On the occasion of the Hall of Fame ballot being released yesterday, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes today that, when the time comes for David Ortiz to be considered in several years, the mindset of the voters with respect to players with PED-associations had best change. And that they had better consider Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens and other PED-tainted candidates if they consider Ortiz for baseball’s highest honor:
So before the writers judge the candidacy of Bonds, Clemens, Manny Ramirez, and others on this year’s ballot, each needs to look into the future, to that day when Ortiz becomes eligible for election, and ask: What will I do with Big Papi?
Because if the majority of the writers apply the same standard to Ortiz that they have for Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and others — if they’re going to be fair and consistent about this — then they have to leave Ortiz off their ballots.
I take no issue with anything Olney says there. Beyond that quote he spits some righteous fire at the Hall of Fame electorate in general, telling them to get off their moral high horses and, perhaps, get out of the business of awards and Hall of Fame voting in general due to manifest conflicts of interest. It’s hard to disagree.
Yet, I think Olney’s words will fall on deaf ears. I believe that Oritz will get in on the first ballot — as he should — with nary a nod to his PED history. He’s well-liked. Voters won’t say that’s why they’re voting for him over the Bonds and Clemens of the world. They’ll say it’s because of the severity of the offense — the details of which they only know some of anyway — or they’ll make reference to lying or court cases or what not. Don’t believe it for a second. They’ll vote for Ortiz in numbers far greater than they’ll ever vote for Bonds or Clemens because those guys are considered jackasses and Ortiz’s overall story was a good one that leant itself to a lot of nice press.
Indeed, even if there is a hitch to Ortiz’s candidacy, PEDs will not be the primary basis. He, like Andy Pettitte and other well thought-of guys with PED associations, has never been considered a “cheater” by the anti-PED crew the way others with similar evidence against them have. For example, Sammy Sosa, who hit over 600 home runs and who, people’s speculation and some amount of reasonable conjecture notwithstanding, actually has no more hard PED evidence against him than Ortiz has. He’s not sniffing Cooperstown, ever, and he doesn’t even get the benefit of a baseball-based breakdown like Ortiz will get.
I actually think a lot more people will hold the fact that Ortiz was a DH against him than the PED stuff. Which shows you that, if Hall of Fame voters are irrational about one thing, they can be even more irrational about another, less reasonable thing if given the chance.