Does the BBWAA need more Craig Calcaterras and Aaron Gleemans?

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December and January get people like me talking way more about the Baseball Writers Association of America than any other time of the year. In December because the new memberships are voted on. In January because the Hall of Fame votes come out.

We talk about the politics of the organization.  Its purpose in a changing world. The nature of its Hall of Fame voting.  My views in it all are sort of complicated, but I find it all rather interesting.

Today Will Carroll — a BBWAA member — adds his two cents to it all over at his personal blog, talking about how honored he felt when he was admitted and taking issue with his Sports Illustrated colleague Joe Sheehan over the need to radically reform it.  Will’s belief is that, over time, whatever pains the BBWAA is currently suffering, will be ameliorated:

As time passes, there’s going to be a generational change. It’s not just people like Rob Neyer or Peter Abraham that will come in influenced by Bill James, it’s those people themselves that will be influencing the next generation … The BBWAA needs more Joe Sheehans, Craig Calcaterras, Aaron Gleemans, and Matthew Leachs inside the meeting, building the future, and making the vote they care so passionately about count.

Aaron and I have had several people tell us that we should try to get in the BBWAA over the past couple of years. But it’s something I’ve struggled with.  My thought process goes something like this:

  • It would certainly be an honor and some professional validation and man, it would be pretty awesome to get to vote on postseason awards and, eventually the Hall of Fame; but
  • The main point of the organization is not for that, it’s to ensure access to ballparks for members of the working press, and with the exception of spring training and some random games during the year, I don’t go to a ton of baseball games for the purposes of my work; but
  • I would probably change my coverage a bit and go to more games if I didn’t have to worry about setting up for credentials or getting tickets or what have you.

That little cha-cha never gets me anyplace satisfying.  I think on the whole I would like to be a BBWAA member. It would allow me to expand the kind of coverage I provide and I think that, given what I do, I’d be able to join some of the other recently-admitted members who work exclusively on the web help the organization figure out the best way to integrate and interact with new media and keep the organization vital going forward.  That said, those are things that benefit me for the most part and I’m not sure the BBWAA’s primary interests are necessarily served by admitting me.

All of that said, I think Will is right here. There are legitimate beefs with the way the BBWAA has gone about its business in recent years, mostly in terms of its membership decisions and in the composition and approach of the Hall of Fame electorate. But by disposition I am less prone to throwing bombs about such things and agree that, given the nature of the organization’s younger members (mostly the current beat writers, who skew pretty damn savvy) the future looks brighter than the present as far as those things go.

Oh well. No point to this. Just the sort of thing I think about when people start talking about the BBWAA.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

USA TODAY Sports
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.