Some baseball writers believe they are the morality police

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In the course of Michael S. Schmidt’s recent column on Jeff Bagwell, Ross Newhan, the retired Los Angeles Times writer and still-current Hall of Fame voter, describes what he sees as the role of the electorate:

“Somebody said we are not the morality police, but yet I think we are. If we aren’t, who is? Part of our job is that we are custodians of the game’s history.”

I get why someone can think that. The Hall of Fame ballot invites voters to weigh-in on the character of candidates.  But there’s a big difference between passing on a single player’s character and being “the morality police” or “the custodian of the game’s history.”

In the former instance, a voter is merely judging one player.  If limited to that, one must necessarily look at Bagwell’s record and note that there is not a single thing on his professional resume that could be viewed as a character deficiency. In the latter instance, however, voters give themselves permission to read all of baseball’s sins of the Steroid Era into Bagwell’s biography.  They feel they are protecting some sacred institution, not merely judging one man. In this case it’s easy, then, for a writer to explain away the injustice he might visit upon Jeff Bagwell. After all: he believes he is doing something more important than passing on Bagwell.  He’s protecting the Hall of Fame! Even though there is nothing on the ballot or in his marching orders that tasks him with this.

And why would there be? The Hall of Fame is capable of protecting itself. It does so by setting its eligibility standards. It could change them in five minutes if it felt threatened. It hasn’t done so in response to the steroids epidemic. That should tell the writers something. Sadly, it has not.

The Hall of Fame is not heaven, my fellow baseball writers, you are not St. Peter at the gate, and no one — not even Jose Canseco — has written baseball’s book of life.  Have a sense of humility about you. Understand that your role is not to be baseball’s moral arbiters, writ-large.  You are to look at one player at a time and judge him accordingly. If you have nothing negative to say about him, and if his accomplishments are sufficient, vote him in.

The Rays are calling up shortstop prospect Willy Adames

Tampa Bay Rays
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Confirming a report from Enrique Rojas of ESPN, the Rays have called up top prospect shortstop Willy Adames from Triple-A Durham. Adeiny Hechavarria was placed on the disabled list over the weekend due to a hamstring strain, so this is a good opportunity to give Adames his first shot in the big leagues.

Per Bill Chastain of MLB.com, Adames will start at shortstop and bat fifth in his major league debut Tuesday against the Red Sox. He gets to face Chris Sale, so he’s getting thrown right into the fire.

Adames came over to the Rays via the Tigers in the David Price deal back in July of 2014 and has been a mainstay on prospect lists along the way. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 19 prospect in the game back in January.

Adames, 22, was batting .311/.387/.466 with four homers through 40 games in Triple-A this season. That was after hitting .277/.360/.415 with 10 homers over 130 games at the level last year, so the progress has been nice to see. He’ll presumably get every opportunity to stick as a shortstop for now.

The Rays place Joey Wendle on the paternity leave list in a corresponding roster move.