The shutout in this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame voting was ugly, but the 2013 ballot and beyond could get downright messy.
Although some of the game’s biggest names were on this year’s ballot, including the greatest hitter and greatest pitcher of my lifetime, no eligible player reached the 75 percent threshold by eligible voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America (a side note, I am a BBWAA member, but have not reached the 10 consecutive years of active membership to receive a vote — 2013 will be my ninth). That means that in addition to the 17 players who received at least five percent of the vote this year and will be eligible when voters get their ballot in December, another impressive first-year-eligible class will join the fray, including Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine and Jeff Kent. Add the carryovers — not just Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but also worthy candidates such as Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and others — and the biggest obstacle for voters will be the 10-man limit on any ballot.
I counted a total of 11 players I considered worthy on this year’s ballot (Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker and Mark McGwire). Those players (and the short for me, but not for everyone, case of Jack Morris, who will be on the ballot for his 15th and final time), plus the newcomers could add a backlog we’ll sort for years to come.
Some voters may soften their stance on the likes of Bonds and Clemens, seeing the one-year delay of enshrinement as suitable “punishment” for those suspected of or having admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
Others may change their thinking on the steroid era and new voters will also gain the right to vote, perhaps pushing the woeful numbers of Clemens (37.6 percent) and Bonds (36.2 percent) over the top.
It may take years for all the voting to get back to normal, but its effect on those with local ties should be minimal. Sean Casey and Dmitri Young are eligible to be included on the ballot this year and likely will see their names drop off after a single year because of the 10-man limit. While that would have probably happened anyway, it could cost Casey an extra year on the ballot. Former Reds Rich Aurilia, Eddie Guardado and David Weathers could join the ballot in 2015, but their chances for induction were minuscule anyway. And then in 2016, no matter who else is on the ballot, Ken Griffey Jr. will be elected by an overwhelming majority.
Thinking Out Loud
After the Bengals took Andy Dalton with the third pick of the second round in the 2011 draft, the 49ers took Colin Kaepernick with the following pick. While Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Kaepernick did something no Bengals quarterback since Boomer Esiason had managed — win a playoff game. Kaepernick didn’t do it alone, of course, but anyone who watched the 49ers beat the Packers saw that Kaepernick was a major reason why San Francisco advanced. Dalton may have been the safe pick, but it looks like the 49ers may have gotten the better quarterback. In hindsight, though, the Bengals needed a quarterback who could step in from Day 1, and that wasn’t Kaepernick. It’s too early to say the Bengals made the wrong choice, but it’s easy to see the 49ers have reason to be happy with Marvin Lewis’ decision. ... Once again the Bengals have lowered prices on some tickets at Paul Brown Stadium for the upcoming season. The team announced that it had expanded its $40 price point. The team also hiked some tickets from $80 to $85. Selling tickets for the far ends of the stadium remains a challenge for the team — and many teams — as it’s easier, cheaper and in some respects much better to watch football from home on big-screen HDTVs. ... It’s fun to talk about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, but we’re still months away from the real thing. But we’re getting closer, and that’s a start. Reds pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 12 and position players report on Feb. 15. The first spring training game is just a week later, Feb. 22. Everything is sped up a little this year because of the World Baseball Classic. ... Mick Cronin’s Bearcats have hit a little hiccup in the early part of the conference season. That shouldn’t worry any UC fan too much — these things happen, especially in January. Although Cronin did put together a little tougher preseason schedule for his team, the start of conference play can always be a bit of a rude awakening. There’s enough talent on this team (if not enough scorers) to make the NCAA Tournament and win a couple of games, regardless of what happens in January. The college basketball season is way too long, and January is kind of the mid-season slumber for teams. What happens at this time of the year has very little bearing on the rest of the season.