Your first blank Hall of Fame protest ballot of the year

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Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for this self-righteous, grandstanding attention whore:

My ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame 2013 election is in the mail. It’s dutifully signed, has my Baseball Writers’ Association of America badge number recorded, all official. What it does not have is a vote for a single player … I am choosing to speak loudly by using silence … …I don’t know what I’ll do next year, but I’m fairly sure I won’t send in a blank ballot. This one-year protest should make my point.

That’s Mark Faller of the Arizona Republic, by the way. The headline on his column is “Nobody deserves my Hall vote this year.”

But at least it’s “dutifully signed.”

Oy.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.