Hall of Fame's postponed induction; Bonds, Clemens' best shot; Remembering Don Shula - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Hall of Fame’s postponed induction; Bonds, Clemens’ best shot; Remembering Don Shula

Barry Bonds
Photo credit: Sergio Estrada - USA Today

Last week, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that July’s induction ceremony had been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller won’t be enshrined in Cooperstown until July 25, 2021.

Hall of Fame officials were expecting a big crowd because of Jeter’s popularity in New York.

Jeter was elected in his first year of eligibility. His election was one vote short of unanimous. Walker was elected in his 10th and final year of eligibility by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Simmons, an excellent catcher for 21 years for St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta, and Miller, the pioneering labor leader, were chosen by the Modern Era Committee.

Miller, who had long been turned down by veterans committees, asked his family before his death not to be present to accept the award.

A year from now, how many others will join Jeter?

It’s unlikely that there will be any first-time inductees a year from now. The players with the highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) on next year’s ballot are Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson and Torii Hunter, all outstanding performers, but not first-ballot material.

The three returning players on December’s ballot are controversial: Curt Schilling (70.0 percent), Roger Clemens (61.0) and Barry Bonds (60.7).

Omar Vizquel, an outstanding shortstop who received 52.6 percent of the vote, is the only other returnee who garnered 40 percent.

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It takes a 75 percent vote from 10-year members of the BBWAA for enshrinement.

Schilling, Clemens and Bonds are in their ninth year of eligibility; Vizquel his fourth.

Schilling, who won the first of his 216 games with the Orioles, has had a rocky road because of controversial comments. Last year, he kept quiet and jumped from 60.9 percent. He deserves election, and could be the only player chosen by the BBWAA this year.

Clemens and Bonds have inched up in the last six elections, but there is still a sizable minority against their election because of their alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.

The electorate is younger and more diverse than it was when the two first were eligible in 2013. Clemens received 37.6 percent and Bonds 36.2 percent.

This generation of voters has elected several players who seemed long shots (Walker, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines) just a few years ago.

With seemingly little competition on the ballot, Clemens and Bonds could reach 75 percent this year, if fewer than half the stubborn 40 percent change their minds.

Hall of Fame voters are allowed to choose 10 players on their ballot, and it’s increasingly more common that they do.

Clemens and Bonds are not the only players alleged to have used PEDs. Manny Ramirez, who was twice suspended for steroid use, received 28.2 percent, and Sammy Sosa, also in his ninth year, is at 13.9 percent.

The Hall of Fame doesn’t want an induction ceremony without a living player, so the postponement for Jeter, Walker and Simmons prevents that from happening.

There’s also the Golden Days and Early Baseball veterans committee votes. Few of those considered by the Early Baseball committee (before 1950) are still alive, and a number of those who could be discussed by the Golden Days committee (1950-1969) have also died.

If Clemens and Bonds aren’t elected by the BBWAA, it seems farfetched that they’ll be given serious consideration by a veterans committee. Those committees include former players, baseball executives and a few media members.

This year appears to be the best shot for Clemens and Bonds. If they aren’t elected for the class of 2021, they face a more crowded—and more controversial ballot.

In December 2021, Clemens and Bonds will be joined by two other polarizing players — David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, who have histories of their own.

Remembering Shula: Although this is a baseball column, many readers shared Colts memories last week when I wrote about Memorial Stadium.

Don Shula, who was the Colts’ head coach from 1963-1970, died on Monday at 90.

Shula, the NFLs winningest coach and the only one to lead an undefeated team, was part of a remarkable Baltimore sports landscape in the 1960s that included Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver of the Orioles, Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore of the Colts, and Wes Unseld, Gus Johnson and Earl Monroe of the Bullets.

Shula regularly returned to Memorial Stadium when the Miami Dolphins played the Colts. In one of his last appearances, was touched when he heard the “C-O-L-T-S” cheers.

His Dolphins played an exhibition game against the New Orleans Saints in August 1992 when the city was trying to coax the NFL to award it an expansion team.

Shula retired from the NFL in 1995, just as the Ravens were coming to Baltimore.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 5, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Bonds and Clemens. What a mess. Arguably the best hitter and pitcher respectively to ever play the game. And yet I still wouldn’t elect them if I had a vote.

    • BirdsCaps

      May 5, 2020 at 6:47 pm

      Even though there is a little bit of an argument that they followed incentives and unwritten rules of the era, I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Orial

    May 5, 2020 at 10:28 am

    We’ll there is one good thing–that’s one less Jeter “Love-a-thon” we’ll have to put up with.

    • Bancells Moustache

      May 5, 2020 at 10:52 am

      Delaying the inevitable. I was kinda hoping this one would happen, which would mark the last full scale worshipping of St. Derek ad we could move on with our lives. Now its hanging over our heads another year

  3. Bancells Moustache

    May 5, 2020 at 10:38 am

    I know I’m wading into murky waters here, but a Hall of Fame without both the greatest hitter and pitcher of all time seems pretty ridiculous. The steroid outrage has run it’s course. I view that era as a glitch in the system. It wasn’t against the rules, and guys began exploiting that. Once it began to spread, the competitive nature of the game pretty much forced players to take them. In 1998 the Chicago Cubs edged the San Francisco Giants by one game for the NL Wild Card. If I’m Barry Bonds and I see a less talented Sammy Sosa carry his team to the postseason using chemical enhancement with no consequences, why would I just sit and allow that to happen? If I’m Roger Clemens and I’m in my mid-30s and suddenly all the hitters look like Lou Ferrigno, am I supposed to just get my jock knocked off every fifth night on television? Put the steroid guys in already. They go in, everyone loses their minds for a few weeks, and then we don’t have to hear about this crap anymore.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 5, 2020 at 11:39 am

      If steroids weren’t against the rules, then why did all the players taking them hide the fact that they were taking them? Were they not banned at least in 1991? To state that the competitive nature of the game forced players to take them is a pretty broad stroke. Maybe I can emphasize with the marginal player simply trying to make a living and stay in the game, but for superstars like Bonds and Clemens to juice? Just how dominant do they need to be?

      Too many players (thousands) played above board and without chemical assistance. Players like Fred McGriff will never get their bust placed in Cooperstown, in no small part because they didn’t measure up to their contemporaries. I wish somebody could poll these clean players and see how they feel about it. If these guys say they don’t feel as though they’ve been cheated, then maybe I’d reconsider my position. But until then, I don’t think cheaters should be allowed in.

      • Bancells Moustache

        May 5, 2020 at 1:06 pm

        Again, Bonds sat and watched a less talented player use steroids and beat him out of a playoff spot. No way in hell Chicago gets to the postseason without Sosa having the year he did. So was Bonds supposed to sit idly by and let the team paying him vast sums of money to win games and championships lose to an inferior player?

        As for Fred McGriff or any other player who isn’t in the Hall, the Crime Dog spent his entire 20s and 30s playing baseball for a huge amount of money. I’m sorry if I thus don’t feel much sympathy for his not having a plaque in a museum in New York.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          May 5, 2020 at 1:44 pm

          I don’t buy that he took the ‘roids to avoid losing “games” to an inferior player. It’s not exactly like he was taking one for the team. It was all about that infamous ego the man had. It was personal. Yeah, I think he should have sat idly by as so many better men, if not better players, did.

          And I assure you that each Bonds and Clemens made more $$ than McGriff.

      • Tom Mullen

        May 6, 2020 at 6:54 am

        Well said Boog.

  4. NormOs

    May 5, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Sorry guys, THEY CHEATED! By cheating we will never know if they were even fair MLB players. Cheaters have no place in the HOF or in baseball! Also, because of cheating, the World Series of 2018 and 2019 should both be Null and Void and there should be lifetime bans for many of the partisipants from the GMs to the players involved. I say, if you want to cheat, play Solitaire, that way only you know.

  5. willmiranda

    May 5, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Do we still have to say and write “alleged”? Are these guys still denying it and threatening libel suits?

  6. BirdsCaps

    May 5, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    While the argument is nuanced, I do not think the steroid era stars deserve the same recognition as the players of other eras. I’ll provide a steel man argument for election, and then argue why I still am against it. My understanding of the argument for the election of proven steroid users, is that the players were breaking written but purposefully unenforced rules. A large percentage of the players were taking roids, but they were just responding to incentives and an unspoken acceptance of the practice by the league and clubs. This means that since many or most players were on the juice, the stars of the era really were the best, since steroids were widespread. Furthermore, only allowing the clean players in the hof just rewards those who didn’t get caught. Thus, the era should be treated the same as other eras and the proverbial flood gates to the hall should be open. My argument is that despite its flaws, keeping steroid users out still serves a purpose in punishing cheaters, and sends a message that helps keep baseball stats and the hall meaningful and special.Even if the majority of players did it, does that make their actions moral? To use an example, if 20 teams had an elaborate trash can like scheme, would the Astros be off the hook, or would the entire league be dirty cheaters? Even if the league was purposely turning a blind eye, the actions still harmed the game’s rich history and stats/records, and cheated fans into thinking they were seeing something historical instead of a scam. Furthermore, baseballs hof is extremely picky on deciding who gets in. Pete Rose and shoeless joe are ineligible due to character flaws and very good all stars never gain entry. So, a group of players that we know cheated fellow players, tainted the record books, and cheated fans should not be anywhere near the hall. This is true even if many/most did it, the league purposely ignored it, or some of the enshrined may have beat tests and investigations. PS, arguing about this is so much more rewarding than thinking abut/arguing Covid policy. It provides a nice escape.

    • CalsPals

      May 6, 2020 at 8:49 am

      Very well said…go O’s…

  7. BirdsCaps

    May 5, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    After posting my book length response on the steroid question, I realized that I have a question about the pro-induction position. Is there a strong argument that involves the popularity of the game? (E.g. is there a popular position that advocates letting the juicers in to save baseballs image and popularity?) If this is a somewhat popular argument, it’s similar to the switch in time that saved nine, a new deal era change in jurisprudence by scotus.

  8. willmiranda

    May 6, 2020 at 9:53 am

    If I may offer a compromise: A new wing in Cooperstown named “Alleged Hall of Famers.”

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