How can we even think about what the Bill Conlin story means for the Hall of Fame?

41 Comments

I’ve tried really hard to not think too deeply about what the Bill Conlin allegations might mean for the Hall of Fame. For a couple of reasons, really.

For one thing, the Spink Award, which makes Conlin “a Hall of Famer,” isn’t really an induction into the Hall of Fame. It’s really just the inclusion of his photo and bio in a broadcaster and writer exhibit in the museum. Yes, it’s an honor, but the conversation about “should Conlin be removed from the Hall of Fame” is kind of beside the point. No offense to the other Spink winners, but if they do anything to him it’s more akin to taking a guy’s picture off the Employee of the Month display than it is like taking Jefferson’s face off Mt. Rushmore.

But really, the largest reason this conversation seems inappropriate is that it seems really wrong to use what is the most awful and nightmarish thing imaginable — child abuse — as a means for pivoting into what is basically a political argument about the nature of the Hall of Fame.

Yes, like a lot of people, when I immediately heard the news about Conlin I thought “well, what does THAT mean for the Hall’s character clause?” But it was a fleeting bit of defense mechanism snark before the enormity and awfulness of the news set in. With a few moments’ reflection, the notion that there is any kind of appropriate equivalence to be drawn between steroids and a player’s induction and molestation and a writer’s exclusion is just too difficult to get my brain around. I will argue about almost anything if given the chance, but I can’t, at the moment anyway, make those kinds of analogies with anything approaching gusto.

Some are, though. And that’s fine. My issues with this are my issues with it. I’m a father and I’m not objective so I don’t trust myself to bring anything approaching reason to bear on the matter.  The best I can say is that, rather than anyone rethinking the character clause for future Hall of Fame inductees, the Conlin stuff is more likely to make the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame look for ways to drum people out after they are inducted or honored, as the case may be.

I have no faith, however, that whatever happens will be well-considered. This kind of stuff inspires the exact opposite of reason in people. And that, in turn, inspires rash and ill-considered acts.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
2 Comments

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
11 Comments

On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.