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Saturday, January 11, 2014

HoVG: BBWAA Voter Calls Craig Biggio a “Cheater”

Dowling v. United States Baseball Fans (copywrong laws)

But, back to Biggio and those two votes.

One of the guys who failed to think of the seven-time All-Star as Hall of Fame material…Jerry Dowling. Dowling used to draw cartoons for both The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cincinnati City Beat.

Oh, and why didn’t he vote for Biggio? Simply put, Dowling thinks Biggio is a cheater.

Craig Biggio, the Houston Astro second baseman, fell two votes short. One of those could have been mine. I refuse to vote for a guy who cheats, as Biggio did with all that armor on his arm, so he could get hit with pitches and trot to first base as a result. He made no attempt to avoid getting hit and actually stuck that arm out further, inducing the ball to smack him.

That, my friends, is against the rules and umpires should be calling that #### a ball, but they don’t. I once asked umpire John McSherry about that, and he skirted around the question, never answering it.

Wow.

Repoz Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:48 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:11 AM (#4636727)
I'm surprised to report that Reds' pitchers didn't plunk Biggio's arm more than the pitchers of any other team. They were actually 4th (21), after the Pirates (22), Cards (27), and Rockies (33). The Rockies ran up that tally in 500 fewer plate appearances, too. It's maybe not surprising that Biggio hit .352 against them lifetime.
   2. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4636737)
Is there some secret contest we don't know about? Where the most moronic voter comment wins a trip around the world or something?
   3. TJ Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:42 AM (#4636738)
What? This guy has a HOF vote because he drew sports cartoons? Oh, my aching head...
   4. jdennis Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:44 AM (#4636739)
Well he is a cartoonist. Maybe he sees this as satirical.
   5. jdennis Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4636742)
His ballot: BONDS, CLEMENS, MCGWIRE, BAGWELL, MORRIS, Maddux, Glavine
   6. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:53 AM (#4636743)
Jerry Dowling looking ahead to the 2014 ballot:
"I will tell you that I’ll vote for more than my usual one or two, because it’s loaded with newly eligible players."

Dowling on reader response:
" Another comment today was from a guy who called me a loser, among other things. but it was laced with profanity and I can’t post it. It was from an obvious Craig Biggio fan who claimed that the Houston Astros second sacker was no cheater. I said so in my blog because of the armor he wore on his arm to get deliberately hit by pitches. That is against the rules, therefore …cheating! Period! No vote for him from me, now and forever."

Asked about his vote for Barry Bonds, who admittedly has never been accused of cheating but DID wear an identical arm protector:
"Yes! Bonds wore it because pitchers would much rather give him one base than a four bagger and Bonds didn’t want a broken, bruised arm. Remember how many times he was walked?"
   7. DA Baracus Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4636744)
Yet he voted for McGwire, Bonds and Clemens. Okay then.

Oh it's this guy:

He certainly had the numbers. Maybe it’s because I seldom saw the American League after moving to a National League city. Or maybe it’s my hatred of the crosstown Chicago Flubbies carried over to the south side of Windy City.
   8. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:58 AM (#4636746)
This guy gets a ballot, Le Batard loses his and Vin Scully is ineligible. Un-#######-believable.

   9. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:02 AM (#4636748)
The BBWAA voters would fit right in in most baseball conversations. Some might call BTF an echo chamber or an isolated little outpost but the rest of the baseball world is full of people like the BBWAA voters and not like the posters at BTF.
   10. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:49 AM (#4636770)
#5
It's not a horrible ballot. Not sure why Thomas is not there, that just seems weird with Bonds and Big Mac there.
Unlike the author, I have no issues with the armor. If the umps aren't going to call batsman out for not even making an effort to move, then that's an umpiring fault. You can't knock a player for taking advantage in an area that is not policed properly. Professional athletes are somewhat competitive and will take any advantage given to them. This is not a complicated concept.
   11. EddieA Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:09 AM (#4636774)
If the umps aren't going to call batsman out for not even making an effort to move, then that's an umpiring fault. You can't knock a player for taking advantage in an area that is not policed properly.

I agree they shouldn't have given Biggio the base in the many instances I saw him hit.
It's only cheating if there was a quid pro quo. Once you have umps that have authority it is not up to the players to make the decision. I've never seen a runner call himself out, a fielder call a runner safe, a pitcher say no it was a ball, or a batter say no it was a strike.
I've heard of a professional tennis players calling an opponents ball in that cost them a match in Wimbledon - but that's got to be almost unique in sports.
I thought Biggio was the 11th player on last year's ballot but would have voted for him. I didn't discount the OBP advantage given him by the umps, but it wasn't aesthetically pleasing baseball or cheating.
   12. mex4173 Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:12 AM (#4636775)
How does this guy feel about left-handed pickoff moves?
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:40 AM (#4636782)

I've heard of a professional tennis players calling an opponents ball in that cost them a match in Wimbledon - but that's got to be almost unique in sports.


Even more than in tennis, it's expected in golf.


How does this guy feel about left-handed pickoff moves?


I don't know how he feels, but I think they're one of life's great joys. I spent an awful lot of time as a high schooler perfecting my lefthanded pickoff move, even though I wasn't a pitcher. Or lefthanded.

Southpaw hurlers who don't have a good balk move are an embarrassment to the species.

As for Biggio and HBPs, it's a silly rule anyway. If the ball's in the batter's box, it shouldn't be up to the batter to rescue the pitcher from his well-deserved punishment. Now, if the ball's out of the box, the batter shouldn't get his base regardless whether he tried to get out of the way.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:09 AM (#4636786)
Is it actually against the rules? Is it cheating to stick your arm in front of a pitch? The umps are not supposed to award you first base if you don't make an effort to get out of the way, but they don't penalize you for the action. I know there are now rules limiting the amount of body armor but Biggio, to my knowledge, never violated that rule (or wasn't called on it).

Unless there's a rule I'm not aware of then Biggio cheated no more than Glavine did by not correcting the umpire that, in fact, that pitch was 6 inches outside and should have been called a ball.
   15. KronicFatigue Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:21 AM (#4636798)
It's only cheating if there was a quid pro quo. Once you have umps that have authority it is not up to the players to make the decision. I've never seen a runner call himself out, a fielder call a runner safe, a pitcher say no it was a ball, or a batter say no it was a strike.
I've heard of a professional tennis players calling an opponents ball in that cost them a match in Wimbledon - but that's got to be almost unique in sports.
I thought Biggio was the 11th player on last year's ballot but would have voted for him. I didn't discount the OBP advantage given him by the umps, but it wasn't aesthetically pleasing baseball or cheating.


Wouldn't it be great if athletes did do those things though? Just because you can get away with something doesn't mean you should do it...or that you shouldn't be judged for doing it. Umpires awarded him first base on those plays out of a combination of not being able to prove what he was doing, and being too scared to make an issue out of it. The safer play was to just give him first.

Biggio's armor ranks up there with flopping (both in the NBA and soccer), NFL players faking injuries to slow down a drive, etc etc. The only reason it's tolerated is because we can't get past the fact that many people won't do the honorable thing if they can get away with doing something more selfish.

I would welcome players voluntarily calling themselves out. It would be refreshing. Absent that, I'd at least prefer them to not actively try and find loopholes, like Biggio leaning into pitches with his huge shield.
   16. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:27 AM (#4636799)
You can't knock a player for taking advantage in an area that is not policed properly. Professional athletes are somewhat competitive and will take any advantage given to them. This is not a complicated concept.


Is this a defense of body armor or steroids?
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:30 AM (#4636800)
Is there some secret contest we don't know about? Where the most moronic voter comment wins a trip around the world or something?

If there is, then the contest is over and this guy's the winner. If I hadn't witnessed the depths of human stupidity on so many previous occasions I'd say that this has to be a parody. And I'm still not 100% sure that it isn't.
   18. vivaelpujols Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4636804)
Possibly the weirdest ballot of all time.
   19. Carlo Paz Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4636812)
He didn't vote for Frank Thomas because he hates the Cubs? This guys wears his underwear on his head.
   20. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4636821)
It's not against the rules to not try getting out of the way. It's true that the ump shouldn't give the base in that case, but it's not cheating to not try getting out of the way. It is also not cheating to take first base when the ump awards it to you - not even if the ump awards it to you wrongly.

This all strikes me as akin to saying Maddux shouldn't have gone in because a whole lot of his called strikes were nowhere near the strike zone: I actually agree that Maddux shouldn't have gotten a lot of strike calls that he did get, and I suspect his stats wouldn't have been nearly as good had the rules been properly applied to him (not to say they would have been bad, or even wouldn't have been great). But the fact that lots of umps applied the rules incorrectly to him when he pitched out of the zone does not imply that Maddux cheated by pitching outside of the zone.
   21. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4636827)
He didn't vote for Frank Thomas because he hates the Cubs?


I know a guy from Maryland who roots for the Cowboys because the Colts moved to Indiamapolis. Psychology's a knuckleball.
   22. TJ Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4636844)

It's not a horrible ballot.


I'm tired of this excuse. It is a horrible ballot because of the inane reasoning behind it.

The BBWAA says that the HOF vote is the highest privilege they have to offer. Individual voters say the same thing. Then hold your voters to a standard befitting the honor.
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4636845)
I know a guy from Maryland who roots for the Cowboys because the Colts moved to Indiamapolis. Psychology's a knuckleball.

His reasoning there was probably in two stages, arrived at at the time the Colts left town.

Stage one: "The Colts are gone, so that leaves the Redskins as the only closeby team to root for."

Stage two: "But as a former Colts fan and a loyal Baltimorean, I've always hated the Redskins and the city of Washington, so therefore I'm going to root for their bitterest rival, the Cowboys. Take that, Irsay!!!"

And yeah, you do kind of need one of those special Gus Triandos knuckleball catching gloves to get your hands around that sort of logic, but what better explanation could there be?
   24. TerpNats Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4636849)
His reasoning there was probably in two stages, arrived at at the time the Colts left town.

Stage one: "The Colts are gone, so that leaves the Redskins as the only closeby team to root for."

Stage two: "But as a former Colts fan and a loyal Baltimorean, I've always hated the Redskins and the city of Washington, so therefore I'm going to root for their bitterest rival, the Cowboys. Take that, Irsay!!!"
Using that analogy, I suppose there should have been plenty of Yankees fans in metro D.C. between 1972 and 2004.
   25. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4636851)
It's not a horrible ballot.

Dowling chooses Bagwell but not Thomas. He has Morris but not Mussina, or Schilling. In fact, he prefers his three empty ballot spaces to those three. That he might have thought Charlie O'Brien's Tron helmet was cheating is just a bonus. Actually, he wouldn't have thought that, because he says he doesn't follow the AL.
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4636931)
I still like the fact that he accuses Biggio of cheating because of body armor. For that alone, his ballot couldn't be worse than PED moralizers (oopss...sorry it's PED ethics)

I can almost think of this as a protest vote. He's protesting the idiots that are going after the ped guys but not guys who actually cheated.
   27. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4636943)
I'm tired of this excuse. It is a horrible ballot because of the inane reasoning behind it.


And finally we get to someone at least owning the fact that the voters crime is a thoughtcrime.
   28. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4637035)
The getting first base despite making no attempt to get out of the way is a pet peeve of mine, and like all such scofflaws is particularly egregious when every now and then they decide to pick on some poor guy by calling it (usually a rookie).

Though it doesn't bug me nearly as much as the lefty balk move, which is so obviously a balk and no one except Joe West seems to want to call it.

Putting your knee down in front of a base while taking a throw thereby blocking the base? Clearly obstruction via the rules (unless you twist the English in the rules to where it makes verbal sense but no logical sense). My problem in all these cases is partly with the offending players, but mostly with the umpires who let them do it.

But leaving him out of the Hall of Fame for it is ludicrous. I'd say almost everyone in there has engaged in some form of 'gamesmanship' like that.
   29. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4637056)
Isn't a fielder in possession of the ball allowed to obstruct a runner in attempting to put him out?
   30. guajolote2 Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4637113)
As stupid as this is, we're burying the lead here. The bit about not voting for Thomas because Dowling didn't watch the AL and hated the Cubs is legit vote-strip worthy.
   31. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4637125)
Isn't a fielder in possession of the ball allowed to obstruct a runner in attempting to put him out?

He's allowed to obstruct the runner, if he has to do so in order to field the ball. There's not a first baseman in baseball who has to put his knee in front of first base to apply a tag on a pickoff play, nor a middle infielder who has to put his knee down in front of second to apply a tag on a stolen base attempt.
   32. EddieA Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4637136)
I can almost think of this as a protest vote. He's protesting the idiots that are going after the ped guys but not guys who actually cheated.


It's about the character clause (integrity, sportsmanship, character) in the HOF voting criteria. What is good sportsmanship? In baseball, it's accepted and taught at an early age to try and get the call from the ump - catchers framing the pitch, first basemen pulling their foot off the bag a moment before the throw arrives, showing the ball after a trap, etc. If there were no umps, the players would be on their honor. Self-reporting and policing is not part of the game. Extending this to PEDs, I can't imagine where a player would have drawn the line pretesting based on "I think this particular substance may give me an unfair advantage over my opponents." when they are just thinking (like most other men in the age group) about this stuff helps me get stronger and makes me feel and look good - I cannot see how there can be an expectation of a self-applied rule under integrity, sportsmanship, and character.

The gamesmanship cuts across sports. In basketball it's a more serious problem than baseball, players are taught to overreact to get a call - flopping being the extreme. In college basketball, they've made draconian rules about getting hit in the head that can change the outcome of an otherwise hopeless game that causes guys to try to get in the head or make it appear that way. Whose fault is that? I don't think it's poor sportsmanship on the player's part that a stupid rule was made. Even if Biggio getting an HBP was automatic ejection for the starting pitcher, the result and application of such a stupid rule would have been really bad but not Biggio's fault.



   33. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4637138)
Whenever I see a thirdbasemen basically sitting on third base as the runner comes in I've always wanted the runner to pull a Cobb and go in high spikes first.
   34. Morty Causa Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4637140)
Any fielder that blocks a base, including and especially a catcher at home plate, deserves whatever he gets.
   35. Ray K Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:02 PM (#4637147)
I always hated the body armor where players got free walks -- even when one of the biggest recipients of that was an Astro. It does seem to be a slightly underhanded way to play, but the reality is that it's the umpires' responsibility to call the infraction.

I understand the voter's frustration and appreciate that he had the balls (or stupidity) to publicly state it. But his contorted reasoning for ignoring Bonds' use of the exact same armor really undercuts his credibility.

And, no, this type of cheating is not comparable to PED use. Cheating with body armor (or scuffed pitches or pine tar) is fully enforceable on the field by the umpires. Those same umps have no way of "catching" a player cheating with PEDs -- that's why it's a worse offense and why it took a lot longer to get under control.
   36. EddieA Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:21 PM (#4637155)
This thread got me thinking of big plays that were cheating and I was wondering if anyone remembers this play from the
1991 World Series Game 2, 3rd out in the Braves third.
The way I remember it was Gant went back to the base before the throw and Hrbek lifted him off with his knee and tagged him out. Is that what happened or was it another play? If it happened as I recall, what would the proper call be?
   37. Wet Willie Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4637159)
We should have a Hall of Shame for sportswriters/voters of this ilk. Name it after the late Bill Conlin.
   38. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4637166)
OK,
So I originally said it was "not a horrible ballot". I was wrong, it's a sh*t ballot and I for one who, like most of us here, was a very strong advocate of 'fill all ten slots' and if you must have Morris then it's bordering on criminal not to have the ballot full whilst including him.
   39. Gonfalon B. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4637167)
And finally we get to someone at least owning the fact that the voters crime is a thoughtcrime.

It can't be a crime, when there's so little thought.

We should have a Hall of Shame for sportswriters/voters of this ilk. Name it after the late Bill Conlin.

Just don't award them the old trophy from "Laugh-In."
   40. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2014 at 07:40 PM (#4637293)
Like Andy, I half-suspect this is some strange mix of protest and parody. Some of it is too rich -- "I don't follow the AL but I hate the Cubs so no Thomas"; "Biggio cheated by using body armor but I have no problem with Bonds' roids AND body armor." But the tweets quoted earlier sound a bit too real and the ballot looks a bit too serious...

We're sure this isn't Ray's nom de plume? :-)
   41. jingoist Posted: January 12, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4637304)
I wonder how many times this guy re-submitted an old cartoon when he found himself behind schedule just to make a paper's print-time cut-off?
Cheater maybe?
   42. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4637344)

My initial thought was that this was a protest against the no-PED voters, too.
   43. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4637391)
His reasoning there was probably in two stages, arrived at at the time the Colts left town.

Stage one: "The Colts are gone, so that leaves the Redskins as the only closeby team to root for."

Stage two: "But as a former Colts fan and a loyal Baltimorean, I've always hated the Redskins and the city of Washington, so therefore I'm going to root for their bitterest rival, the Cowboys. Take that, Irsay!!!"


This is exactly his logic.

I wonder how many times this guy re-submitted an old cartoon when he found himself behind schedule just to make a paper's print-time cut-off?


He would probably just rip off an old Ziggy.

   44. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:31 PM (#4637444)
He would probably just rip off an old Ziggy.

and he's ripped out of his gourd
   45. TJ Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:55 AM (#4637543)

And finally we get to someone at least owning the fact that the voters crime is a thoughtcrime.


Thoughtcrime? No. Crime against thought? yes.
   46. zonk Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4637609)
When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!

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