Sorry, former Hall of Fame voters, your services are no longer needed


As we’ve noted many times, the Hall of Fame made a big change last year regarding its electorate, culling between 100 and 125 voters from the rolls. Those who were culled: BBWAA members who no longer cover baseball and who only had the vote by dint of lifetime “honorary” memberships. Hall of Fame voting still has a lot of issues, of course. Most notably the reduction of candidate eligibility from 15 to 10 years and, most of all, the 10-vote limit per ballot, each of which causes otherwise worthy candidates to be squeezed out. But getting rid of some of the least-engaged voters was a good move.

You will not be surprised, however, that many of the voters who were culled are not too pleased about it. Included in this is Steve Aschburner, who writes today at the Federalist about how bad it is that he and others who no longer cover baseball no longer have a Hall of Fame vote. The short version is that he thinks those with a long memory and history of covering baseball should have their voices heard here and that the Hall caved to “non-voters working for alternative Web sites” in making its decision to cut them out of the process.

Normally I’d dive into a bunch of generational and philosophical old school/new school political arguments here, but I’ve done that so many times it’s not worth redoing. For the moment, let’s just take Aschburner at face value and judge his claim on its own terms. The terms being that (a) historical perspective possessed by older voters is key and; (b) that, alternatively, culled voters saw many of the current candidates play and are having their actual observations cut out of the process.

As for the first part, I’m not sure that we need the perspective of older voters to tell us that Willie Mays, Tom Seaver and Mike Schmidt were good players (yes he uses those examples). Nor do I think that judging current candidates by their standard is even remotely fair given that two of those players have a colorable claim to being the best in the history of the game and the third is the best in the history of the game at his position. Indeed, I’d argue that a central PROBLEM of the Hall of Fame voting in recent years has been holding current candidates to the insane standard of guys like Mays, Seaver and Schmidt when, historically, “the absolute greatest ever” was decidedly not the standard.

As for the second part, it’s worth noting that the bulk of current candidates’ careers occurred after a lot of these culled voters quit covering baseball. Let’s use Aschburner as an example. According to his bio he last covered baseball in 1995. Among the new guys on the Hall of Fame ballot, Ken Griffey Jr.’s career was most advanced at that point. He was finishing his seventh season. Jim Edmonds had just finished his first year as a regular. Trevor Hoffman, his third. Billy Wagner had exactly one game under his belt.

As far as the holdovers, Mike Piazza was in his third full season. Jeff Bagwell had just finished his fifth. Mike Mussina his fifth. Curt Schilling his eighth. Even old men like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had more good years ahead of them at that point than behind them. Folks like Aschburner actually were around for the primes of Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Lee Smith, but that’s basically it. And their ability to vote for guys like Raines, Trammell and Smith hasn’t exactly helped their cases before now.

I don’t accept the notion that covering the game for a living gives someone special insight when it comes to judging whether a player’s career is Hall of Fame worthy, mostly because reporting is not anything close to the same thing as historical analysis and, actually, is often at odds with it. But even if you grant that little bit of fiction, the voters who were culled from the Hall of Fame voter rolls lost their special insight when they quit covering baseball for a living and, for the most part, the players on the ballot made their Hall of Fame cases after guys like Aschburner moved on to basketball, golf, football or retirement.

On some level I have sympathy for people who have had the honor of getting a ballot each year taken away from them. No one wants to be told they don’t matter anymore, implicitly or otherwise. But the fact is, for the purposes of voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, these guys don’t matter anymore. And the arguments they make to the contrary simply aren’t convincing.

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.