Boycott Arizona

A renewed call for baseball to move the All-Star Game away from Arizona

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There was a great deal of controversy over the 2011 All-Star Game being in Phoenix in the wake of Arizona passing its controversial immigration bill last year.  That more or less died down as an issue as far as baseball was concerned after the federal government sued Arizona over the law, suspending its implementation until the matter is resolved. Selig said that was good enough and everyone moved on to other things.

Dave Zirin revives the call for a baseball boycott of Arizona in a column in The Nation today, but he’s not just focused on S.B. 1070. Rather, he believes that All-Star Game should be moved because of it, the Giffords shooting, Governor Jan Brewer’s general mendacity and another new piece of proposed legislation — not passed yet — targeting school children who are illegal immigrants.  Overall, Zirin wants baseball to move the All-Star Game because because Arizona is “dangerous and bigoted” and is  “a state with aspirations of apartheid.”

I’ll say this much: the politics and general zeitgeist of Arizona make me happy I live in Ohio, and it takes an awful lot to make me happy I live in Ohio. That said, I think Zirin and others who are advocating for the All-Star Game to be moved are fighting a lost cause.

Bud Selig is the last man on the planet who would take a stand on anything. Especially a stand that would cost him or his fellow owners money, as moving the game at this late a date would do.  There are contracts in place. Stuff has been printed. The room has been rented, if you will. Bud Selig would play that game in Arizona if God Almighty came down from the heavens and commanded him to move it.  Bud would probably say something like “well, I understand and appreciate His objections, but I’ve been around long enough to know that there are two sides to every issue, so I …” and then he’d just ramble on a while more.

So Selig is a dead end. What would be more effective in my mind would be to reach out to the ballplayers likely to be selected to the game and try to persuade them to sit it out. As Zirin notes, there were already multiple players who said last summer they’d be loathe to participate in an Arizona All-Star Game as a result of S.B. 1070.  Rather than picket the ballparks and demand that Selig do something, why not try to persuade them and others to take a public stand?

That game is going to be played no matter what. If the protests leading up to the game are to prevent it, they’ll be increasingly ignored as the game’s inevitability grows.  But, if some big names noisily beg out, it will be much harder for people to ignore. The media will have to write and report about their absence.  People will talk about it and the reasons for it. And ultimately, isn’t that the point?

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!