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2017 Hall of Fame Election, BBWAA, Hall Logic

Hall Logic: Troubling PED Voting


You just can’t vote for him and not Barry Bonds. Some do.

Those who know me know that care about logic, about internal consistency, about voting for the Hall in a way you can justify. For example, if you wouldn’t vote for Walter Johnson because you didn’t like his last name, you can’t vote for Randy Johnson or Cliff Johnson or Alex Johnson either.

And if you won’t vote for Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens because they used performance enhancing drugs, you can’t vote for Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, or Sammy Sosa either. Unfortunately, there are 22 public ballots this year where the writer voted for one of Bonds and Clemens but not the other, or they skipped votes for the PED poster boys but handed one to another user.

Let’s examine.

Two writers voted for Clemens and not Bonds.

  • Ray Buck didn’t explain his ballot. He supported only six candidates, and aside from omitting Bonds, there’s nothing really to see here.
  • John Altavilla from the Hartford Courant doesn’t seem to explain his ballot, at least not in a place I can find. He voted for eight players and managed to check the name of Manny Ramirez but not Bonds.

Three writers voted for Bonds but not Clemens.

  • Not one of these voters selected Jeff Bagwell. Not one! Perhaps they believe Bonds is the standard for a hitter in the Hall? Nope. Two of the three voted for Fred McGriff.
  • I’ve already discussed Jon Heyman’s ballot of nine. Basically, he thinks Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he began using, but Clemens wasn’t. If we’re estimating that Roger started using when he went to Toronto, Jon’s wrong. Clemens was already well into the Hall by any reasonable standard.
  • John Hickey chose just seven players, and he says he doesn’t consider steroid use a deal breaker. But what crushes Clemens for him is the bat that he threw at Mike Piazza – even though he admits that he can’t read Clemens’ mind, implying that he doesn’t know if he threw the bat at Piazza or toward him. What kind of person thinks, presumably, that it’s okay to throw a baseball at 90 MPH at a person but draws the line at throwing a bat toward a guy’s feet? Luckily for all three relievers on the ballot, Hickey didn’t seem to consider whether or not they ever threw a ball at anyone. Each one got his vote.
  • Alan Robinson tells us that we know when Bonds began using but don’t know with Clemens. This is a little like Heyman’s flawed argument, and it doesn’t work. In addition to Bonds, Robinson only supported Fred McGriff, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez.

It would make a lot of sense that a group of 22 voters who uses poor logic would come up with poor ballots in general. Let’s see.

  • Only seven voted for ten players. That’s 31.8% compared to 51.5% of public voters overall.
  • They supported Lee Smith to the tune of 59.1% versus 32.6% of the public voters.
  • They supported Billy Wagner at 18.2% versus just 10.9% of public voters.
  • They were a lot more likely than public voters as a whole to either misunderstand Curt Schilling’s on-field greatness or moralize about his off-field lack thereof. While 50.5% of the public voters supported Schilling, only 27.3% of this group did.
  • PED voters are guys who just seem to know who was clean and who wasn’t. And this group supported the super squeaky clean Fred McGriff at 40.9% as compared to 17.6% among public voters. Please understand that I’m not trying to say that McGriff – or anyone else – used. I’m only saying the certainty about not being tainted are silly. We simply cannot know that.
  • The only vote Edgar Renteria received came from one of these voters.
  • Mike Mussina got only 45.5% of their support compared to 57.8% of public ballots.
  • I’ve already discussed the insane ballot of George Willis.
  • Ed Petruska may or may not be the sports editor at Casa Grande Valley newspapers. He may or may not have a Twitter account that he opened over a year ago but hasn’t used. What is certain, however, is that he voted for Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa but not Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. And his explanation is nowhere to be found. Or justified.
  • Dave Krieger has what would call a legitimate argument. He believes that cheating requires willfulness and that he didn’t see any willful cheating from Gary Sheffield. Okay, I buy that. And I like that he voted for ten guys. On the other hand, he voted for only five who made my ballot.

The basic argument that I’m making in this post is that writers who use poor logic to reach some decisions also use poor logic to reach others. I can understand if you don’t vote for someone like Manny. It’s indisputable that he cheated. What I can’t understand is when you support some PED users but not clearly superior guys who also used PEDs. And overall, the ballots of this group are inferior to the ballots of writers in general. Go figure.




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