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Bob Nightengale, the vote that interested me most


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For those who don't know, Bob Nightengale, now of USA Today, has been calling out the MLB for their obvious turning of the blind eye to steroid use for many years.

The Mitchell Report (embarrassingly, in my opinion) looks at the McGwire/Sosa HR chase of 1998 as a point of revelation, and treats 1988-1998, the period from which Canseco was first accused of using steroids through the *61 HR chase, as a period in which there may have been 'early signs' of steroid use. :rolleyes:

The Mitchell Report provides 80+ articles as articles that contributed to bringing the steroid issue to light in MLB prior to August 1998. Bob Nightengale was the author of 9 of those articles.

In July 1995, Nightengale wrote an article for the LA Times entitled , Steroids Become an Issue; Baseball: Many Fear Performance-Enhancing

Drugs Is Becoming Prevalent and Believe Something Must Be Done.

Before Canseco or Caminiti ever claimed that a huge percentage of MLB players were using steroids, Nightengale threw the below last paragraph into this Nov. 1996 The Sporting News article about the potential pending free agency of Albert Belle and Barry Bonds:

Dirty little secret

When will baseball pull its head out of the sand and start checking for steroids? It is raging completely out of control, and several players, general managers, managers and umpires tell me that more than 50 percent of the players in the game are using them.

For those who don't know, before the internet was the full-fledged internet of today, The Sporting News had a nice stretch as the place to go for the stat-geeks and roto players for their morning box scores.

So, as you can imagine, Nightengale's HoF vote was of particular interest this year. Here it is:

Bob Nightengale

•Alomar: There have been better offensive second basemen, but no one was the complete package like Alomar.

•Blyleven: Besides 287 wins, he had 60 shutouts — more than all but eight Hall of Famers — and 3,701 strikeouts.

•Fred McGriff: Remove the players linked to steroids during his time, and McGriff ranks second in homers, first in RBI and third in hits from 1988 to 2002.

•Palmeiro: I refuse to exclude him, because we don't know who was clean and who was dirty during his era.

•Jack Morris: He won 20 games twice and 19 games once and led his teams to four World Series titles.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/hallfame/2010-12-29-hall-of-fame-preview_N.htm

Based on this, I suspect that he'll add Bagwell in a year or two. Maybe he likes cumulative stats. Maybe he's into there being a difference between a 'first ballot' HoF'er vs a HoF'er. Maybe he, having seen things more close up than most of us, suspects Bagwell on steroids is a no-brainer. It's hard to tell since Nightengale hasn't chimed in specifically about his own 'no' votes.

Here are a couple really nice articles Nightengale has put out since the vote:

Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven voted into the Hall of Fame

http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=rgj&sParam=42254086.story' rel="external nofollow">

Hall of Fame snub disappoints Rafael Palmeiro (just about half an hour ago)

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I don't see how anyone can justify voting for some of the steroid users but not all (how do you vote Palmeiro and not McGwire?) I can understand voting for them all, or none of them, but how do you vote for one and not the other?

I like how Nightengale gives Morris credit for leading the Jays to the 1993 world series. When he was 7-12 with an era over 6 and never appeared in the postseason.

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•Fred McGriff: Remove the players linked to steroids during his time, and McGriff ranks second in homers, first in RBI and third in hits from 1988 to 2002

•Palmeiro: I refuse to exclude him, because we don't know who was clean and who was dirty during his era.

Anyone else see some inconsistency here?

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I don't see how anyone can justify voting for some of the steroid users but not all (how do you vote Palmeiro and not McGwire?) I can understand voting for them all, or none of them, but how do you vote for one and not the other?

I like how Nightengale gives Morris credit for leading the Jays to the 1993 world series. When he was 7-12 with an era over 6 and never appeared in the postseason.

Palmerio was a more rounded ballplayer. I would put Palmerio into the hall before big Mac.

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Yes and no. I see his line of thinking. He's saying that he's not going to penalize the steroid users. However, keeping that in mind, he's going to give a helping hand to "clean players" (according to him being sole judge and jury but that's his perogative) whose stats might look better if the era had been steroids free.

Sure. But on one hand he's saying that you can't ID the steroid users, but then turns around and throws out "all" of the steroid users ahead of Fred McGriff. How does he know where McGriff would rank if you removed the users, if he admits you don't know who used?

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I agree, but if you're going to allow those that have been associated with steroids into the Hall, McGuire should make it in too, on stats alone in my opinion of course.

Thats fine, but if you think Palmerio > McGuire then you can agree that someone might put their personal hall cutoff between those two.

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Thats fine, but if you think Palmerio > McGuire then you can agree that someone might put their personal hall cutoff between those two.

Then you have to deal with the fact that there are about 70 HOF position players who had career values lower than McGwire, and that your personal Hall cutoff excludes about 1/2 of all inducted players. McGwire really is about at the 50th percentile of current HOF position players in career value. Raffy is maybe in the 55th percentile, about on par with Brooks and Tony Gwynn.

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Then you have to deal with the fact that there are about 70 HOF position players who had career values lower than McGwire, and that your personal Hall cutoff excludes about 1/2 of all inducted players. McGwire really is about at the 50th percentile of current HOF position players in career value. Raffy is maybe in the 55th percentile, about on par with Brooks and Tony Gwynn.

Not me, a hypothetical someone.

Which would be fine, if someone wanted a small hall. I think the majority of folks would admit that there are a number of folks in the hall that are not up to their standards of what a hall of fame career looks like. I would have no problem at all with a voter then only voted yes on overwhelming candidates, it makes more sense then voting for Morris and not Blyleven.

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Not me, a hypothetical someone.

Which would be fine, if someone wanted a small hall. I think the majority of folks would admit that there are a number of folks in the hall that are not up to their standards of what a hall of fame career looks like. I would have no problem at all with a voter then only voted yes on overwhelming candidates, it makes more sense then voting for Morris and not Blyleven.

I guess. I just have a problem with what that implies. When I was a kid I went to the Hall and bought the program with all the bios of all the HOFers and I really thought that everyone there was a great player, and everyone worse than that just wasn't. But now I know that's not the case - and a small-Hall advocate will just exacerbate that problem. We'll exclude, say, Trammell, include Rizzuto, and if you didn't know any better you'd think Rizzuto was better than Trammell when he's really 50% worse.

Maybe that's not the world's biggest concern. But I find it hard to set a line in the sand that's miles higher than the current standard of those already inducted.

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I guess. I just have a problem with what that implies. When I was a kid I went to the Hall and bought the program with all the bios of all the HOFers and I really thought that everyone there was a great player, and everyone worse than that just wasn't. But now I know that's not the case - and a small-Hall advocate will just exacerbate that problem. We'll exclude, say, Trammell, include Rizzuto, and if you didn't know any better you'd think Rizzuto was better than Trammell when he's really 50% worse.

Maybe that's not the world's biggest concern. But I find it hard to set a line in the sand that's miles higher than the current standard of those already inducted.

I see what you are saying but I can also see the argument of why let more mistakes in just because prior mistakes have occurred. Just because Rizzuto and Rice are in does not mean that the entrance level should be reduced to them.

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I see what you are saying but I can also see the argument of why let more mistakes in just because prior mistakes have occurred. Just because Rizzuto and Rice are in does not mean that the entrance level should be reduced to them.

There aren't any performance standards in the Hall, outside of "played for 10 years". So the only standards are the de facto standards set by who was already inducted.

This is just a matter of opinion, obviously, but it seems to me that small Hall people are saying they wish the Hall had ended up being more exclusive. And since it wasn't they're going to raise the standards for the future, despite already having 80 years of inductees held to a lower standard. It's changing the rules in the middle of the game.

I think the only fair solution is tiers. You have 4 or 5 Hall of Fame tiers, with the lowest being represented by Jim Rice, Phil Rizzuto, and the Frankie Frisch-led VC selections.

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Yes and no. I see his line of thinking. He's saying that he's not going to penalize the steroid users. However, keeping that in mind, he's going to give a helping hand to "clean players" (according to him being sole judge and jury but that's his perogative) whose stats might look better if the era had been steroids free.

But he's saying there is no way of knowing who used and who didn't, so how can he decide to give anyone extra credit?

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Palmerio was a more rounded ballplayer. I would put Palmerio into the hall before big Mac.

That's true and he did have more career value as Drungo points out, but Big Mac was clearly the better player imo. Raffy just played a lot more, which he deserves some credit for.

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I guess. I just have a problem with what that implies. When I was a kid I went to the Hall and bought the program with all the bios of all the HOFers and I really thought that everyone there was a great player, and everyone worse than that just wasn't. But now I know that's not the case - and a small-Hall advocate will just exacerbate that problem. We'll exclude, say, Trammell, include Rizzuto, and if you didn't know any better you'd think Rizzuto was better than Trammell when he's really 50% worse.

Maybe that's not the world's biggest concern. But I find it hard to set a line in the sand that's miles higher than the current standard of those already inducted.

Of course it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Statistically Best. Intangibles such as impact on the game, or the fact that a player played on more winners, can and do affect voting, and I can't say there's anything wrong with that. Your statement has an implicit underlying assumption that HOF induction should be based solely on career value as determined by the best available stats. And nothing but the stats.

I have no problem if a guy who wasn't as good a player (say Jack Morris) gets into the Hall of Fame becasue of postseason performances that go down in the lore and history of baseball. Is it "fair" to an excluded player who may have a higher career WAR than Morris? Maybe not, but life isn't fair. The best ball player I ever saw was named Bo Jackson, and it's not "fair" that injuries ended his career and thus he isn't in the HOF. That's just the way it goes.

It makes for great argument, and anyone who thinks they can "settle" it by using hte latest/greatest stat as an end-all be-all arbiter is doing nothing but trying to take away the most fun thing about the HoF -- the arguing! :)

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