Will Bagwell Grab HOF Brass Ring on First Try?

Bert Blyleven Likely to Finally Make it in 2011.

Jeff Bagwell (449 HR, among other things) gets his first shot at the Baseball Hall of Fame today. Bert Blyleven (287 Wins) probably finally gets his 75% vote total for election. And a whole lot of other arguably worthwhile candidates arrive for their first or umpteenth ballot check off from writers who may either hoist them to the Hall of Fame or leave them dangling in cruel suspension for years over everything from  questions of performance deservedness to the taint of suspicion about their use of steroids as active players.

In 2010, Mark McGwire (128 votes/23.7%) appeared on the ballot as the poster boy for steroid reputational delay of support. It’s likely that Big Mac will be joined in 2011 by Rafael Palmeiero and that these two men will be joined in limbo someday by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens when both of these great ones also finally become eligible for consideration. It’s simply the dirty-business issue that won’t go away – and the stain of implicit blame could spread even broader, depending on voter memories of “Popeye-like” muscles that suddenly disappeared again in some players once their playing careers were all said and done.

Here’s how the ballot of top candidates looks as we await the results to be announced today. It’s likely that Bert Blyleven will finally make it through the golden door, but we will know for sure about that guess at 1:00 PM. Roberto Alomar could also make it in this time.  A player has to garner 75% of the vote total  for HOF election – and that is never as easy as it first looks. I’ve included the vote totals and percentage that each top candidate on the ballot in 2010 received. The list of new candidates follows in alphabetical order:

Returning Player Candidates (2010 Vote Totals/Vote %):

Andre Dawson (420/77.9%) – elected in 2010

Bert Blyleven (400/74.2%)

Roberto Alomar (397/73.7%)

Jack Morris (282/52.3%)

Other Leading Candidates in 2011:

Along with Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, John Olerud, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, and Larry Walker, among other notables, are also on the 2011 ballot for consideration.

Good luck to Jeff Bagwell on his first try!

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9 Responses to “Will Bagwell Grab HOF Brass Ring on First Try?”

  1. Mark Wernick Says:

    Bill, here is an excerpt from a Jerry Crasnick interview of Jeff Bagwell a few days ago. Based on what Bagwell says here about the use of PEDs, would you say he helped his HOF case? Will this interview add BBWAA votes to his total? For me, these comments put the nail in the coffin of my Bagwell vote – if I had a vote.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hof11/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=5963276

    “You know how I feel about it, truthfully? If a guy is making the minimum salary and he looks across the field and thinks he has to take something to stay in the big leagues, I have no problem with that. You’re trying to do the best you can. As baseball players, we don’t have an earning power for years to come. If you have to do something for your family, I have no problem with that.

    “Now, if you’re the best player in game and you start taking stuff? I still don’t have that big a problem with it. I know you took it, but it doesn’t matter.

    “People can say anything they want about Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, but it was fun to watch. Barry Bonds is the best player I’ve ever seen. He would stand on first base and say, ‘If they throw that pitch again, I’m taking them deep.’ Then guess what? The next at-bat, he would take them deep. He could steal a base anytime he wanted to steal a base, and he was always safe. I’ve only seen three or four people who could ever do that.

    “No matter what anybody says about Barry or Mark, who I love to death, they were great players and they were fun to watch. When you get older and stuff happens, maybe you think, ‘I have to do something now [to compete].’

    “Here’s my whole thing when people ask me about the Hall of Fame: Would I be honored to death to be in the Hall of Fame? Of course I would. But it doesn’t consume me at all. I loved every single part of what I did as a baseball player. But I’ve got my kids, I’ve got my family, and getting in the Hall of Fame isn’t going to affect my life one way or the other. And it won’t make me feel any better about my career.

    “I’m so sick and tired of all the steroids crap, it’s messed up my whole thinking on the subject. I hate to even use this word, but it’s become almost like a ‘buzz kill’ for me.

    “So much has gone on in the last eight or nine years, it’s kind of taken some of the valor off it for me. If I ever do get to the Hall of Fame and there are 40 guys sitting behind me thinking, ‘He took steroids,’ then it’s not even worth it to me. I don’t know if that sounds stupid. But it’s how I feel in a nutshell.”

  2. Mark Wernick Says:

    He so much as almost admits that he did use, in an inadvertent way, even as he denies using several paragraphs earlier. He says, “If I ever do get to the Hall of Fame and there are 40 guys sitting behind me thinking, ‘He took steroids,’ then it’s not even worth it to me. I don’t know if that sounds stupid. But it’s how I feel in a nutshell.”

    It does sound stupid. Very stupid – and he apparently realizes how stupid it sounds. Instead of being proud of himself for getting in while playing clean (like Ryne Sandberg was), he’ll feel bad “if” 40 guys are sitting behind him thinking he used. I’m thinking most especially if, numbered among those 40, are guys named Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa, Giambi, or Ramirez. Because I suspect Bagwell would feel guilty, knowing what those guys know about him, while he (unlike them) managed never to be caught or outed in any way. So if Bagwell does an end-run into the HOF around his pals, who are excluded because they’re the ones caught with their pants down, he’ll feel ashamed, not proud, as he’s enshrined in Cooperstown with baseball’s greatest honor in front of his peers who know the truth about him. It wouldn’t be worth it to him. So he’d devalue the honor. He wouldn’t devalue the behavior of the people who dishonored the game, but he would devalue the honor itself. It reeks. It’s contemptible. There is absolutely nothing at all to respect about that stance.

    What would be honorable would be to preserve the value of the honor itself by speaking out against those who used. He should be proud of himself for playing clean and getting into the HOF anyway even while surrounded by guys who posted bigger numbers playing dirty. Darn it, he should be proud of himself for getting in without using PEDs when he could have posted much bigger numbers by using. I just HATE what he said! And I’m telling you, I totally loved that guy throughout his career. I’m not speaking self-righteously about this. I’m flat out in pain here.

    He’s defending his buddies who used, and he’s contemplating devaluing baseball’s greatest honor as well, because he thinks it’s okay that his buddies used, and that’s a very big problem for me. So if he really did use, I’d much rather he come out and say so, and sit out the HOF along with his good buddies, than follow through on his proclivity to devalue the honor of getting into the HOF because he’s ashamed his peers will look down on him knowing he used and got in. Either that, or, if he didn’t use, then just say he now realizes he should never have condoned the improper behavior of his fellow professionals.

  3. Fully Says:

    I didn’t read it that way at all Mark, he said in a different part of the interview that he didn’t use them because he didn’t need to, he could put up 40 bombs and 120 rbi without them.

    He simply refused to throw anyone under the bus, for any reason including his late friend Ken Caminiti, which is in keeping with Jeff’s character.

    One thing I found interesting is Finley, Gonzo, Cammi and co had their big outlier (read suspicious) break out power year AFTER they left the Astros, if steroids were part of the Astros “culture” you would think they had done it before.

    Yes, Jeff may have used….the before/after pictures aren’t evidence, but they are compelling. But, unless there is some kind of proof, there is certainly doubt in my mind he did anything other than work-out like a madman. Innocent til proven guilty/tie goes to the runner and I would vote him in on my first ballot.

    I actually am GLAD that he isn’t railing in anguish against those who “besmirched the integrity of the game”. When he was between the lines he just played, now it seems he just talks about what it was like, not obsessing over what others might or might not have been doing.

  4. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Actually, it sounds like a man who is tired of having to prove a negative, tired of having to answer when he stopped beating his wife. I’m afraid that, like Clemens, every ham-handed denial makes him look that much more guilty even while there’s no proof. In Bagwell’s case, there’s not even an accuser – only whispers and innuendos. How does a man defend against that?

    But let’s be clear. There are two types of PED users – the ones trying to heal an injury faster than nature allows and those who are trying to become stronger than they’d otherwise be. The first type is only guilty of trying not to let their team down, of trying to fulfill a contract signed. The other is guilty of trying to take his performance to new heights.

    But PEDs don’t help you hit a baseball or steal a base or field your position. They help you turn warning-track outs into home runs or, for a pitcher, add a little extra zip to a fastball. The athlete still has to make contact with the ball or still has to control the pitch. You could pump me full of all the steroids you want and lock me into a weight room for three months and I still wouldn’t be able to throw a fastball 90 mph or hit home runs because I’m not a good athlete.

    With maybe the exception of McGwire, all these others were amazing athletes whether they cheated or not and I think that’s what Bagwell is trying to say. They’re amazing athletes who did amazing things he admires. If they made themselves 10% better than they otherwise would have been without the PEDs, would they suddenly no longer be amazing at 10% less performance than they gave? For guys like Bonds and Clemens, I think the answer is obvious. For some others, maybe less so.

  5. gary Says:

    What Bob and Fully said.

    I’m just so mad right now I don’t where to begin with the BBWAA. I guess it’s not even worth the bother. I mean what can you do with a group that thinks a slightly above average pitcher (Jack Morris,not Blyleven) is more Hall worthy than the 4th best first baseman in baseball history?

  6. gary Says:

    This is funny – someone hacked the BBWAA website earlier today!

  7. Wayne Williams Says:

    Bill: You forgot Larry Walker. With his three batting titles and one MVP, he deserves election. He ranks just below midpoint among the 24 rightfielders in the Hall and in the top five in some categories.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Wayne: Even though he failed to make it again this year, I’ve added the name of Larry Walker to the list of deserving candidates who were up for consideration this year. No doubt about it. Walker was great. No about it too. – A lot of great ones get passed over – and often without clear reason, – Why isn’t reliever Lee Smith already in the Hall? In 18 seasons (1980-1997), Smith ran up a tab of 478 Saves and a 3.03 ERA. – What else does a closer have to do to reach the HOF?

  8. Mark Wernick Says:

    All good comments, but I’d feel a heck of a lot better if Bagwell would put some (verbal) distance between himself and those who were caught using.

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