Beyond Golf — 23 January 2019 by Kirby Arnold
Users cheated the spirit of the game

(Editor’s note: has three writers on staff who also were every-day baseball writers, in a previous writing life. They have a combined newspaper experience of more than 100 years, mostly covering baseball and the Seattle Mariners. They also have been voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame for more than a combined 50 years. Below is Kirby Arnold’s take on today’s Hall of Fame announcement, with an add from Bob Sherwin at the bottom. Arnold voted for the maximum 10 players, including all four who were selected, Edgar Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina. Sherwin voted for five, Martinez, Rivera, Mussina, Jeff Kent and Omar Vizquel. He believes this is the first time in his 22 years of voting that a player was voted in (Halladay) without his vote. He had anticipated voting for him next year. Jim Street voted for Martinez, Mariano, Mussina, Vizquel and Andy Pettitte. No noted drug abusers were on any of the three’s lists and likely won’t be through the end of their eligibility, a time when two steroid connected players, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, enter the ballot.)

The needle may be swinging toward a baseball Hall of Fame that’s more accepting of players who boosted their performance through artificial means, no matter how much their numbers may be skewed or how big the permanent stain it has left on the game.

There are voters among the Baseball Writers Association of America who believe a Hall of Famer is defined purely by performance, no matter how it may have been enhanced.  I respect those voters, many who are good friends, and I respect their decisions. But I can’t vote the way they vote, not with a clause in the Hall’s voting instructions to consider, among other things, a player’s integrity, sportsmanship and character.

To play with integrity, sportsmanship and character is to ensure the game is played on a level playing field. Those who turned to performance-enhancing substances were violating, in the very least, the spirit of the game.  I’ve spoken with players who knew at the time that if they gained a competitive edge through frowned-upon chemistry, then they would be willing to accept the consequences of a stained legacy.

Integrity, sportsmanship, character.  If those words were omitted from the voter instructions, I would vote for known PED users and those so highly suspected that the cloud over their careers became as vast as their accomplishments on the field. Until then, they won’t get my vote.

With that, here is my ballot for 2019:

Roy Halladay

Todd Helton

Edgar Martinez

Mike Mussina

Mariano Rivera

Scott Rolen

Curt Schilling

Omar Vizquel

Billy Wagner

Larry Walker


BOB SHERWIN (Written Dec. 26 after he sent in his ballot): After a month of intense deliberation and scrutiny, five names were checked on this year’s HOF ballot. But, unfortunately, the Hall’s entry standards were lowered this month when a committee selected Harold Baines to this year’s class. Never voted for him in his 10 years on the ballot and he never received more than 10 percent of the vote from the sportswriters. But the good news is that only improved the chances for Edgar Martinez, the game’s greatest DH to date. He got 70 percent last year (needing 75 percent) and should get that. Mariano, of course, will get in with a percentage close to what Griffey got two years ago. Mussina will move closer but not quite this year. Omar Vizquel, the slickest fielder I’ve ever seen at any position, should jump over 50 percent and be on the same path as Edgar. Longshot (or no shot) Jeff Kent, the opposite of Omar (good hit, no field), has some offensive numbers hard to ignore – for maybe just me. As a rule, don’t like to reconsider guys but the Baines thing could change my thinking. Pettitte, Schilling and Halladay may, one year, get a box filled. Never voted for a Dowd report guy or deep druggies and won’t unless an asterisk is included. Their fate ultimately will rest with the current HOF – and they don’t want them in their house.

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About Author

Kirby Arnold

Kirby was 10 years old when he played his first round of golf with his grandmother on the sand greens of the Versailles Country Club in Missouri, and his love of the game has never wavered. Only one thing stood between Kirby and a single-digit handicap: his job. Kirby worked 42 years as a sports writer and editor at newspapers in Missouri and Washington. He started while a high school sophomore at the Rolla Daily News in Missouri and covered a variety of events, including his own high school basketball games (he made sure his name was spelled right). He was a sports writer and editor for 10 years at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, covering Southwest Missouri State University football and basketball, Missouri University football and basketball, and numerous motorsports events including the Indianapolis 500 during the 1970s and 1980s. He moved to the Seattle area in 1984, becoming assistant sports editor at The Herald in Everett, Wa., then executive sports editor from 1987-1998, a time when The Herald's sports coverage was recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as being among the best in the nation for newspapers its size. Kirby returned to the press box in 1999, taking over The Herald's coverage of the Seattle Mariners. He covered the Mariners/baseball beat the next 13 seasons and in 2007 wrote his first book, Tales from the Seattle Mariners Dugout. While Kirby pursued a rewarding newspaper career, one of his lifelong goals remained unfulfilled: breaking 80 on a consistent basis. Kirby left The Herald at the end of 2011, moved to Phoenix and immediately began spending more time at the golf course. His only excuse now is a 12 on the stimpmeter.

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