Conlin: lose the Hall of Fame morals clause

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I’m often dismissed as an extremist-nutjob when it comes to PEDs and the Hall of Fame, but Bill Conlin just won the Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award and will be honored at the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown next summer for cryin’ out loud. Maybe someone will listen to him:

I am increasingly uncomfortable determining who is in and who is out of the HOF based on a process in which an increasingly undefinable moral code is the compass in the absence of evidence … It is past time for the people who make the Hall of Fame eligibility rules to lose the morals clause, or at least the “integrity, sportsmanship, character” wording … Just let us vote the HOF ballot without the impediment of a moral code guiding a flawed process in which big-league players can’t even be tested for HGH, where all those Barry Bonds-sized heads and jacked-up strength and reflexes come from.  Most of us know a great ballplayer when we see one. Let us decide without a morals clause whether the guy cheated to become one.

I think Bill and I would vote very differently for the Hall of Fame. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Because in this we would be disagreeing on the merit of candidates as baseball players, not moral actors, and that would improve the process considerably.

Mariano Rivera awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump on Monday. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor to “individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Babe Ruth was posthumously awarded the medal last year. Yogi Berra got it posthumously in 2015, and Willie Mays and Vin Scully were also awarded it the same year.

Trump and Rivera are close. Rivera, who is from Panama, has been criticized for his relationship with Trump. Defending that relationship, Rivera said on Fox & Friends in July, “Mr. President Trump to me, he was a friend of mine before he became president. So, because he’s president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he’s doing the best for the United States of America.”

Rivera, 49, served on Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission in 2017. In 2018, Rivera co-chaired Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Rivera also co-hosted a fundraiser dinner for the America First Action PAC, which supports Trump and was also hosted by Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle.

This past January, Rivera became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously. He is the all-time leader in saves with 652 as well as adjusted ERA (also known as ERA+) at 205. He retired with a 2.21 ERA and 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings, spanning 19 seasons with the Yankees.