Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 3

A Hall of Fame voter still needs more information about Barry Bonds’ PED use?

22 Comments

I understand the idea of wanting to be more informed about things before making a Hall of Fame vote.  To want to have a fuller picture of the PED-era before casting votes for certain players.  I am not a fan of those who accuse with no evidence, but I do have some sympathy for people who genuinely wonder if certain players may have taken PEDs when, really, we don’t know that much about it with respect to some of them.

But even if you subscribe to that view, I don’t know how you can say we don’t know enough about Barry Freakin’  Bonds.  Yet Mark Purdy of the Mercury-News wants to know more, and he won’t vote for Bonds — or anyone else from that era, it seems — until he knows more.

Maybe I just followed this more closely than he did, but it’s not like there is a dearth of info on Barry Bonds’ drug use. I mean, multiple books have been written about it. Purdy himself sat through the entire Bonds perjury trial and heard more than anyone would want to know about it. He was no more than 30 feet away from live witnesses talking about Bonds’ testicular atrophy for crying out loud. Does he really think there is more that we need to probe here? And yes, I do believe it would literally take a probe to learn anything more about Barry Bonds’ body.

But that’s his position and he’s sticking to it. Here’s another position he has:

I have advocated an amnesty proclamation from MLB and Cooperstown. For a one-year period, former players would have the ability to tell the truth about their steroid use with no punishment or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame. That way, voters would be able to make better judgments and make their selections without any angst.

Amnesty? From what? There are already zero punishments or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame for these guys. They are eligible. Some are still playing. Some are coaches and managerial candidates. They’re all listed on the ballot when their time comes. Baseball has decided that they are every bit a part of the fraternity as anyone else is.  What would some phony-baloney offer of amnesty provide for them that they don’t already have?

I suppose Purdy believes that it would give them some sort of cover from the wrath of the writers who look askance at PED guys. Fat chance. The writers who look askance at PED guys tend to take the following approach to the sort of information Purdy thinks would clear the air:

1. We want more information! Shlabotnik needs to come clean!

2. Fine, Shlabotnik has apologized, but it raises more questions!

3. That in-depth interview in which Shlabotnik answers all the questions was so self-serving it makes me sick!

And, of course, these are the same people who consider a drug testing regime that catches people to be evidence that drug testing is a joke. You could provide daily CT-scans, fluid samples, lie detector tests and oaths from God Himself and a certain segment of writer is going to think it insufficient. There is no pleasing them, and the last thing baseball players should do is to try.

And Purdy has already shown himself to be one of that sad, never-satisfied crew. Last year, on the eve of the Bonds verdict, he wrote a column in which he wrung his hands about Bonds’ legacy in San Francisco. He worried in light of the allegedly new revelations of the trial, what the team and the city and the fans do with Bonds if he was found not-guilty. Or, for that matter, if he was found guilty. He, in quite familiar fashion, made it sound like there was some crisis afoot.

Except, as I demonstrated at the time, all of his concerns had long been answered. The city, the fans and the team all embraced Bonds despite already knowing all of the things Purdy suddenly considered damning, and knowing them for years. It was a non-issue to everyone except Mark Purdy by then, despite his claims that there were Important Unsettled Matters.

The lesson here: Mark Purdy, and many like him, are professional hand-wringers. He used the word “angst” above, and it’s pretty apt. He has an angst about PEDs in baseball that will never, ever go away no matter what he learns and no matter what information comes to light. Which means one of two things: either Purdy is simply not and never will be comfortable with PEDs in baseball, or else he’s cynically saying that there are uncertainties and concerns when there are not in order to kick up a morally indignant fuss in a column.

If it’s the former, it’s OK Mark, let it go and just don’t vote for these guys ever. Lots of voters feel that way and just because I disagree with you on that, at least it’s a defensible position.

If it’s the latter, though, cut the crap, will ya?

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-02-33-am
Leave a comment

Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.

Hall of Fame voters are making news, not exercising democratic rights

Cooperstown
Associated Press
4 Comments

Last month the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class. In the past 24 hours or so, as this year’s Hall of Fame voting period comes to a close, a lot of folks have been talking about that. Most notably in Jayson Stark’s piece over at ESPN regarding next year’s brave new public world.

Stark is pro-transparency on the ballots, as are the vast majority of BBWAA members who voted on the public ballot measure (it passed 80-9). Not everyone Stark quotes in his article is on board with it, though:

“I’ve already seen a lot of people change their votes from one year to the next,” said one of the strongest dissenters to this decision, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “People have changed their votes based on public opinion.”

Two other sources in the story, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report and a voter who asked to remain anonymous equated their Hall of Fame vote with democracy and invoked the sanctity of the secret ballot. “The No. 1 reason I was against this rule is that in this country, it’s a democracy, and everyone has a vote on different things. And I hate to see a blanket rule that forces everyone to go in one direction,” Miller said. Here’s what the anonymous guy said:

“To me, a secret ballot is a fundamental of democracy. You should be able to vote your conscience without having to explain your vote. But once it’s public, you’re open to public pressure. And that’s not what we want in a democracy. We’re not elected representatives. We’re chosen to be part of a voting group.”

This is ridiculous of course. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not exercising democratic rights. It is making news and making history. Hall of Fame voters are making decisions which will fundamentally alter baseball history and which matter greatly to a large number of baseball fans. They are not advancing their own or society’s interests at the ballot box the way citizens do on election day. Despite the fact that the form of their action here is, technically speaking, a ballot, they are making news in the same way a GM makes a news with a trade, the commissioner makes news with a rule change or a team makes news by winning a World Series.

Would any of these voters — who are credentialed members of the media, by the way, and like to style themselves as truth-seeking members of the Fourth Estate — accept silence from the people who make the news on the beat they cover? Would they be content if the newsmakers whose acts they chronicle demanded anonymity the way they themselves do now? Of course they wouldn’t. And if they got the same silent treatment they’d prefer to give, they’d write one of those petulant little columns they love about players who “duck the press” after a game.

Suck it up, journalists. Act the way you expect the newsmakers you cover to act and own your decisions. Don’t pretend for a moment that you’re not the subject of, and not the reporter of, the story when Hall of Fame season comes around.