If you thought the discourse over the AL MVP award got nasty, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Shortly after 2 p.m. ET this afternoon we’ll know which players, if any, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer.
The 2013 ballot is incredibly deep, yet there’s a growing sense within the industry that not a single player will receive the required 75 per cent support for induction.
That’s right, there’s a chance not one of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Larry Walker, Tim Raines, Mike Piazza or Alan Trammell will get the phone call they’ve been hoping for this afternoon.
Coincidentally, the eight men named above are whom I would vote for.
But a few laps around the Internet the past few days has revealed a large number of actual voters (members of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America with 10 years or more standing) remain unwilling to check off the box next to the name’s of players they believe — whether as a result of actual hard evidence or not — used PEDs.
Quite possible that Wednesday’s HoF results will make AL MVP debate look like polite conversation at high tea.
Meanwhile, over at MLB.com, 16 writers had a ballot in this year’s election. Among the 16 ballots listed at MLB.com, only half of them included both Bonds and Clemens.
You know what they say about small sample sizes, but you get the idea.
As a result, those who believe the likes of Bonds and Clemens belong in the Hall regardless of their admitted or alleged PED use — such as Rob Neyer of SB Nation — have been on somewhat of a crusade over the past few days.
And, just as it did during the AL MVP debate — the Hall of Fame debate gotten somewhat personal.
Verducci, like Rosenthal, is one of the most respected baseball reporters around, and also like Rosenthal, he’s chosen to take a hard line against PED users with his ballot.
A very hard line.
When I vote for a player I am upholding him for the highest individual honor possible. My vote is an endorsement of a career, not part of it, and how it was achieved. Voting for a known steroid user is endorsing steroid use. Having spent too much of the past two decades or so covering baseball on the subject of steroids — what they do, how the game was subverted by them, and how those who stayed away from them were disadvantaged — I cannot endorse it.
“I don’t want to paint Verducci with this brush, because I’m not inside his head, but I continue to believe that a lot of the hand-wringing over steroids — which, by the way, I really wish hadn’t happened — is due to just two players: Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. I believe that if McGwire and Bonds hadn’t so utterly destroyed the home-run records, leaving first Roger Maris and then Hank Aaron in the dust, we might not be having this discussion at all.”
But the fact is they did and as a result we are, just as we should be.
In his piece Verducci revealed there were 570 BBWAA members eligible to vote on the Hall of Fame this year.
That numbers strikes me as absurd when you consider many of these voters have moved on to other beats while many capable, intelligent, critical thinking voices within the game — including the likes of Neyer — are ineligible.
Judging from what I’ve read over the past few days, a passionate fight for the soul of the Hall of Fame is now underway, and the class of 2013 will likely be remembered as the first large-scale battle.