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Terrerobytes: Hall of Fame letter obscures Hall of Fame ballot

Plus: Eloy Jimenez has swag, Omar Vizquel has no comment, and more

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MLB: Baseball Hall of Fame-Induction Ceremony Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Hall of Fame’s passive-aggressive handling of steroid-suspected candidates broke new ground this week when Joe Morgan sent an email missive to all voters imploring them to omit unnamed players — certainly Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and probably some others — from their ballot.

While the email may have looked like a personal plea from Morgan, it was signed with his title (vice chairman) and sent with his Hall email address, making it the most official statement from the museum about the topic.

Morgan’s thoughts are reductive and sanctimonious in the way I’ve written about before — broadly dismissing eligible candidates from the era ignores baseball’s rich history of rule-breaking and corner-cutting, and trying to sniff out clean players from dirty ones is silly when users have already been enshrined. (Since that post, Bud Selig was inducted immediately, and he was the guy who oversaw and profited handsomely from the whole era. And a strike.)

On one hand, Morgan simply voices the argument that has already resulted in Bonds and Clemens’ unsuccessful-to-date candidacies. On the other, he’s trying to use his influence to make the media decide whether the museum should serve its honorees or its patrons. Morgan said Hall of Famers may not show up to Induction Weekend and other official events if Bonds/Clemens/whoever else gets in, and as Jay Jaffe notes, this stance may have its own motives:

Boswell's player has never been definitively identified, but the story underscores just how belated Morgan's letter is, to say nothing of its other problems, not the least of which is self interest. With election to the Hall of Fame comes a small windfall that can amount to millions of dollars via higher fees for autographs and other memorabilia, a phenomenon chronicled in Zev Chafets' 2009 book, Cooperstown Confidential. So when Morgan and his peers fret about the honor being diluted, there's a financial incentive at stake. Since 2001, when the institution began an endless cycle of tinkering with the Veterans Committee, panels featuring living Hall of Famers haven't elected a single living ex-player and have elected just three deceased ones, only one of whom (Ron Santo) played in the post-1960 expansion era. Particularly when held against the much higher frequency with which the older VC elected players, one can't dismiss the motives of players unwilling to extend the honor.

Morgan has already exercised his ability to reject future members with no PED connections as part of the Veterans Committee, and he has skipped previous induction ceremonies for lesser reasons (he missed the year Ryne Sandberg was inducted, which didn’t seem like a coincidence). It wasn’t enough that he had say in shutting down one of the avenues to honor worthy players — now he’s here meddling in the BBWAA vote, too.

Whether they support or reject the qualifications of Bonds and Clemens, voters with voices don’t seem all that impressed by Morgan’s note, which is good. I guess this is an attempt to answer previous pleas to the museum for guidance, but by downplaying previous enshrinees of poor character (Morgan called them “colorful characters”) and merely restating the whole dilemma (there’s no way to definitely judge without a failed test), he sounds more interested in keeping the Hall small rather than pure.

Morgan’s letter came two days after the ballot was released, casting a cloud over what should be a pretty fun Hall of Fame argument season. Baseball can’t get out of its own way sometimes.


I appreciate Jimenez’s rationale for playing in the Dominican Winter League:

That’s a lot of baseball, which is a good thing, according to Jimenez.

“It's just a matter of conditioning your body to your routine,” he said. “This is just a good way for us to get ready for when the time comes for us to play in the World Series, probably two, three years ahead.”

Spring training games are now on the 2018 calendar. The White Sox will open their Cactus League season against the Dodgers on Feb. 23.

While it’s been reported that Omar Vizquel will manage the Winston-Salem Dash next year, he wouldn’t comment on it officially (probably because it means Willie Harris is going somewhere else).

Vizquel is, however, reportedly in line to take over as manager for the Chicago White Sox’s Single-A team in Winston-Salem, according to multiple reports. He did not want to discuss that possibility when asked about his plans.

“This is not official yet,” he said. “I’ve been talking to them, going back and forth, but there’s nothing official yet. I really don’t want to talk about it before it becomes official because I don’t want to count the chickens before they (hatch).”

A pitch clock is coming, and it probably won’t be that big of a deal, for better (pitchers work faster than the clock when the bases are empty) or worse (the bases aren’t often empty).

Also, one small move:

Between Leonard and Casey Gillaspie, the Charlotte Knights could be transferring Durham’s infield corners two hours west.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.