The Rundown: Mo’s Unanimous Vote, Chances for Bonds and Clemens, Cubs Notes, Wrigley North Getting New Name

Ed. note: Mike Canter is absent today due heavy snowfall that required him to spend his writing time digging his car out. I’m really worried about this guy’s priorities, folks. 

Ah, the Hall of Fame announcement, our annual opportunity to bitch about who got in, who didn’t, and why everyone else’s opinions on those decisions are wrong and bad. Headlining the take-fest was Mariano Rivera becoming the first player in history to receive unanimous approval from the voting committee, a clear sign of how the voting body has changed.

Two of our staffers, Sean Holland and Moshe Wilensky, debated the idea of Mo as a unanimous entry, so you can check that out if you like. My thought on it goes like this: As the best player of all time at his position, dude was an obvious choice. And while it’s insanely stupid that some chapped-ass writers had beef with other players and stupidly left them off, that shouldn’t be held against current players.

Rivera should not have been the first unanimous choice for the Hall, but not because he wasn’t worthy of it. Dozens of previous entrants were more than worthy of the same statistical honor, but clinging to asinine views of propriety prevented it. This is good for baseball and I hope it paves the way for future unanimous entries.

One of the reasons for the change in voting habits is simply a matter of getting fresh blood in there. Perspectives shift with time and many antiquated notions fall by the wayside in the process. Of course, there are still a few too many BBWAA members who don’t even cover baseball any longer, or who may do so with too narrow a focus. For the most part, though, these folks get it.

That said, the group could use more women and people of color to represent a more accurate cross-section of the people covering and watching the sport. And maybe there’s a way to incorporate a vote from the broadcasters who also see these players very frequently. Just some thoughts.

Another change agent in the voting process has been the ability for ballots to be made public. It’s not a requirement, but a little more than half the voters (232 to 193) chose to have their names attached to their selections. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was not among them after giving up his vote because the BBWAA still offers the option for anonymity.

“I stopped voting for the Hall of Fame last year for a few reasons, one of them being that I believe that if journalists call for transparency among those they cover, at very least they should hold themselves to the same standard,” Passan tweeted Tuesday night. “I believe all ballots should be made public.”

One need look no further than the results for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the poster boys for rampant PED use in baseball throughout the 90’s and 00’s. I’m going to spare you a prolonged monologue of my thoughts on the topic, but suffice to say I’m in favor of putting the best players in. List the accusations on their plaques if you must, set up a separate wing or put them in the bathroom, it’s of zero consequence to me whether one way or the other.

And since I’m never going to hit Bonds or Clemens up for an autograph, I couldn’t care less about their ability to inscribe it with “HOF ‘XX.” Some argue that the Hall is a museum that already contains artifacts of those players’ exploits, therefore granting them entry by proxy. I can dig that. I guess my thing is that I won’t mind if they’re in or out so I’m probably not the best choice for master debater of the topic.

With that out of the way, let’s circle back to the idea of the votes being made public. We see a very interesting trend among the different groups of voters as revealed by the tireless efforts of Ryan Thibodaux, who collates all the publicly available ballots as they come in. Among the 232 voters who revealed their identities, 71.1 percent voted for Clemens and 70.6 for Bonds, pretty close to the 75 percent threshold for induction.

But of the 193 voters who did not reveal themselves, Clemens got 45.6 percent and Bonds 45.1 percent. It’s weird that they were like one vote apart in each case, right? Their respective overall totals of 59.5 and 59.1 percent represent nominal gains over last year, a stagnation that led Passan to proclaim with certainty that neither will get in.

The same may not be true for Curt Schilling, who went from 51.2 percent last year to 60.9 percent this time around, good for the top spot among those who did not make it in. That’s a pretty spry leap for a man with a ketchup-stained sock and a toxic social media feed.

As for the other results, Roy Halladay (84.5%), Edgar Martinez (84.5%), and Mike Mussina (76.7%) will all be enshrined. Sammy Sosa remains on the ballot with a whopping 8.5 percent of the vote in his seventh year of eligibility, while Fred McGriff is up to 39.8 percent (169 votes) in his 10th year. Say what you will about Slammin’ Sammy, it’s insane to me that he’s not even in double digits.

Cubs News & Notes

  • It was announced Tuesday that the Cubs have hired Australian Adam Beard as Director of High Performance, a brand-new role created just for him. Beard served the Cleveland Browns in the same capacity over the past four years and was previously Head of Physical Performance with the Welsh Rugby Union.
  • The Cubs are sticking with #EverybodyIn as the slogan for 2019. They had been unveiling a different catch phrase each season, but budget restrictions meant they would have needed to clear existing slogan space before coming up with a new one.
  • There’s been some politicking going on lately, with the Cubs openly campaigning against 44th Ward alderman Tom Tunney (he responded in a recent Tribune forum). The business operations panel at Cubs Convention featured updates on several topics related to ticketing and a new TV network, but also had a lengthy portion dedicated to Tunney (around 34:00 mark).

  • As part of their more aggressive philosophy on drafting and player development, the Cubs have moved instructs from early fall to January. As Sahadev Sharma writes for The Athletic ($), the hope is that this change will allow young players more of a break after the season and will better springboard them into the coming season.
  • Sharma is down in Mesa now, so check out his Twitter timeline for BP vids and other live updates from the backfields.

  • Hey, let’s stick with the theme: Sharma talked to Brandon Morrow about the elbow issue that shut him down and his prognosis for a bounceback campaign($). “That picture showed that I had an osteochondral defect in the joint in the humerus,” Morrow said. “It was like a little divot which went through the cartilage and into the bone a little bit. So that’s what they decided to fix. They cleaned it and then roughed up the cartilage to promote the healing.”

Wednesday Stove

Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez defected in June and has been cleared by MLB to sign with a team as of February 5. According to Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel, the 22-year-old is scheduled to hold private workouts in the Dominican later this week. Given his advanced age, he’s viewed as a candidate to move relatively quickly through the system. And given their large cache of international bonus cash, the Orioles look like favorites.

Even after acquiring Russell Martin, the Dodgers could be in the market for J.T. Realmuto.

Nick Markakis re-signed with the Braves for one year and $6 million guaranteed. That figure comes from a $4 million 2019 salary and a $2 million buyout on a $6 million club option for 2020. So the most he can get is $10 million, which seems light for a guy who just posted his best offensive season in a decade. But he’s also 35 years old and averaged 1.32 fWAR over the previous six seasons.

There are rumors that the Dodgers are ready to sign outfielder A.J. Pollock, but that they need to trade Joc Pederson first. The White Sox have been discussed as a possible destination in a deal for the lefty slugger.

Extra Innings

Win totals from BetOnline showed the Cubs and Cardinals at 88.5, Brewers at 84.5, Reds and Pirates at 77.5 apiece. That 11-game spread would be the smallest since the NL Central was formed in 1994 and the win totals by the last place teams would easily surpass the current record of 73 shared by the ’96 Pirates and ’14 Cubs. In fact, no other last-place team has racked up as many as 70 wins.

FanGraphs has the Cubs at 87 wins, Cards at 86, Reds at 81, and Pirates at 80. Wait, who am I missing? Oh yeah, the Brewers are down there at 79. Lots of people on the Brewers Regression Train, but we’re still seeing that the Central could be very competitive this year.

Speaking of the Brewers, they’ll be playing in a new ballpark starting in 2020. Well, the same ballpark with a different name. The naming rights agreement with MillerCoors will not be renewed following the 2019 season and will be replaced by American Family Insurance. There was something of a kerfuffle online over the change, with even Brewers beat writers wading in with takes about Wrigley Field having a corporate sponsorship. But as is the case with many other name changes like this, the Brewers’ ballpark will still be best known as Wrigley Field North.

The notion of Beard pioneering the role of Director of High Performance is actually quite false. Lou Adler directed Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong’s 1978 classic stoner flick Up in Smoke.

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Heat, by Eminem. This one’s been stuck in my head for a while, mainly because I was watching Boogie Nights the other day and finally realized that the hook on Heat is from the song Dirk Diggler and Reed Rothchild laid down as part of their ill-fated foray into rock stardom. The Rick Rubin-produced track from the critically-panned Revival album even samples some of the guitar licks and from the movie tune. The lyrics are rife with double and even triple entendre and it takes several listens to actually pick them up.

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