Digging into the Hall votes

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Trammell.jpgStill reeling from the exclusion of Roberto Alomar.  In the meantime, let’s look down the ballot a bit, shall we?

Bert Blyleven: He received 400 votes. 405 votes were required this year. Five voters submitted blank ballots. I’m hoping they out themselves soon so they can be pilloried all right and proper.  My pique in the last post — saying that maybe Bert would never make it — may be a bit much, but at some point doesn’t opposition harden? Doesn’t a backlash to his much-publicized candidacy start to develop?  He probably makes it next year. He should have made it several years ago.

Roberto Alomar:  He received 73.7 percent of the needed 75.  Obviously he’ll make it, probably next year. For now, the “he’s no first ballot Hall of Famer” crowd can declare victory. Now if only the Hall voting rules made a distinction between first ballot and non-first ballot candidates . . .

Jack Morris:  52.3%.  Last year he got 44%.  He looks like he’s on a slow but steady climb.  Given all the squawking about him, however, I would have assumed he would have received more.

Barry Larkin: 51.6.  Not a bad showing for a first year candidate. I think he deserves to get in, and at least a majority of writers do too.  Guys who crack 50% in their first year tend to make it eventually.

Edgar Martinez: 36.2%. I wrote earlier that I won’t think it the end of the world if Martinez didn’t make it this year, and I am not crying that he didn’t. Still, 36.2% for a hitter of his caliber seems awfully low.  Are there that many writers out there who view a DH as unqualified for the Hall?

Mark McGwire and Alan Trammell: Each inched up only a tad — Trammell 17% to 22%, McGwire 22% to 23%.  More than even Blyleven and Alomar, the low vote totals for Trammell are something to be ashamed of. I understand the opposition to McGwire. I had thought he’d jump much higher than this based on several writers saying that they have changed their mind on him.  He may never make it. If there is to be any movement on his candidacy, it will be because he’s a nice, honest and approachable hitting coach who likes to talk about the past.

Tim Raines: 30.4%  A seven percent jump from last year.  He’s going to be a 12-15 year candidate I suppose.  Lump him in with Trammell as players’ whose treatment by the BBWAA is shameful.

Others of note:  Fred McGriff’s 21.5% in his debut is less than promising, but at least he hangs around for another year.  Don Mattingly and Dave Parker only received incremental gains, and don’t look to have any momentum.  Lee Smith ticked up a bit to 47%, but it’s a lukewarm reception. Probably should be too.  Dale Murphy actually slid down a percentage point.  Harold Baines remains above the 5% cutoff by the skin of his teeth.  Andres Gallaraga only got 4.1% and will be gone henceforth.

WTF? Seven voters thought Robin Ventura was a Hall of Famer. Maybe they mistook their ballot for the Hall of People Who Got Their Ass Handed To Them By Nolan Ryan That One Time. Ellis Burks and Eric Karros had multiple (read: 2) supporters.  Kevin Appier only had one vote. He struck me as at least a 4 vote man. No, 5.  Two people thought that Pat Hentgen and David Sequi were worth a vote.

David Sequi? I take that, more than anything listed above, as proof positive that the BBWAA should be disbanded and its remains dispatched via horseback to the four corners of the empire.

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.