The Hall of Fame ballot is announced, Bernie Williams, other luminaries now eligible


The Baseball Writers Association of America just released the Hall of Fame ballots for the 2012 inductions.  There are 13 new candidates on it.  Included are Bernie Williams and a cast of … guys not as good as Bernie Williams. To wit:

Jeromy Burnitz
Vinny Castilla
Brian Jordan
Javy Lopez
Bill Mueller
Terry Mulholland
Phil Nevin
Brad Radke
Tim Salmon
Ruben Sierra
Tony Womack
Eric Young

Yeah, not exactly a killer lineup of newbies. Williams will get some consideration from many — and will probably take up more ink than his candidacy really warrants — but it’s not a hard ballot as far as the newcomers go.

As for the holdovers, Barry Larkin, who got 62.1% of the vote last year is back. He definitely deserves induction in my view.  Jack Morris follows (53.5%). Jeff Bagwell (41.7%) and Tim Raines (37.5%) got way fewer votes than they deserved last year. They won’t get in because the Hall of Fame electorate is apparently addle minded when it comes to those two, but there you have it.  Edgar Martinez got 32.9% last year. I’d vote for him but I get that many won’t vote for a DH unless he’s transcendent and that their definition of transcendent is different than mind. Alan Trammell is still hovering at 24% support, which is a friggin’ crime.

This looks to be the last year or relative calm before all hell breaks loose and the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens of the world create ballot chaos. Not to mention a slew of non-controversial but sure-Hall of Famers like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson in the next few years.  Hopefully some order can be restored and some justice provided to guys like Larkin, Trammell, Raines and Bagwell before that all happens, but I’m really only hopeful about Larkin’s chances.

Writers have until December 31 to turn in their ballots. Inductees will be announced on January 9.  Gentlemen: start your outrage.

Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga to throw out first pitches in Games 1 and 2

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 05:  Kenny Lofton #7 of the Cleveland Indians runs to first base against the New York Yankees during Game Two of the American League Divisional Series at Jacobs Field on October 5, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.

Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.

Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.

Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.

I guess the White Sox don’t count

CHICAGO - APRIL 04: General Manager Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox shows off his World Series Championship ring during ceremonies prior to the start of a game against the Cleveland Indians on April 4, 2006 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.

I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:





I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.