Barry Bonds Convicted Of One Count Of Obstruction Of Justice

Over the long haul, Barry Bonds’ Hall of Fame prospects aren’t that bad

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Gregg Doyel has a column up over at CBSSports.com about why he thinks Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer. This part, though, about his CBS colleagues, is interesting to me:

CBSSports.com has seven baseball writers—three with actual HOF votes—and five of the seven said they would vote for Bonds. That’s 71.4 percent in favor of induction, with 75 percent required for admittance.

Again, that’s a small sample size—and here comes an even smaller (but more telling) sample size:

Of our three Hall voters at CBSSports.com—longtime baseball writers Scott Miller, Danny Knobler and Jon Heyman—just one said he’d vote for Bonds. Which one? That’s for him to say, if he chooses. Point being, Bonds’ candidacy is supported primarily by the newer-media bloggers at CBSSports.com, an ominous trend given that most Hall voters are longtime writers from the Miller, Knobler and Heyman mold.

I’m not sure it’s quite so ominous. I agree that the longer-tenured, more established voters are more likely to be anti-Bonds and anti-PED guys in general, and that for that reason he faces a tough road for some time. But time marches on and that electorate is going to change quite a bit in the next 15 years.

And it will be 15 years, because even if Bonds doesn’t get in any time soon, it’s almost certain that he’ll get enough support to remain on the ballot.  Mark McGwire does, after all — he has ranged from 19% to 23% in the voting since he’s been on the ballot — and there’s no rational reason anyone who votes for McGwire wouldn’t vote for Bonds.

Add more to Bonds, in fact, because some people who don’t vote for McGwire don’t withhold votes simply because he did PEDs, but rather, because they are the “discounters,” as it were, and simply think that McGwire wouldn’t be in the conversation without PEDs (i.e they discount some credit for is career totals due to PED use). Such voters likely will feel differently about Bonds given what he did before it’s generally accepted that he did PEDs, figuring that even with the discount he’d be a Hall of Famer.

So, that gives you a baseline of, at the very least, 25% or so for Bonds. And I’d bet that he gets something closer to 50% of the vote.  Then you add in the demographic shift.

It takes ten years as a BBWAA member to become a Hall of Fame voter. So even if one is just admitted to the BBWAA this year — as we here at NBC are going to attempt to do — Barry Bonds will still be on the Hall of Fame ballot for five years after one is allowed to vote.

Not that it’s just starting now, of course.  Younger voters who are more inclined to be open to Bonds’ candidacy — I’d say anyone who began regularly covering baseball in the nineties or later — began being admitted to the BBWAA several years ago and are being given Hall of Fame ballots in greater numbers. Many — especially the web-based members like Keith Law, Rob Neyer, Will Carroll, the Baseball Prospectus guys and the FanGraphs guys — are still several years away.  The upshot: between now and the end of Bonds’ theoretically continuing unsuccessful candidacy, there should be a pretty significant shift in the aggregate attitude of the Hall of Fame electorate.

So, yes, Bonds’ odds of being elected are pretty long in the short term.  But it would surprise me greatly if Bonds spent 15 years on the Hall of Fame ballot without being voted in.

In fact, I’d even offer to eat my hat if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing they will have cured baldness by 2027, so I will no longer have a need for hats.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]