ESPN’s Wallace Matthews Defends his HoF Votes with Sound Logic

As you know by now, not a single player was elected into the Hall of Fame this year.  You may be wondering why, what with a star-studded list of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro no one earned honors, but ESPN’s Wallace Matthews has come down from on high to explain it to us.

First, we must understand just what it means to have a Hall of Fame vote and what it means to be inducted to a club that is so exclusive its chosen not to enshrine Roger Maris, who has held the American League single season home run record for forty years.

A Hall of Fame vote is a large responsibility, and induction an honor that should be reserved for only the best and brightest the game has to offer.

Wallace makes it sound like he’s negotiating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, doesn’t he?  And to actually be inducted – it’s as if you’re a living God.  Got it.

So now we can begin to fathom why the aforementioned group is unworthy.  But he doesn’t stop the name dropping there.

…I will not be voting for Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez or Andy Pettitte.

Awesome.  A-Rod and Pettitte are both still active, and comparing Pettitte’s transgressions to A-Rod’s is kinda… you know… dumb.  Surely Wallace doesn’t equate acquiring bulk to recovering from injury, right?  But I think he does.  Exactly why what Pettitte did is not OK but the fat and bone marrow stem cell treatment used on Bartolo Colon is OK… is baffling.  Anyway, I’m sure Wallace will take us through his reasons, and I’m sure they’ll all be good ones.

My reasons for this are several, and not at all personal.

That sounds like the right thing to say, but don’t worry, he’ll contradict this later.

And no matter how I try to justify it, none of those gentlemen can get past rule No. 5, which reads as follows: “Voting shall be based on the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

I guess Wallace is referring to the “integrity, sportsmanship and character” part of the rule, and this particular point makes me wish Wallace was here now so I could ask him if he’d vote for Mickey Mantle, a notorious adulterer, fall down drunk and enemy of water coolers all across baseball.  I just imagine he’d stammer, “That’s… uh… different,” but we’ll never know.

Steroid or HGH use is cheating, plain and simple. And by definition, cheaters lack integrity, sportsmanship and character. Strike one, strike two, strike three.   There is compelling evidence that all five of those players were cheaters for a good portion of their careers and that their numbers were artificially inflated by it.

By compelling evidence, I presume he’s referring to failed drug tests and the two times Roger Clemens was convicted in court by a jury of his peers…  oh wait, that’s not how it happened…  Look, I think anyone with eyes could see that Barry Bonds blew up like a balloon, but I’m not sure if Hair Club for Men styled before and after pictures count as compelling evidence in the world of multimillion dollar athletes that can easily employ an entire staff of trainers, not to mention a personal chief, a nutritionist, and who the hell knows what else.  (Probably someone who buys steroids for them… again, not saying these guys didn’t do steroids and HGH, because we all believe they did, but I’m not sure there is a ton of compelling evidence lying around.)

And the fact that McGwire and Sosa needed chemical help to topple, after 37 years, the 61-home run barrier only reminds you how great Maris was that season.

But, again, Maris is not in the hall of fame and those guys are.  What’s Matthews’ point, exactly?

I’ve heard all the justifications and all the apologies: Everyone was doing it. It wasn’t against the rules. They were all Hall of Fame players anyway. Steroids don’t help you hit a baseball or throw strikes. And if you’re going to punish juicers, what about guys who used greenies or scuffed the ball or threw a spitter?

Greenies, huh?  What’s that, something you spray on your lawn to improve the quality of the grass?  Calling them ‘greenies’ kinda takes the emphasis off the fact that everyone was taking speed up until a few years ago.  I certainly remember Johnny Damon saying that we were all in for some boring games come August when everyone was exhausted from the rigorous schedule and didn’t have any amphetamines to take. Anyway, I guess “greenies” don’t count as performance enhancing, but I certainly don’t want to play a friendly pickup game against someone who is currently feeling the need – the need for speed, that is.

Then he brought up the scuffed ball and the spitter, which shifts the argument beyond logic, because now he’s talking about the countless way the game has changed over time.  Let’s list a few, shall we?

  1.     Babe Ruth didn’t have to play in night games
  2.     Or against anyone who wasn’t white
  3.     Or face specialized relievers or closers (Mike Myers vs Babe Ruth would have been hilarious)
  4.     Or fly from Tampa to Seattle – after you get off the plane, you feel great, ready to play baseball!  Or, what I actually mean is you feel like you’re about to DIE.
  5.     The stadiums are only getting smaller – bad for pitchers, good for hitters
  6.     The mound is six inches lower than it used to be
  7.     The DH could have added several years to Ruth’s career

I think the point is that the game is different, and it seems like it’s always changing in some way – exactly why Wallace thought to make this point, I can’t say, but there it is.  But, the most damning thing in that statement is that he said they were all Hall of Famers anyway – so if that’s true, then why not vote for them?!?

This, to me, makes their decision to juice up sadder and all the more incriminating. Yeah, they probably would have been. But now, they never will be.

Unless one of them gets in next year.  It’s not like all of these guys got no votes.  The rule is that you’re removed from the ballot if you get less than 5% of the vote.  Since Wallace specifically mentioned Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa and Palmerio in his piece, let’s see how they did in the voting.

Roger Clemens – 214 votes (37.6%)
Barry Bonds – 206 votes (36.2%)
Mark McGwire – 96 votes (16.9%)
Sammy Sosa –  71 votes (12.5%)
Rafael Palmeiro – 50 votes (8.8%)

Yep, that’s what I thought – all eligible for the ballot next year.

Oh, look!  He (sort of) answers my Mantle question!

What about other cheaters?: This one is problematic. I have an easy out on Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry and whoever was greenied to the gills in a previous generation. I wasn’t around to vote for them and can’t right previous wrongs. And there is something different about cheating with steroids, because it is the only form of cheating I know of that requires other players to jeopardize their own health to keep up.

Wait, “greenied to the gills in a previous generation” – didn’t that ban just happen a few years ago?  But I see what Wallace is saying about not being able to right others wrongs, yet this brings to mind a very important word:  precedence.  There is already a precedent for voting in cheaters because there are clearly cheaters already in the Hall of Fame.  And what the hell does jeopardizing their health have to do with anything?  I can’t imagine that it was a good idea for Randy Johnson to pitch with no cartilage in his knees, which was the case when he pitched his perfect game.  Should Johnson not be elected because he jeopardized his health?  I just don’t see where he’s going with that point.

In an extra effort to make sure I think he’s a total buffoon, Wallace voted for Mike Piazza.

And I have, of course, heard all the rumors, and even have some suspicions myself.

So he’d voted for Piazza anyway because he’s never failed a drug test and wasn’t on the Mitchell Report list.  Wow.  Just… wow.  Does anyone remember Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens failing a drug test?  I certainly don’t.  (Again, I believe they both did it, but I’m just trying – and failing – to follow the logic.)  Anyway, he says if someone comes forward and says they saw Piazza smoking a cigarette in the boys bathroom his freshmen year of high school, he’ll change his vote.

You can argue that I should have voted for Jack Morris (I have in the past but wasn’t feeling it this year) or Tim Raines or Edgar Martinez, and if your argument is persuasive enough, I might listen.

So he’s voted for Morris before but didn’t this year because he “wasn’t feeling it this year?”  What happened to Walter’s reasons not being personal?  That’s worse than his reasons for not voting in Clemens and Bonds.  And he might listen to a persuasive argument?  OK, fine.  How about this:  You are a complete and total hack of a writer.  Everything you post on ESPN’s website is only to justify your position and generate traffic to the website so you can keep your job.


About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on January 26, 2013, in Off-Season and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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