Beyond Golf — 05 January 2018 by Bob Sherwin
HOF: Blend of old with solid new class

(Editor’s note: Three Golferswest.com writers, Jim Street, Bob Sherwin and Kirby Arnold were baseball beat writers for most of their newspaper careers, a troika with at least 100 years of coverage and at least 50 years of HOF voting. What that time spent in press boxes, clubhouses and hotel rooms earned all three is a vote for Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Here are their three perspectives and votes on their HOF ballots this year).

This is the first time that my Baseball Hall of Fame ballot contained nearly the maximum (10) number of candidates. My check mark filled nine boxes this year – the most I ever marked – yet those steroids guys once again did not make the cut.

Those guys, you know who – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez – all deserve it. Just not from me. Part of it is that I’m more in the Joe Morgan camp, that their cheating tainted their qualifications. Even the current Hall of Famers do not want them in there.

My feeling all along has been that the HOF should have provided some guidance for those players, at least the ones identified in the Mitchell Report, as to how they should be treated. Such as a designated asterisk. Hall of Fame officials should state that character issues, cheating, lying, denying etc., do not matter. To purposefully enhance their bodies, knowing they are cheating to inflate their numbers, in my view, should have consequences.

That hard stance, once held by the vast majority of voters, seems to be breaking down. All those players are inching closer to the 75 percent threshold for entry. Part of that could be the changing nature of the voting block, more guys into sabermetrics than the press box. Part of it is may be because some of the longtime voters have, for whatever reason, been worn down. I don’t think any new exculpatory evidence has been revealed.

Those voters in the past were adamantly against the PEDers, as it cost Rafael Palmeiro just one year on the ballot when he failed to reach the minimum 5 percent. Mark McGwire dropped off without threatening the threshold but barriers now seem to be falling.

My feeling is to let all of them – and those who follow such as Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, spend their 10 years spinning on the ballot then let the current Hall of Famers decide their fate.

That’s old news. Here’s my votes and view of what the new class should be:

Going once again with several guys nearing the end of their eligibility, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina and Trevor Hoffman. Mussina and Hoffman were close last year and should get over the hump. I also voted for Vladimir Guerrero, who should get in, and Jeff Kent, who never will. Martinez is gathering momentum late in the game but don’t think he’ll have enough. Perhaps next year, his final year.

This is also a big year for newcomers, 19 of them. It’s a solid class, although none with Griffey-like stature. I think voters will come out strong for power hitters Jim Thome and Chipper Jones. Could be first-ballot guys.

The others I voted for (who will fall short) are Omar Vizquel and Jamie Moyer. Vizquel deserves it, statistically the greatest defense player – not just shortstop – in the game’s history. Moyer, not so much but he’s a guy who won 269 games with a fastball that couldn’t leave a bruise. He was an artist, unappreciated in this power game and someone whose career should be examined as he rolls through.

There could be as many as five to be nominated this year: Hoffman, Guerrero, Chipper, Mussina and Thome. Hope for Martinez and Vizquel, but likely next year. Then there are those other four, with diminishing objections and raising hopes.

 

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 46th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 10 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the 'Super Senior'' (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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