I missed this before, but Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt was on SiriusXm the other day talking about Hall of Fame voting. He thinks it’s time to change the voting procedures. You can hear his whole idea here. It won’t blockquote it because it’s kind of rambling, but here is the upshot of his comments:
- Getting voted in to the Hall of Fame is not just an honor, but it’s important to some players in terms of “subsidizing their current income.” This, I presume, refers to the very real notion that guys who are inducted can command much, much higher fees for autographed merch and appearances at baseball card shows and the like;
- The more recent players really don’t need the money like some of the other ones do;
- Writers often have personal grudges against players, have big problems with PEDs, etc., so maybe they shouldn’t vote on these guys;
- Instead, have the writers come up with a list of finalists for voting and then let a committee of current Hall of Famers make the final call.
Setting aside the idea that allowing current Hall of Famers vote is the reason why the old version of the Veterans Committee never elected anyone, does Schmidt not realize that his idea comes with an extreme conflict of interest?
Sure, the writers may have grudges and irrational ideas on some matters, but if you’re a current Hall of Famer, and you make a LOT of money selling yourself as a Hall of Famer — and notice that Schmidt says that before anything else — is it not in your best interest to ensure that there are far fewer Hall of Famers who might compete with you on the autograph circuit? Indeed, Schmidt’s seemingly random comment about some players not needing the money as much as others suggests that this is at the forefront of his mind.
Maybe he’s right that the voting system should be changed, but between the conflicts, the track record of the old Veteran’s Committee and the calcified “things were better in MY day” reasoning of a lot of former ballplayers, I think having them play a part in elections is the worst idea imaginable.
Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.
Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.
As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.
Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.
Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.
“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”
A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.
Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.
Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.