<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Pedro Martinez

Here’s what I think will happen with the Hall of Fame voting today

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For all of the back and forth and quibbling over each and every candidate, my guess is that there are only a couple of possible outcomes when today’s vote is announced: either Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio get elected, or just Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz. I think that’s the universe of possible outcomes.

This thinking is based mostly on what we’ve seen from publicly-released ballots thus far combined with some guesswork. My friend Repoz at Baseball Think Factory tracks them via his “HoF Ballot Gizmo” and compiles the results. This is what he has as of this morning:

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He’s been doing this for a few years, and he’s figured a few things out about it. The most relevant thing is that the totals in the Gizmo tend to overstate most players’ actual support, as the sample comes from people who are, for the most part, active baseball writers with online outlets at which to reveal their votes ahead of time. It does not capture the votes of the silent majority of voters — many who aren’t active baseball writers — who simply fill out their ballot and quietly send it in. The former group tends to skew “big Hall” and be a bit more open to advanced metrics and more forgiving of PED use than the latter group.

So, it’s safe to say that these numbers will fall anywhere from 3-6% in the final tally. I think that means Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz are safely in. It bodes pretty well for Biggio too, though many thought he’d make it over the line last year and didn’t. I think it means Piazza falls below the 75% threshold when the results actually matter.

If four guys make it in, it will be near-historic. Only twice have more than three candidates been elected to the Hall of Fame by the baseball writers in one shot. The first time was the inaugural class in 1936, featuring Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and friends. The only other time came in 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Dazzy Vance and Ted Lyons made it in.

Even three inductees would be a big deal. We saw that last year with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, but before that you’d have to go back to 1999 when George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount were elected. Say what you want about the logjam on the ballot and a lot of worthy-players being overlooked, but in the aggregate, the voters are moving about as quickly as their weird and broken process allows them to move.

If I had to bet money, I’d bet money on three, though I am cautiously optimistic that we’ll see four elected: Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio.

Ryan Howard can be traded to nine teams without his approval.

Ryan Howard AP
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The Phillies would love to unload Ryan Howard. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, however, that Howard can block trades to 20 teams. The nine teams to which Howard can be traded without his permission: Tigers, Royals, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Rangers, Rays, Orioles and Red Sox.

On the one hand, it’s good that they’re all American League teams, giving Howard a chance to DH. On the other hand, most of those teams don’t need a 1B/DH type. There have been some talks with the Orioles, but they’ve amounted to very little.

Wanna buy some Ted Williams condoms?

Ted Williams
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No, I’m not joking. Not at all. They, along with Jack Dempsey and some generic football player are available for bid at Legends auctions:

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Actually, those pics appear to be just different enough from Williams and Dempsey so they didn’t have to, you know, get their permission for their endorsement or use their likenesses. And really, if the Williams had actually endorsed condoms back in the day, we likely would’ve heard about it by now.

But it’s not like the company who made these things would’ve likely wanted a formal Williams endorsement anyway. After all, if you’re in the condom business, do you really want a guy with the nickname “Splendid Splinter” hawking your wares? Indeed, I’d think “Splinter” would be the last word I’d want anywhere near a condom.

(h/t UniWatch)

Pedro Gomez: “it’s not journalism, it’s a Hall of Fame ballot.”

Pedro Gomez
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez took on all comers last night. It led to this exchange:

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Gomez is cute. He thinks that the folks in Cooperstown made baseball writers Hall of Fame voters because of some independent quality of reason and discernment separate and apart from their baseball journalism experience. Like he’s some sui generis oracle of insight, thus enabling him to leave all of his professional experience and modes of operation at the door and just Do Hall of Fame Justice.

Say, Pedro, how does that Hall of Fame Justice work anyway? Like, for say Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza?

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I asked him what decisions Piazza and Bagwell made. I don’t expect him to actually respond to that in any sort of direct fashion. His usual mode of operation is to appeal to his own personal authority and talk about how he’s wise about such things because his trade association and the Hall of Fame gave him his vote, and he was given his vote because he’s wise about such things. It’s vice-like, geometric logic.

All snark aside: While it would not shock me at all if any player who played between the 1980s and 2000s took PEDs — not one single player — Gomez has never once reported that Jeff Bagwell or Mike Piazza took PEDs, nor have any of his colleagues. He cannot or will not point to any “decisions” they made in this regard. Gomez suspects they did based on unreportable scuttlebutt. Scuttlebutt that may, in fact, be true, but scuttlebutt all the same. That is the basis of his opinion and his vote.

Which, good for him. But it’s something he is simply unwilling to admit for whatever reason.

Must-Click Link: Joe Posnanski’s Hall of Fame ballot and column

Joe Posnanski
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Our Joe Posnanski has revealed his Hall of Fame ballot. More importantly, he has written a few thousand intelligent, entertaining and thoughtful words about it all that, in a season of hyperbole and rancor, illuminates the entire Hall of Fame debate in the warm bathing glow of reason.

And baseball. About which a lot of people, I have found, have forgotten is the most important part of all of this.

And I don’t say this is illuminating and reasonable because I agree with Joe’s conclusions. Indeed, his ballot and my imaginary ballot are not the same. In fact, Joe leaves off a guy most people with a brain tend to vote for and does not do so for strategic reasons. Actually, his reason for leaving this guy off — a guy for whom he has voted in the past — is kind of radical in this day and age: he decided to chuck precedent and, audaciously, vote for the ten best players.

Another reason to read Joe’s column? It’s a nice antidote to the Star Chamber baloney we see so much of this time of year. Joe does not avoid the PED issue. He does not try to explain it away or make apologies for it either. He treats it, again, rather audaciously, as a fact that is within the comprehension of a mature adult and does his best to assess it and place it within the historical record. Which isn’t really audacious, I guess, but compared to the baby-man tantrums and third-grade level analysis of so many Hall of Fame voters, it does seem rather transgressive.

Pay particular attention to the Jeff Bagwell section. And ask yourself why so many other people have decided to make this all so hard.