New York: The baseball writers may never get it right with their ballots as to who gains enshrinement to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and there is more controversy with David “Big Papi” Ortiz and his first ballot nod that was granted Tuesday as the newest inductee for the class of 2022.
Ortiz, perhaps the premiere modern day designated slugger in the lineup, and fourth Dominican to be enshrined, certainly had the numbers. He met the criteria but the shadow of a steroid era and his possible involvement of using Performance Enhancing Drugs has posed questions and a dark shadow about the Hall of Fame ballot process.
Because Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, perhaps in discussion as the modern day best hitter and pitcher, but were shut out again and no longer eligible for consideration, so the controversy has questioned the integrity of the voting process, the Hall of Fame, and baseball overall.
Though, I would not have placed Ortiz as a first ballot Hall of Famer in his first year of eligibility. I am not eligible to vote with others because I am not a member of the so-called click of writers that comprise the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) which also votes for respective league Rookie of The Year, Manager of The Year, NL AL Cy Young and MVP honors.
Not being associated with the BWAA is another story in itself. I will not dwell on that here. This is briefly about David Oritiz, a previous recipient of the Latino Sports Broadcasters and Writers AL MVP Award when playing for the Boston Red Sox.
Though, Ortiz was bound to be a Hall of Famer. If it wasn’t the first ballot this year there would have been nine other times on the ballot and he was a sure lock to gain enshrinement.
But writers can also look at criteria. They have done that in bypassing Bonds and Clemens, They may never give the necessary 70 percent threshold for Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, or Mark McQuire to qualify and get their day up in Cooperstown because of a steroid era and their involvement with using PEDs.
They did not play the game the right way and it has been chronicled many times, through their denials, except for Rodriquez, who was implicated and suspended for a year when playing for the New York Yankees. They cheated and that also speaks for itself.
And I always said, if Pete Rose has been banned from baseball and also from the Hall of Fame, because he wagered bets on the Cincinnati Reds as a manager and former player, then Bonds, Clemens and others should be barred from the Hall because of their involvement in that dark steroid era of baseball. Rose surely would get my first ballot nod as the all-time hits leader in baseball.
Again, as I have written many times, you can’t take away the accomplishments away from what Pete Rose achieved on the field. Perhaps the same can be said about the steroid era of players that have been implicated and denied their enshrinement to the Hall.
Then again, there are still questions about the allegations and proof despite the Congressional committee investigations that put MLB and the game on a pedestal.
Ortiz, recall, was mentioned numerous times in the Mitchell Report of tha 20-month investigation about PED use in baseball and I revisited that report Tuesday evening hours after Ortiz celebrated with fellow Dominican Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in the Dominican Republic.
Ortiz, then, and still denies his involvement of using PEDs but will always be associated with the steroid era and investigation which has caused this uproar about his first ballot. It caused an uproar again with Bonds and Clemems being bypassed.
Ortiz said about Bonds and Clemens, “Not having them join me is hard for me to believe,to be honest with you. These guys, I did not even compare myself with them.”
Again David Ortiz and a first ballot could be unfair, but the writers and Hall of Fame could not stare at the embarrassment of not having a single inductee a second consecutive year. And if not for their PED allegations or involvement, Bonds and Clemens this time would have been locked in this year.
But that brings up the integrity of this voting process and how to resolve a future nightmare for the Hall of Fame and baseball. Another example is a denial for Curt Schilling, perhaps more known for his postseason accolades that helped the Red Sox to a long awaited World Series championship.
But, Schilling was an adversary to the writers with his far right political views that had nothing to do with baseball. He slandered writers and requested to be omitted from the ballot for future consideration. He got his wish.
Omar Vizquel earned 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop in 24 seasons and two All-Star nods but his numbers at the plate would not add to the Hall of Fame number, though, popular with the writers and baseball world that marveled at his accomplishments. However, Vizquel fell in bad flavor with a domestic violence incident and sexual misconduct during his time as manager of the Birmingham Barons.
Ortiz, he has always been popular with the writers and overall media that has taken on a new career as an analyst with FOX Sports.
In other words, despite what has been published on the last day, popularity will win some votes with the writers. Though it should all be about the numbers and integrity, as are some of the bylaws when writers get their ballot to decide who is in or who is out.
In the end this may never be resolved. But there is more reason now to open the floor and possibly change some of the criteria so that the Hall of Fame and baseball avoids another nightmare next year and thereafter.
Perhaps for those that have an integrity issue, Bonds, Clemens, even Pete Rose, and lost eligibility, will have another chance. The Today’s Game Committee evaluates players from 1988 to present and will conduct their votes in December for the Class of 2023.
Still undetermined, if those bypassed because of a steroid era, or Vizquel will be considered, and if not well it’s goodbye for a Baseball Hall of Fame induction that certainly shows they qualify because of their numbers.
Though, David Ortiz played the game without controversy and was not a cheater. His first ballot may be questioned but is indeed a Hall of Famer.
I always said, a solution to this mess is induct the steroid users, Pete Rose and others.Create a separate wing up in Cooperstown. Note their accomplishments and put an asterisk on the plaque.
In the meantime congratulations “Big Papi ” We will see you come July up in Cooperstown.
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer for Latino Sports. Twitter@Ring786, Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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