Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Sorry! No Vacancy!

Sorry! No Vacancy!

Last week the Baseball Writers Association of America decided that they would not elect a single player into the Hall of Fame. After all of the ballots were cast, and counted, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson took the podium, opened the envelope, and announced, “And the winner is?  Nobody”.

Many of the writers have sent a clear message to the baseball nation. They have indicated they will not tolerate cheating. There are players who should have been inducted into the Hall, on their baseball merits. But they failed to receive sufficient support from the media. They allegedly took medication to enhance their performances. Then they denied it.

These are slightly murky waters, as the public has not seen all of the evidence regarding the names of the players caught taking steroids. We do know that there is a long list, and we also know that the drugs they took did enhance performance.

Players ballooned in size, and became home run hitters overnight. Part of the problem lay with the teams, and the administrators of the game. Some believe that shutting the barn door after all the cows have escaped is not the solution to the problem.

I am rattled by the following: Bert Blyleven was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year. He was on the ballot for 14 years. On his second year on the ballot, he garnered only 14.1 percent of the vote.  Twelve years later he made the grade.

Barry Bonds received 206 votes of the 569 votes cast, which is 36.2 %. Roger Clemens got 214 votes, registering 37.6 %. Sammy Sosa received 71 votes. Rafael Palmeiro was named 50 times.
Bonds and Clemens both registered more than 30 % of the vote. Therefore, according to Blyleven’s results, they may head into the Hall long before the 15 year mark is reached, when they would no longer be eligible. Some believe that the culprits may get in next year, that the writers chose not to include them for one year “as a lesson”.

That stinks. How in the world did they each get that many votes? The reason is that there are many sports fans and writers who do not care. According to their reasoning, we enter the world of “So what, who cares?” They put up majestic numbers, they entertained, they put bums in the seats. They were good for the game. Nonsense.

The League now plans to test for human growth hormone, another drug to enhance performance this coming season. It was on the test list during last season’s Spring Training. The League and the Players’ association reached an agreement last Thursday to allow the testing. As was reported in the Associated Press, the drug test results of all players will be kept by the World Anti-Doping Agency in Laval, Quebec. Christine Ayotte, the director of the Laval agency added that the addition of random blood testing and a “longitudinal profiling program makes baseball’s program second to none in detecting and deterring the use of synthetic human growth hormone and testosterone”.

Commissioner Bud Selig stated, “This is a proud and a great day for baseball. We will continue to be a leader in this field and do what we have to do.”
Every player will be tested “at least once”. Understandably, there will be players who will be caught cheating. There is a bucket full of cash at the end of the rainbow. Many players feel that it is worth the risk.

Many writers vote against the likes of Bonds and Clemens because of their alleged use of the substances. Others are upset by their constant denials of the usage. Still others do not appreciate the arrogance that goes with the denials.
I cringe when I think of what the Hall of Fame ballots might look like in the next few years. It does matter!

James Hurst

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