The Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame nominees are out

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If you’ll recall, the Veteran’s Committee for the Hall of Fame now votes on nominees on a rotating basis, with each year covering a different era. This year it’s the “pre-Integration” era, consisting of players, managers, umpires and executives whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1876-1946.

This year’s nominees have been announced. There are ten:

  • Marty Marion: Played from 1940-50, took a break for the Korean War and then played in 1952-53, batting .263 with 36 home runs. A slick fielding shortstop. His best years where during WWII when all of the best players were gone. Seems like a poor candidate.
  • Bucky Walters: Pitched from 1934-1950 compiling a 198-160 lifetime record, with a 3.30 era. Three FANTASTIC seasons in 1939, 1940 and 1944 (though that was a war year) with a lot of filler surrounding. Won the 1939 MVP.
  • Jacob Ruppert: Owner of the New York Yankees from 1915 through 1939 which, if you weren’t aware, was when they became THE NEW YORK YANKEES. I’m rather shocked he’s not already in the Hall.
  • Bill Dahlen: Played from 1891-1911, mostly as a shortstop. He retired in 1911 as the active home run leader with 84. Some old timer probably called him “the REAL home run king” for a long damn time after Home Run Baker and Babe Ruth and those guys came along.
  • Wes Ferrell: A 193-128 record with a 4.04 career ERA (116 ERA+) from 1927-1941. He won 20 games four times to kick of his career and did it two more times later, which gives him some curiosity points, but he flamed out young and was quite ordinary for much of his career. A nice career, but really, if this guy gets in, do we really have standards for pitchers anymore? How is he different from any number of very good but not necessarily great pitchers like Dennis Martinez and the like?
  • Tony Mullane: Won 284 games in 13 major league seasons from 1881-1894. 468 of his 504 games were complete games. Old Hoss Radbourn used to mock his stamina.
  • Deacon White: Played from 1871-1890. The Hall of Fame website calls him “one of the finest barehanded catchers of his time.” Ouch.
  • Samuel Breadon: Long time owner of the Cardinals, who hired Branch Rickey and helped form the modern minor league system. The Cardinals won nine pennants and six World Series on his watch.
  • Alfred Reach: Player, sporting goods mogul and the publisher of the Reach Guides, which published statistics and stories and things and which now serve as great historical documents from the deadball era.
  • Hank O’Day: An umpire from 1888 through 1927. He also played and managed, often in some of the years covering that umpire stretch. I have no idea how that worked. I also have no idea what the standards are for a Hall of Fame umpire. Pioneers notwithstanding, the best ones should be the ones you don’t hear about, right?

The inductees will be announced on December 3 during the Winter Meetings.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.