January 09, 2007
Hall of Fame vote is today

The other high-profile public election in which trying to understand the way some of the voters think is enough to drive you to crystal meth happens today as well. I'm talking about the baseball Hall of Fame ballot, and in particular I'm talking about crap like this.

Paul Ladewski of the Daily Southtown in suburban Chicago wrote in a column Monday that he submitted a blank ballot because of doubts he had over performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

"At this point, I don't have nearly enough information to make a value judgment of this magnitude. In particular, that concerns any player in the Steroids Era, which I consider to be the 1993-2004 period, give or a take a season," Ladewski wrote.

If you ever needed a perfect example of why the beat writers are unworthy of the task they've been given, this would be it. You don't have enough information to make a value judgment? Then give your ballot to someone who will take the time to do a little research (reading a book might help) and save us all the bother. Seriously. There's thousands of people out there who are better equipped to vote in the Hall of Fame ballot than Paul Ladewski, but due to an increasingly unfortunate historical quirk, they'll never get the chance. Too bad he didn't think to take the opportunity to make one small step towards correcting that flaw.

Even if handing off the ballot to someone with critical thinking abilities was too great a step, there was always this option:

Sporting News senior vice president John Rawlings said he considered sending in a blank ballot to protest McGwire, who, during a congressional hearing in 2005, refused to discuss his speculated use of performing-enhancing drugs. Instead, Rawlings decided not to submit his ballot at all.

"If I send in a blank ballot ... that penalizes two players for whom I have great admiration, Ripken and Gwynn," said Rawlings, who characterized the current Hall of Fame voting procedure as creating a conflict of interest. "Then the mental tug of war gets framed as, 'Why punish Ripken and Gwynn because of McGwire's bad behavior?' So, it all nets out that not voting is probably the best course after all."

At least he took the task seriously enough to realize he couldn't do it. I can respect that.

Getting back to paul Ladewski, if he's satisfied with his justification for screwing the likes of Cal Ripken (because Lord knows anyone could see with their own eyes that he was juicing), then what about Bert Blyleven, who threw all but 267 of his nearly 5000 innings in the 1970s and 1980s? Is he tainted by appearing on the same ballot as the players from his accursed steroid era, or was Ladewski just too stupid to realize that Blyleven didn't play during that time? (I read your whole column, Paul, so I know that the name "Blyleven" never appeared.) Blyleven is nearing the end of his 15-year term of eligibility. Maybe you think he's not a Hall of Famer; I disagree, but that's why we vote on these things. What I can't abide is the blitheness with which Ladewski treats Blyleven's candidacy, since he has nothing to do with his grievance. For shame.

Oh, and remember my prediction?

At least one of the Chron sports columnists will pen a prissy and self-righteous piece explaining why he'll never (never!) vote for McGwire's induction.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jose de Jesus Ortiz:

After polling my advisers and debating with them the merits of every player on the ballot, I am proud to say that I denied a vote for Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Under oath before Congress, McGwire said he didn't want to talk about the past after he was given a chance to say he didn't use steroids. Well, I don't want to discuss his past - ever. I may not have proof, but I have too many doubts about McGwire to ever vote for him on my Hall of Fame ballot.

If anything, I might vote for Canseco before McGwire in the future just because Canseco at least helped baseball by bringing the steroids discussion deep into America's consciousness.

I'm not sure what's more pathetic, that Ortiz thinks Canseco's self-serving book somehow helped baseball (as Joe Sheehan put it "[Canseco] was considered a buffoon for much of his career, and only when he wrote a story that the media wanted to hear was he suddenly granted credibility."), or that Ortiz thought Jack Morris, Dave Concepcion, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, and Lee Smith were worth his vote, but Blyleven wasn't. These are the people we have deciding who goes to Cooperstown; he actually filled in all ten slots because one of his "advisors" told him not to waste any of his votes. Too late for that! But hey, at least he proved me right.

UPDATE: To no one's surprise, and despite the best efforts of idiots like Paul Ladewski, Ripken and Gwynn are in, while McGwire got about 25%. And may I just say good for Tony Gwynn. With Rich Gossage falling short, Bert Blyleven falling back below 50%, and Jim freaking Rice getting 67%, this was overall one of the worst votes I can recall. Yecch.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 09, 2007 to Baseball | TrackBack

How do you square your support for Mark McGwire's accension to the HoF with your opposition to Pete Rose?
There is no evidence that Rose's gambling addiction affected his playing on the field, while there can be little doubt that McGwire was juiced while he was supplanting Roger Maris in the recordbooks.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on January 9, 2007 1:06 PM