Oversimplifying the Hall of Fame debate

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Terrence Moore on steroids and the Hall of Fame:

Reggie Jackson is right. So is Jim Rice, along with Rick Telander,
a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, who joins me as a baseball Hall
of Fame voter and as a hardliner who agrees with Jackson and Rice:

No steroids guys in Cooperstown.

No Roger Clemens. No Barry Bonds. No Mark McGwire. No Sammy Sosa.
No Rafael Palmeiro. No Alex Rodriguez. Nobody within a syringe of
evidence showing they were artificially enhanced during any portion of
their playing career.

Great, Terrence. And as soon as you tell us how you’re going to figure
out who did and who didn’t do steroids, we’ll implement your plan. The
greater problem with Moore’s column, however, comes after he raises and
then ignores the “how do we know who used” question:

That brings us back to the BBWAA, which allows Hall of Fame voters
to use their own interpretation of rules that are vague but specific.
The rules say each voter should consider a player’s “record, playing
ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the
team(s) on which the player played.”

As a Hall of Fame voter, I’m a strict constructionist. To me, the
key words in those rules are “integrity” and “character.” You don’t
have integrity or character by using steroids. So no Hall of Fame entry
for any of these knuckleheads.

Simple.

Actually, a strict constructionist wouldn’t so easily latch on to
two of the six criteria and ignore the other four. To the contrary,
he’d be required to figure out how the character and integrity aspects
of the test interact with the record, playing ability, sportsmanship,
and contributions to the teams on which the player played, because
those are all part of the test too.

If it were me, I’d weigh the factors against one another, and if it
were a close call, I’d keep the guy out. Such an approach might counsel
that you allow in a Barry Bonds, whose clear ability and performance
over the years — including the years during which even his most
vehement accusers admit he wasn’t using — likely outweighs whatever
boost he received from whatever substances he was taking. On the
contrary, it may counsel that you keep out a Rafael Palmiero, who has a
much closer Hall of Fame case and a much more nebulous drug history
than that of Barry Bonds.

Or maybe you approach it a different way. I don’t know. What I do know
is that taking the mindless approach Moore advocates — even calling it
“simple” — is no way to do it. Because it’s not simple. It’s
complicated. And more importantly, it’s Terrence Moore’s job and the
job of the other BBWAA members to deal with. If they’re simply going to
abdicate their responsibilities in this regard, they should give the
task to someone who wont.

A Twins player confronted a Twins announcer about what he said on a broadcast

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We seem to get a story like this from a struggling team every couple of years. This year it’s the Twins and the story is about words said by one of the Twins players to Fox Sports North broadcaster Dick Bremer. From Mike McFeely of WDAY radio, who spoke to Bremer recently:

Surprisingly, Bremer said one player has confronted him this season about being too critical of the team. Bremer wouldn’t name the player.

“I make it a practice to go in the clubhouse every day and go down on the field, so if a player has a complaint about something I’ve said on television they have that opportunity,” Bremer said. “I was confronted in the clubhouse in the last homestand. I didn’t say what I wanted to say, which was, ‘Well, play better and the commentary will be more positive.’ You can’t mask the fact this team is a quarter of the way through the season with 10 wins.”

The whole article is interesting because it gives several examples of Bremer and his colleague, Bert Blyleven, being critical. Depending on which instance — and there were likely many not mentioned here — blowback from players may have more or less justification.

On the one hand, simply saying a player executed a given play poorly or saying that the team was performing poorly is a simple fact. On the other, an example was given in which Blyleven questioned why Phil Hughes was taken out of a game. It was only later revealed that he was experiencing shoulder soreness, but it was suggested that Blyelven was questioning his toughness at the moment. I agree with Bremer that if the players don’t want to be criticized they should play better. But it crosses a line in my mind when poor play is used to imply poor or weak character, especially when not all facts are known. Not all situations are the same.

Overall, though, despite the complaint of this anonymous Twins player, I think local broadcasts are too deferential to the home team far too often. The broadcasters have seen more baseball than almost every viewer and in many cases played it. I don’t think it’s out of line for them to offer objective, informed criticism of bad play even if that’s out of fashion in today’s world. That they seem very clearly pressured by the clubs with whom their employers are partnered to do otherwise is a shame and does a disservice to viewers.

And heck. It’s boring too.

Ryan Vogelsong placed on the DL with facial fractures

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 23: Ryan Vogelsong #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is carted off the field after being hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Jordan Lyles #24 of the Colorado Rockies in the second inning during the game at PNC Park on May 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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The Pirates have announced that starter Ryan Vogelsong has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to facial fractures.

Vogelsong suffered the fractures yesterday afternoon when he was batting and was hit by a pitch by Colorado Rockies starter Jordan Lyles. Vogelsong, was taken off the field on a cart and admitted to a local hospital. A.J. Schugel has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogelsong’s place on the roster.

The Padres National Anthem debacle explained

Petco Park
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Outsports has what should be the final word about Saturday’s National Anthem debacle at Petco Park before the Dodgers-Padres game.

The upshot: it was not, not surprisingly, a homophobic conspiracy. Rather It was a series of unfortunate occurrences and dumb mistakes, once again validating the old saying about how one need not look to evil motives when mere stupidity can explain things. This is one of those times. Go read the post for the entire explanation. The short version of that is that, like a lot of anthem singers, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus was to sing along with a backing tape of themselves performing the anthem. The DJ in charge of it played the wrong date’s backing tape. He played the one from the female singer the night before.

In addition, Outsports spoke with that DJ — DJ Artform — who is embarrassed by his mistake and by not doing anything to correct it in the moment. DJ Artform was a contractor and his relationship with the Padres was terminated.

So that seems to be that. Until the next thing anyway. There is always a next thing.

Cubs release Shane Victorino

shane victorino getty
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File this under “not terribly surprising,” but Shane Victorino was released from his minor league contract with the Cubs yesterday after batting .233/.324/.367 through nine games with Triple-A Iowa. Victorino says he does not plan on retiring, however, and that he plans to try to latch on someplace else.

It’ll be a supreme long shot. Victorino, 35, Victorino suffered a calf injury during spring training and missed all of spring training. Last year he played in only 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels, and 30 in 2014 with the Red Sox. He was last healthy and effective in 2013. In a league where older players don’t do as well as they used to, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to find a gig.

If this is the end of the road for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’ll finish with a career batting line of .2750/.340/.425 with 108 homers, 489 RBI, 231 stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards in 12 seasons. He also has two World Series rings, from the 2008 Phillies and the 2013 Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star.

Maybe not the way he wanted to end his career, if this is indeed the end, but Victorino had a fine career while it lasted.