Hall voting is tough, but not as tough as Bill Conlin makes it

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You know how every few years you have to go to the DMV to renew your driver’s license? They check your vision and take a new photo and make sure your stats are up to date?

I’ve always thought that at a certain age – much older than my own, of course – you should also have to re-take the driver’s test to make sure you are still fit to operate a motor vehicle. After reading this story, I think the same idea should be employed for Hall of Fame voters. (Jay Mariotti might flunk the test on purpose, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

Take it away, Bill Conlin:

I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock’s career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.

I agree that it’s a bizarre process and could probably use an overhaul. Thank you, Bill, for making everything clear and sensible. You vote for Raines, then stop when not enough other people do. Now you’re back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) Way to stick to your guns.

Speaking of being on the wagon, I, like many of our readers, like beer. If I’m out with some people and no one is drinking beer, I might have one anyway. The fact that the people around me don’t like beer doesn’t change my feeling about beer at all, and I am still going to vote to induct said alcohol into my belly. But maybe that’s just me.

In an earlier column, Conlin wrote that he voted for Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez and Andre Dawson. That’s six players. Remember that voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players, and Conlin likes Tim Raines. So why not make Raines No. 7 on your ballot?

You can only vote for a maximum of 10 players. I checked six names on my ballot and have never voted for more than six.

*Author momentarily blacks out.*

OK, so you can’t vote for Raines until you have an opening amongst your self-imposed limit of six choices, even though the rules say you can pick 10. Furthermore, you don’t think Raines can crack a top six that includes Jack Morris and Fred McGriff. I guess thinking Raines isn’t more deserving than Morris and McGriff is your opinion, and that’s fine. But remember, you like Raines and you can pick seven.

Let’s revisit the beer analogy. Remember that I like beer? I usually buy a six-pack when I’m at the store. But let’s say the store has a deal: Buy one six-pack, get a second free. Am I going to buy one six-pack, then just leave the second on the shelf? Am I going to take the second six-pack and pour it down the sink? No, because I like beer – even more than I like Tim Raines – and the store’s rules say I can have the second one for free. I am going to vote for more beer, because I can.

Voting for the Hall of Fame is a difficult process, I’m sure, but don’t make it tougher than it has to be. If you like Raines, vote for him. If you don’t like him, leave the box unchecked. And while you’re at it, you might think about not answering your phone. The DMV might call, asking for your license back.

(Huge thanks to UmpBump)

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”