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McGwire, Steinbrenner, Selig among Hall of Fame candidates for new Veterans Committee

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The Baseball Hall of Fame has revamped its Veterans Committee many times in the past several years. Mostly because its committee of veterans has had a bad habit of, you know, not electing anyone, and what’s the point of having one if no one ever makes it in?

And yes, this is a bit of a problem. There are twice as many players in the Hall of Fame who debuted before 1950 as compared to afterward, despite there being nearly double the eligible candidates after 1950 than prior. So, no, this is not a matter of folks wanting to hand out participation trophy versions of a Hall of Fame induction. It’s a matter of electors baselessly raising the standards of induction far too high compared to past precedent, most likely because they misguidedly believe that players from the sepia-toned “Golden Age” of baseball were more worthy than players of a more recent vintage. Which is pure poppycock.

So, last summer, the Hall of Fame’s board of directors tweaked the era-based system the Veterans Committee had been using for several years, adding a couple of separate, era-based dedicated committees. Now there are separate committees for Today’s Game (1988-2016), Modern Baseball (1970-87), Golden Days (1950-69) and Early Baseball (1871-1949). As befitting their underrepresentation, Today’s Game and Modern Baseball will vote twice every five years, Golden Days once every five years and Early Baseball once every 10 years. Committees consist of 16 people, with a vote of at least 75 percent needed for election. Committee members can vote for 10 candidates per ballot.

This year the Today’s Game candidates will be up for consideration. Here are the candidates who will be considered when that committee meets next Monday at the Winter Meetings:

  • Harold Baines
  • Albert Belle
  • Will Clark
  • Orel Hershiser
  • Mark McGwire
  • Davey Johnson
  • Lou Piniella
  • John Schuerholz
  • George Steinbrenner
  • Bud Selig

Yes, some of these guys straddle the Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras. The Hall just makes a choice with ’em, so we’ll let it slide.

Given that it’s likely to be a slow week, news-wise, I’m going to deal with these guys in two ways. First, here, I’ll give a kneejerk vote based on no new research and only the impressions I’ve formed of them over the years. Then, between today and Friday, I’ll look at each of the candidates in greater depth and with a more open mind. On Friday, we’ll talk about who the committee likely will vote in and see how that compares to our assessment of merit.

The short, kneejerk answer for me, doing no new research, would be to vote for McGwire, Schuerholz, Steinbrenner and probably Davey Johnson. Bud Selig, who I once called Baseball’s Greatest Commissioner, is a super complicated case. At the moment I’d lean no for a lot of political reasons, but we’ll deal with him separately.

What say you? And why?

Mark Melancon is considering surgery

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Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.

Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.

Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.