And, NO, this has NOTHING to do with this year’s results…yet.
At 2 pm today, the Baseball Writers Association of America will release who was selected by them to enter the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
I no longer care who gets in or not, because, between everything Keith Olbermann said late last year on his show Olbermann, and the recent revelation that website Deadspin.com PURCHASED a BBWAA member’s vote and let their readers decide who was chosen on their ballot, I see that this whole thing is a sham, a fallacy, and someone needs to call shenanigans on it.
Do not get me wrong. I still respect many, if not all of the players, coaches, managers, umpires, officials, and owners currently enshrined. Without them, this game would not be the National Pastime. However, the private organization that runs the MLB Hall of Fame, along with the BBWAA and the various committees that have been chosen by the MLB Hall of Fame to elect members, are corrupt and maybe even guilty of collusion to keep certain people out while they are alive, or even to just relegate them to being elected by a committee, which we all know does not have the same pomp and circumstance as being elected by the BBWAA. Anyone who is elected by committee is always the afterthought, the “so-and-so was also elected by the such-and-such committee” at the end of any story about the MLB Hall of Fame. How and WHY are these people, usually managers and old-timers, any less of an impact on the game than say, the last player enshrined, Bert Blyleven? The difference this year will be the high profile of three managers elected by the Expansion Era Committee, a committee that meets every three years to enshrine players into the MLB Hall of Fame that failed to receive the 75% vote for 15 years or dropped off the ballot, and managers, front office, and officials. The EEC chose Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa this year, all high profile managers.
I congratulate both Cox and Torre on their elections; both are outstanding guys and managers. No one ever says anything bad about them, but LaRussa? Sure, he may have won a lot of games, as well as a World Series in both leagues, but tell me he did not knowingly lie about rampant steroid abuse by his players. He claimed, when the subject of steroids was first brought up concerning Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, whom he managed for 22 of their 33 seasons in the majors, that they were clean, it was just intense working out that made them so strong. Last time I checked, steroids gave you the ability to do those intense workouts. Even after Canseco came clean and fingered others, LaRussa STILL said McGwire was clean; only after McGwire himself came clean did LaRussa stop defending him…sort of. LaRussa later hired McGwire as a coach, saying he hoped his return would help him in the eyes of the fans and voters. I cannot speak for every fan, but it hasn’t changed my mind one bit; McGwire was tainted from his first season, if not his first game, so he cheated the ENTIRE time he played.
Pete Rose cannot get into the MLB Hall of Fame because he gambled on baseball, which may or may not have changed what would have been the outcome of some games; in other words, the Mets might not have won that game in 1987, because if Rose hadn’t have bet on them against his Reds, he might have played a competitive lineup and made better coaching decisions. The same could be said for LaRussa, and any manager that had obvious steroid use going on in his locker room, because a “performance-enhancing drug” does exactly what it says, enhances performance. So those games the A’s and Cardinals won for LaRussa off the bats of Canseco and McGwire, well maybe they wouldn’t have won those. So why is LaRussa, who had to have known and seen the PED use by his two sluggers, who grew…and grew…and grew until their heads were twice the size they were when they were drafted, allowed to enter the MLB Hall of Fame, but the all-time leader in hits NOT allowed in, especially when the Pete Rose scandal barely hurt baseball, but the PED scandal made people lose faith in baseball, and still has repercussions to this day?
The answer is simple: money. Major League Baseball was hurting when the strike happened in 1994. When it returned, attendance was down. Between juicing the ball and juicing the players, within a few years, the 50 home run mark became common, and home run records were falling. With records set ages ago by such legends as Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron crumbling, attendance was up. Ticket prices were up, and attendance was still up. People wanted to see history happen. The owners, some of the managers, and many of the players turned a blind eye to what was going on, just to be part of history and to make money. Funny, but I don’t recall seeing where Ruth or Aaron hit home runs for the money; in fact, Ruth gave away the first baseball he hit for a home run at Yankee Stadium to a New Jersey All-State baseball player. He GAVE IT AWAY.
Now for the corruption: back in mid-November, Deadspin.com published an article soliciting a vote. Yes, they asked BBWAA members PUBLICLY to SELL THEM A VOTE (http://deadspin.com/are-you-a-hall-of-fame-voter-wed-like-to-buy-your-vot-1456808768, print NSFW). 10 days later, Deadspin announced they had indeed purchased one (http://deadspin.com/deadspin-buys-hall-of-fame-vote-will-turn-it-over-to-d-1467003665) that the BBWAA member thought their idea sounded good, and was willing to fill out their ballot based on Deadspin’s reader’s choices. That deal fell through (though they plan on purchasing that voter’s ballot next year), but they obtained ANOTHER vote (http://deadspin.com/deadspin-loses-one-hall-of-fame-vote-but-gains-another-1488349916 ). As of press time, it is still unclear WHICH BBWAA member sold their vote to Deadspin, though I am sure that will be announced soon, as Deadspin stated the name would be released publicly AFTER the vote was cast; the deadline was December 31st, but I assume that means after the results are announced. It is also unclear if they purchased more than one vote, but rest assured the voter or voters who sold their ballot will probably lose their right to vote after their name is released.
While I agree with the idea of giving the vote to someone other than the almighty baseball writer, this is corrupt. If I sold my presidential vote to someone from Iran, voting as the Iranian government wanted me to, I would be tried for treason. So how is this any less corrupt? As much as I am against the voting system that is in place currently, I believe that having the right to a vote is special, not to be bought or sold. This voter proves, even though his intentions are the opposite of the corruption in the BBWAA, proves that corruption still exists among BBWAA members and the MLB Hall of Fame vote. If he sold it, how many other have been selling theirs to private individuals for years, allowing the vote to go a certain way so certain people never get in while others, some mediocre, get elected as a favor? How many voters just allow their dog, or their 2 month old grandson, or even sunlight through venetian blinds choose their vote?
On to the dirty word I said earlier: collusion. The aforementioned Keith Olbermann, who is one of the main reasons I am involved in sports journalism, mentioned four specific examples in his podcast on December 10th, 2013 (which is still available for download at http://www.espn.com/podcasts and on iTunes; you can also find video of his show on YouTube; the specific segment is titled “We need a new MLB Hall of Fame” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LK-5WtXQCY). He mentioned the cases of Ron Santo, Gil Hodges, and Buck O’Neill, and went into great detail about Marvin Miller, the man who finally made players people, not slaves. In the case of Miller, every year he came close to being elected, the MLB Hall of Fame changed the rules of the committee and packed it with anti-Miller voters; the most notable change was in 2007, when a 12 member panel only gave him three votes (he needed nine). There were three players and nine executives on that panel. Any guesses as to who voted for him? Actions like this are what is known in the political world as a banana republic. Banana republics usually have all ties to them cut off after this is discovered.
I fully believe there is collusion going on right now in the MLB Hall of Fame, specifically dealing with Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, and Jack Morris. In his first year of eligibility, Sweet Lou only garnered 9.2% of the vote and was dropped from the ballot, even though his WAR is the best among second basemen NOT in the Hall, and his totals in hits, runs, and RBIs are better than many second basemen in the MLB Hall of Fame already. However, he was best known for being Trammell’s double play partner, and because Trammell was not eligible for another year, many left him off their ballots, wanting to elect them both together. Because the votes are not generally discussed beforehand, and are mailed to the voters, this idea backfired, so now Trammell, who has stats virtually identical to Barry Larkin, who played in the same era and was elected, has been sitting stagnant for 14 years, and will probably not be elected this year or next. Jack Morris, I will admit, has borderline MLB Hall of Fame stats, but still deserves it because of his approach to the game, his intensity and endurance; in an age of relief pitching, he set a record that will likely never be broken of 248 starts lasting 8 or more innings in AL games since the inception of the DH; the active leader, Roy Halladay, has just 84 starts of 8 or more innings. From 1979 to 1992, Morris started 464 games and 52% of the time went 8 or more innings. Today, that is unheard of, and will probably never happen in this age of pitch counts, the DH, and middle relievers. However, Jack Morris will probably NOT make the MLB Hall of Fame this year, due to the Class this year, with 300+ game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine on the list, as well as slugger Frank Thomas.
So where does the collusion fit in? In the history of baseball only two World Series champion teams that have eligible players do NOT have a player in the Hall, the 1981 Dodgers, led by Steve Garvey, Bob Welch, and Fernando Valenzuela, and the 1984 Tigers. In 2016, Trammell, Whitaker, and Morris can all be elected by the Expansion Era Committee, a rotating panel of 16 inductees, front office execs, and historians who meet every three years, the same group that just elected Cox, LaRussa, and Torre. It is my belief that the BBWAA and the MLB Hall of Fame have colluded to add the 1984 Tigers Big Three to the Hall together, so Morris and Trammell are purposefully left hanging through their BBWAA time. This is wrong, and unfair to great players. Thanks for the sentiment, but even though it would be nice to see the best double play combo enter together, that could have been accomplished any previous year by the EEC and the BBWAA, except for the fact that they like to bury the EEC-elected individuals at the bottom of press coverage, choosing to focus on the BBWAA-elected ones, because THEY, the press, put them there. It’s an ego boost for the writers to have a great player acknowledge them for inducting them.
I am certain of this; their ego boost will vanish when Trammell and Whitaker enter together because at least one Detroit newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, will embrace and celebrate this moment with a large headline, that may or may not have as a sub-header Morris and Jim Leyland also enter.
So do I care who is inducted today? Yes and no. Like I said, I respect the inductees (except LaRussa); however the system is flawed, and is a banana republic. It is corrupt and unmeaningful anymore. Olbermann said it best when he said we need to take the MLB Hall of Fame out of the private hands it is in, tear it down, and start over.