With A-Rod and Big Papi on ballot next year, gatekeepers of Cooperstown will face a reckoning

What will Hall voters do next year when A-Rod and Big Papi are on the ballot?
What will Hall voters do next year when A-Rod and Big Papi are on the ballot?
Image: Getty Images

Just as most writers want, to get the affirmation they apparently crave by denying millionaires access to a club, no one will enter the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. Once again, they have kept the sanctuary safe from the heathen of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as they see it. They won’t get to sully the halls like they sullied the game, would be the story the voters would tell you. Funny that the writers don’t get a plaque either.

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Bonds and Clemens are easy to vote against, as both were basically raging dickheds in their playing days. Bonds especially didn’t have use for the press when he was a player, and if anything, this seems to be some sort of revenge tour for the writers he didn’t give the time of day, disguised in a distaste for the supposed methods with which he extended his career (Bonds was a Hall of Famer before 2001, by any measure). Clemens was cantankerous, but not outwardly derisive to the press as he was to opposing players. Again, him not being cuddly is making it easier for voters to play “baseball cop.”

“Cuddly.” That will be an interesting word to remember at this time next year. Because David Ortize becomes eligible. Whatever personality or warmth Bonds and Clemens lacked, Ortiz made up for and then some. By strict on-field accomplishments, Ortiz is a certain entrant. Oh sure, there will be those who try to claim that merely being a DH should preclude Ortiz from getting in, as if anyone in the Hall, aside from Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith, is there for anything other than what they did with the bat.

But Ortiz has the same PED cloud hanging over him that Bonds and Clemens do. He had a positive test result leaked to the press from 2003, which is when Ortiz’s career took off. But throw enough dramatic postseason home runs into the mix, along with a smile to light up a small country, and a constant availability to the media and ad execs, and somehow it all gets lost in the shuffle. You hardly ever hear it mentioned along with Ortiz’s accomplishments, which start with being the anchor of three World Series-winning teams.

Then what?

There’s also the delicious addition of Alex Rodriguez who will also be on the ballot for the first time next year and who admitted to using PEDs. Rodridguez wasn’t prickly with the press, nor cuddly, and in fact devoid of any personality whatsoever, which he’s parlayed into a thoroughly underwhelming and yet never-ending broadcast career. What happens if A-Rod gets on his bullhorn? That’ll be a look.

The parameters that voters have used to keep Bonds and Clemens, and others, out have always had the depth of playing cards, and that’s going to be quite clear come next year. There are people in the Hall of Fame who were far more destructive to the game than those players. It starts with Bud Selig, who put in motion the anti-spending and anti-competitive measures and practices that threaten to destroy the whole enterprise. Selig was at the head of collusion, which begat the strike of ’94, which nearly destroyed the game then. Was that worse than whispered PED use?

It should make for excellent television. Especially after Ortiz is in, or if he isn’t, and watching the city of Boston go full Sokovia.

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Anyway, onto more pressing matters, there was what you would call a bevy of movement on the free-agent market yesterday in baseball. Or at least what passes for that these days. J.T. Realmuto reupped in Philly, becoming the highest-paid catcher in baseball, something he should be, as he’s been the best catcher for the past couple seasons. Lengthy contracts to catchers are always a risk, as they have a tendency to fall off a cliff at age 31 or 32. But the Phillies can always move him to first, and their fans won’t care as the NL East actually acts like a real live baseball division with each team taking aim at the defending champion Braves.

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The Jays continued their armoring to run down the Yankees and Rays by inking Marcus Semien to a one-year deal. The move probably shifts Cavan Biggio to third, which will assure that Vlad Guerrero Jr. stays at first where he’s far less likely to turn inside out as he would with a full season at third. It gives the Jays yet another professional hitter in what is looking a more and more tasty lineup, though awfully right-handed.

Finally, the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons, which will push Jorge Polanco to second, and combined with the 18 games Byron Buxton will play in center will give the Twins one of the best defenses up the middle in recent memory.

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For one day at least, it felt like a real baseball offseason.


To finish things off, here’s Connor McDavid turning the Jets’ Mark Scheifele into one of those bumpers you put into bowling lane gutters for kids, and then erasing Connor Hellebuyck from the equation. You know a shot is a tracer when the goalie is merely raising his hand like a suggestion or he has a question, such as, “What’s the purpose of all this?”

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We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.