The Hall of Fame Mess: How Did We Get Here?

Within the next few days, word will come down from on high regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014. This year, at least there will be a “class” elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America, unlike 2013, when dozens descended upon the idyllic town of Cooperstown, N.Y., to celebrate the induction of three men who were dead when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. How did we get here, to the current mess of a ballot featuring the most Hall-worthy players in history – most of who have zero chance of being elected, or at the very most have a significantly worse chance than, say, the 17th or so best player on the ballot. Better yet, how do we get out of this fix?

First of all, a disclaimer: One should not take arguments regarding a player’s “Hall-worthiness” as an indictment of that player’s talent. To play at the lowest level of the minor leagues — let alone graduate to involvement in a Hall of Fame discussion — a player must possess significant levels of innate talent and finely honed skill. Baseball is foremost about the player, not the writer, the analyst or the club employee. Each individual who makes a living in the extended baseball industry owes a debt of thanks to the players, who are indirectly responsible for their livelihood. But if we are going to have a Hall of Fame, we might as well do it right. The players themselves deserve this, the sport deserves this, and, say what you will about the historical veracity of the site, the city of Cooperstown deserves this. The regional economy depends on it. Secondly, anyone who wants to study the history of the Hall and the evolution of its voting process and results simply must read “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame,” by Bill James, and hunt down anything written or said on the topic by Hall historian/expert Bill Deane.

There is no such thing as a perfect Hall of Fame. Those who select the membership — in this case, the BBWAA — have two basic responsibilities: The voters must do their best to avoid induction of undeserving members. And, I think most importantly, the primary responsibility is to ensure that the game’s true greats are inducted. This is done by holding players to high standards, and by maintaining intellectual integrity and avoiding emotion. People will complain somewhat if the Hall gets too “big,” but while each one of us who cares about this topic gets peeved when a lesser candidate gets inducted, we eventually get over it. The real problem arises when the Hall gets too “small.” The worst-case scenario has been realized in recent years as the BBWAA has failed on both fronts, by electing a number of relatively undeserving candidates and erecting artificial barriers to induction for some of the game’s all-time greats.

The resulting ballot gridlock threatens to drop players who are worthy of serious consideration from the ballot, kicking them way down the road to some future iteration of the Veterans’ Committee. Predictably, the BBWAA have criticized the rules — created largely by them — citing the limit of 10 selections per ballot, instead of focusing on the real problems. Chief among them are a lack of academic rigor applied to the evaluation of candidates (which has been addressed somewhat by the admittance of some new blood into the BBWAA and a willingness of some members to consider emerging analytical tools when constructing their ballots) and the stark level of hypocrisy present when reconciling media members’ coverage of the so-called “Steroid Era” as it happened with their current revisionist view.

Let’s examine the recent historical record, back to the year 2000:

 

AVG VOTES ELECT #1 ELECT #2 NEW #1 NEW #2 NEW #3 NEW #4 NEW #5 NEW #6 NEW #7
2000 5.63 Fisk T.Perez Gossage J.Morris
2001 6.33 Winfield* Puckett* Mattingly (Whitaker)
2002 5.95 O.Smith* Dawson Trammell
2003 6.60 Murray* G.Carter Sandberg L.Smith
2004 6.55 Molitor* Eckersley* None
2005 6.31 Boggs* Sandberg None
2006 5.64 Sutter None
2007 6.58 Ripken* Gwynn* McGwire
2008 5.36 Gossage Raines
2009 5.38 R.Henderson* Rice None
2010 5.67 Dawson R.Alomar Larkin E.Martinez McGriff
2011 5.98 R.Alomar Blyleven Bagwell L.Walker Palmeiro
2012 5.10 Larkin (Be.Williams)
2013 6.60 None Biggio Piazza Schilling Clemens Bonds Sosa (Lofton)
* = 1st time on ballot ( ) = No longer on ballot

The “Elect” columns list all players elected by the BBWAA in the years indicated, with an asterisk indicating players elected in their first year of eligibility. The “New” columns indicate other notable newly eligible players in the years indicated, with players who have fallen off of the ballot in parentheses. The most interesting column, though, might be the first one: the number of average votes on each ballot, by year. Why on earth should the number of possible votes per ballot be expanded beyond 10, when it would take a 50% increase from the 2013 level in total votes submitted to reach that limit?

Let’s mentally work through this table to see how things go to this point. Between 2000 and 2003, 12 legitimate candidates were added to the ballot – the four elected on their first try, plus Gossage, Morris, Mattingly, Whitaker, Dawson, Trammell, Sandberg and Smith. The world did not end, because A) the slam-dunks were, well, slam-dunked, and B) with the exception of Whitaker, a shameful result, the remainder of the candidates largely remained in an electable range. Between 2004 and 2006, the BBWAA’s job got really easy. Only three legitimate candidates became eligible for consideration, and Molitor, Eckersley and Boggs were all slam-dunks. In 2007, Ripken and Gwynn deservedly cruised in, but the addition of Mark McGwire to the ballot offered just a hint of what was to come. I would not call McGwire a slam-dunk, but was he really deserving of only 23.5% of the vote on that particular ballot?

In 2008, the looming disaster was certified when the BBWAA deemed Tim Raines, a very strong candidate by almost any measure worthy of only 24.3% of the vote. In 2009, the voters easily swept Rickey Henderson into the Hall, but also decided that Jim Rice, arguably the third best player in his own outfield for most of his career, was better than Raines. Dwight Evans, clearly a superior player to Rice, lasted all of three years on the ballot in the late 1990s. This egregious result set the disaster that was the 2010-2013 results into motion.

Between 2010 and 2013, 15 legitimate Hall candidates were added to the ballot, compared to 20 in the entire previous decade. Only two of those 15 entered the Hall between 2010 and 2013. None was elected on the first try. Of the 20 2000- 2009 candidates, 14 have entered the Hall — 10 on their first try. Of those 15 2010-2013 candidates, I would consider no fewer than nine of them slam-dunks:  Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Biggio, Alomar, Piazza, Larkin, Schilling and Martinez. Only one of them is in. Behind them are a few more who others might legitimately consider slam-dunks, as well. Between 2000 and 2009, one could argue all of slam-dunks got in, the vast majority on their first ballot. Then throw 2014 on the pile, with slam-dunks Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina and Frank Thomas, along with another viable candidate in Jeff Kent being added to the ballot. The waiting list might be shorter for Green Bay Packers season tickets than it will be to get some of these eminently deserving players into the Hall.

In addition, take a look at the total votes cast per year. The average generally trended up from 2000 to 2003, as slam-dunks entered the ballot consistently. The declining number of legitimate candidates added each year caused a decline through 2006 that brought the total number of votes down to exactly the number cast in 2000. After a one-year spike caused by Ripken and Gwynn’s presence on the ballot in 2007, the total number of votes cast dropped to a low for this century in 2008, despite Raines’ addition to the ballot. Then look at what happens from then through 2012: Eight legitimate candidates were added to the ballot, and total votes somehow dropped to a new low of 5.10 names per ballot. That’s barely half of the maximum 10 that many voters want to eliminate. This is nothing less than voting malpractice. The number of total votes increased sharply to 6.60 per ballot in 2013, and will likely surge higher this year, but it’s too late. The ballot is clogged, and it’s going to take more than a bottle of Drano to clear it.

At this point, it is no longer possible to ignore the elephant in the room — steroids. Does anyone else find it laughable that the BBWAA has decided to take a morally superior stand on this issue now, decades since the deeds were supposedly done? Where were the voters when these players were active? They were extolling their virtues and crediting them for “saving the game” in the wake of the previous collusion/strike/lockout era. Virtually everyone around the game at that time simply had to know something was going on. Bodies were changing, and long-held records were falling at an alarming rate. The writers — as well as many of the game’s other stakeholders — simply elected to look the other way for an extended period of time.

It’s true that consideration of the game’s greats from this era represents quite a moral dilemma. The steroid connections to various players range from fairly direct to incredibly circumstantial. But throwing an entire era of superstars out of the Hall of Fame would clearly not seem to be the appropriate remedy. How about a more practical approach, where you take each such player on a case-by-case basis, and attempt to conclude whether steroids might have made that player a Hall of Famer, or if they simply would have pushed him farther above the bar? Such an approach would enable us to quickly induct the Bondses and Clemenses, as well as a few others. That would clear those names off  the ballot and allow the battle be fought around the McGwire-Sosa line, where it should probably be engaged.

To get out of this mess, a couple of things need to happen. First, the electors need to remember that this process isn’t about them, it’s about the players. The vast majority of their decisions should be easy: Induct the players whose accomplishments clearly measure up to the standards that have been in place for decades, and leave the social commentary to others. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Frank Thomas and others are Hall of Famers, by just about any standard. Get them in. It will take a few years to undo the damage that has already been done to the ballot — but if something isn’t done immediately, the system will eventually need to be blown up.

Keep the guys who clearly don’t measure up to the rest of the Hall. Jack Morris and Lee Smith are two names. It would be a shame on a personal level for Morris to miss at this point, and his induction would simply be a continuation of the ongoing Dawson-Rice trend, but the occasion of the current ballot overload would be a perfect time for that trend to be broken. Use all 10 of the spots on your ballot — you’ve never used more than two-thirds of them, on average. If that’s done for a few years, we can chip away at this problem.

Unfortunately, in the short term, we will be losing some players from the bottom of the ballot. Like Lou Whitaker, Bernie Williams and Kenny Lofton, the omission of the folks such as Sosa, Palmeiro and McGwire at the very least cheapens the discussion. Continue to expand BBWAA membership to include more progressive thinkers who embrace advanced analytics, while existing BBWAA members expand their processes to include the same in their evaluations. One can criticize previous generations for their overreliance on RBI and win totals, but hey, they elected Dazzy Vance, a truly dominant pitcher who lacked career counting numbers and would have been unlikely to be honored by today’s BBWAA.

On a personal level, my family owes some of its best memories to time spent in Cooperstown. For future generations of lovers of the game to do the same, the game’s true greats need to be in the Hall, or it will descend into irrelevance. The men who play this game are not perfect, and never have been. We didn’t exclude the players from the pre-integration era for not playing against the best, we did not exclude the players from the ’60s and ’70s “greenies” era, and we must not exclude the greats of the most recent era of flawed men who played a flawed — but great — game.




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218 Responses to “The Hall of Fame Mess: How Did We Get Here?”

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  1. Johnhavok says:

    Sorry. Too many writers believe they are hypocritical gatekeeper of morality. Maybe it’s better that the ballot gets jammed and players that should easily be in get ousted and players that aren’t eligible do get in our of the voters spiteful stupidity. Then, as you indicated, the system will have to be blowen up and rebuilt. Sadly, that’s exactly what it needs.

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  2. Johnhavok says:

    Sorry. Too many writers believe they are hypocritical gatekeepers of morality. Maybe it’s better that the ballot gets jammed and players that should easily be in get ousted and players that shouldn’t get in do get in because of the voters spiteful stupidity. Then, as you indicated, the system will have to be blown up and rebuilt. Sadly, that’s exactly what it needs.

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  3. Johnhavok says:

    Step 1 – If you no longer cover baseball, your vote is gone.
    Step 2 – Set actual guidelines for voters without any stupid subjective criteria like “character, integrity and sportsmanship.”
    Step 3 – Bud Selig should come out and actually take some ownership of the Steroid Era and accept some responsibility that it occurred under his watch. By standing by and reaping the benefits while turning a blind eye to it and then throwing the players under the bus a few years down the road to serve his own ego of “cleaning up the game…” He’s a disgrace and has no more integrity or character than the players that are now ostricized for what he let happen.

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    • Pale Hose says:

      Step 4 – make Tony Blengino the sole HoF voter.

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    • Christian Camlin says:

      Your points are valid except for 1.The problem with Steroid use began quite a bit before Bud Selig.Babe Ruth used primitive Steroids as far back as the late 20′s.Steroids became common in football in the 70′s.As such you have to believe a lot of guys started using in baseball by the 80′s.Look at the transformations of Kirby Puckett, Andre Dawson, Kevin Mitchell,Rubin Sierra,Cecil Fielder,Lenny Dykstra, Jack Clark, George Bell,Al Oliver,Dave Parker,Jose Canseco,Howard Johnson,Darryl Strawberry& more.I can not tell you every one of these guys bulked up with Steroids.Some did it honestly.Though I’d bet the bank that Kirby Puckett’s 70 pound weight gain in 2 years while going from 4 homers to 31 was not because he worked out the right way.Point is by the time Selig took over Steroids were 2nd only to labor as baseball’s biggest problem.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      Bud Selig has jack-shit to do with the Hall of Fame and its voting. Fine if you have a hard-on for Selig, but I fail to see how that improves the Hall of Fame and its problems.

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      • Johnhavok says:

        Steroids and PED’s were known as early as the mid to late 80′s and Selig has been the commissioner since 1992. He did nothing about steroids or PED’s until 15-20 years after they were known to be an issue. By not doing anything about them, he allowed the MLB to prosper on the backs of the players that both used and didn’t use, and as a result the writers who vote for the Hall of Fame are left to make their own judegements on who to punish for their use in regards to Hall of Fame voting. Yes Selig has no direct control over Hall Of Fame voting, but the reason why there’s so many problem with PED questions and the resulting HoF voting mess is at least partially the result of his(and other commissioners, MLBPA heads, owners etc) inaction 20 years ago.

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  4. Moses says:

    This is yet another excellent article by Tony, but unfortunately we cannot consider anything but a minority of the bbwa voters to be rational actors.

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  5. cass says:

    Doesn’t even have to be a minority. Since you need 75% to get elected, even a minority can really gum up the works. Even the polls on sabermetric-friendly writer Joe Posnanski’s blog couldn’t get Bonds and Clemens over 75%.

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  6. B. Madoff says:

    I agree with Johnhavok. Character, integrity and sportsmanship are indeed stupid. Why clog up the voting system with such outmoded notions? Success any and all costs is all that matters.

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    • ajmack says:

      Apparently, that’s the gist here.
      “Success is the only earthly judge of right and wrong.” – Adolph Hitler.

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      • NS says:

        “Everything a bad person ever did or said was itself wrong” – what would need to be believed for your contextless quote to carry any weight.

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  7. Jim Price says:

    The tone of this article is fairly arrogant–its full of the same poison we have in politics which is that my opinions are clearly the only right ones, and those who disagree must either be stupid or evil. Come on, it is not so black & white. There are no objective measurements for gaining entry, therefore selection is subjective and its going to be a little messy. Generally time sorts these things out. There are ALWAYS players who are overrated and underrated and always will be, for those who are underrated, keep fighting for them and making the case (like Whitaker and Trammell–I think they both deserve to go in–preferably together). But you’re just yelling from a different soap box than the guys who won’t vote in steriod users. Steriods did harm the sport’s integrity–how much, and how do you think it should be addressed? Don’t give me this “everyone cheated or had an advantage” excuse. Then where’s your line? What amount of advantage or cheating or stretching the rules is too far? Some people want to put the line in a different place than you. Its going to be a fuzzy gray line as long as admission is subjective. Hey, look how much trouble there’s been to determine an NCAA footbal champ. It took the USA 80 years and a bloody war to get rid of a far more eveil thing. I’m willing to give the BBWAA a little more time to sort this out. Gradually they are becoming more analytic in their awards voting. Progress is happening, just slowly.

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    • Pirates Hurdles says:

      But admission isn’t completely subjective. There are clear performance standards that have always equaled enshrinement. Many of the currently eligible guys have met those standards and should be in.The game of baseball is not ignoring the steroid era, why would the writers or the HOF?

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      • Chico Manuel Of Style says:

        But the standards really are subjective. What was a “clear performance standard” forty or fifty years ago (say, 400 homers) is no longer. I believe that until Dale Murphy’s HOF rejection, every multi-MVP performer was also enshrined. (I could be wrong about that, though.)

        Now 500 homers doesn’t mean a slugger is automatically great enough for the Hall. Heck, even 600 might not cut it — look at Sosa’s unspectacular career WAR, even ignoring PED arguments.

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      • ankle explosion hr celebration says:

        Bullshit. The current performance standard around here (that is, Fangraphs) is ~60WAR. Are you going to try to tell me with a straight face that 60 WAR was the standard 30 years ago, before WAR existed? Of course not. Analytics happened (thank God, or Bill James), and we are better for it, and can set a better standard.

        We can also go the other way. Another standard used to be 300 wins for a pitcher. That won’t happen anymore, because the structure of rotations changed. Should we stop electing pitchers? No, of course not.

        Standards change, and HoF decisions are subjective because they balance character as well.

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    • Wobatus says:

      I was thinking this when I read it was “egregious” that Rice got in over Evans. Evans was admittedly better over the long haul, and the voters went for batting average over walks and fielding. But Rice was also “better” than Evans in 2 iconic Red Sox years, 1978 and 1986. In ’78 he was likely the best position player in baseball. In ’75 Evans was “better” but Rice was part of a famous rookie tandem with Fred Lynn. I don’t have much issue with Rice being in.

      And I’d love it if Whitaker was in, Mussina, Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Clemens, Trammell, Bagwell, Larry Walker, Piazza, Bagwell etc. It’ll take time, but I think the superstar steroid guys will make it eventually. Palmeiro no, but most of the rest.

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    • Tony Blengino says:

      Arrogant tone? Fuck you.

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      • ajmack says:

        The hostility from fangraphs writers toward Hall of Fame voters is overwhelming and honestly, a little disappointing. I didn’t realize the degree of vitriol.

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      • shmatt says:

        And this is the kind of douche who gets to vote for the HoF.

        Arrogant? Maybe. How about hostile and overly sensitive? Seriously, get your act together. I was going to quietly disagree with your half-thought-out post, but now.. I have to call you out on your idiocy. Clemens/Bonds deserve the Hall but Sosa and Maguire don’t?! Parse that for me again? Your opinion is completely unqualified in the article.

        Silly post, and your unprofessionalism is not helping fangraphs’ cause. Tony, you should send your ballot back.

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        • cs3 says:

          schmatt-
          Not sure if you are really that stupid, or are just pretending to be, but uhhhh… you do realize that was not really Tony posting the F-you in the comments, right?

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    • john says:

      arrogant is correct. If you follow BBTF, it appears that at least three and maybe up to five people will be voted in. Seems like the process is working fine. When everyone is using 10 slots and we still have a problem, let me know.

      Steroids and character are complicated issues and I think the process is working well. Everyone is on the ballot for 15 years –maybe attitudes will change.

      Morris and Lee Smith are not HOF’s. sez who? Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t — that’s why the writers vote.

      My personal standard would be not to vote for Bagwell and Biggio and Piazza or Sheffield until the end of their 15 year cycle. I’d like to see what other information comes out. Maybe others are taking that approach — what’s wrong with that approach — seems reasonable even if it isn’t your cup of tea.

      finally, if you have been to the Hall you will know that the roiders are there as is Pete Rose. Faking outrage at the fact that they aren’t in the Hall does not help your argument

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      • Johnhavok says:

        “finally, if you have been to the Hall you will know that the roiders are there as is Pete Rose. Faking outrage at the fact that they aren’t in the Hall does not help your argument”

        There’s quite a difference between having a few of your accomplishemnts noted on the wall, and being an elected member.

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  8. Pirates Hurdles says:

    Good Luck convincing veteran sports writers of this –

    “First, the electors need to remember that this process isn’t about them – it’s about the players.”

    This is a nice article and they need to keep coming, maybe one year we can convince 20 writers, the next 20 more, and so on. Unfortunately I don’t see a solution beyond a veteran’s committee approach in about 10 years.

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    • ajmack says:

      I would argue it’s actually not about the players, but the GAME. Steroid users made the game a joke and glorified slow pitch softball for years.

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      • paperlions says:

        I would love to see your evidence for this.

        Do you think everyone decided to start taking steroids at the same time and they only helped guys hit the ball really really far?

        Steroid and amphetamine use has been rampant in MLB since at least the 1960s, feel free to explain why baseball wasn’t a joke before 1993 and why it was after….and be sure to ignore the newly introduced ball in 1993 which had a bouncier core and was composed of more synthetic fibers, making the ball lighter as it absorbed less ambient water.

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        • jg941 says:

          You’re kidding, right?

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        • Eric Walker says:

          Thank you for noting that. Somehow, it has now become the received wisdom that PEDs had some major effect on baseball achievements; no one any longer seems interested in facts, which strongly indicate that in baseball, at least, PEDs did not in fact enhance performance. (There are plausible reasons for that, but the crux is the results). It was indeed the ball change in 1993 that skewed pre-1993 and post-1993 results.

          Not so many years ago, people were at least willing to look at the evidence (see Joe Posnanski’s article about the web site steroids-and-baseball.com); no longer.

          That is the really great irony: players kept out for something that never happened. (Yes, there is an argument that simply by trying to “cheat” a player incurs a penalty, but, in general, the penalties at law for attempting a crime differ substantially from those for achieving it.

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        • tcnjsteve says:

          What exactly is the physical evidence that the ball changed?

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  9. AverageMeansAverageOverTime says:

    Opinion, opinion, opinion.

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  10. GMH says:

    Your discussion about the unfairness of excluding players who were clean simply because they played with and against players who used PEDs is well founded. Those players are receiving a double punishment for doing the right thing. They were placed at a competitive disadvantage to players who used PEDs, and their achievements are being questioned because of the company they kept.

    But if you desire a more honest and thoughtful process by members of the BBWAA, then stop equating amphetamines with steroids. They are not the same. Doing so is intellectually lazy and dishonest. It scoffs at the science of pharmacology. It fails to consider the actual performance enhancing benefit that different categories of drugs give to an athlete. And it makes no distinction between drugs that have a common therapeutic application and drugs that do not. This is particularly important in the context of benzedrine in the 1950s and 60s, before the drug was a controlled substance, before it was an illegal or banned substance, when it was available over the counter and culturally acceptable for people to use it out in the open. And it remains relevant today as scientists continue to study the clinical effects of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall on healthy people as a therapeutic cognitive enhancer, the concomitant bioethical issues, and how those drugs could be used (or abused) by athletes. Contrast that with AAS, which have no clinical purpose in healthy people.

    To say that Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are no different than Barry Bonds is like saying that a kid who cheats on his sixth grade spelling test is no different than Charles Manson. And if Jim Bouton was being honest in Ball Four (highly suspect), then the players who took heavy doses of benzedrine mixed with booze would not have enhanced their play. They would have diminished it entirely.

    I have no problem with writers who distinguish between limited use of benzedrine in 1961 with chronic use of anabolic androgenic steroids in 2001. That is not the same as saying it was okay to use amphetamines and play baseball. It is merely drawing a line as to what sort of conduct warrants greater punishment. This is something people have done since the dawn of civilization.

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    • olethros says:

      Horseshit. Either they were attempting to gain a competitive advantage, real or imagined, or they weren’t. Maybe we should penalize guys for lifting weights, doing yoga, and eating salad, those are performance enhancing too.

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    • Ayn Rand Paul says:

      Thanks, GMH. Very thorough and well-reasoned.

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    • cass says:

      They are the same. The players went out of their way to take illegal drugs in order to gain an edge. Same thing. Entirely. The players knew it was wrong. Please read up on actual amphetamine use. Even Ball Four has passages about how the players had to find a supplier who was willing to break the law and they couldn’t get them from the team.

      And Charles Manson? We’re not talking about electing Chris Benoit here. None of these players have killed anyone or committed any other heinous violent crimes.

      Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did the same thing that Hank Aaron and Willie Mays did. They took illegal drugs to gain an edge.

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      • Chico Manuel Of Style says:

        Hmmm. I don’t recall Aaron or Mays having to testify against their greenie dealer to stay out of prison.

        In other words, Barry had to overcome more adversity. And all that racism from the press, except for when they voted him all those MVP awards.

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        • Stringer Bell says:

          Oh, you mean the witch hunt from the federal government? The same government that would rather try to put Bonds in prison than people on Wall Street? Yeah, don’t bring that shit up.

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      • Apocalypse says:

        I think Mayes actually popularized the whole thing and started it. He is the godfather, if you will, to Bonds.

        I don’t actually believe this, just wanted to say that.

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    • josh says:

      an edge is an edge. it enhanced performance, thus Mays = Bonds.

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      • Richard says:

        2 edges may not be the same, just as 2 crimes may not be the same.

        There’s a difference between, say, doctoring the ball and going headhunting, even though both are illegal. If you don’t understand the difference, you either have only 2 brain cells or have the morality of a snail.

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    • ajmack says:

      GMH, great post.

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    • jg941 says:

      Great points, GMH. And for more examples of “intellectual laziness and dishonesty”, please see a number of the other responses to your post.

      Wow……..denial is a fascinating thing.

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    • aj says:

      amphetamins honestly were more performance enhancing then roads. they help you focus and stay locked in and feeling fresh for 162 games. play 5 games a week with them and then without and see how huge that diff is. a mph and roads were legal until they weren’t punishing people for doing roads while letting the other drugs slide is bull. racists and other horrible people are in the hot and no one cares yet this shit they go crazy on.Robero Palomar spit on a fucking umpire and he got in instantly yet these people get griller for maybe doing roads with no proof or legal right that what they did was wrong at the time if they even did it.

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      • aj says:

        sorry posted on my phone and auto correct owned my post. roads is roids lol

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      • Dwayne Carter says:

        -umpires decisions are always right, even when they are wrong (on the field at the time). if Alomar were able to change the call to be in his favor by spitting, that would be an issue of concern.

        -umpires are like judges. some are dicks. that Alomar incidents don’t occur more often is a little surprising.

        -if Dustin Pedroia spit in an umpires face, he’d have a lot more apologists than Alomar. could be a Boston/Toronto thing. could be a grinder/elegance thing. really is a white/latino thing (full disclosure, I’m white).

        -side note: consider Pedro/Zimmer. Pedro was rushed by an old man intent on causing harm. some poet wrote a line like “turn the other cheek and i’ll break your f’ing jaw”.

        -in summary, two latino players cowboyed up, with cause, which is by no means required when cowboying up, and almost antithetical to current usage, or historical usage even…ya’ll some racist mf’ers.

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    • Drew says:

      Author doesn’t say the two are the same.

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    • crapshoot says:

      “To say that Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are no different than Barry Bonds is like saying that a kid who cheats on his sixth grade spelling test is no different than Charles Manson.”

      Who is being intellectually dishonest, again?

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    • Eric Feczko says:

      @GMH:

      I understand where you are coming from: limited, culturally acceptable drug use is quite different from abusive, culturally stigmatized drug use. So let’s compare amphetamines (Benzedrine’s class of drugs) with anabolic steroids.

      Benzedrine became a controlled substance in 1959. It was prescribed as a bronchial dilator, maintaining alertness, and weight loss. The use of Benzedrine for these problems became controversial because of the risk of abuse and side effects. Side effects of Benzedrine include immune-system suppression, jaw grinding, and loss of appetite. Abuse of Benzedrine may cause severe drug addiction, psychotic episodes, secondary infections, loss of teeth. One may argue that the general acceptance of amphetamine use has led to the problems of methamphetamine use in the U.S. today.

      Anabolic steroids are commonly prescribed for chronic wasting syndrome (i.e. from AIDS or cancer), and stimulating growth and bone marrow. It is also less used for gender identity disorder, and hormone replacement therapy. The medical uses for anabolic steroids are fairly straightforward. Side effects from anabolic steroid use may include increased risk of heart disease (from a variety of mechanisms), loss of ability to naturally produce testosterone, loss of reproductive capability. As far as we can tell, abuse from anabolic steroids may lead to increased cancer risk, secondary infections due to dramatic immune system suppression, and shrinkage of genitals upon discontinued use. It can also produce other growth anomalies (e.g. gigantism). Abuse of steroids is pretty rare in the general public, likely because it has low addictive potential despite the high physical dependency.

      In terms of a direct comparison, both classes of drugs are extremely different from one another. The benefits are completely different (greater focus vs. better recovery from injury/increased muscle mass). The side effects are completely different (bad for your overall health/bad for your mind), and the risk of abuse is extremely different (high addictive potential/high physical dependency).

      Personally, I tend to think that amphetamine use is far more destructive than anabolic steroid use. However, I also value the mind over the body, so feel free to disagree. The point remains: both classes of drugs are extremely dangerous when abused, and in the era where they were being used in baseball (1960s/70s for amphetamines, 90s/00s for steroids), both classes of drugs were deemed culturally unacceptable.

      From a cultural perspective, I think there’s no question which class of drugs has been more harmful to society. Ignoring the drug war for the moment, the popularized use of amphetamines led to a rise in drug abuse; the subsequent war on drugs led to a dramatic rise in violent crime. The same cannot be said of anabolic steroids.

      However, that covers a single point. The other question is whether HOF worthy players abused steroids, and used amphetamines in limited quantities. I would submit that the HOF players did not abuse either, or at least, used them in equally limited roles.

      Given the side-effect profile of amphetamines, I think it would be pretty clear that players used them in a similar context as soldiers did in WWII. They used amphetamines when they were fatigued and needed to concentrate. Players that would abuse amphetamines would encounter a buildup of tolerance that would eliminate the advantage of taking the drug: increased focus.

      As far as we can tell, anabolic steroids users did not continually abuse steroids either. They relied on a stringent training program that incorporated steroids in a cycle. Essentially, they used it to recover quickly from strenuous workouts and accelerated muscle growth, but refrained from usage the remainder of the year to prevent the loss of natural ability to produce muscle mass. To me, this is a limited use of a drug to accomplish a particular goal; namely increasing muscle mass for the purpose of increasing or maintaining velocity/power.

      I think it’s fair to predict, from a pharmacology perspective, that anabolic steroids would affect baseball play far greater than amphetamine use; its unclear how much increased focus would push someone beyond their natural ability. There’s no question that anabolic steroids push someone beyond their natural ability.

      That being said, there’s also no question that amphetamine use is far more destructive to society than anabolic steroid use. I guess one could argue that the effects of the drug on society and baseball sort of cancel out. To me, I’d rather have players doping on steroids than promoting the use of amphetamine.*

      *Personally, I think both “greenies” and steroids “era” players should be judged on their character and integrity off the field, when considering the “moral clause” for HOF voting. In other words, drug use would not be a factor into how I would vote for the HOF.

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  11. Don Fehr says:

    I blame Selig.

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  12. olethros says:

    Using any rational criteria that has been applied historically, McGwire is actually a slam dunk. Sosa, too.

    Unless you want to go back and get rid of the spitballers, guys who took greenies, Babe Ruth and his sheep testosterone, etc., applying a higher ethical standard to the players of the 80s/90s is just asinine.

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    • Ayn Rand Paul says:

      …except Greenies weren’t banned until ’71, when ‘roids and all other illegal drugs were banned.

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      • paperlions says:

        Steroids were not banned in 1971 because they were not a illegal to use without a prescription at that time.

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        • jg941 says:

          Barry? Is that you?

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        • Chico Manuel Of Style says:

          From D. Epstein’s 2009 Sports Illustrated article:

          “Baseball’s first written drug policy was issued by commissioner Bowie Kuhn at the start of the ’71 season. The policy did not explicitly address anabolic steroids, but it did say that baseball personnel must ‘comply with federal and state drug laws.’ Federal law at the time mandated that an appropriate prescription be obtained for the use of anabolic steroids.”

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    • Menthol says:

      I think McGwire should get in, but I have a problem with Sosa. A pretty strong case can be made that he was well below the HOF threshold before he started juicing, and once he blew up as a hitter, he became a pretty one-dimensional player (i.e., his defense started to suck). His OBA was unexceptional and I just don’t think he was at McGwire’s level as an overall hitter.

      Dude hit a lot of dingers, tough.

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    • Mo says:

      here’s the thing: McGwire is by WAR or JAWS a borderline candidate and Sosa is just marginal; however, due to ’98 and Sosa’s other 60 homer years they definitely pass the gut and impact HOF check even if their numbers don’t (i’m a fan of Maris for the same reason).

      I’m fine with the higher standard. Look at how we covered baseball. Steriods are important. Look at home runs, there is a sense that steriods made baseball’s records (which alone in US sports really matter) irrelevant.

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      • paperlions says:

        Jaws has some fundamental logic flaws when used as the basis for making a decision. If you only ever approve entry for players that are above the average historical standard, then the standard continues to rise through time, necessarily raising the standard.

        There are other clear issues when you lean on it…it is an interesting bit of information, but that is really all it should be used for….one data point to consider.

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  13. dan says:

    I don’t think it matters what the writers did or didn’t do back in the “willy nilly” days of rampant cheating. That finds its way into every article like this but as you note, “the electors need to remember that this process isn’t about them, it’s about the players.” Hypocritical or not, only deserving players should get it. Whether a particular player is deserving has nothing to do with how the writers reacted 10 years ago.

    Sure Bonds may have gotten in even if he didn’t cheat, but he did cheat. And in doing so he forever tarnished (for many) what was perhaps the ultimate record in american sports. Why should that be forgiven?

    I don’t have a problem with keeping Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens out. Life is about making decisions and living with the consequences. I think letting them in would be an insult the players inducted who did not cheat. But guys like Biggio shouldn’t suffer for their actions.

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    • Ayn Rand Paul says:

      Slow clap.

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    • paperlions says:

      So….you are in favor of making up new punishments for violations and then levying these additional punishments on people that committed violations years before?

      Eligibility for the HOF has never been a penalty on the table for use of PEDs, it wasn’t when Mays, Aaron, and Mantle used them and it wasn’t when Clemens, Bonds, and McGwire used them.

      Voters and fans that think such things should be part of a penalty after the fact are hypocritical tedious moralizers. If you really think PED use should make players ineligible, then you should hope no one is elected, because odds are than everyone on the ballot used a PED at least once in their career….heck, any guy that took supplements from GNC during the 90s was probably taking some steroids whether they knew it or not.

      Acting like only a few guys did it when we KNOW that since the 1960s (at least) 1000s upon 1000s of players have been using PEDs is simply white washing history and scapegoating a few guys.

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      • jamesx122 says:

        Oh and let’s not forget spitballers like Gaylord Perry who never really denied his cheating yet still got inducted into the HOF. Seriously let’s not pretend players only started cheating in the 90′s, lots of players have been trying to gain the competitive advantage over their peers.

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      • dan says:

        Sure, there are two sides to every argument. But it’s silly to act like banning cheaters is some hypocrisy. It’s no different than lance Armstrong, the 2004 usc football team, or someone who gets a speeding ticket. They may not be the only ones who broke the rules but they’re the ones that got caught. I think when you’re only defense is that someone else did it too, you’re not standing on very solid ground.

        I don’t think it’s a new punishment for keeping someone out of the hall of fame. Like it or not, the criteria includes character and others have been excluded for character reasons [and yes, some jerks have gotten in despite poor character]. And it’s not like these guys thought what they were doing was ok.

        Hypocritical tedious moralizers? Well, I addressed the hypocrisy, I don’t know what you mean by tedious, and yes, morality judgment plays a role. What’s wrong with that?

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        • aj says:

          The lance Armstrong comparison doesn’t work. he was doing something specifically banned and tested for by cycliny. steroids were not banned by baseball,they were not tested for it. Lance knew he was wrong and went to great lenghs to hide and beat tests.

          steroids have way more proven effects to boost bike riding g performance then in baseball also.

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    • crapshoot says:

      “And in doing so he forever tarnished (for many) what was perhaps the ultimate record in american sports. Why should that be forgiven?”

      Why do you think he would be “forgiven” simply by virtue of being inducted into the Hall of Fame? Did we forgive Tris Speaker for being a Klansman when he made it to Cooperstown? It’s a museum not a pardon from society.

      “I think letting them in would be an insult the players inducted who did not cheat.”

      What about the ones inducted who did cheat? And more importantly how do you have any earthly idea what players in Cooperstown, or up for induction, were “clean” or “dirty” in the first place?

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  14. David says:

    I just wonder if writers are the best gate keepers for the HOF. There is the small-big market media bias. Concern about writers not keeping up with the sport (ie not covering it for extended periods of time). Writers having axes to grind. Plus they are incentivized to be controversial, getting radio appearances and national attention.

    I felt that Trammell and Whitaker got screwed by the Tigers ineptness in the early 2000s when they were added to the ballot. That team was so awful interest in the team was at an all time low. 0 national attention at the time. Trammell is a no-doubter for me. I do not think Whitaker should have gotten in (good career numbers), but more of an accumulater no peak MVP type seasons, regardless he should have stayed on the ballot for a lot of years.

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  15. Anon says:

    I’ve heard talk about some writers leaving their ballots blank in protest of the steroid era. I wonder if the average vote count would move by any significant margin if you removed the blank ballots.

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    • Dingbat says:

      569 ballots were cast last year. If only 10 of them were blank, then the average vote count would change from 6.60 to 6.72 if you excluded the 10 blank ballots. So yes, it’s safe to say that the average vote count would be significantly affected by excluding blank ballots.

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  16. Chico Manuel Of Style says:

    I look at it this way:

    If you conceal your actions while you’re doing something, and then also lie about it after the fact, you’re very likely doing something *wrong*. Call it unethical or call it immoral, whichever you prefer. And as far as I know, few if any players concealed their greenie intake in the 1950′s and 60′s, while every single 1990′s steroid user was as secretive as Lance Armstrong.

    Also, if yoga is making your head and feet grow, you may be doing it incorrectly.

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  17. Joe R says:

    Unfortunately, if you’ve ever read an article from Heyman on his Hall ballot, it shows what the voters believe the Hall is about. Take your favorite moments in MLB history. Find the players associated. Champion them. They vote using their own, personal world view of matters, rather than an objective light.

    Should a player surrounded by crap teammates be locked out of the Hall, while a good player on a loaded team get in (Phil Rizzuto for past players, Morris for current comes to mind). Should we sit here and do mental gymnastics so we can justify why Lou Brock was on our ballot back in the day, but Tim Raines isn’t?

    Even the basketball Hall of Fame, known more for being subjective, strives to ensure the best players get into the Hall, with the occasional Drazen Petrovic inductee for considerations beyond their accomplishments in the NBA.

    The reason we have the mess we have now, and the reason why some HoF worthy guys will drop from the ballot, is because voters are lazy. They make up their own version of greatness, and deem that Alan Trammell doesn’t fit the mold. As a Red Sox fan, any institution that honors Jim Rice and not Dwight Evans is a joke to me (Dewey even hit more HR’s than Rice!).

    Voters cry about marginal candidates whose candidacies are enhanced by a more analytical approach to their career as championing a “big Hall”, but with some of the players they’ve elected, the Hall is already huge.

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  18. Jonesy says:

    Hundreds of MLB players used PEDs. None have come close to Clemens and Bonds’ career stats. The HOF is a joke if two of the best players in baseball history are left out.

    I also don’t think it’s fair to leave guys like Piazza and Biggio out of the HOF based on rumors and suspicion.

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  19. FDR says:

    I always thought the biggest elephant in the room was Pete
    Rose. Poor guy.

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  20. David says:

    I think what’s being lost here is the real purpose of the HOF. Its to drag your 10 year old son to on a roadtrip and talk until his ears bleed about your childhood heroes and greats from your day, while belittling his generation and “the Facebooks”, “the cell phones”, and “the video games”.

    I have no problem with steroid users being in the HOF. Its just a plague. Write whatever you want about them. Maybe a sentence like “by the end of his career Barry Bonds head had grown to twice its original size”, or “a steroid fueled rage propelled a pimple-backed Clemens to one of the most memorable WS moments when he hurled a broken bat at opposing hitter Mike Piazza”.

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  21. Jon C says:

    Even with the arrogant tone and extreme bias the author injects into this article, his point is well made and valid. I am a semi stathead. I like advanced metrics and such, but I am no way in the grassroots political push to have sabermetrics be forced onto everyone. I also think WAR is not ready for the big time, nor will it ever be, but that’s for another article.

    I do think the typical hall voter is behind the times in analysis, and I get why the hall is such a battleground for sabrheads. It’s the highest honor you can bestow upon a player.

    I think however the author’s conclusion is erroneous. The hall was never meant to be the hall of great stat makers. It’s the hall of fame. It was always intended to be somewhat subjective. Wanting it to be an a hall of objectively great players is understandable, but is most likely a losing cause and possibly not even a morally correct thing to do.

    I am not anti-stat. Advanced metrics help to do better what stats were created for: To tell a story of what happened on the field of play. They were never intended to be a sole metric for player comparison.

    I think what should be done is this: Make a separate hall of greatness for the analytical thinking people. SABR already has one iirc. Band together and support it. Promote it. Celebrate its differences from the writer’s hall. It may never become as well-known as the writer’s hall, but it’s a worthy cause. Making a battleground out of the current hall is not.

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnhavok says:

      This article practically nothing to do with saber vs tradition.

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      • Jon C says:

        It definitely does. The author manages to veil it for most of the article, but near the end he says the voters should include more sabermetricians abs we should convert existing members to a more “progressive” mindset. Read the article again; you may have miss some of the hidden themes.

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        • Tony Blengino says:

          You’re a semi-fucking tool. Trout vs. Cabrera for MVP is not being discussed; the issues with the Hall of Fame voting have little to nothing to do with the usage or denial of sabermetrics. Please do not insert themes that are not even remotely present.

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        • Jon C says:

          So we need to get more progressive voters in and change existing voters but the article had nothing to do sabermetric indoctrination? Right, dude.

          There’s an almost direct correlation between those that worship stats and wanting to ignore subjectivity, under which moral issues like drug abuse fall under. You’re being dishonest. You put a theme in your article then tried to deny doing so. Stpp being a passive-aggressive douche.

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      • Jon C says:

        Also the main theme is that the ballot is a mess. I think most of the traditional voters don’t even see it that way. They are perfectly content to leave off Clemens and Bonds. They are content in not ever voting for Palmerio or any other PED user. It’s because they aren’t as stat centric as a typical sabr follower. They see it as it’s baseball’s highest honor and scumbags shouldn’t be given that honor, stats be damned.

        That leaves a dozen or so candidates for them to strongly consider and most have no problem narrowing it down to ten for their ballot.

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        • Simon says:

          As has been pointed out repeatedly, there’s only one particular sort of scumbag they appear to care about in the slightest.

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    • NS says:

      “but I am no way in the grassroots political push to have sabermetrics be forced onto everyone”. No one is. This is such an annoying thing to say.

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      • Jon C says:

        You know what’s more annoying? Watching you guys push the agenda and lie about doing it. At least be honest about it.

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    • Dingbat says:

      Via Wikipedia:

      The Hall’s motto is “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.”

      So your point is that “honoring excellence” has nothing to do with recognizing “objectively great players,” is it?

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      • Jon C says:

        Of course it does. It doesn’t mean I ignore cheating law breaking assholes’ behaviors.

        Not everything is black and white. There are shades of gray.

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  22. reason says:

    If steroid users are going to be blocked from the hall of fame for cheating take them off the ballot. If they aren’t then make it known that steroid usage shouldn’t be taken into account. A decision needs to be made to prevent each individual from deciding on their own and clogging up the ballot. Some people still would but this would hopefully solve some of it.

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    • Jon C says:

      It’s not really clogging anything up. In a few years probably all the cheaters but Bonds and Clemens will fall off the ballot naturally anyway. The rest won’t even consider them anyway and even if they do get considered it’s not like the ninth and tenth players on a ballot have a huge shot at 75 percent anyway. It’s just not that likely we get in more than seven or eight players anyway.

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  23. Jon C says:

    I do think that Jack Morris should be enshrined in the hall, and I think he will eventually be voted in if not this year, then by a future committee.

    WAR is an imperfect tool and even more imperfect for pitchers. While it does
    give credit to pitchers who pitched huge amount of innings like Morris, it does so only on a rate times innings pitched basis. Morris won a ton of games. Now stop and consider why. Yes, he did generally probably have above average run support (I haven’t looked up his support numbers to league average but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was on the higher side).

    Part of the reason he won so many games is he pitched so deep in them. When you’re taken out of the game after stuff innings, you have sometimes three or more relievers following you. That basically means three chances for the guy following you to lose your lead. While it’s true the SP could lose his own lead, the fact he got so many wins and complete games makes it a safe assumption he didn’t lose many leads late. Also, an eight or nine inning start is incredibly useful to his team beyond the innings WAR credits him for. Bullpen rest is a valuable thing even if it can’t yet be accurately measured objectively.

    Morris was unquestionably an ace for many years. He may not have had a short stretch of peakiness, but he was very good for a long time. I think in the future stats will catch up to the Jack Morris type player as they have had for his teammates Trammell and Whitaker.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Stringer Bell says:

      What a dumb argument for Morris to make it in. “He was an ace because he threw a lot of innings.” Let’s put Livan Hernandez in the hall. Maybe Bronson Arroyo.

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      • Jon C says:

        I didn’t say that. I said he was an ace that through a bunch of innings, and more specifically a bunch of innings per start. I ask you reread what I wrote, and next time try to put some effort into reading comprehension before you try to post a mean-spirited reply to someone’s post.

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      • Jon C says:

        It’s ridiculous to argue Morris wasn’t an ace. Just a quick look shows he made 14 consecutive opening day starts. I didn’t list his workload of evidence to prove he was an ‘ace’: That should have been an accepted fact to begin with.

        I used his workload to add to his resume. He wasn’t an six or seven inning and out of the game ace, he was typically 8 or 9 innings.

        FFS people – get with the program.

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        • jamesx122 says:

          He allowed more runs than an “ace” should be doing, his 105 ERA+ shows that he was barely above average for his time. So even if he made a lot of opening day starts that doesn’t really mean anything except that he had the reputation of an ace even though he was really only a good innings eater.

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        • Drew says:

          14 opening day starts of 3.90 ERA pitching. In an era where league average was around 4.00 (or less, even!).

          Kind of pathetic management.

          Seriously – the poor guy actually got shelled (badly!) in a bunch of those opening day starts.

          What an ace!

          Sad way to start a season. Sorry, Tigers fans!

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        • NS says:

          Opening day starters are aces? Brilliant.

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        • Simon says:

          Hmm. The argument now is that a man from the internet says he was an ace. Should that be more important than the entire long career of marginally above average pitching numbers?

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    • Drew says:

      Lots of wins with a horrible ERA (far from an advanced stat!) = HOF now?

      Looking forward to seeing your work on getting Jamie Moyer in, bro! They had nearly identical ERAs relative to the league, yet Moyer had way more wins and several dominant seasons (based on your Wins criteria at least, since ERA seems to be a bit too fancy for ya!)

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      • Jon C says:

        To be fair, which you aren’t, most people cite his Era+, which to my understanding, is considered an advanced stat.

        And when did I ever go off of his wins as criteria? You can’t deny his wins are a huge part of his candidacy though, and 254 are a huge amount of wins. I was explaining why he got more wins than his ERA+ suggested he should.

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        • David says:

          To quote you, then paraphrase you: WAR is an imperfect tool and even more imperfect for pitchers, now I’m going to talk about why Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame because of his Wins.

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        • Drew says:

          Yea, his ERA+ is even worse. Because a 3.90 ERA when offense was low is really terrible.

          He got a lot of wins despite bad pitching because the teams he played for scored more runs than the other teams on the days he pitched.

          He still pitched poorly. Allowing Morris in would be like allowing [insert name of a guy who pitched 5% better than league average in 2013].

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        • NS says:

          ERA+ is not an advanced stat. It is ERA in the context of the league average ERA. That’s awesome though, trying to carve out anything that doesn’t fit your bias – even ERA.

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      • Jon C says:

        Also, Drew, it’s pretty dishonest for you to take the banner of sabermetrics, then use a 14 game sample to try to make a case. I used the sample simply as a tool. Managers chose him to start on opening day for years straight, just like using games finished can be a quick and dirty tool to identify closers, opening day starts can identify aces.

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        • jamesx122 says:

          Not always, for example Matt Harrison was the opening day starter for the Texas Rangers even though Yu Darvish was considered the ace of the staff. The year before Colby Lewis was given the opening day start even though he wasn’t considered the ace of the staff by any means.

          Like I said opening day starts can be given to someone just because they’re veterans or have a good reputation, even though they may not be that great or even the best pitcher on the team.

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        • Drew says:

          My* 14-game sample is actually just as bad as his whole career.

          His career ERA is 3.90.

          * I’m not the one touting those 14 games. I’d honestly never ever bring them up if it wasn’t his Crowning Achievement.

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        • Jon C says:

          james: you’re correct, opening day starts don’t have a100% correlation to aces. I never claimed they did, it’s just a quick and dirty tool to identify them. Tom Tango used the same technique to identify closers using games finished.

          And yes Nate, using anything beyond traditional counting stats and the simple first generation formulas such as er, batting average, winning percentage, etc, is an advanced stat according to most people. I’m well aware of ERA+ is, as well as DICE, fip, xfip. Pitcher WAR, et al.

          I used Morris as an example of why he won more games than and had a higher winning percentage than his ERA+ would predict. That was all.
          I did so because in sabr propaganda piece after another I saw reference to his 105 ERA+.

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  24. jg941 says:

    Tony – you lost me at the early question on whether McGwire was only worth 23% of the vote on that 2007 ballot, because the answer is – emphatically – YES!

    He and Bonds and Clemens and Sosa and Palmiero were not only cheaters, but egregious ones, and busted ones. They just…….were, and are. You can lament it all you want – they don’t belong given their blatant disregard for playing the game on terms equal to others. Sorry, just a flawed premise on those guys…..good article otherwise.

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    • Jon C says:

      I agree fully. It’s baseball’s highest honor. It’s a hall of fame – these players aren’t entitled to be enshrined simply because of the stats they have. In a hall of baseball greatness, sure. Baseball’s supreme honor, no. I won’t lose any sleep over it if they do get voted in though; I have many more pressing issues to worry about.

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      • Drew says:

        They’re not “entitled” due to the stats they earned.

        On the other hand, Morris sure isnt entitled to shit based on the stats he put up.

        He’s entitled to a lifetime of shitty baseball card shows. That’s about it.

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        • Jon C says:

          You’re going to be really bent out of shape when he gets in: he will get in, the year or from a veterans vote, and the fact you’re going to be upset will bring me joy even if it’s mean for me to be joyous in your misery.

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        • Drew says:

          I don’t care if Morris gets in.

          He shouldn’t be in there though.

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  25. jg941 says:

    And BTW, Tony – decalring a cheater a cheater isn’t “social commentary”.

    Bonds, Clemens, et al, cheated at THE GAME THEY PLAYED. Thje discussion of how they cheated at that game is as much a game discussion as the HRs, RBIs, WAR, etc. It ain’t “social commentary” and, frankly, who cares if Bonds and Clemens continue to sit there at the middle-to-bottom of the induction list?

    So what……let them sit there for the full 15 years (Sosa, McGwire, Palmiero, etc. will disappear faster), which might be the ultimate message to send to the rest of the players, a nice, slow twist in the wind, with no reward at the end for cheating. Seems fair to me.

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    • Jon C says:

      Yup. It’s baseball’s highest honor. Cheating slimebags not making the vote won’t make me lose any sleep. At least they got to keep their records – other sports association generally make the player or teams forfeit all records. In another league Bonds could officially have 0 home runs instead of the home run record.

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      • jamesx122 says:

        This is baseball we’re talking about, cheaters have been in the sport forever and half the time it’s okay until you get caught…like doctoring baseballs.

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        • Jon C says:

          what about the other half of the time

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        • Simon says:

          The other half of the time you get into the hall of fame, I think, because the only issue that the character clause is relevant to is steroids, apparently.

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  26. Tom Gardner says:

    I agree with much of this…here are my predictions as well as my analytically based assessment of who belongs and who does not: http://www.borntorunthenumbers.com/2013/12/hall-of-fame-prediction-2014-protest-is.html

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    • Jon C says:

      Very fun read. I disagree with you on Morris, but it in no way takes away from my appreciation for the quality of your work.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Really? Larry Walker doesn’t deserve to be in? Most of the stats put in pretty high company and good enough to deserve election. The stats that do take into consideration his home field also put him in high company. To judge him solely on that sounds, like shoddy work.

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      • wRC+ of 140 over his career, OPS+ of 141 over his career (note: it says park adjusted but I didn’t see league adjusted), and then the gaudy WAR totals that you note in your article. He won an MVP, 3 batting titles, several Gold Gloves (undeserved), and 3 Silver Sluggers. He has the awards, and the stats. The only argument I can see you making is his lack of support for being a “borderline” candidate. You didn’t note that though, and instead seemed to fully make up what you see as his weakness, which if you would have checked, are not so.

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      • Basically, his only weakness is his reputation among voters. I’m guessing he is suffering the same thing as Whitaker, although it was before my time.

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  27. Justin Bailey says:

    I’m a little surprised that Frankie Frisch’s name hasn’t come up yet. The Veterans Committee, when it was headed by Frisch, elected many marginal players to the Hall… many of whom happened to be former teammates of Frisch.

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    • Justin Bailey says:

      I should add that, while I know the connection of those Veterans Committee decisions to the points made in the article is pretty loose, it seems to me that Frisch probably did as much or more than any other individual to dilute the meaning of a HoF election.

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      • Snowman says:

        It’s rather funny, actually. For much of the last 8 decades, the writers mostly got it right and then the Vet’s Committee screwed it up by electing a lot of guys who in no way deserved induction. Now we’re in a period where the writers are missing left and right, and we’re hoping to someday see the Vet’s Committee repair the damage. We’ll see in a decade if they’re smart enough to add guys like Whitaker, but if they are, it’s going to do a lot to repair both the Hall and the reputation of the Committee.

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  28. Hunter says:

    Where were the reporters when the steroid era was going on? Presumably trying to keep their jobs. The only journalists I can blame at that time were the untouchables who were never being fired-maybe like a Gammons.

    Sure, it would’ve been great if they had outed the steroid era, but now, having a family myself, I’d never blame someone for keeping their mouth shut and keeping their job to support their family (absent heinous illegalities or despicable moral acts.)

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  29. dsel says:

    Here is a counter to the “let Bonds in crowd.” To me, steroids is to baseball as autotune is to music. Is a musician using autotune a good musician?

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    • Jon C says:

      They may or may not be, it’s hard to tell with the statistical noise surrounding the situation. We don’t know WHEN Bonds started using: it may have been in his first few seasons. All we know is that he did use, and since we don’t know what effect steroids actually has on stats, his whole stat line is basically an undefined amount. We can’t use his stats, because there’s so much going on to confuse the situation. He may have been a .300/.350/.550 guy unboosted or a .250/.310/.450 We just don’t know. Since we don’t know, we shouldn’t vote for him.

      It’s not like he can replay his career clean, unlike a vocalist, who could sing a song without assistance. His career is done, and tainted. There’s only person to blame to for Bonds not getting in the hall – Barry Bonds.

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      • Drew says:

        Autotune is not assistance.

        This is getting really dumb.

        Is there a stupid baseball site that you could post at, Joe C.?

        There’s gotta be like a Murray Chass forum out there or something for ya, bud!

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        • Jon C says:

          I didn’t make the original post in this thread. I went off of what the original poster intended his argument to be instead of picking nits like so many people here have done. I simply picked up what someone was laying down and went with it.

          And I really don’t like you calling me names. I know what you meant when you said Joe C. I’m not a little person, and I’m not dead and I can’t stand Kid Rock’s music.

          All your semantics and juvenile name calling and nit picking doesn’t change s thing: Bonds and Clemens invalidated their own numbers. Without their numbers as evidence their case falls apart because the two are, to put it nicely, pricks. They contributed zero to baseball beyond the tainted stat lines.

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      • Simon says:

        You really think that there’s a chance Bonds would have been a .250/.310/.450 guy? That would suggest that either nobody with that level of natural talent has ever taken steroids before (ridiculously unlikely) or there’s something about Bonds that means his talent is massively more enhanced by steroids than every other player who every took them (also ridiculously unlikely).

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    • pft says:

      You start with a false premise, so your question, like a HOF without Bonds and Clemens, is irrelevant

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    • Drew says:

      Autotune is a production decision, not a way to cheat and make you a better, more famous singer.

      Worst argument I’ve EVER seen.

      Easily.

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      • Jon C says:

        You’re being way too literal. Also, I didn’t make that comparison originally.

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        • jimmy fallon says:

          You are being way too annoying. And I’m jimmy fallon, here.
          Seriously, though, all you do is dog people’s articles and comments. It’s like you’re trolling. Are you trolling?
          Are you a….cyber bully???
          Anyway, you don’t know everything; stop bringing my day down with your negativity.

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        • NS says:

          He didn’t reply to you, half-wit.

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        • Jon C says:

          He referred to me by name calling. Whether or not he technically replied to my post or not, he definitely replied to me.

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        • Jon C says:

          Also Nate, shouldn’t you be writing some propaganda piece yourself to distribute instead of arguing with a moderate like myself you have no prayer in converting to your cause?

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        • NS says:

          He didn’t reply to you at all. You did not introduce the analogy. You are lost and calling people Nate.

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  30. LongPastChanukah says:

    The baseball HOF is a tiny microcosm of a larger trend: the move to marginalize and silence any bad actors. Society on the whole seems to think if we publicly shame, fire, deprive, exclude and pile on bigots and cheaters, etc., bigotry, cheating and all other societal ills will disappear. This is impossibly stupid.

    Ty Cobb was a fervid racist. How many more great players were drunks, abusers, philanderers, etc. is impossible to count. That Cobb played in a time when racism was common doesn’t make a lick of difference. Many then knew then it was bogus. That we paint history in broad strokes, does not mean decency, acceptance and intelligence belong to modernity. On the whole, we’re stupid as ever. Our bigotry and bias run in different channels and is expressed in different ways. Some recognize it. Most do not.

    But it’s good that Cobb is equally famous as a great player and a POS person. He is emblematic of a time better not forgotten but learned from.

    Enshrine the cheaters. Those whose heads swelled, those of improbably late-career peaks, those people like all people that marked their time. One day people will remember them, maybe as atavists and maybe as progressives. Who knows?

    But enough of this morality play. These morality plays. This need for a new villain every week. For us to deign our loathing for, tapped out on tiny keyboards, as we passively threaten homicide on all around us.

    Barry Bonds played baseball exceptionally well. Nothing else about the man matters ten shits to me.

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    • Hunter says:

      They’re not refusing to enshrine Bonds because he was a nasty guy, they’re refusing to enshrine him because they believe PEDs enhanced his baseball performance.

      To refute their argument, you first have to understand it, which your Ty Cobb false equivalency shows you do not.

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      • Snowman says:

        It’s a parallel, not an equivalency. He has them both under the umbrella of bad actors.

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      • pft says:

        How do they explain Tony Gwynn hitting a career high number of HR at age 37. It was the juiced ball, smaller parks, weight training, maple bats, first class travel, cortisone and Toradol, and amphetamines that played as much if not a greater role in enhancing performance of players.

        And if they are competing against other athletes who are enhanced, and lets face it, we only know a fraction of the users, some of them who may be getting into the HOF because of a perception they were clean, did they really have that much of an advantage?

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      • Gribo says:

        The ‘nasty guy’ thing is a huge part of the issue and it largely fueled the witch hint initially.

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      • Simon says:

        Which is why Pete Rose is in the Hall of Fame now, right? And all those who used amphetamines to improve their baseball playing are out.

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    • ankle explosion hr celebration says:

      This argument keeps coming up. It’s strange to me. We once elected an asshole into the Hall; therefore, all assholes are welcome?

      Same with cheaters: one time, before it was a big deal, people used PEDs all the time and they still got into the Hall. Therefore, all PED-users are welcome, even though–by the way–PED users are strongly discouraged, punished by rule, and pose an existential threat to the integrity of baseball.

      This line of argument is like a limbo pole; the bar for induction is just going to keep getting lower.
      Maybe now is a good time to start caring about whether good people get in to the Hall of Fame.

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  31. Gribo says:

    The wrong people have the votes. Pretty simple. A bunch of crotchety old men and over-opinionated, under-educated elitists.

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  32. joshua bayer says:

    An error – though it doesn’t affect the premise – two members of the 2010 – 2013 class get in, not one.

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  33. DJLetz says:

    This whole article looks pretty silly when you look over at the Baseball Think Factory tabulations and see that the average ballot out now has an average of over nine players on it, and currently we’re expecting the largest BBWAA class since the fifties (and at the very least since ’99). Five inductees is very possible this year.

    It’d be nice if people took some perspective on this stuff instead of screaming that everything needs to be changed when they don’t immediately get what they want.

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  34. PackBob says:

    It is intellectually lazy to label anyone who would not vote in players associated with PED use as a morally superior assassin. That is simply judgment by a personal set of rules that differ.

    The Hall of Fame is not just about the players, it also reflects the times as expressed by the voters. The popular idea that players associated with PED use should be inducted regardless because past players were inducted with character flaws neglects this context which is integral to any player being inducted.

    It’s a valid opinion to want a HOF where only numbers matter. It’s also a valid opinion to want a hall where character matters. Character judgment is not a perfect process, but neither is counting numbers. There is no reason to denigrate either.

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    • ankle explosion hr celebration says:

      here, here, very well said. The Hall explicitly considers subjective (such as character) and objective evidence, no matter what Dave Cameron or Tony Blengino says. However, the relative weights given to subjective and objective evidence are not specified. For this reason, it is not wrong to want PED users to be left out. It’s just a stronger weight applied to the “character” concerns.

      If you want the Hall criteria changed to only the “objective” part, the baseball numbers, then you are advocating for a fundamental change to the rules. You should be lobbying the BBWAA or the Hall to change the criteria, instead of attempting to sneak this new standard–the WAR bar–in.

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      • Drew says:

        “Attempting to sneak this new standard – the WAR bar – in.”

        No one is sneaking anything in.

        In to where, anyway?

        WAR and advanced stats that take multiple skills into account are hardly new.

        Thanks for playing, though!

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        • ankle explosion hr celebration says:

          I think you misinterpreted my argument (and in fairness I did a poor job explaining it). It’s not about the stats or how advanced they are.

          I think WAR is great, by far the best measurement of player value available. By WAR bar, I mean the idea that it’s about the stats ONLY (get 100WAR, automatic lock. Get 70, maybe. Get 50, probably not. And so on.)

          It’s never been about the stats only–there’s always been the contribution of character. That’s part of how election is decided, by the rules of the Hall itself. What is being snuck in is the idea that modern electors should disregard the obligation to consider character because its complicated or it makes them “moralizers” or some other bullshit.

          TL;DR: It’s not just stats, even though that’s easier. If Dave Cameron or whoever else wants to abolish the character part of the decision, change the rules. Don’t stealthily attempt to ignore character as a criterion.

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  35. Jon C says:

    Obviously into the methodology of every single baseball fan. The author even makes reference to this in his article by saying we need to make voters use more progressive (lol) thinking.

    Thanks for playing though! lolbaconsmfd

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  36. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I’ve lost interest in the Hall of Fame the moment Barry Bonds was only on 36% of the ballots. I suppose one could make a case for not putting Maguire or Sosa on, as they were somewhat one-dimensional players. But neglecting Bonds, a top-5 player of all time, is disgusting. The same goes for Clemens.

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  37. Don Zimmer's jowl sweat says:

    Baseball Hall of Fame*

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  38. channelclemente says:

    How? Bart Giamatti dies and numbnuts takes the reins.

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  39. crapshoot says:

    The Hall of Fame is a museum that is intended to record and acknowledge the achievements of the best players in the history of the game. It is not some sacred shrine to the holy virtues of morality, sportsmanship and fairness. Baseball players have been finding ways to cheat for over 150 years now and will continue to do so well into the future.

    I was born in 1984 and what the BBWAA is essentially doing is denying my generation the opportunity to visit Cooperstown in the same way that my parents’ generation did and their parents before them. They are essentially claiming that the games I watched in my youth didn’t really count, that they were a figment of my imagination. A Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or Jeff Bagwell is as absurd to a person of my age as a Hall of Fame without Willie Mays or Hank Aaron or Bob Gibson would have been to my father.

    I was there. Those games were played and I assure you they very much counted. The BBWAA is risking alienating an entire generation of baseball fans through their own misguided self-righteous vengeance. They are treating not just the players of my generation with contempt and indignation but the fans as well. They are sowing the seeds of their own undoing in their refusal to acknowledge that baseball is an imperfect game played by imperfect people.

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    • Jon C says:

      If want to get mad at someone, focus your anger at the people responsible: Palmeiro, Bonds, Clemens, et al. There was a morality clause in the museum’s entrance requirements from the beginning. The games did count – that’s why Major League Baseball didn’t erase the records of the cheating players, like most other sports leagues would have. I’m sorry that you’re mad, but you’re simply mad at the wrong people.

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    • Chico Manuel Of Style says:

      Crapshoot: Isn’t it true that the vast majority of the “players of your generation” were ethical and abided by MLB rules, despite whatever availability of illegal PEDs may have tempted them? (I’m sure the estimate of dirty players at 5-7% (Mitchell Report?) was on the low side, but it was hardly the “everybody’s doing steroids” era so often suggested. Why not just embrace Ken Griffey Jr. and Greg Maddux? Why not celebrate Jeter and Randy Johnson? How about Gentle Jim Thome and Mike Mussina?

      Plenty of wonderful players from your generation are going to wind up in the Hall — players who had to overcome the disadvantage of competing against baseball’s versions of Iron Curtain East German swimmers, Ma Junren’s female Chinese distance runners, and, yes, Lance Armstrong.

      Embrace the clean and discard the dirty, fellow baseball fan. :)

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    • john says:

      This is a common new argument this year — the world is conspiring against a generation. Nonsense. All those guys are in the Hall, they just don’t get a plaque.

      I like the creativity of this new argument. Tugs at the heart strings more than the previous ones.

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  40. BigBubbaNoTrubba says:

    Until Albert “keg party at Joeys” Belle and Pete “sliding” Rose are elected, the HOf is worth zilch. Nada. Nothing.

    The roiders like Bonds absolutely shouldn’t get in. You guys who say they should, tell Kenny Lofton who played it the right way that he do sent belong because he didn’t cheat.

    TSo many of you Sabermtric guys seems to never have sported on a high level. I have, and I know that PEDs make a tremendous differences I competed against juiced up guys, and it suck.

    The argument that steroids don’t enhance performance that much is baloney. Studies show strength o improve by up to 30 percent.

    Essentially, you swing harder and with less effort, you pitch harder.

    And steroids also help players recover faster between games.

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    • Drew says:

      Do the studies show anything about baseball hitting?

      Or would you prefer to cite anecdotal evidence from your “high level” sporting days?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jon C says:

        Ugh, another black-and-white saber follower. This place is riddled with them. I’m not a stathead, nor a traditionalist – I’m somewhere in the middle closer to the SABR end of the spectrum. It seems like so many people get on one side of the spectrum and don’t do critical thinking for themselves, but simply find talking points – this is almost like politics, and it stinks there, and it stinks here too.

        Just because you can’t quantify the bonus, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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      • Jon C says:

        I can’t believe you’re actually taking the stance that juicing has no effect on the stats. While juicing may not help a batter make solid contact, that’s mostly hand eye coordination and pitch recognition, there is plenty more to what makes a successful hitter.You’re being either a troll, or blinded by party lines, or you’re just dense or in denial.

        Regardless of whether or not juicing helps you make solid contact, being stronger and faster and more healthy does help a batter. Miguel had a noticeable decline at the end of last year, because of injuries. Had he between juicing he likely recovers in time to return to his normal skill level. Strength does matter on how hard a batter strikes a ball. Even though the force is mass of the bat times the speed of the swing, the is the factor of bat wobble to consider. A stronger grip will allow less loss of striking power due to wobble. And running speed, if I have to explain why that helps, you probably shouldn’t be on this forum.

        Being stronger and faster and healthier does help. It’s pure insanity to argue otherwise. At some point juicing bonuses will be somewhat quantifiable, and I imagine you will be forced at that time to change your tube. Why not do it now and be wrong fit a shorter time?

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        • Drew says:

          Why not add stats to everyone who got injured? 10% boost? 20% boost? Every pitcher who had arm fatigue is in the Hall now. Doc Gooden (way better than your shitty Jack Morris) got hurt – get him in now.

          Dickie Thon should have gotten a robotic eye in 1983 – let’s get him in the Hall!

          On the other hand – if Bonds hadn’t gotten huge, he would have amassed more base running and fielding runs, which would have altered his WAR.

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        • Jon C says:

          Drew: We can’t add stats to the juicers because we don’t know how to quantify the juicing bonus.

          And yes I agree Dwight Gooden was better than Morris. That doesn’t change anything though; simply it means both should be hall of famers. You keep trying to place mutual exclusivity where none belongs.

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  41. I heard a story that Babe Ruth would eat horse sperm to get more testosterone. Any truth to that?

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  42. ajmack says:

    Yep, he sucked it right out of the horse. No, really.
    You PED apologists are grasping at straws. The Hall of Fame has many artifacts and exhibits from the steroid (joke) era of baseball just like other eras. Get over yourself.
    Now I understand why your generation is accused of being narcissistic.

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Drew says:

      I don’t understand that at all.

      Can you explain?

      (Because it makes no sense)

      Fyi

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    • I am AGAINST PEDs and don’t think anyone who’s get caught with steroids should ever be allowed back on the field.

      It was a legit question about babe Ruth. I heard he did that. You know if there’s any truth to that story?

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    • Can't handle disagreements guy says:

      Yes, you disagree with me so you must be narcissistic! *sticks out tongue, takes ball, goes home*

      Try again.

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      • ajmack says:

        Well, well, well. It appears we have a spy in our midst.
        Very interesting.
        Ok, tough guy. The question now becomes are you going to grow some male genitalia and reveal yourself?

        Maybe we can get together and discuss this.

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    • Bertrand Russell says:

      Of course they are narcissistic; they were raised by baby boomers and a public school system that tells them that the world revolves around them.

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  43. Jon C says:

    @Jimmy Fallon: I am neither bullying but trolling. I have what is seen as a minority view on this site because I’m neither a traditionalist nor a stat head. I use independent thinking. I do generally prefer advanced metrics over traditional stats, but I differ in that I don’t give them the weight most people here give them. I simply don’t agree with all the methodology of sabermetrics.

    I do feel sabermetrics has its place, but I know it’s no where close to as perfect as people tend to give it credit here. I’m sorry I had to point out why the PNC TTO thing wasn’t even close to a mystery, and why it’s ridiculous to use WAR as a comparison for something as important as HOF or MVP. But I have an opinion, and I feel I am just as entitled to give my opinion as anyone else here.

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    • Klements Sausage says:

      Of course you’re just as entitled to give your opinion as everyone else. It would be nice if you did it just the once though.

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      • Jon C says:

        You make a solid argument. I’ll adjust my behavior in the future.

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      • Tony Blengino says:

        Sausage, I can not give you enough thumbs up for your comment.

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        • Jon says:

          Tony: I wouldn’t need to post so often if your article had even a modicum of neutrality. Also, the hostility of the responses from your target audience helped to troll me into responding.

          Sure, I claim responsibility for partial fault for taking th the bait but I won’t claim fill responsibility. Sorry for raining on your parade, but you and you followers invited it with extremist thinking and lazy methodology.

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        • Drew says:

          The hostile responses came after you posted originally.

          Because your posts sucked.

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        • Jon C says:

          Your posts suck.

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    • NS says:

      Keep speaking only in safe, unfalsifiable generalizations. It’s very useful.

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      • Jon C says:

        Mr. Silver, the stats are readily available. A monkey could pull up BR Stats and repost them. This isn’t about the stats. This is about the author being a moral authority on hall voting. The only difference is the author is pushing an agenda to get voters to vote solely on stats and disregard anything else, no matter what the absurdity of doing so entails. I sense this goes for you as well.

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        • NS says:

          I’m starting to think you might be legitimately handicapped. I am not Nate Silver and my previous comment about generalizations obviously did not concern specific stats, but your several *generalizations*.

          “I use independent thinking. I do generally prefer advanced metrics over traditional stats, but I differ in that I don’t give them the weight most people here give them. I simply don’t agree with all the methodology of sabermetrics.

          I do feel sabermetrics has its place, but I know it’s no where close to as perfect as people tend to give it credit here.”

          All useless, meaningless mouthshitting.

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        • Jon C says:

          fuck off nate

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  44. Shawn T says:

    I wouldn’t worry about Bonds and Clemens with regard to this conversation. They will get in to the Hall at some point. Even with the steroids their accomplishments are so staggering they simply can’t be ignored. It’s the Sosa-McGuire-Piazza-Bagwell’s etc. of the world who will dictate how the best players of the Steroid era are handled and evaluated w/r/t the Hall.

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  45. Shawn T says:

    The voters simply chose to collectively make a statement that no matter how overwhelming their credentials, Bonds and Clemens don’t meet the standard of being first-ballot Hall-of-Famers because of steroids. The truth is the entire steroid era and the inflated numbers that went along with it have an implicit asterisk next to it and as a result the bar will be set higher so that, for instance, 500 homers are no longer enough, you’d have to get 600+ in order to be considered a slam-dunk if you’re from that era.

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  46. RageAgainstTheNarrative says:

    Can I just suggest that the BBWAA, while it is an entity unto itself, is composed of many different people with many different viewpoints. Just because a writer is currently anti-PED, doesn’t automatically mean that the writer was championing steroid users as they were supposedly saving baseball back in 1998 and 1999.

    Just because 65% of all writers are opposed to electing a juicer, doesn’t mean that every single

    And just because someone holds a different opinion today from the one he/she held fifteen years ago, does not automatically make that person a hypocrite. There is such a thing as changing one’s own mind. There is also such a think as a writer who wasn’t impressed by the HR races of the nineties. And as hard as it may be to believe today, there were people who legitimately believed that Sosa and McGwire were for real. I actually thought they were clean. I thought, as my father did, that they were maybe getting juiced balls for their at-bats.

    To act like the BBWAA knew all about the roids and willingly turned a blind eye, is a shaky assumption. I might even go so far as to call it revisionist history.

    McGwire and Sosa did not save baseball. They had a massive but ultimately short-term impact on ratings and exposure. Is anybody seriously watching baseball today because of some broken records from 15 years ago that everyone today agrees are ruined anyway? Have revenue streams steadily increased over the last five years for the same reason? Nonsense.

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  47. JZ says:

    Can’t take any of Tony’s articles seriously after seeing how willing he was to badmouth his former employer in the press. Not surprising that he is willing to overlook questions about player ethics when he doesn’t seem to have many of his own. Fangraphs’ integrity and credibility goes down a bit each time they let this unprofessional armchair quarterback write an article for them. And how the mighty must have fallen, to go from an influential front office job (well, influential if you know what you’re doing) to getting paid $100 a pop for “articles” for a semi-pro baseball blog.

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  48. Matt Mosher says:

    To be honest, at this time every year, I wonder why people even care about this?

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    • Matt Mosher says:

      More specifically, the BBWAA has clearly made the process about them and revel in that fact. They aren’t going to stop. Whining about their “burden” sells papers and gets internet clicks.

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  49. anonynous says:

    The opening paragraph is poorly constructed and intellectually dishonest. Then the article goes downhill from there. I stopped reading about halfway through.

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  50. Hurtlockertwo says:

    MLB can’t (or won’t) erase the questionable stats. MLB can’t or won’t ever know exactly who used PED’s and who didn’t. Baseball survived massive change in the past. Many records fell in 1922 and 1930 dues to changes in baseball, the game survived. Maybe we should just get past all the PED stuff and move forward? Vote the players in based on stats and move on.

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  51. Skoolboy Jim says:

    I think if you are going to criticize the writers of 20 yrs ago for turning a blind eye to steroid use or condoning it and saying it was saving the game, you should show specific examples. Which writers? For you to say in the year 2014 they knew or should have know what was going on then is the worst kind of hindsight judgement. It is a complex problem that eludes such facile treatment.

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  52. Drew says:

    Does anyone know Joe C. personally?

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