Friday, August 31, 2007

Trevor Hoffman called sportswriters who didn't vote for him for an award---Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle

"Okay, a confession. I've been eligible to vote in Baseball Hall of Fame elections for around 15 years. I'm actually unclear on that since I was nearing the required 10 years of membership at one point in the '80s and then went off and covered the NFL and NBA for almost a decade. When I did become eligible, I didn't vote for a few years and even stopped getting a ballot for a time.

  • I did cast my first vote four or five years ago and have done so every year since. I'm uncomfortable doing this and don't know if I'll fill out another. I'm just not sure this is the kind of thing newspaper reporters should be involved in. Our job should be to cover the news, not make it.

I definitely don't think we should be voting in baseball's post-season awards--MVP, Cy Young, etc.--since many players have incentive clauses tied to those things.

  • A few years ago, Trevor Hoffman looked up sportswriters who'd left him off either their Cy Young or MVP ballots. Likewise, newspapers shouldn't be part of banquets and the like in which players are given awards."***
  • (The rest of the article deals with voting matters not concerning Hoffman) sm

"A lot of my colleagues strongly disagree with me. They like having a say in who goes in the Hall of Fame and who doesn't. Some of them spend hours lobbying to get certain guys in. One of their defenses would be: ''If we don't do it, who is going to do it?''

  • I agree we might be the most qualified. That's also not our problem. The Hall of Fame is run by smart, competent people, and they'd need about 10 minutes to figure out a new voting process. It probably would be just as good as the old one.

I don't know why I'm bringing this up today except that some of the things I've read and heard about Mark McGwire the last 24 hours are beyond ignorant. Steroid use is a complicated topic. We want our athletes to be the best they can be. In the late '80s that meant lifting weights, hiring nutritionists and taking supplements. When someone showed up one day with something that allowed them to be even better, they jumped. You probably would have done the same thing. Bob Gibson has said he would have tried them.

  • At one point in the '70s, some Dallas Cowboy defensive linemen I knew were open about their steroid use. There was no stigma associated with them. They also didn't like the results, perhaps, in part, because they didn't incorporate their use with a sophisticated weight-training program.

Steroids didn't become a controlled substance until around 1991. Baseball didn't add them to its banned list until 1992. If you used steroids in, say, 1998 or 2001, you knew you were cheating, but before that the lines were blurred.

McGwire was the perfect baseball player in a lot of ways. He was admired by teammates, managers and opposing players. He cared about the right things. He wanted teammates who ''respected the game.'' Ultimately, he probably disrespected the game. I believe if he came out and explained himself, if he simply tried to make people understand the mindset of a competitive athlete, he could change a lot of votes.

I don't know if he's compelled to do that. He seems to be living in seclusion in Southern California. He surely realizes the swirl of discussions around his candidacy. Maybe he simply doesn't care. But I'm not sure I'm the one who should be deciding whether he gets in the Hall of Fame or not."

***Judge a person by his actions not his words (or words of others). I commented a long time ago there had to be a salesman somewhere behind the 24/7 avalanche of awards campaigning about Hoffman, and it turns out to be himself. This is about as unseemly as you can get--And "a few years ago?" I mean he was out almost the entire 2003, he consistently blows big games, and even a few years ago he thought he should get an award? Kudos to Richard Justice for seeing this entire process as grossly unethical. It's possible in the near future that no one from the Houston Chronicle will be voting on Cy Young or MVP awards--what most people don't know is they're already really the Jack O'Connell/Bud Selig/ESPN awards. (sm)


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