The MLB Hall of Fame ballot for next year is out. There are 13 new names on the ballot for the first time and only four of them are worth more than even a passing glance:
- Ryan Howard
- Tim Lincecum
- David Ortiz
- Alex Rodriguez
Howard and Lincecum had their moments in the spotlight during their MLB careers, but I truly do not think of them as “HoF material.” The candidacies of both Ortiz and Rodriguez will be interesting to track – – because there are two players who will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the tenth and final time this year:
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
Bonds and Clemens have provided us with a decade-long debate about what it means to put a player in the Hall of Fame. Neither player has been ”proven beyond a reasonable doubt” as a steroid user; nonetheless, many people – me included – think that they did indeed enhance their longevity and their statistics with some “biochemical assistance”. Make no mistake here; my opinion on that matter is not relevant because it is nothing more than an opinion, but it has been a sticking point for many of the folks who vote for Hall of Fame inductees.
If you look purely at “the numbers”, there is no question that both Bonds and Clemens belong in Cooperstown. If you want to “downgrade” some of those numbers because you think they are “chemically enhanced”, go right ahead and I still think Bonds and Clemens belong in the Hall of Fame with whatever reasonable degradation you might apply. But the voters have looked beyond the numbers for these two players for the last ten years.
Now onto the ballot come David Ortiz and A-Rod. There are more than a few whispers out there that Ortiz was “a user”. There is no good evidence, but the whispers persist. A-Rod is a different story; basically, he was caught twice with positive tests and served a full year’s suspension from the Commissioner. Here is the question:
- Will the “behavioral component” of the voting that has kept Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall of Fame and on the ballot for a decade be applied to either Ortiz or Rodriguez – – or both?
Interestingly, the “behavioral component” I referenced above is also a significant part of why another player is on the ballot for the tenth and final time this year. Curt Schilling’s numbers – particularly in the playoffs and in the World Series – clearly tell me that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. However, Curt Schilling is a wing nut who has espoused publicly more than a few off-center views of the world and the US political scene. [Aside: I have no interest in discussing/debating some of his stated positions so let me leave it that I consider many of them to be “off-center”.]
Here is my suggestion:
- Recognize that all five of the “controversial candidates” here (Bonds, Clemens, Ortiz, Rodriguez and Schilling) belong in the Hall of Fame when you consider their accomplishments on the field.
- So, put them in there. And also add a small second plaque to the standard one that is there for other great players like Aaron and DiMaggio and Mays and Ruth and Williams where the small added plaque says to visitors, some of the stats that got these guys admitted here may have been “chemically enhanced”. [I will leave it to the baseball poets to come up with more acceptable prose here.]
Finally, since three of the five players (Clemens, Ortiz and Schilling) I have mentioned here as being at odds with the “behavioral component” of Hall of Fame voting played for the Boston Red Sox, let me close with this observation about Boston by comedian, Fred Allen:
“I have just returned from Boston. It is the only thing to do if you find yourself up there.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………