For the tenth time in a row, the voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) have chosen not to enshrine either Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have no interest in rehashing the arguments favoring and/or opposing enshrinement; my position on membership in the Hall of Fame has not changed:
- Honorees should be in the Hall of Fame for their achievements on the field. It should not be personality-driven; it is not a “Gentlemen’s Club”; in fact, it more closely resembles a “Rogues’ Gallery”.
- Some players used PEDs in their career meaning that some of their achievements have a partial basis in biochemistry in addition to God-given skills.
- Great players who used PEDs – or are credibly suspected of having used PEDs – should be in the Hall of Fame with a statement about those PEDs included on their plaques.
There are several fallouts from the balloting that was revealed yesterday which I find unfortunate. The Baseball Hall of Fame has been around since 1936; the National League has been around since 1876. Of all the players ever to take part in a major league baseball game over almost 150 years of existence:
- Barry Bonds hit more home runs than any other player.
- Roger Clemens won the Cy Young Award more times than any other player.
- Pete Rose got more base hits than any other player.
- AND none of those three players are honored in the Hall of Fame.
On one hand, that does not make me happy; on the other hand, I am not going to generate any excess stomach acid over what I consider to be unfortunate circumstances. The election process for admission to the Hall of Fame is clear and well-known; none of the three players cited here passed the threshold for admission. There were no “ballot irregularities”; the election was not “stolen”; the appointed jurors in this matter have rendered their verdict.
While on the subject of players who failed to get into the Hall of Fame yesterday, let me say that I believe the BBWAA voters took into account some other “stuff” beyond PED use in their voting. Curt Schilling, in his public persona, is not a very likeable hominid; I find some of his pronouncements to be repugnant. Having said that, Curt Schilling belongs in the Hall of Fame based on Reason #1 above. I probably would not enjoy listening to his enshrinement speech, but my agreement or disagreement with him on political/social issues should be irrelevant in the process of evaluating his accomplishments on a baseball field.
Enough about the Hall of Fame voting… Last weekend, Dwight Perry had this note in his Sideline Chatter column in the Seattle Times:
“Only 22 days till pitchers and catchers don’t report.”
I wish I could say that Professor Perry is dead wrong in his pessimism – – but I cannot…
In one other baseball item, The MLB Executive Council has rejected the proposal by the Tampa Bay Rays to have a “split season” with Montreal. This idea has been percolating for a couple of years; the Executive Council gave the green light to go ahead with planning for such a move. It was finally put to the Executive Council as a formal proposal and the Executive Council shot it down. How this came to pass is pretty straightforward:
- The Rays have not drawn well in their current circumstance for about 20 years. The cause(s) of that lack of attendance include the stadium itself, the location of the stadium, fan apathy, other things that compete with baseball for leisure time and money…
- Probably, all those factors are in play.
- I am aware of two “new stadium sites” in that area which have been proposed and turned down. There may have been more than two such proposals, but I only recall a proposal to build one on the water in St. Petersburg and another to build one in a historic area in Tampa.
- The idea of a “split season” would make the Rays’ home games more compelling because it would increase their “scarcity”.
Here are data to keep in mind as you ponder the idea of the Rays “splitting their season” with another city. For 2021 here are the average attendance per game figures for the “small market teams” in MLB:
- Miami Marlins – – 7,934 fans per game – – ranked 30th in MLB
- Oakland A’s – – 8660 fans per game – – ranked 29th in MLB
- Tampa Bay Rays – – 9396 fans per game – – ranked 28th in MLB
- Baltimore Orioles – – 9793 fans per game – – ranked 27th in MLB
- Every other team drew more than 10,000 fans per game.
- Twelve MLB teams drew more than 20,000 fans per game.
I have no ties to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area other than to visit there in order to take in Spring Training games in some years. Therefore, I cannot pretend to know what the answer(s) might be to get the Rays’ attendance to reflect the team’s on-field performance. The Rays won 100 games last year; they had the best record in the American League by 5 full games. Viewed from afar, something should be done…
Finally, here is another observation from Dwight Perry:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs, worth $2 billion according to data compiled by Sportico, are the NHL’s most valuable team.
“In other words, the Leafs are raking it in.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………