Buster Olney’s Hall of Fame wisdom is spot-on, but will be roundly ignored

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I agree with everything Buster Olney says in today’s column (sorry; ESPNInsider only).

In it he talks about how one cannot simply define a Hall of Famer anymore by reference to who is in and who is out of the Hall of Fame. It’s not about good players. It’s not about good clean players. It’s not about good clean players with certain benchmarks. It’s not necessarily about good clean players who were likable good citizens. It’s really a mess.

Olney is too polite to say so, but the fact of the matter is that one cannot define Hall of Fame players by reference to players themselves anymore because it ceased to be about the players a few years back. It has become about the voters and their hangups and prejudices. About how they think it’s about themselves and their moral judgments with respect to a topic about which they cared little and reported about less until 2002, when Jose Canseco decided that he wasn’t as famous as he thought he should be and decided to write a book.

Which isn’t to say that PEDs isn’t an important topic. It’s just to say that the people who now lecture us about how important that topic is now and who cast Hall of Fame votes based on that criteria totally and truly did not care a lick about it before then.

Anyway, Olney winds up with this thought, and it’s hard to find a problem with it:

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a baseball museum. It’s not a house of holy. Those inducted haven’t had to be saints, and it’s time for the Hall of Fame and the writers to understand that, because if we cannot define the honor of being a Hall of Famer, then the honor is in jeopardy of losing its relevance.

There is a better way: Give the best players a plaque, and if there is important PED-related information related to their time in baseball, put it on the plaque.

Then let the patrons of the Hall of Fame decide for themselves what it means, not writers caught in the morass of voting rules that are either antiquated or Machiavellian.

This advice will be ignored and, in its place, we will either get self-important rants from baseball writers about how they are protecting the children from some horrible thing or else silence and dissembling about why they didn’t vote for the best baseball players.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.