Great Moments in Jon Heyman’s Hall of Fame inconsistency


Earlier today I poked fun at Jon Heyman’s Hall of Fame column which excluded people he thought cheated. Or, actually, since he wouldn’t say if he truly thought they cheated, excluded people over whom “the steroid specter” loomed. That left out Barry Bonds and that gang, of course. It also left out some people for whom there isn’t any credible public evidence of PED use.

Two of those people were Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. Those guys never failed a test, be it during baseball’s testing-era or when baseball was first dipping its toe into the drug fighting water and did a survey testing program in 2003, for which there was to be and was not in fact any punishment. They were not named in the Mitchell Report, BALCO, Biogenesis or any other public investigation. The entire case against Bagwell and Piazza is based on reporters sharing stories with one another that they either cannot or will not print.

Another one he left off, however, was Sammy Sosa. Unlike Bagwell and Piazza, Sosa has one public black mark on him: his name was leaked as allegedly one of the 104 players (give or take) who tested positive during the 2003 survey testing. His presence on that list was never confirmed by Major League Baseball or the MLBPA, as each party has sworn itself to secrecy regarding the 2003 survey tests and, in fact, may no longer even possess those lists, making confirmation impossible. The only place it was reported that Sosa failed the survey test was in the New York Times who, if one were to make a reasonably educated guess based on what was being reported and by whom at the time, got its information from a crusading IRS/FDA agent who had his own set of issues.

So, based on this — and ignoring for a moment that a mere three years ago Heyman had no problem voting for Barry Bonds of all people, and made a full-throated endorsement of Bonds’ Hall of Fame candidacy — it is clear that Heyman has become a steroid stickler. Not only are you off his ballot if you tested positive, even in a non-binding survey test, you’re off if Heyman even suspects you used based on hearsay.

All of which makes one wonder when Heyman will repudiate what he wrote about David Ortiz just over a year ago. After noting Ortiz’s failure of the survey test — an offense just like Sammy Sosa’s and less than that of Bagwell and Piazza — Heyman says this:

The case against Ortiz otherwise remains thinner than Clay Buchholz, especially compared to some other big stars . . . Some Hall of Fame voters will exclude players with any link to steroids, no matter how strong that link is, but in this case it fairly boils down to one un-sourced report involving a test for survey purposes.

Is that enough to exclude? Not here it isn’t.

Cooperstown it is.

What a difference a year makes. Care to comment, Jon?


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

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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.