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December 18, 2008

Prospectus Today

The Old You're In, You're Out

by Joe Sheehan

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Just 23 names dot the 2008 Hall of Fame ballot, the smallest number in history. That's mostly a fluke owing to the vagaries of when careers begin and end, which players come back for an extra season or an extra few weeks, and which don't. Rickey Henderson, the only first-time-eligible player with a snowball's chance in hell of being elected-and who will be this year-would still be playing if he had a choice. We've also seen a lot of players slip off of the ballot quickly in recent years, as the five percent rule for staying on becomes a tougher barrier to clear as the electorate grows. That rule will claim most of this year's new entries as well.

To some extent, a column like this repeats itself from year to year, as players who you support for the Hall come back to the ballot and you end up making the same arguments again and again. When the voting procedures were first codified, a 20-year timeframe for making decisions seemed reasonable; there was less information, less coverage, and perhaps a greater need for time to put performance into context. Now, that seems too long, especially given the way the voting plays out. Attention effects, death effects, highest-returning-player effects, arguments that have more to do with the voters than the players... all of these take hold over the course of 20 years, making it possible for players to double and triple their vote totals over time without doing a single thing to improve their career performance. The process simply takes too long, players are eligible for too long, and we end up with Hall of Famers (such as Tony Perez, Bruce Sutter, and inevitably, Jim Rice) whose plaques reflect not baseball playing, but the effects of being on a ballot for a decade or more.

So, still comfortably ensconced in my position as an outsider to the process, I'd like to suggest that the 15-year window for eligibility has long outgrown its usefulness. With all of the information available about modern players-information accessible in a heartbeat-you can cut that by two-thirds and still get solid evaluations of players' careers. In addition, by lowering the eligibility window, you can eliminate the five percent rule that has claimed a handful of players, such as Lou Whitaker, who deserved greater consideration. That rule was designed to clean up the ballot, but with players only staying on for five years, the ballot would be plenty clean.

Consider the BBWAA Hall of Famers since 1983, the last quarter-century, and their path to induction:

First five years: Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Lou Brock, Willie McCovey, Catfish Hunter, Willie Stargell, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Bench, Jim Palmer, Joe Morgan, Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Rod Carew, Tom Seaver, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, Robin Yount, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Carlton Fisk, Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Dennis Eckersley, Ryne Sandberg, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, and Tony Gwynn.

After: Don Drysdale, Luis Aparicio, Hoyt Wilhelm, Billy Williams, Tony Perez, Gary Carter, Bruce Sutter, and Rich Gossage.

The vast majority of primary-path Hall of Famers in the modern era spend five or fewer years on the ballot. That's not to say that BBWAA doesn't make mistakes of commission in that time, but having a 15-year window isn't adding a whole lot to the process. Of the players in the second group, you have some of the weakest and most controversial BBWAA Hall of Famers, and not coincidentally, those are the ones who were on the ballot the longest. If you're not voted in on the first... let's raise the bar from five to seven ballots, which is a dozen years after retirement... you're probably not raising the standards. So cut off the eligibility then, make it a five-year, or even a three-year, waiting period, and a seven-year eligibility window. Look at the above lists, and tell me whether a 20-year window is allowing for an evaluation of a career, or just for mythologies to form, with the players becoming pawns in the modern arguments about observation versus data in career evaluation.

This is also more fair to the players, for whom this process is often a difficult one. No matter what they might say, these guys would all dearly love to be worthy, and it can't be easy to be Dale Murphy or Jack Morris in that gray area of support, and go through this cycle every winter, hoping against hope. These players' cases haven't changed at all, and that their vote total does-moving generally upward-has more to do with the process than with their arguments for induction. Let's change the process, and let's change it in a way that gets the most worthy players honored, while lessening the exposure of those not quite up to that standard. The voting patterns listed above speak for themselves: a decade past the end of your career is enough time for you to be evaluated.

Because the BBWAA has become so picky about election-a function both of rising standards and a bigger electorate-a process of education should be put into play as well. There are more players in the modern game, and there should certainly be a greater number of Hall of Famers, even if it's not a perfectly proportionate number. This is especially true when you consider the over-representation in the Hall of players from the 1890s and 1920s, made worse by the recent influx of inductees from the Negro Leagues. The Hall, by which I mean the plaque room, needs to grow to reflect the growth of baseball over the past half-century. The BBWAA should be electing more, not fewer, Hall of Famers, and doing so while not damaging the excellent standards it has set during the 70 years it's been doing its job. I've said this before, but if you had a Hall of Fame based solely on BBWAA voting, it wouldn't be perfect, but it would be a damned sight better than the one with Tommy McCarthy and Rick Ferrell in it.

Change the process, educate the voter pool, and make the Hall of Fame better. You don't need a radical solution, a five-step plan, or a massive expansion of the electorate-although the latter is certainly a good idea-all you need is a shorter eligibility window and an open discussion about how the standards should evolve over time.

In a decade, whenSomeday, if I have a vote, I sincerely hope that I vote within the best process I can, because the Hall of Fame is a sacred place, a museum and shrine together, and it deserves the very best that we can give it.

Oh, this year's ballot... I would vote for Bert Blyleven again, because he would actually raise the standards of the room; Henderson, of course, who is one of the 35 or so best players in baseball history; Mark McGwire, who would be a Hall of Famer if not for a worthless waste of taxpayer money in March of 2003 and the hypocritical media hysteria that followed; and Tim Raines, the greatest leadoff hitter in NL history.

Alan Trammell remains a most difficult omission for me. The early end to his effective career, and my concerns that his defensive statistics-which make up so much of his statistical case for the Hall-are inflated by context, cause me to leave him out. This is a very difficult decision, again, and I understand that I'm a rare stathead who doesn't see Trammell as a Hall member. I'm not completely convinced that I'm right, and every year I go through this with him, going back over the numbers and the arguments, and what I keep seeing is not enough peak to make up for being more or less done at 32.

For some people, the cut line is Bert Blyleven. For others, it's Jim Rice. For me, it's Alan Trammell, falling between those two and perhaps, quite frankly, on the very line demarcating the "in" from the "out." Someone has to be that guy, and based on the standards, I believe it to be Trammell.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

56 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

sbnirish77

Now that the BBWAA has recognized BP, I'm sure they'll take your suggestions to heart in the spirit in which they are offered ...

Dec 18, 2008 10:08 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

and if Mark McGuire is "the very best we can give it" well that's not saying very much of the company included

Dec 18, 2008 10:10 AM
rating: -3
 
Evan
(47)

Based on McGwire's performance, he absolutely belongs in the Hall. This isn't like Roger Maris where he did one impressive thing but otherwise wasn't especially good.

I can't think of a credible reason to exclude McGwire. No one even thinks he cheated.

Dec 18, 2008 10:59 AM
rating: -1
 
Dan

Hang on... "no one" thinks McGwire cheated? Where are you getting this?

I'm not sure if it's fair or not, but I think a heck of a lot of people think he cheated.

Dec 18, 2008 11:01 AM
rating: 3
 
TADontAsk

If no one thinks McGwire cheated then he wouldn't still be on the ballot.

Dec 18, 2008 11:02 AM
rating: 1
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

Besides 1961, Maris also won the MVP award in 1960, finished in the top 25 one other time, made several All Star teams, won a Gold Glove, and posted a 127 OPS+ for his career. It was not especially GREAT, but it was good.

Dec 18, 2008 11:33 AM
rating: 3
 
nhcohen

nobody is saying that Maris was not a good player (and an MVP award and a few ASG's is pretty close to the definition of "good"), but without the 61 HRs, he falls clearly below the established level of average HOF inductee. And the HOF guidelines say (correctly) that a player shouldn't be inducted for a single season. Maris will never be forgotten - and the HOF has plenty of 1961 memorabilia, but he also shouldn't be inducted.

Dec 20, 2008 14:23 PM
rating: 0
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

"nobody is saying that Maris was not a good player"

Actually, Evan stated it. His comment was that, besides the 61 dingers, Maris "wasn't especially good."

I didn't (and won't) argue that Maris deserves to be in the HOF; my point was that he was good, even "especially good," whatever that might subjectively mean to someone.

Dec 22, 2008 14:25 PM
rating: 0
 
Aaron/YYZ

I always liked the Buck O'Neil standard of "could he play", for which the answer with regards to McGuire is an unequivocal "Yes!".

Dec 18, 2008 12:15 PM
rating: -1
 
ptakers
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

In 20 words or less, how on earth was Tim Raines a better leadoff guy than Rickey Henderson?

Dec 18, 2008 10:12 AM
rating: -20
 
Drew Miller

He said "NL" history.

Dec 18, 2008 10:15 AM
rating: 0
 
Dan

So Joe, do you think there should be more or fewer players getting into the Hall now? You said "more," but it also sounds like you think those guys in the "elected after more than 5 years on the ballot" list mostly should not have gotten in. Just wondering if you could clarify that.

I do agree with your overall point though. Good suggestions, as usual.

Dec 18, 2008 10:18 AM
rating: 0
 
steveinator1x

Has there been a projection done for how many home runs Jim Rice would have hit had he played in the modern era?

Dec 18, 2008 10:31 AM
rating: 0
 
Randy Brown
(189)

The DT cards have translated batting statistics, which allow comparison of players' batting statistics adjusted for the era in which they played. I'd recommend checking those out. For what it's worth, a comparison of Jim Rice's translated home run total to a few others, mostly contemporaries:

Babe Ruth: 1,037 (!)
Jose Canseco: 609
Dwight Evans: 508
George Foster: 499
Jim Rice: 482
Greg Luzinski: 438
Lance Johnson: 50

Speaking as a Tigers fan who isn't old enough to remember back past around 1980 (so admittedly, I can't remember Rice's best seasons), I always thought that Dewey was a better player than Jim Rice when I was growing up. The home run numbers seem to agree with my recollection, and they don't even factor in Evans' superior OBP and defense.

Dec 18, 2008 11:06 AM
rating: 2
 
ObviouslyRob

Speaking as a Red Sox fan, I still can't get my head around how people like Rice over Evans (though I do like both, even if Rice's JAWS puts him pretty well short (although once WARP3 revisions come out, I'll have to look again!(one more parenthesis))). I wonder if there'd be any question of Dewey's elligibility if he had actually crossed the 500 mark on that silly counting stat.

Dec 18, 2008 18:17 PM
rating: 1
 
ithistle

It's more, but almost certainly offset by the home runs and hits given to him by the Green Monster. He had a career .920 OPS at home and .789 on the road (unstranslated numbers).

Dec 18, 2008 11:36 AM
rating: 1
 
Schlom

You could go to their respective Baseball Reference page and they have a link to "neutralize" stats for each player. Doing this gives Rice 378 HR's (Dewey Evans has 404, McGwire 610, Albert Belle 389).

Dec 18, 2008 14:01 PM
rating: 0
 
BryanM

Joe, while I like you idea to cut a players time on the ballot from 15 to either 5 or 7 years, I think that your proposed "education of the voter pool" is pointless. Do you really think that the Dan Shaughnessys and Murray Chasses of the world are going to take kindly to any attempt to be educated? They already know all then need to know, and any attempt to teach them anything just causes them to become more entrenched in their ill-considered positions. The only thing that will lead to a more educated is allowing more educated people to vote, not trying to educate the current members. Over time, as the dinosaurs die off and are replaced with younger writers (both in print and online), this will happen. But until then, we are just going to have to live with the decisions that the current electorate makes, as infuriating (Rice, Sutter, etc.) as they may be.

Dec 18, 2008 11:12 AM
rating: 2
 
sbnirish77

"They already know all then need to know, and any attempt to teach them anything just causes them to become more entrenched in their ill-considered positions."

I think some people here at BP are just as stubborn-headed about certain subjects (see steroids / McGwire) as the main stream press is about the use of sabermetrics for player evaluation.

Dec 18, 2008 11:21 AM
rating: 1
 
ruben398

I agree with 90% of the articles written here, with the huge exception for everything written on steroids and PED's. I give a little more credence to what Will says, but some of premises of the arguments I just don't agree with.

That being said, I've been a premium subscriber since I was old enough to have a credit card... when it comes do baseball and cold hard facts, nobody does it better.

Dec 19, 2008 11:51 AM
rating: 2
 
FlynnSox

Actually, while I hate CHB with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, Shaughnessy usually puts together a pretty good Hall of Fame ballot. The key is he delegates some of the responsibility to a baseball historian he knows, and discusses it with him before he puts together the ballot he'll submit.

Jim Rice is the big exception to this, and its resultant infantile CHB articles. But that's more easily explainable by homerism. I don't think there's too many Red Sox fans who actively oppose Jim Rice getting into the Hall - even if I don't think he's qualified, it's still a lifelong Red Sox player getting in.

Dec 18, 2008 12:42 PM
rating: 1
 
diperna

I've exchanged a few emails with Chass recently on Mussina vs. Morris. To Chass's credit, he is friendly and is willing to engage in a discussion that challenges his arguments. But I can't say that I've managed to convince him of anything. And I've tried. I mean, Mussina vs. Morris shouldn't even be a real issue, but I couldn't bring him around.

Dec 18, 2008 22:22 PM
rating: 0
 
shamah

Wouldn't shortening the time limit hurt a lot of the steroids guys who should get in? I think guys like McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro--who all deserve to get in on merit, regardless of what they took--will benefit from a long eligibility window. At the very least, some more generational turnover in the voter pool, a little less hyperventilating about the integrity of the game, may result in all these guys getting in in ten or 15 years.

Dec 18, 2008 11:21 AM
rating: 8
 
garmoore

Good suggestions on changes to HOF voting. I hope that they get some serious consideration. But Joe, no Alan Trammell? I wonder if you think Ryne Sandberg is a worthy Hall of Famer. If so, I would argue that Trammell is every bit as good a candidate. The last six years of his career happened to coincide with the rise of the power-hitting shortstops that we saw from about 1990 on (Cal Ripken is a notable exception), which hurt his numbers. His problem might be that he was just a guy who led by example, not by speaking up. He also was paired with Lou Whitaker for so many years that it's easy for both their performances to be dimmed. I'll admit, I'm a Tigers fan, and have been since I first paid attention to baseball in the late 1950s, but Trammell is one of only two or three Tigers after Al Kaline that I think earned a spot in the Hall, or at least a more serious look than they've gotten.

Dec 18, 2008 11:27 AM
rating: 0
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

I hate to be the nitpicky, GOTCHA guy, but the House Government Reform Committee held its pointless steroid hearing in March 2005, not March 2003.

Dec 18, 2008 11:49 AM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Joe - I totally agree with you on reform, but your suggestion to lower the amount of consideration time will not appreciably help the BBWAA vote in more Hall members. I am a voter in good standing with the Hall of Merit project and a self-proclaimed "Big-Hall" supporter. I agree with the 15 year window and would be happy to have an open, perpetual window.

As to the 5% cutoff, I would extend that rule and say that only payers who could not garner 5% of the total vote after 3 years of eligibility would be removed. For example, many non-slam dunk guys will lose votes in the first year due to writers thinking that while the guy may be a hall-of-famer overall, he was not a first ballot hall-of-famer. For example, in 2006, Will Clark received 23 votes (4.4%) - three votes short of 5%. I have no doubt that he would have picked up those 3 votes, and most likely 5 or ten more in the next year and would have remained on the ballot for more than 3 years, having achieved more than 5% of the total 3 year vote. On the other hand, in the same year Walt Weiss garnered a single vote. In three years, Weiss may have stuck with a single vote, may have even gotten to double digits - but he would have been removed from the ballot after three years with practically one hundred percent assurance.

And that's my three cents. Congratulations in advance to Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and the family of Joe Gordon.

Dec 18, 2008 12:10 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones

Hi Joe,
I'm a huge fan of your work. Though I often agree with your assessments, there are times when I disagree, vehemently in some cases. One such case is Mark McGwire and the alleged conspiracy to “scapegoat” him as the poster child of the steroid era. There are two camps with regard to McGwire’s HOF candidacy. Those who believe he should be inducted to the HOF and those who think there is enough doubt about his legitimacy to warrant a delay in induction at the least and outright denial at the most. You have made it clear that you fall in the former category and have made your irritation with those in the latter category quite clear. I fall into the latter category and I’d like to tell you why.

In your January 5th, 2007 article title "My Hall of Fame Ballot", you make the obvious and appropriate case for McGwire’s entry based on his numbers. It would be very hard to argue, in fact bordering on Dick Cheney-esque delusion, to argue against McGwire’s inclusion to the Hall based on those criteria. My disagreement stems from several of your assertions, which I believe are shared by some of your fellow BP writers, namely:

McGwire the Scapegoat:
The idea that McGwire falls into the category of a "scapegoat" at all is highly suspect. The definition of "scapegoat" is as follows: a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.

For McGwire to fall safely into this category, he will have to inherently be innocent of any personal responsibility for the position in which he has been put. The moment it is proven that he bears some personal responsibility, the idea of "scapegoatism" falls apart.

But I'll get back to this later.

"No evidence" (Will Carroll Chat 1/30/07), "denied election for one reason only…his appearance in front of congress", (your above mentioned article, repeated allusion in the current article):
Will's assertion that there is "no evidence" falls apart immediately, even with just a cursory inspection. Your own assertion that there is only one reason for his HOF denial seems false also. I believe it's safe to say that his congressional appearance is the largest factor, but I think it's more accurate to describe it as the "deciding" factor in many people's determination that McGwire used steroids.

I'm not sure that McGwire would be denied entry to the HOF if there was never a Jose Canseco book or there weren’t the Caminiti statements, the numerous public statements from other former players about "rampant steroid use", a remarkable late career HR surge by McGwire, the Andro discovery, the well publicized Barry Bonds expose "Game of Shadows,” which cast enormous doubt among fans and media on the legitimacy of the enormous HR splurge of the late 90's. Whether you find these other reasons compelling or reliable is beside the point; they are still reasons that have led many to come to the conclusion that Mark McGwire should no longer be given the benefit of the doubt. Admittedly, the only factor from the aforementioned list that can be legitimately called “evidence” would be Jose Canseco’s book. To your credit, you point this out yourself in your article. You also make it quite clear that Canseco’s reputation as a buffoon makes his assertions highly suspect. I agree. My gut feeling is that he’s telling the truth about the steroid use itself, but it wouldn’t surprise me if their were, let’s say, embellishments to a large degree. So, I am willing to bend a bit to give McGwire the benefit of the doubt with regards to Canseco’s book. However, I’m not willing to erase its existence from my brain entirely. Would Canseco’s book be enough for me to advocate denial of a HOF vote. No.

Moving on, I will address the most compelling evidence (at least it’s compelling to me and those who fall into my camp), which you termed "the only reason" he was denied entry to the HOF.

Mark McGwire has been asked about his rumored steroid use many times over his career, beginning with his days on the A's. He never had a problem denying steroid use in those interviews. An example of this was pointed out in a fairly recent SI.com article by Tom Verducci (January 2nd, 2007) in which Verducci lamented about an earlier interview in which he asked McGwire directly about his rumored steroid use; a charge which McGwire forcefully and confidently denied.

This begs the obvious question; Why would McGwire be so willing to deny steroid use over the years but suddenly, inexplicably refuse to answer the same exact question when posed by Congress? You gave several possible reasons in your article:

"He didn’t grandstand the way players such as Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling did. He didn’t admit guilt and beg forgiveness the way many people wish he had. He didn’t stand defiant of a Congressional committee less interested in public policy than in positive press for threatening people—major-league baseball players—who could cost it few votes and little money and who would be unlikely to publicly point out the cynicism and bullying rampant in the process. In his testimony, McGwire held to a point—“I’m not here to talk about the past”—that was actually in keeping with the theoretical spirit of the hearings."

Looking closely at your statement of defense, the bulk of it describes what he "didn't do", which should be irrelevant, as it is in any case of determining a person’s guilt or innocence of a particular charge. This leaves us with what he did do; “McGwire held to a point—‘I’m not here to talk about the past’....”

The obvious problem with McGwires stance is that he was compelled to appear and put under oath to answer the questions posed by Congress. It was not his choice to decide what was on the agenda or what topics were on or off limits.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that Congress was merely putting up a "dog and pony show" that was embarrassing to watch. But this is irrelevant in determining whether we should continue to give McGwire the benefit of the doubt. All that matters is what McGwire did and why he did it. We know what he did; he clammed up. Next we need to look at the possible reasons why he clammed up in this situation.

Perhaps he was concerned for his privacy and felt Congress had no right to ask such questions? The problem with this argument is two-fold. He refused to answer the exact same questions he forcefully and confidently answered many times over the years to reporters. Reporters who were not off the record; they had microphones, TV cameras, notepads and pens. They were going to publish these questions and answers in the public sphere. Secondly, and more notably, he had to know that refusal to answer those very same questions would do irreparable damage to his reputation and HOF eligibility. Is it a reasonable conclusion to assume a noble intent for his sudden refusal to answer the same question he has answered publicly many times over the years under this circumstance?

Let's bend over backwards even further to allow for such a noble intent as standing up for some kind of privacy, even in the face of the predictable (and subsequently accurate) HOF ballot retribution. Wouldn't such a stand only make its point if stated openly? In any case I know of where someone was taking such a messianic stand in the past, they made that stand quite clear. Tellingly, McGwire didn't hold a press conference after the hearing expressing noble reasons for his refusal to answer. Instead, he slinked off into the darkness, avoiding comment. In fact, it was pointed out that his refusal came about due to legal advice he had received.

What if we take his assertion that he “was not here to talk about the past” in the best, most positive way by allowing for the possibility that he was too concerned about steroid use among children and wanted to stick to the point by avoiding talk about the past. He implies such reasoning with the statement, as pointed out in your article, “I’m not here to talk about the past”. Let’s think this idea through. If he had never done steroids and simply answered the question, “No, I have never used steroids”, then wouldn’t he be able to move on to the more pressing issue of helping the nations children? Wouldn’t he then be a beacon for children as to what great accomplishments could be achieved while avoiding the dangers of steroid use? Wouldn’t it be obvious to McGwire and everyone else that by refusing to answer the question, he was making “not talking about the past” an impossibility? Isn’t it obvious that the last thing he should do, if his intent was to help the children by keeping focus on present day situations, would be to create an enormous controversy by refusing to answer a single question? Again, does it seem reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt here? I don’t think so.

We need to continue our search for the most likely reason for his refusal to answer. The obvious question becomes, what was different about the situation in which McGwire found himself when asked this same question that he had no problem answering so many times in the past? The answer is obvious. He was, for the first time, under oath. This factor cannot be taken lightly. A lie under oath to Congress is a potentially serious crime that carries heavy penalties, far more grave than merely being denied the honor of HOF acceptance.

Is it, therefore, reasonable to still give him the benefit of doubt; to even honor him with a plaque in Cooperstown?

I don’t think one needs to invoke the theory of Occam’s Razor to find a much more obvious and satisfying answer to the question of why McGwire would have effectively pleaded the 5th when asked under oath in front of Congress as to whether he took steroids or not, but I’ll do it anyway. He was refusing to incriminate himself.

The question this raises for me, and the heart of my case against McGwire, is what other reason can we come up with that is even close to a believable alternative? The assertion of noble intent is flimsier than any doubt about Canseco’s “facts”. In any case, McGwire’s choice to duck the question was clearly his own and therefore voids any thought of placing the “scapegoat” tag on him. He’s no martyr.

Would I go to war based on this “evidence”? No. But it’s more than enough doubt to remove an endorsement for placement among the greats in Cooperstown, where part of the criteria for induction, clearly stated in the BBWAA “Rules for Election”, is integrity, sportsmanship and character.

This is enough reason for me. I respect your differing opinion on this matter, but find it hard to understand the underlying venom you feel toward those who fall into the other camp. Is our position so unreasonable?

In addition, there are other points that have been brought forward by many of those who feel he should be elected, which I’d like to address.

The Two-Wrongs-Make-a-Right Defense:
Will Carroll notes, “Mike Ditka was explaining why Shawne Merriman, the Chargers LB who tested positive for an anabolic steroid this season, should be Defensive Player of the Year. ‘What he did was wrong, but the league’s punishment is four games for this. He served that. He’s getting tested now and hasn’t failed again.’ Okay, Ditka failed to notice the six to eight week lag in the NFL’s testing (that’s normal, I’m not faulting them here), but the logic that football guys like Ditka are willing to employ for a knowing, unexcused cheater is amazingly disconnected from the logic that baseball writers are willing to employ for a guy for which there is no proof, who was not subject to testing, and who has admitted to the use and then cessation of a substance (andro) that was available over the counter at the time and was legal for use in baseball until 2005.”

Your own response notes, “how can McGwire be so vilified for steroid use that has never come close to being proven, while Shawne Merriman is perhaps the most celebrated defensive player in the NFL during the same season in which he tested positive for steroids? The hypocrisy in the coverage of steroids in sports has never been so evident as it is today, the gulf between the media’s handling of MLB and the NFL wide enough to drive the truth through.”

Another good example often cited is Gaylord Perry’s inclusion in the HOF.

I’ve already spoken to Will’s assertion that there is “no proof”, so I’ll limit myself to the main concept behind the idea of “hypocrisy” or double standard among the fans and media. My answer is simple. I agree. The hypocrisy and double standard are evident and silly. My question becomes, what does that have to do with whether we should give McGwire the benefit of the doubt in the face of his performance in front of congress, among other things? Must we use the lowest possible comparable threshold when making such judgements? Or does it make more sense to ask Mike Ditka or the media, who feel the same way, how is it they feel justified in rewarding a cheater like Merriman? Why are we not raising the standard?

At the end of the day, we need only look back to the criteria for election, specifically the part referring to integrity, sportsmanship and character. Under those criteria, Merriman would not be elected into any HOF either.

Gaylord Perry falls into a somewhat different category. On the surface it should suffice to say that putting one cheater in the HOF shouldn’t mean we should open the doors to all cheaters. But I’ll take it further. Any steroid user had the intent of gaining an advantage over his opponent; this I can assume you would agree with. Whether a steroid user in fact did receive an advantage by using I’ll leave to the medical experts, but for this discussion it’s irrelevant. What was the intent; to surreptitiously gain an unfair advantage over the opponent. The difference between Gaylord Perry and a steroid user, particularly in the late 90’s, with a sham of a drug enforcement policy in MLB, was Perry took a risk every time he cheated. His cheating was limited to the field of play, under the watchful eyes of the umpires, TV cameras, broadcasters, fans and opposing team. Because of this, he had to pick his spots. A steroid user was taking no risk of being caught whatsoever. Again, this is no defense of Perry. It merely points out that Perry’s cheating came with some risk on the field of play. And it was a rare occurrence, by all accounts, including Perry’s, who clearly has no problem indulging us with the details of his crimes. Meanwhile, a steroid user, whose intent was clearly nefarious, was carrying out that intent with every breath he took, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, with no chance to get caught. It’s gutless to say the least. But again, as I pointed out previously, we need not even have to point this out as the very idea of claiming we should allow all cheaters into the HOF based on Perry’s inclusion makes no sense on its face. This leads to the next argument.

Steroid use wasn’t even against the rules in baseball at the time:
While technically true, it’s still debatable in that any intent to unfairly gain an advantage over an opponent is against the spirit of the rules, particularly in regard to sportsmanship and fair play. More importantly, steroid use of the kind we are referring was against the law of the United States. So, they were breaking controlled substance laws of the country, but it’s okay because they weren’t explicitly outlawed in baseball’s collective bargaining agreement? Nonsensical.

He was a HOF caliber player prior to the alleged steroid use:
This applies more to Bonds than McGwire but it needs to be addressed. Jayson Stark constantly refers to this concept in his articles about Barry Bonds. Let’s look at what this really means. In effect, we should ignore a player’s intent to cheat with every breath he took for years and years of his career because he was already a great player prior to his cheating ways? Is this the logic? Need I explain the problem with this logic? The most obvious strike against this logic is, again, the HOF ballot criteria pointed out several times already, namely integrity, sportsmanship and character.

A good parallel to this argument is the idea of making a child-molesting priest into a Bishop because he was a really holy dude prior to becoming an active molester. Obviously an extreme example, but the logic is similar. Moving on…

There are probably many other players who used Steroids, so how can we justify punishing McGwire and co. and not these other players:
Again, this argument falls apart when the tiniest dose of logic is applied. Do we avoid sending the criminals to jail in our society because there are many other criminals that we haven’t caught yet? It’s beyond ludicrous. The same logic applies here.

I believe I have addressed all of the arguments that I’ve read over the years in defense of the McGwire’s and Bonds of the world. Thanks for listening!

Keep up the good work!

Dec 18, 2008 12:30 PM
rating: -2
 
jpaternostro

There is just one problem with this argument. There is no actual evidence that McGwire ever took steroids. He never failed a drug test. He was never subject to criminal charges relating to the purchase or use of steroids. The case against McGwire relates soley to his testimony, or lack thereof, in front of Congress. If he for some reason had never been called in front of the House, he would probably be in by now, with some wailing and nashing of teeth by certain members of the fourth estate about the era he played in, but nothing more. I don't see how there is any more *hard* evidence that he took steroids than there is for someone like Jeff Bagwell, who will probably get in. Or Frank Thomas, who definitely will.

Dec 18, 2008 12:51 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones

I spoke in length about this in the above post... I think I made a pretty convincing argument.

Dec 18, 2008 12:58 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Mark McGwire has been asked about his rumored steroid use many times over his career, beginning with his days on the A's. He never had a problem denying steroid use in those interviews. An example of this was pointed out in a fairly recent SI.com article by Tom Verducci (January 2nd, 2007) in which Verducci lamented about an earlier interview in which he asked McGwire directly about his rumored steroid use; a charge which McGwire forcefully and confidently denied.

This begs the obvious question; Why would McGwire be so willing to deny steroid use over the years but suddenly, inexplicably refuse to answer the same exact question when posed by Congress? Joe gave several possible reasons in his article:

"He didn't grandstand the way players such as Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling did. He didn't admit guilt and beg forgiveness the way many people wish he had. He didn't stand defiant of a Congressional committee less interested in public policy than in positive press for threatening people-major-league baseball players-who could cost it few votes and little money and who would be unlikely to publicly point out the cynicism and bullying rampant in the process. In his testimony, McGwire held to a point-"I'm not here to talk about the past"-that was actually in keeping with the theoretical spirit of the hearings."

Looking closely at Joe's statement of defense, the bulk of it describes what he "didn't do", which should be irrelevant, as it is in any case of determining a person's guilt or innocence of a particular charge. This leaves us with what he did do; "McGwire held to a point='I'm not here to talk about the past'..."

The obvious problem with McGwires stance is that he was compelled to appear and put under oath to answer the questions posed by Congress. It was not his choice to decide what was on the agenda or what topics were on or off limits.

I agree with joe wholeheartedly that Congress was merely putting up a "dog and pony show" that was embarrassing to watch. But this is irrelevant in determining whether we should continue to give McGwire the benefit of the doubt. All that matters is what McGwire did and why he did it. We know what he did; he clammed up. Next we need to look at the possible reasons why he clammed up in this situation.

Perhaps he was concerned for his privacy and felt Congress had no right to ask such questions? The problem with this argument is two-fold. He refused to answer the exact same questions he forcefully and confidently answered many times over the years to reporters. Reporters who were not off the record; they had microphones, TV cameras, notepads and pens. They were going to publish these questions and answers in the public sphere. Secondly, and more notably, he had to know that refusal to answer those very same questions would do irreparable damage to his reputation and HOF eligibility. Is it a reasonable conclusion to assume a noble intent for his sudden refusal to answer the same question he has answered publicly many times over the years under this circumstance?

Let's bend over backwards even further to allow for such a noble intent as standing up for some kind of privacy, even in the face of the predictable (and subsequently accurate) HOF ballot retribution. Wouldn't such a stand only make its point if stated openly? In any case I know of where someone was taking such a messianic stand in the past, they made that stand quite clear. Tellingly, McGwire didn't hold a press conference after the hearing expressing noble reasons for his refusal to answer. Instead, he slinked off into the darkness, avoiding comment. In fact, it was pointed out that his refusal came about due to legal advice he had received.

What if we take his assertion that he "was not here to talk about the past" in the best, most positive way by allowing for the possibility that he was too concerned about steroid use among children and wanted to stick to the point by avoiding talk about the past. He implies such reasoning with the statement, as pointed out in Joe's article, "I’m not here to talk about the past". Let's think this idea through. If he had never done steroids and simply answered the question, "No, I have never used steroids", then wouldn’t he be able to move on to the more pressing issue of helping the nations children? Wouldn't he then be a beacon for children as to what great accomplishments could be achieved while avoiding the dangers of steroid use? Wouldn't it be obvious to McGwire and everyone else that by refusing to answer the question, he was making "not talking about the past" an impossibility? Isn't it obvious that the last thing he should do, if his intent was to help the children by keeping focus on present day situations, would be to create an enormous controversy by refusing to answer a single question? Again, does it seem reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt here? I don’t think so.

The obvious question becomes, what was different about the situation in which McGwire found himself when asked this same question that he had no problem answering so many times in the past? The answer is obvious. He was, for the first time, under oath. This factor cannot be taken lightly. A lie under oath to Congress is a potentially serious crime that carries heavy penalties, far more grave than merely being denied the honor of HOF acceptance.

Is it, therefore, reasonable to still give him the benefit of doubt; to even honor him with a plaque in Cooperstown?

I don’t think one needs to invoke the theory of Occam's Razor to find a much more obvious and satisfying answer to the question of why McGwire would have effectively pleaded the 5th when asked under oath in front of Congress as to whether he took steroids or not, but I’ll do it anyway. He was refusing to incriminate himself.

Dec 18, 2008 13:08 PM
rating: -6
 
Schlom

All of this may be true (honestly I didn't read it all) but I think that Sheehan and others are saying that McGwire (and Bonds and Palmeiro) are being made the scapegoat for the steroid problem because they basically are the only ones where steroid use is being held against them.

I suspect steroid use in MLB goes back much further than people think -- easily back into the 1980's and possibly earlier. We have no idea whether or not Jim Rice or Andre Dawson (or any other players from the era) used steroids. Just because the writers took their collective heads out of their a***s recently (and that really is more of a function of track and field attempting to clean up their sport than anything MLB or the writers did).

Dec 18, 2008 14:12 PM
rating: 0
 
diperna

I agree with the thrust of your comment, with one addendum. There _is_ one piece of evidence that McGwire took steroids: Canseco said he did. Now, whether Canseco is credible is another issue, but it _is_ evidence.

With that said, I agree with you (and with Joe) that the witchhunting and scapegoating of McGwire is absurd, the conduct of the senators at that 2005 hearing was despicable (*), and that McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame yesterday.

(*) I'm talking about them leading the hearing with Don Hooton, and then bringing McGwire and the other players in as if it were a police lineup designed to figure out which player killed Don Hooton's son. That was a lynch mob, not a reasoned inquiry into steroids in sports.

Dec 18, 2008 22:30 PM
rating: 3
 
diperna

Sorry, I meant that I agree with jpaternosto's comment; I thought my comment would be posted right after his, and it wasn't.

The formatting here is really frustrating.

Dec 18, 2008 22:34 PM
rating: 1
 
alanj
(767)

You ask why McGwire clammed up? I think he answered it quite nicely himself.

"16. I have been advised that my testimony here could be
used to harm friends and respected teammates, or that
some ambitious prosecutor can use convicted criminals
who would do and say anything to solve their own
problems, and create jeopardy for my friends. Asking me,
or any other player, to answer questions about who took
steroids in front of television cameras will not solve this
problem. If a player answers no, he simply will not be
believed. If he answers yes, he risks public scorn and
endless government investigations. My lawyers have
advised me that I cannot answer these questions without
jeopardizing my friends, my family, or myself. I intend to
follow their advice."

If I were Mark McGwire, and I had never used steroids, and I were facing that Congressional panel, I would have done exactly the same thing. I have a huge amount to lose by issuing a denial under oath - even though it's true, that doesn't mean that in the current environment of hysteria, I (and my friends and family) won't be subjected to an unpleasant and invasive perjury investigation.

And if I answer no, I didn't use steroids, what happens if they ask about my teammates? Do I clam up then, and throw a cloud of suspicion on them? Do I name names, betraying the trust of the clubhouse? And for what, to satisfy the bloodlust of this bunch of witch-hunters?

"11. What I will not do, however, is participate in naming
names and implicating my friends and teammates.

13. I have always been a team player. I have never been
a person who has spread rumors or said things about my
teammates that could hurt them."

No, if I'm Mark McGwire, I'm going to tell the panel that I'm willing to help out if they're actually concerned about the current issue of baseball in steroids, because I'm a nice guy like that, but I'm not here to talk about the past. Which is exactly what he did.

Sure, there's a downside - some people will assume that my refusal to deny under oath means I'm guilty, and my chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame might go down. But I'm a private person. Unlike Sosa and Palmeiro, I don't care much what other people think.

"12. I retired from baseball 4 years ago. I live a quiet life with my wife and children."

I dealt with the media when I was a player because it was part of my job, but I'm retired, and it's not my job anymore. It hasn't been very much fun lately with all the steroid and Canseco nonsense. The more I say, the more they're going to ask, and I'm tired of it. I don't owe them anything. I'm going to go home and play golf and spend time with my family.

None of this is to say that McGwire *didn't* use steroids - there's no way of ever proving that, of course. But his Congressional appearance isn't any kind of evidence that he did. Refusing to talk about the past was the only sensible thing, and perhaps the only honorable thing, for him to do.

And if you remove the Congressional appearance from the equation, there's very little remaining for the argument that he's a cheater, and very little reason to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

Dec 18, 2008 18:17 PM
rating: 4
 
tommybones

I respectfully disagree with your concept of what the "respectable" response should be in the Congressional hearing scenario. To wit:

1) Perjury is a VERY difficult charge to ever prove, especially if it isn't true. That worry seems a bit paranoid. This concern also pales in comparison to the damage done by NOT answering, if in fact he had nothing to hide.
2) It's quite easy to take a stand against naming names. Nobody would blame McGwire for that. Additionally, they could have asked him in any case.

I don't see ANYONE criticizing McGwire for "refusing to name names." instead, it's simply his refusal to answer the EXACT same questions he had no trouble answering numerous times in the past, only without being under oath.

I find the most obvious concept, also the most likely; which was he was simply not going to commit a federal crime by lying under oath to Congress. So he clammed up....

Dec 19, 2008 15:21 PM
rating: 0
 
alanj
(767)

I didn't say that, in McGwire's shoes, I'd be worried about being *convicted* for perjury if I gave a true denial. As you say, it's very unlikely. (Though not impossible - and even a tiny risk of a really awful outcome is something that can't be shrugged away.)

I said I'd be worried about prompting a perjury *investigation*. Getting friends and family subpoenaed, having my privacy invaded, dealing with lawyers, getting dragged around in the press over and over again for months. This is all incredibly unpleasant for everyone concerned.

You say "this concern also pales in comparison to the damage done by not answering". What damage? Do we have any indication that he cares whether or not he's inducted into the Hall of Fame, or that he cares what a bunch of strangers think about his former career? From everything I've heard of the man's personality, I doubt it.

Dec 19, 2008 22:22 PM
rating: 1
 
ObviouslyRob

tl;dr

Dec 18, 2008 18:59 PM
rating: -2
 
James Martin Cole

Putting all non-performance issues aside, is McGwire really good enough to get into the hall?

He only really played had 9, maybe 10 hall-worthy seasons, he had a career .263 batting average, the second-worst of players on the ballot, below even Matt Williams, and only ahead of Greg Vaughn, who isn't (I know, not an especially good measurement, but still, below Matt Williams?!?!) He was an bad fielder, and an awful baserunner.

That said, he could rake, that's for damn sure. But is he the hitter that Frank Thomas is? Manny Ramirez? Albert Pujols? A-Rod? Not to mention Barry Bonds?

He didn't do much other than hit... I don't know, his performance is borderline, to me. If it wasn't for the steroid stuff, I'd probably support his case. However, he's not a shoe-in, so I'm not sure I'd vote for him, if I had a vote.

Dec 18, 2008 14:13 PM
rating: -2
 
jpaternostro

Well, it's kind of unfair to compare McGwire to five of the fifty or so best hitters in baseball history, three of whom will probably be top ten when they are done. Using BA is kind of a straw man, since his career OBP is .394 and his career OPS is .982. Basically, yes, he could rake. I don't have his JAWS numbers in front of me, but I seem to recall him being right around the JAWS numbers for first basemen.

And for what its worth. FRAA has him as basically an average first baseman for his career. Don't know how that will change with the new fielding stats, but while he wasn't a particularly valuable defensive player, he doesn't seem to be awful either for a typical masher.

I'd say he's a bit better than Bagwell, who will probably get in, and probably should. I think there is room in the hall for the second best first baseman of that generation.

Dec 19, 2008 07:34 AM
rating: 0
 
diperna

"Rickey Henderson, the only first-time-eligible player with a snowball's chance in hell of being elected—and who will be this year—would still be playing if he had a choice."

Until the day he dies, Rickey Henderson will believe that he can still play major league baseball.

I think part of that is what made him so great to begin with -- not only during his time in the league, but when he was a kid growing up.

Dec 18, 2008 14:34 PM
rating: 1
 
scu09144

I am shocked at how softhearted the BBWAA has been with guys like Kirby Puckett, and then so harsh with the clearly non-cheating McGuire. It's like they are irrational parents trying to punish children in a ham-handed way. That is also an apt description for Congress as well.

Dec 18, 2008 15:30 PM
rating: -2
 
James Martin Cole

McGwire is suspected of something that would affect his performance. Puckett isn't. Is it really that shocking to you?

Dec 18, 2008 16:47 PM
rating: 1
 
Dr. Dave

McGwire is suspected of something that it is suspected (or, rather, assumed) would have affected his performance. There's no evidence for that, either -- but nobody in the press or public wants to believe that. I mean, it's just 'obvious' that muscles = HR, right?

Still need that link to Eric Walker's steroids research site on the BP homepage.

Dec 19, 2008 11:57 AM
rating: 0
 
Isaac Lin

Not sure if I favour a shorter window for the first selection period, as I feel the cutoff is arbitrary. I do appreciate the point about not keep players on perpetual tenterhooks, but this can still occur now with the second selection period. However, if a shorter window is chosen, then it becomes even more important for the number of selections per voter to be made proportionate to the number of candidates. As Bill James discussed in The Politics of Glory, a glut of good candidates can lead to a deadlock situation where support is spread too thinly for anyone to be elected. A small selection period exacerbates this problem, unless voters can vote for more candidates when the ballot is larger.

Dec 18, 2008 16:05 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Ok this is off-topic, but did Andre Dawson run over a nun or something? All I hear about this year is Raines or Rice and I have not even seen Dawson mentioned as a candidate in most of the major articles about this year's HoF voting.

Dec 18, 2008 16:24 PM
rating: -1
 
nhcohen

i think the reason you don't hear much about the hawk is that he was basically an exact contemporary of raines and rice, and clearly worse. i don't think rice is HOF, and even raines is borderline to me - so although Dawson is in the upper rung of the Ray Lankford wing, he wouldn't come close to getting my vote

Dec 20, 2008 14:34 PM
rating: 0
 
emanski

The HOF has exceeded some sort of feedback-loop point of diminishing return in terms of the selection process. Observers have typically thought the players they saw on the field were the best who ever played the game. Today, fans who remember the game waybackwhen can be almost unbearable in their advocacy for the game "the way it used to be played" and their deprecation of whatever came after it.

Fans of the modern era are different. We're right there with them, convinced by them maybe, tipped over into a sort of self-flagellation world. The more players play the game, the more it seems impossible to us that those who play now could possibly match up to those who came before. Call it goldeneraitis. We now think the players who we grew up watching are not nearly as good as the players who came before them. We have better evaluation measures, and simply more history to judge by, but this has had the curious effect of depressing the market. In fact, now, sometimes we not only think today's players don't measure up, today thanks to stats, we're often convinced of it.

Where one might expect previous generations would have clamored to recognize the likes of gritty Raines, Clark, Trammell and Whitaker (especially poor Whitaker), or the majestic and powerful McGwire, or even the mercurial and short-peaked Belle, we see fights over who can argue against their admittance the hardest. As far as process, it's a matter of exclusion instead of inclusion.

No fan should be punished, or even admonished, for thinking too much of Donnie Baseball, or Dale Murphy, or Jack Morris, or Steve Garvey. Kids don't wear rose-colored glasses, they live in a rose-tinted world. Maybe as adults we can't agree on whether the line for admission should be drawn just above Will Clark, or just below him; maybe there is no easy answer for how to treat the likes of McGwire, and Bonds, and Palmeiro, and Clemens. But I think we have lost sight almost entirely as to why the HOF is even there: to celebrate and bear witness to the game's history. The more information from it that you exclude, the harder that becomes.

Rickey Henderson was one of the best players who ever lived, but how many baseball fans today have even the slightest idea that this is true? In Ty Cobb's day they would have been sure of it. Finally touring the HOF last year gave me a much needed bit of perspective, and gave me a greatly enhanced appreciation for the accomplishments of the players I've had the privilege of watching. Personally, I think they are the greatest who ever lived, and chances are, I always will.

There are no real right or wrong answers when it comes to the HOF. More players in is just more plaques to peruse. It's amazing when you are there to realize just how few plaques there are. In the abstract, restricting the HOF to the very, very inner circle of great players sounds fantastic, but in the flesh, walking around a museum that appears to care most about what happened longest ago is, in a word, frustrating.

There's a lot of handwringing among statheads because Jim Rice is about to go in. But every fan who ever saw Jim Rice play, whether they liked him or loathed him, will remember him, and they will remember the game, and that is what a museum is meant for. Should Dewey get in instead? Sure, but admitting them both would be even better.

When I someday have kids and want to take them to Cooperstown, I want to have some stories I can tell them, about the day I saw this guy play or that guy. The way things are going, I'm going to be telling them who my grandparents saw play. No matter who gets in from the last 30 years who didn't really "belong," I'd take them all over the alternative of almost nobody getting in. And I think we all need to reexamine our principles if it's come to that.

Dec 18, 2008 16:39 PM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Thank you - I have long advocated a larger hall - more inductees lends more validation to your own memories and what made you love the game of baseball - to say one's childhood heroes were not that special is to say that one's childhood was not that special.
I say let in Jim Rice. And Bert Blyleven. And Andre Dawson. And Tim Raines. And Rickey Henderson. And many more. If it's not done in anyone's recommended order, so what? Just let them in.

Dec 18, 2008 19:33 PM
rating: -1
 
sbnirish77

tcfatone ... thanks for a well-reasoned rebuttal. I agree with most of your points and couldn't have said it better. BP may be a little defensive / paranoid over the steroid issue because it would make the whole idea of player comps under PECOTA a house of cards.

Is the best comp for someone - a clean Don Mattingly or proven cheater like Palmeiro? Which would you use to project that players career?

If McGuire turns up on somebody's comp, do we only project him to attain McGuire's numbers assuming he takes as many enhancing drugs as McGuire did?

That is the dilemma that BP faces and makes it much easier for them to ignore the problem and plead to turn the page on the subject. Lest all those comps become tainted.

Dec 18, 2008 21:20 PM
rating: -3
 
WCE

So, what about the 25 year + amphetamine era that so recently ended? Just because there hasn't been a witch hunt in the media and in Congress doesn't mean we can't perform summary justice on players' HOF candidacy.

Let's open that can of worms, shall we? It goes to the 1960s at least. Won't it be fun to hold show trials of guys who have since died? I know I'll enjoy it. Perhaps we should form a full-time Congressional committee to investigate amphetamine usage?

We must have purity. We all know what cheating is. Context is irrelevant. Not breaking the law, or MLB rules is irrelevant. Ex post facto enforcement is totally legitimate when it comes to sports, if not actual laws.

Dec 18, 2008 23:18 PM
rating: 3
 
HonusCobb

Yeah, the Hall of Fame is pretty annoying sometimes. Not only are there guys that should get in this time that won't but maybe there's guy that will get in that shouldn't be in.

Not to mention guys that should have long been in like Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, and Ron Santo.

But I make my case for Alan Trammell to get inducted on my blog. http://weaveonmlb.weebly.com

Dec 19, 2008 08:32 AM
rating: 0
 
James Martin Cole

Rose and Jackson? Really?

Dec 20, 2008 12:23 PM
rating: 0
 
antoine6

I could really care less about steroid use, and wouldn't exclude anyone for suspected steroid use. I agree it's ridiculous. But people here tend to be so righteous about defending these players that they make some overblown comments. "Clearly non-cheating Mcgwire"? Isn't the lesson of the last decade that you can't make blanket statements either way about a player? I don't think you can know that any single player "clearly" is or isn't doing something, and as some poster have pointed out, there is at least some circumstatial evidence against Mcgwire. Again, I don't really care, and wouldn't hold it against him, but let's not ignore reality and have people here who become as self-righteous and blustery as the writers they claim to be against.

Dec 19, 2008 10:52 AM
rating: 2
 
Dr. Dave

There are three main problems with the current system, as I see it:

1. Many of the voters don't know enough about performance evaluation to judge how good players were.
2. Popularity thresholds for staying on the ballot give voters an incentive to vote for undeserving players, in order to keep them on the ballot.
3. The psychology of voting for players who have lingered on the ballot for a long time encourages sympathy votes.

The first problem will only be solved by the gradual attrition of the old voters. They aren't going to change their minds about the importance of RBI or the defensive prowess of Larry Bowa; the best we can hope for is that they go away. The correct policy change to encourage this is (no, not euthanasia) term limits for HoF voters. You get a decade as a voter; that's enough.

The second and third problems can be fixed by Joe's approach -- get rid of the threshold, and drop everyone from the ballot after X years to keep the ballot manageable. But you need to compensate for problem #1, at least for a while. For that, you need some equivalent of the Veterans Committee, as much as I loathe their past work. Maybe the new VC would not elect HoF members directly, but would instead collectively nominate ineligible players, who would go back onto the eligible list for 3 more years from that date. It would be amusing to see a couple of decades of the voters ignoring Ron Santo or Bobby Grich, the VC making him eligible again, lather, rinse, repeat. (It would be better to see them both elected, of course.)

Dec 19, 2008 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
Camp WitRios

I'm really not trying to be a jerk here, as there are some good points being made all around, but I think we should all agree to a basic maximum comment length. Some of these are just way too long and actually hurt whatever point is being made. I'm not trying to be anyone's father or kindergarten teacher, or scold anyone in particular. I'm just suggesting that maybe we should keep the comments to a 500 word max. It would be in everyone's best interest. I respectfully request that everyone consider this proposal. Cheers.

Dec 20, 2008 20:25 PM
rating: 0
 
John Collins
(110)

Why don't you just skip the comment if it is too long? Should be make a limit of 50 comments per article, if we're trying to save reading time? (That would've excluded yours.)

Dec 23, 2008 10:12 AM
rating: 0
 
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