Could the Baseball Hall of Fame Remove an Inductee?

In the wake of the recent decision to change the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street, writers like me are wondering if the National Baseball Hall of Fame will follow a similar path. Hall of Famer Cap Anson, the first player to reach 3,000 hits (though that’s debatable), is largely responsible for segregation in baseball. Then there’s Hall of Famer George Weiss, who was general manager for the New York Yankees and New York Mets. According to the book Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee, Weiss allegedly once said out loud at a cocktail party that he “would never allow a black man to wear a Yankee uniform.” So it is possible that we might see the Hall of Fame remove inductees like Anson and Weiss? The short answer is no.

This notion is difficult to consider. On one hand, no one wants racists in the Hall of Fame.hall of fame remove On the other hand, do we risk erasing history? Many writers say no. “…without them we wouldn’t be able to understand history,” says baseball writer Don Tincher. “I’m not a big fan of destroying the past even if we don’t like it. We need to use things like that to teach others.”

“I think the HOF should simply be based on merit, how they played and performed in the game,” says Erik Sherman, author of Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond. “If we start going down a path of who was a model citizen and who was not, it becomes a slippery slope.”

It’s safe to assume that removing inductees from the Baseball Hall of Fame would quickly become a catastrophe. The Hall of Fame could remove Anson and Weiss. However, calls for the removal of other players would make all the inductees vulnerable, making the Hall of Fame a shrine of questionable morals instead of a shrine to baseball talent.

We Won’t See the Hall of Fame Remove Controversial Inductees, but The BBWAA Will Keep them Out

We likely won’t see the Hall of Fame remove inductees anytime soon. It’s fair to say though that there’s a few eligible former players who won’t make it in because of their inflammatory views and ideas. In the summer of 2015, Curt Schilling sent a tweet equating Muslim extremists with Nazi Germany. Schilling, a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series Champion, received 45% of the vote in 2016, thirty points fewer than needed for induction. While he received 51.2% this year, one cannot deny that Schilling’s inflammatory comments are hurting his chances for induction.

In my opinion, Schilling’s inability to get enough votes for induction reflects the Baseball Writers Association of America’s (BBWAA) belief that there is no more room for players with controversial views in the Hall of Fame. Many make the valid argument that consideration for induction should rely solely on their numbers and actions on the field. But where do you draw the line?

I’m not calling Schilling a bigot; I really don’t think he is. But it’s hard to look past his comments. Major League Baseball wants to promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion. With that said, I can’t see someone like Schilling getting inducted. The MLB doesn’t really have a say in who gets inducted each year. However, it’s clear that the induction of players whose views contradict Major League Baseball’s policy on diversity and inclusion could become a can of worms that the Hall of Fame and the MLB don’t want to open.

The Baseball Hall of Fame probably won’t go the way the City of Boston did with renaming Yawkey Way. It’s also unlikely we’ll see the Hall of Fame remove any players. But that doesn’t mean that the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee won’t scrutinize future candidates. Their opinions, regardless of whether they have anything to do with baseball or not, shouldn’t parallel someone like George Weiss’.

Will Supreme Court Ruling Put Pete Rose in the Hall?

The Supreme Court of the United States voted 6-3 today to strike down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The law forbade state-authorized sports gambling in every state except Nevada. According to foxsports.com, Americans place illegal bets on sports totaling $150 billion a year. One of those Americans is Pete Rose, who Major League Baseball banned for life in 1989 for betting on baseball games. Some supporters see this ruling as a renewed chance to put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for them, this ruling has no bearing on Rose at all.

Rose violated baseball’s internal rules on gambling, which is separate from today’s ruling.put pete rose Despite no connection, many of Rose’s fans immediately began to wonder if this ruling might nudge the MLB towards reconsidering his lifetime ban. The National Baseball Hall of Fame decided that anyone who is banned from Major League Baseball is not eligible of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those on the lifetime ban list include Shoeless Joe Jackson and Hal Chase. It’s an interesting idea to consider. The problem though is that the MLB has already ruled on Rose’s reinstatement. In other words, Rose’s chances of being reinstated are about as strong as me getting a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Princeton University.

Push to Put Pete Rose in Hall of Fame Continue to Hit Dead End

There are many baseball fans who’d love nothing more than to put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. He certainly has the numbers. But his fans need to remember that gambling laws had very little to do with his lifetime ban. I think Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. The Supreme Court’s ruling isn’t the nudge that’ll make that happen though. Rose accepted MLB’s lifetime ban in 1989 and should have understood what that meant. Confessing to gambling in 2004 didn’t help his case. So why would this ruling be any different?

Which Active Red Sox Player Has the Best Chance at Cooperstown?

Cooperstown, New York remains as baseball’s hallowed grounds. It is there whereCooperstown past legends are forever remembered within the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year, the Boston Red Sox are off to a historic start. Their roster is filled with many talented players. But which of those players has the best chance at going to Cooperstown and joining these hallowed few?

 

 

Craig Kimbrel

Earlier this month, Kimbrel became the youngest closer ever to reach 300 saves. He was also the NL leader in saves from 2011-2014 before joining the Red Sox in 2016. Throughout his entire career as a closer, he has recorded at least 30 saves in each season. In 2011, he was the NL Rookie of the Year and is a six-time all-star, including last season in which he had a 1.43 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. The only active closers with more saves are Huston Street, Fernando Rodney, and Francisco Rodriguez, all of which are significantly older than Kimbrel. When all is said and done, I believe Craig Kimbrel will join Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Dennis Eckersley as the best to ever close.

Mookie Betts

Of any player on the Red Sox in the last decade, Betts has the highest ceiling. The combination of his power, speed, and defensive prowess have put him in the upper echelon of players in today’s game as well as team history. This season he is currently tied for first in home runs, second in average, second in doubles, first in slugging, and first in OPS league-wide. At age 25, Betts likely still has at least ten years of highly-productive seasons left. At the end of his career, Betts will have a good shot at making it to the Hall.

Chris Sale

Few left-handed pitchers have been as dominant in their early careers as Chris Sale.  Among active pitchers, he trails only Clayton Kershaw in career ERA, opponent average, and WHIP. That being said, Kershaw has 29 more career starts than Sale and is slightly older. His win-loss record is 95-59, which is lower than his contemporaries, however he was a part of some poor Chicago White Sox teams. While not even 30, I believe Sale still has the ability for 3-5 more dominant years and 7-9 more strong seasons. To make his way to Cooperstown, he’ll need to avoid serious injury and stay on competitive teams.

Dustin Pedroia

Of any Red Sox, Pedroia is the most intriguing to talk about in terms of Hall of Fame prospects. There is no question that he has remained the heart and soul of this franchise throughout his career, no matter the circumstance. However, he has begun to show signs of physical wearing down via frequent injuries, especially in the second half of his career. That being said, he has never batted lower than .278 in a season and has never committed more than six errors in a season. He is a 4-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time All-Star, a 2008 MVP, and the only Red Sox player other than Kimbrel to win Rookie of the Year. He will forever be remembered as the catalyst for the team in this era.

Cooperstown Breakdown

So who has the best chance of these four? The easy answer is that it depends. I think the best way of looking at Hall of Fame prospects is three-pronged. The first is did they win during their careers; was their impact big enough to yield pennants and championships. Between the four, only Pedroia has a World Series ring. However, all four have been a part of winning teams, even though they’re all in different parts of their careers.

The second, and most obvious, is their career numbers and stats. Frankly, I would not have written this article if it weren’t apparent that these guys had the accolades to be in the conversation.

That leads me to the last and most intriguing factor: their era and its comparables. In other words, what was the climate of baseball at their respective position in terms of character, performance, and competition? For Sale, he’s had Kershaw and Madison Baumgarner, as well as Justin Verlander. For Kimbrel, he entered the league as Rivera and Hoffman were leaving. Betts will always have the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper comparison on his back. Pedroia’s main counterpart throughout his career was Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler never really won anything. His other main comparison was always Robbie Cano, but Cano’s latest PED scandal will likely dampen his reputation a bit.

Given all these variables, I believe that Kimbrel has the best chance because there are few closers in his era to compare him to besides Aroldis Chapman, who has character problems of his own. If Betts and Sale can continue dominating and avoid the pitfalls of free agency, they could make it there too. Should Pedroia finish strong like I expect, he’ll always have my support too.

Show me your thoughts!

I ran a Twitter with a similar question last week, and this is what I gathered. Feel free to tweet with your thoughts or leave comments below. 

The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Boston Red Sox

Have you ever been at Fenway Park watching a game, and begin to wonder about the Red Sox’s team history? It’s not difficult to do. Signs, monuments, and vintage artifacts are seen throughout Fenway. Those relics of the past and present can (and do) catch people’s interest. With so many Red Sox history books out there though, which would you pick? Evan Drellich’s The Big 50: The Men and Moments that the Boston Red Sox, is a great book that gives brief but excellent details about the fifty biggest moments in Red Sox history.

With a forward written by former Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis, Drellich divides the book into fifty sections. EachThe Big 50 section spends about five or six pages detailing a famous event or player from the Boston Red Sox. What makes The Big 50 such a great book is that Drellich doesn’t just talk about Ted Williams, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez. Drellich discusses major events in the nation’s history, and how those events affected the Red Sox. For example, there’s an entire chapter about Ortiz’s famous words: “This is our F’ing city,” that details Ortiz’s message to Boston in the wake of the marathon bombing in 2013. Drellich also mentions Bucky “F–kin” Dent’s home run (still a sore subject in Beantown). While I think Drellich should have ranked Ted Williams #1 instead of #3, I still think his short bio of “The Splendid Splinter” is amazing.

The Big 50 is a Great Companion Book for Any Fan Going to Fenway

The book magnificently balances older history with more recent events in Red Sox history. Drellich spends time discussing Tony C, and 1986. He mentions more modern era players like Dustin Pedroia and Curt Schilling, too. I particularly like how Drellich includes quotes from interviews with players like Jim Rice, Jim Lonborg, and Theo Epstein. This book is one of the more thorough and detailed books about the Red Sox to come out in recent years. That’s not to discount other books about the team. But if fans are looking for something concise about Red Sox history without wanting to read a 500+ page book, the The Big 50 is perfect.

The Big 50 is an excellent book that no Red Sox fan should go without. It’s small enough to fit in a bag and take with you to Fenway Park. So whether you’re a die-hard fan like me, or just a casual fan, you’ll appreciate this book!

Book Review of Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox

Rumors about Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey’s racism have persisted for years. Yawkey, who owned the Red Sox from 1933 until his death in 1976, owned the last team to integrate in 1959. Critics point out how the team declined to sign Jackie Robinson following a tryout at Fenway in 1945. Journalists and historians tell different stories about the tryout itself. Author Bill Nowlin explores these stories, along with all the other aspects of Yawkey’s life, in his biography Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox.

During an August 2017 interview, Nowlin told me that “…in all my research I never foundTom Yawkey any hard evidence – no ‘smoking gun’ – to indicate that Tom Yawkey himself was personally racist.” In fact, Nowlin mentions that sportswriter Clif Keane may have fabricated the story about the racial epithet altogether. Nowlin, however, does not completely exonerate Yawkey. “…on 24 hours’ notice [Yawkey] could have ensured the Red Sox had an African American ballplayer. The facts show that the team was institutionally racist up until at least 1959.”

Dick Johnson of the Sports Museum of New England, who is quoted throughout the book, concurs. “It was stupidity and bad management…It was only years afterward when Neil Mahoney and Dick O’Connell and Ed Kenney and the really good, intelligent, colorblind (for the most part) staffers they had were allowed to have a say and to have a little bit of control over things [that things changed].”

These themes, as well as other aspects of Yawkey’s life, are meticulously detailed in Nowlin’s biography of a complex man.

Nowlin’s Biography Gives Tom Yawkey His Day In Court

While Nowlin goes into great detail about how Yawkey is remember today, he doesn’t make it the focal point. Nowlin gives his readers a complete and thorough narrative about who Yawkey was as an owner and a person. Norlin describes a man who went to great lengths to take care of others, including members of the opposing team. This vivid description gives readers all the information they need to make their own judgement call about the man.

The tremendous attention to detail throughout the entire book makes it difficult to second guess Nowlin’s scholarship. Nowlin relies on previous research that he painstakingly cites, while providing a fresh and insightful story of his own. The accounts and perspectives he was able to extract through personal interviews are the highlight of the biography. Readers will also appreciate Nowlin’s exploration of what happened to the Red Sox in the years following Yawkey’s death. His detailed account of the post-Yawkey years suggest that the impact he had on the team, and the City of Boston, was so great that it’s impossible to end the book with his death.

There are only a handful of other writers who rival Nowlin’s contributions to the history of the Red Sox. His biography of Tom Yawkey solidifies that accolade, while providing baseball fans and scholars alike with a first-rate biography of a misunderstood man.

Book Review of Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond

Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond tells the story of Davey Johnson, a baseball player-turned-manager who, among other accolades, guided the 1986 New York Mets to a World Series Championship. Johnson co-authored the book with author Erik Sherman and discusses his early days with the Baltimore Orioles, his playing stints in Japan, and his return to the United States where he finished his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1978.

There are many avenues in the book to explore, but Johnson’s interest in sabermetricsdavey johnson will certainly catch readers’ attention. With a strong interest in math and computers, Johnson used computers to calculate different possible lineups for the Orioles. Johnson once processed punch cards with each possible lineup through 27 out 162 times using data from the 1968 season. He used the results to argue that he should bat second in the lineup. This anecdote is one of many about Johnson’s fascination with numbers. His love for numbers served him well in baseball, as well as a successful real estate investor.

Readers will be surprised to find out that Johnson played many significant roles throughout his baseball career. He saw Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974. Johnson also saw Sadaharu Oh also surpass Ruth when he played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He also played a major role in urging the Washington Nationals’ to draft Bryce Harper, who Johnson recognized as a future superstar. All in all, Johnson would finish his playing days with four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner before becoming a big league manager.

Davey Johnson’s Book is a Classic Example of Grace and Agility

Some baseball players write autobiographies in order to settle a score, or tell their side of the story about a controversial issue. Davey Johnson’s autobiography isn’t quite one of those books. While Johnson’s book isn’t void of these topics, he easily could have been more critical than he was about certain people such as George Foster, who once called Johnson a racist, or about Dwight Gooden’s struggles with drug addiction. Johnson instead focuses on his teammates’ and players’ contributions to the game while holding them accountable for their mistakes. While he doesn’t mince words, the book makes it clear that Johnson cared deeply for everyone he worked with, regardless of how they felt about him. Johnson prides himself on the fact that he treated all of his players equally while holding himself responsible as a manager for their well-being.

Davey Johnson is a Real Family Man

While Johnson certainly admits to being cocky at times throughout his career, co-author Erik Sherman articulately and eloquently captures Johnson’s devotion to his family. The book goes into detail about Johnson’s daughter, Andrea, who had been a nationally ranked amateur surfer in the late 1980s who died of complications from Schizophrenia in 2005. In 2011, Johnson also lost Jake, a stepson, who had been visually and hearing impaired throughout most of his life. In the pages detailing these hardships, readers don’t see an overly-confident and cocky ballplayer. They see a man who stopped at nothing to do everything he could for all of his children. Anyone who reads between the lines will clearly see the man has a heart of gold.

Johnson’s book is one of the better and more insightful baseball autobiographies covering the Modern Baseball Era. Johnson’s book sets itself apart from other autobiographies by giving his side of the story without sounding vindictive. He doesn’t just gloss over the major events in his baseball career either. Johnson pays attention to specific detail and gives praise to others where praise is due. After reading My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, sabermetricians, baseball historians, and general fans of the game of baseball will have gained a new and insightful perspective of the game that Davey Johnson clearly loves so much.