Hall of Fame absurdity continues as Marvin Miller excluded, three PED-aided managers inducted

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I think Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox are no-brainer Hall of Famers. Congrats to them and to the Committee for voting them in.

I think that the rest of the Hall of Fame ballot contained mostly borderline selections. I’d vote for Ted Simmons. I’d consider Steinbrenner for historic reasons. But I shed no tears for them not getting in. They clearly aren’t as deserving as those three managers who made it, and realistically you’re never going to see more than three guys get in from such a small group of voters.

But I do have two problems with this vote, one direct and one indirect.

The direct problem is one I’ve mentioned many times before, and that’s the horrendous exclusion of Marvin Miller. He’s been passed over multiple times now, and he’s probably never getting in. I’ve accepted that. I’ll never accept, however, that the Hall of Fame is anything approaching legitimate without Miller’s inclusion. Many owners, executives and commissioners — many feckless at best, some actively harmful to the game — are in the Hall. Very few of them if any have had as big an impact on how baseball operates than Miller.

The only reason people care about these Winter Meetings is free agency and the hot stove league. The only reason we have free agency and the hot stove league is Marvin Miller. Also: there are a lot of players on the Veteran’s Committee who made way more money playing baseball than they would’ve if not for Marvin Miller, if at least that subset of the committee didn’t vote for Marvin Miller, well, shame on them.

The indirect complaint: we now have three managers in the Hall of Fame whose greatest fame and success came during what has come to be known as the Steroid Era. La Russa has at least one less World Series ring and three fewer pennants if it was not for PED poster boys Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Torre has two fewer rings and three fewer pennants without Roger Clemens. There were certainly other PED dudes on the Yankees, Cardinals, A’s and Braves teams managed by Cox, Torre and La Russa. The Veteran’s Committee obviously does not consider their accomplishments to be any less worthy, even if they were aided by performance enhancing drugs. Why, then, does the BBWAA still consider that a disqualification for the Hall of Fame?

I don’t suspect anyone will provide a satisfying answer to that. We’ll all just have to continue to live with that ridiculous contradiction. And ridiculous exclusions. It’s an imperfect process and an imperfect institution. But it’s still worth pointing out the absurdities, because they never cease to be galling.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.