Let’s make sure our attacks on Sammy Sosa make sense

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Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times is getting the jump on the 2013 Hall of Fame insanity, and is coming out strongly opposed to Sammy Sosa’s candidacy:

What’s that? You’d like to see solid evidence of past drug use on Sosa’s part? Well, there is the New York Times report that he tested positive for PEDs in 2003. And you might recall the way he conveniently forgot how to speak English during a 2005 congressional hearing about steroids in Major League Baseball. Through an interpreter, he said he never had used “illegal performance-enhancing drugs.’’

I’m kind of exhausted over all of the Hall of Fame stuff from the past few weeks so I’ll let most of this pass, but I really do get annoyed at the criticism of Sosa for using an interpreter and speaking his native language at the 2005 hearings.

I would never, ever, ever let a client of mine testify under oath, speak to law enforcement or to speak in any other context where legal jeopardy might attach in anything other than his native language.  It’s just way too dangerous. As we’ve seen with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the real point of the various steroids hearings over the years was to create perjury traps. Perjury charges often turn on nuance, tense and the smallest interpretation of what the speaker is saying.  One tiny misstatement and you could be facing jail time. Why risk it?

Go after Sosa as a PED user if you believe that to be critical.  Heck, go after his merits as a ballplayer, which aren’t nearly as strong as a lot of people think even if you ignore the PEDs.  But really, don’t go after the guy for speaking his native language when he was subpoenaed to Congress. You’d do the same damn thing in his shoes. And if you say otherwise, you’re either lying or you’re unduly comfortable with taking risks with your freedom.

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay lead newcomers on the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot

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The Baseball Hall of Fame has released its ballot for 2019.

The newcomers to the ballot, two of whom I presume will be first-ballot inductees, include Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay:

  • Roy Halladay
  • Todd Helton
  • Andy Pettitte
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Rick Ankiel
  • Jason Bay
  • Lance Berkman
  • Freddy Garcia
  • Jon Garland
  • Travis Hafner
  • Ted Lilly
  • Derek Lowe
  • Darren Oliver
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Juan Pierre
  • Placido Polanco
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Vernon Wells
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Michael Young

Given his PED associations — and the writers’ curious soft touch about them when it comes to him vs. other players who got caught up in that stuff — Pettite will be an interesting case which we will, without question, be talking about more between now and the end of January. There will be more than mere novelty votes thrown at Helton, Berkman, Tejada, Youkilis and Young, but I don’t suspect they’ll make it or even come particularly close. Everyone else will either be one-and-done or receive negligible or even non-existent support.

The holdovers from last year’s ballot, with vote percentage from 2018:

Edgar Martinez (70.4%)
Mike Mussina (63.5%)
Roger Clemens (57.3%)
Barry Bonds (56.4%)
Curt Schilling (51.2%)
Omar Vizquel (37.0%)
Larry Walker (34.1%)
Fred McGriff (23.2%)
Manny Ramirez (22.0%)
Jeff Kent (14.5%)
Gary Sheffield (11.1%)
Billy Wagner (11.1%)
Scott Rolen (10.2%)
Sammy Sosa (7.8%)
Andruw Jones (7.3%)

This is Edgar Martinez’s last year on the ballot. He’s so close to the 75% threshold that one hopes — and suspects — that he’ll get over the line in 2019, especially given that four guys were cleared off the ballot last year. It should be a move-ahead year for Mike Mussina too, who has suffered from criminally low support given his numbers and the era in which they came. That Jack Morris is now in should further strengthen his case given that he was a far, far better pitcher than Morris.

The rest of the candidates all either have long-discussed PED-associations that should prevent them from getting the required support, were too far out in vote totals last year to expect them to spring to 75% support in a single ballot or are Curt Schilling, who basically everyone hates.

Results of the voting will be revealed on January 22nd and, of course, we’ll be talking at length about this year’s ballot over the next two months. At the outset, though, I’ll go with a gut prediction: Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina will be inducted.

Your predictions start now.