- I try to avoid HOF ballot discussions in the Jack O'Connell era as they mostly add to the celebrity and immortality of the voter. Not vetted by anyone I trust, individuals are allowed to do as they please without oversight and it's just a bad system. Some of the remarks on this person's ballot illustrate why these awards should be canceled so well I made an exception. Especially every word he says about Lee Smith and closers. Note: yet again the term "closer" is being put in a box by these guys. (Solution: Use the term, "late inning reliever"). Funny word games while old, wrinkled men sit by the phone with their family, tears streaming down their faces, waiting for the King, Jack O'Connell whose own fame and immortality continue to grow. Classic Jack O'Connell era inscrutability. From Ken Davidoff of Newsday:
"This marked my second Hall of Fame ballot, as you have to serve 10 years in the Baseball Writers Association of America before you are eligible to vote, and I made some changes from my first ballot. I voted for some players last year
about whom I felt less enthusiastic this year. And vice versa.
- I believe this is a product of time - of another year of baseball changing perspectives, and of whatever baseball knowledge I've accrued in the same period.
So here we go, in alphabetical order:
- Harold Baines: Would've been interesting if he had reached 3,000 hits, but he didn't (2,866), so No.
- Bert Blyleven: I was baseball-conscious for the majority of his career and never did I think, "Bert Blyleven will be in the Hall of Fame someday." But look at his numbers. He's a remarkable fifth all-time in strikeouts (3,701), ninth in shutouts (60) and 13th in innings pitched (4,970). There's too much great stuff to ignore. Yes.
- Dave Concepcion: He's a favorite among Big Red Machine fans, but I can't support someone with a career .322 on-base percentage and .357 slugging percentage. No.
- Andre Dawson: A very tough decision. That .323 OBP is brutal. Still, there are 438 homers in the (mostly) pre-steroids time, 314 stolen bases, strong defense and a high-impact career that featured three top-two finishes in the National League Most Valuable Player voting (second in 1981, second in 1983 and first in 1987). For now, he's a Yes.***
- Rich Gossage: It is confounding how it has taken Goose this long, but this should be his year after he tallied 71.2 percent of last year's vote (you need 75 percent to gain induction). Gossage and the already-inducted Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter were far more valuable than today's closers because they routinely pitched multiple innings. Yes.
- Tommy John: Sorry, but no extra points for the surgery, and the numbers just aren't there. No.
- David Justice: No, and not because of the Mitchell Report.
- Chuck Knoblauch: Just like Justice, he was a No even before last week.
- Mark McGwire: On the merits of his career, he'd be a Yes. But here's the evidence that he cheated: 1) In February 2005, he issued a flat-out denial that he ever used illegal performance-enhancing drugs. In March 2005, he refused to repeat that, under oath, during his congressional testimony; 2) Congressman Tom Davis, then the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, divulged that McGwire attempted, on the day before the infamous hearing, to admit to steroid use in return for immunity. That's evidence that we'll allow into the court of public opinion. No.
- Jack Morris: His numbers might not stand out among the all-time greats, and this is a vote on which I could change in the future. Right now, I view him as the best of his time period (1977-94). The last starting pitcher to get voted in on the BBWAA ballot, interestingly, was Nolan Ryan in 1999. Morris deserves it, in my mind, because his innings pitched (3,824) back up his reputation as a workhorse, because his 254 wins reflect the fact that he hung around games for so many decisions, and because of his postseason excellence. Yes.
- Dale Murphy: An interesting career, featuring back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1982-83, but not strong enough for the Hall. No.
- Dave Parker: He was a Yes for me last year, but I just wasn't feeling him this year. His 339 homers fell short of Dawson and Jim Rice, for instance, as did his .471 slugging percentage. Maybe I'll flip back the other way on him next year, but he's a No for now.
- Jim Rice: A few more strong years would have helped, but check out his first 12 full years in the major leagues. He was dominant. Yes.
- Alan Trammell: I went the other way on him: No last year, Yes this year. If Ozzie Smith, his contemporary at shortstop, is in, then Trammell should be in, too. Trammell may not have been the defensive wizard Ozzie was, but his offensive superiority more than makes up for it."
From Newsday article by Ken Davidoff, 12/23/07, "Ken Davidoff's Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
- ***P.S. I never cease to marvel at how many of these guys use terms like "very tough decision" as Davidoff just did or "voters struggled" as I've seen others say. Right. The Jack O'Connell era.