10 nominees for Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee announced

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As part of the three-year cycle, we’re going back to the so-called Golden Era for Veterans Committee Hall of Fame nominees this year. The 10 players under consideration this time around: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.

The name on the list many won’t be familiar with is Howsam, who was Cincinnati’s general manager from 1967-77 and built “The Big Red Machine.” His trade for Joe Morgan (who has a vote this year as part of the Golden Era Committee) was one of the biggest steals in baseball history. Before joining the Reds, Howsam’s family also founded the Denver Broncos in 1960 and worked to bring MLB to Denver long before it ever happened. He passed away in 2008 at age 89.

Players, managers, umpires and executives considered part of the 1947-72 era are eligible for ballot. Six of these guys are holdovers from the 2011 ballot, on which only Ron Santo was elected.  The vote totals from 2011’s 16-person committee (12 needed to elect):

Santo – 15
Kaat – 10
Hodges – 9
Minoso – 9
Oliva – 8
Buzzie Bavasi – 3
Boyer – 3
Charlie Finley – 3
Allie Reynolds – 3
Tiant – 3

At this point, the real question is whether anyone else from an already well represented era needs to be in the Hall of Fame. I’d favor Minoso’s election and Boyer and Allen both have very solid cases by the numbers, but the players more likely to be elected are Oliva and Hodges and neither was really good enough for long enough to have a great case. Kaat is a sentimental favorite, having pitched 25 seasons and then turning into a fine broadcaster, but there isn’t a whole lot of difference between him and Jamie Moyer.

Personally, I’d favor shuttering the Golden Era committee and work on getting the more deserving players from the 1980’s to the present in the Hall of Fame. At this point, the top unlected players from the modern era are a couple of cuts above what left from previous eras that have already been picked over.

The Veterans Committee is slated to hold its vote on the 10 candidates on Dec. 8.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.