them with Schilling, Mussina and Trammell
   6. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4626677)
It can't clear up as long as the steroids players are there.


I'm starting to think that Bonds and Clemens will go in by around their 5/6th ballot as I think a lot of anti PED voters will start to realise that they were both clearly HOFers whether you think the steroids helped or not. McGwire and Raffy will never get in as any anti PED voter will think that there is no way they could have amassed their value without some assistance.

I have no credible evidence for this, it's just a hunch.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4626701)
Excellent ballot, excellent article....and to save yourself some sanity, as always, don't read the comments from that page.

I love him chatising his fellow writers.
   8. rudygamble Posted: December 30, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4626740)
I don't agree with his voting philosophy (the 'If you have to think about the player, he doesn’t belong" part, not the PED part) but great that he's filling out the ballot with 10 worthy selections.
   9. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 30, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4626746)
I have no credible evidence for this, it's just a hunch.

Stop stealing the BBWAA's motto.
   10. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 30, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4626754)
I'd bounce Bonds, Clemens and McGwire and replace them with Schilling, Mussina and Trammell


More pubiculousness.

@9 - Well said.
   11. gehrig97 Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4626767)
Great ballot. Swap Schilling or Mussina for Palmeiro and it's damn near perfect
   12. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4626770)
I'm starting to think that Bonds and Clemens will go in by around their 5/6th ballot as I think a lot of anti PED voters will start to realise that they were both clearly HOFers whether you think the steroids helped or not.


Here's my gut instinct on this. As these things, it's just that, a feeling, no evidence, yadda yadda yadda. With that caveat...

I think the voters break down into three distinct camps. There are the Anti-PED Fundamentalists. They will never vote for any "steroid era" player, regardless of how stupid it is to not vote for Barry Bonds for the HOF. I think they're a marginal number of voters on what we'll call the "right wing" of the BBWAA.

I think there are similar "left wing" voters who not only don't care about PEDs, but find the Anti-PED Fundies to be offensive. They will vote for players regardless of "steroids" on whatever metric they have for their personal ballot. These are the folks keeping McGwire and Sosa (barely) above the 5% threshold right now. Again, I think this voting bloc is marginal.

I think there's a vast middle ground of voters who don't like the *feel* of the Sillyball Era sluggers, but recognize the craziness of keeping Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall. I think they are generally wishy-washy. Some vote for the inner circle guys, but not for Sosa or McGwire or Palmiero.

I think what you'll see in the coming years is that middle ground move "left" and vote the obvious inner circle Sillyball players in. I think you'll see McGwire's vote total increase over time, but probably not to the 75% threshold. I think the biggest lever in shifting these middle ground voters "leftwards" to "Good lord, it's Barry ####### Bonds!" is the fact that Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre sailed into Cooperstown no questions asked, and that sort of sets the standard for what the Hall really thinks about "steroid era" personalities of the game.
   13. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:21 PM (#4626775)
I'm with Hugh. He got ten and all ten come from the reasonable pool of players. No silly votes.
   14. Squash Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:32 PM (#4626783)
I'm starting to think that Bonds and Clemens will go in by around their 5/6th ballot as I think a lot of anti PED voters will start to realise that they were both clearly HOFers whether you think the steroids helped or not. McGwire and Raffy will never get in as any anti PED voter will think that there is no way they could have amassed their value without some assistance.

This is exactly where I'm at, though I'd push the timeline back a bit for Bonds and Clemens. They'll get in eventually, but it will take a while -- sooner or later there will be an Enough Is Enough movement and they'll start to accumulate. That'll take some time though. The ones who will never make it are the one-trick-pony (by HOF standards) HR guys (McGwire, Sosa), or guys like Raffy with major PR blemishes. I'd guess Manny ends up in that boat too.

EDIT: Or, ditto Sam.
   15. John Northey Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4626788)
I could see many voters taking the 'never officially caught, not really banned' stance eventually leading to Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Sosa getting in someday while Palmeiro, Manny and A-Rod having a lot more issues (vet committee). McGwire and Sosa have the extra problem of being viewed as not being HOF'ers without enhancements though so them waiting until a vet committee someday in the future is possible/likely.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: December 30, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4626888)
I've flipped and no longer expect B/C to get in. It's possible obviously -- 15 years is a long time, voters come and go, etc.

But I don't see how you can think the "right wing" is marginal. McGwire never topped 25% of the vote. Not all of those who didn't vote are "fundies" but they also didn't budge one bit on McGwire. There wasn't a 1-year penalty, there wasn't any traction after his confession.

Bonds and Clemens could be different but their vote totals this year are not substantially higher than they were last year. Remember, in the final gizmo last year, they were at 45% and 44% so they are currently only 3% ahead of last year's pace. And we don't seem to have seen many of the 2014 ballots from voters who had 10-man ballots last time, a few of whom might drop those two in order to vote for others. If they only come in at 40% on this ballot I see no reason to have optimism that they will go up from there barring something fairly major happening (like hints from the HoF, etc.)

   17. Peter Farted Posted: December 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM (#4626922)
It's interesting how many voters are turning in spectacular ballots, for reasons the average BBTF'er would faint over. No WAR, no JAWS...yet no problem whatsoever with this ballot. And, most importantly to some of us, no vote for "The John" Scott TP.

Fully agreed on #16. I think there is too big of a bloc/block (WAY over 25%) that will refuse to vote for Roger/Barry for any reason. When you're dealing with this level of deeply held values, it's a lot more difficult to convince the nay-sayers than the usual "herd changing its mind." It would not surprise me one bit to see Cy7/MVP7 stall around 60%...seemingly right on the verge of election...and yet in reality, have absolutely no chance of making it in via the writers.

I'm guessing that SOME future VC will find it in their hearts to put them in, but it's just a guess. So far I've guessed wrong on Gil Hodges too. Lee Smith...now there's a guy whose fate I have no clue about. Will he become the second 50+ percenter to stay forever on the outside?
   18. vivaelpujols Posted: December 31, 2013 at 03:49 AM (#4626967)
Seems like a lot of writers are changing their minds, changing their standards. I did not think that would happen. Kudos to them for not being obstinate.
   19. vivaelpujols Posted: December 31, 2013 at 03:50 AM (#4626968)
I would have put Schilling and Mussina over Rafa and Mac, but otherwise a very good ballot.
   20. vivaelpujols Posted: December 31, 2013 at 03:57 AM (#4626972)
The best chance for Bonds and Clemens to get in is for a lot of the current voting block to die/retire by the end of their run.
   21. BrianBrianson Posted: December 31, 2013 at 08:28 AM (#4626984)
10/10 would vote again. A+
   22. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 31, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4627010)
I'm starting to think that Bonds and Clemens will go in by around their 5/6th ballot as I think a lot of anti PED voters will start to realise that they were both clearly HOFers whether you think the steroids helped or not. McGwire and Raffy will never get in as any anti PED voter will think that there is no way they could have amassed their value without some assistance.

This is exactly where I'm at, though I'd push the timeline back a bit for Bonds and Clemens. They'll get in eventually, but it will take a while -- sooner or later there will be an Enough Is Enough movement and they'll start to accumulate. That'll take some time though.

I don't think Bonds and Clemens get in until the backlog clears out big time. While there are still a large amount of worthy candidates it's easy to just leave B&C off the ballot and not really say anything about it. It seems like a common thing to only really discuss 4 or 5 guys you voted or did not vote for and just mention the rest of the names. Once the voters go back to only voting for 5 players each vote gets magnified again like in recent years. That's when I think we see the middle-ground voters start to feel some pressure to vote for B&C.
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 31, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4627019)
And we don't seem to have seen many of the 2014 ballots from voters who had 10-man ballots last time, a few of whom might drop those two in order to vote for others.


That's not a long-term problem though, but merely something that would mask their level of support over the next few years. If I had a vote this year, I might very well do the Edes thing and drop one of the two (and likely reverse it next year), due to the glut. Anyone who is willing to vote for Clemens/Bonds, even if he's not doing it in 2014, is one in the win column in terms of their eventual election.

   24. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 31, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4627037)
I agree with everything in #12. I'm surprised by how many writers seem to be softening their stance towards steroids and taking a more balanced approach.

I don't necessarily agree with this approach, but I think the "he wouldn't have been a HOF player without steroids" approach makes a little more sense than the "keep the dirty cheaters -- or at least the ones I think are cheaters -- out forever" approach. e.g., I think McGwire is a borderline candidate purely on the merits (only 7-8 excellent seasons, and only 2-3 historically great), he obviously took steroids, and it's very likely that the steroids made a big difference in his performance. If I had a say I'd probably vote for him, but I can understand why some would keep him out. OTOH, a HOF without Bonds and Clemens would be ridiculous.
   25. Karl from NY Posted: January 01, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4627651)
Seems like a lot of writers are changing their minds, changing their standards. I did not think that would happen. Kudos to them for not being obstinate.

Well, there's some selection bias in what we see. The open-minded writers are the more likely ones to be publishing online with thoughtful columns.

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