The IBWAA ballot; or, how I voted for the Hall of Fame

National Baseball Hall of FameSince I wrote purely from an observer’s position, I was content to let my previous writings on this season’s Hall of Fame voting stand for themselves. But in the interim I was made a life member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, which conducts its own Hall of Fame ballot every year. My membership came just in time to have such a vote myself.

This vote, of course, is purely symbolic outside the IBWAA itself. Even if there are those in the mainstream press who actually pay attention to the balloting, sometimes using those results as one barometer toward gauging how the Baseball Writers Association of America vote might result. The day may come when the IBWAA vote is included in the ultimate tally that elects Hall of Famers. May.

2014: Winking, blinking, nodding, prodding, clodding, thrilling

The year opened with Alex Rodriguez staring baseball down, suing its government and its players’ union, then allowing both to crow, “The other guy just blinked.” Baseball did a lot of blinking during 2014. Not to mention winking, nodding, prodding, clodding, and thrilling. Not necessarily in that order. And how the mighty have fallen: A-Rod ended the 2014 he missed under suspension freshly penciled in as the Yankees’ next . . . designated hitter. And, into near-irrelevancy.

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! (Again . . . )

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! (and, in not so short order, the World Series . . . again . . .)

The rebuilding Braves and Padres and other movements . . .

Go west, young man . . .

Go west, young man . . .

Even without the finalising of the deal making a Padre out of Matt Kemp, this week was an intriguing one on baseball’s trading floor. And it only began with moving Justin Upton to the Padres, which seems a near-final indication that the Braves have hit the rebuild levers.

The full details weren’t available at this writing, but Upton—coming off a career-high 102 runs batted in in 2014—joins a revamping San Diego team that’s also added Wil Myers from Tampa Bay in a striking three-team, eleven-player deal. The Braves began making rebuilding whispers when they traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals for pitcher Shelby Miller and signed Nick Markakis (last seen with the Orioles, freshly undergone neck surgery) as a free agent.

Lester warns Cub fans about the finite lives of curses

Lester tries on his Cub fatigues and dials his inner Curt Schilling . . .

Lester tries on his Cub fatigues and dials his inner Curt Schilling . . .

Theo Epstein, who’s in a position to know closely enough, says Jon Lester is quite the changed fellow from the one he shepherded to the Red Sox. And this is a pitcher whom Epstein saw conquer cancer and help the Red Sox to the second of their three World Series triumphs in ten seasons.

Plaschke Agonistes, and other sobering winter meetings reviews

Andrew Friedman, the former Tampa Bay general manager now serving likewise in Los Angeles, swung a virtual blowup of the Dodgers’ defense as the winter meetings hit the home stretch, and Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke was unamused:

Bill Plaschke roosting at Dodger Stadium---where he sees superstars that aren't . . .

Bill Plaschke roosting at Dodger Stadium—where he sees superstars that aren’t . . .

After moves made by the Dodgers’ new baseball boss this week, their immediate future will be his glorious triumph, or his thunderous failure, and there will be nothing in between. Forget Don Mattingly, forget Yasiel Puig, it will be Friedman’s shoulders that will bear the weight of the bold—or is it boneheaded?—reworking of a lineup that was just getting used to October . . .

The Royals gamble on a not-so-likely Morales revival

2009---Morales scoring on maybe the only grand slam in history a hitter might like to have back for what it cost him seconds after he hit the plate . . .

2009—Morales (right) arrives home,  after hitting maybe the only grand slam in Show history  that a hitter might like to have back for what it cost him seconds after he hit the plate . . .

When the American League champion Royals let Billy Butler walk as a free agent following the postseason, the question became who might step into the designated hitter slot. Butler fell out of favour with manager Ned Yost when he produced too little bang for his .271 bucks. Butler got the number one job for the Royals’ staggering postseason run simply because he was there.

After Lester does Chicago, the Dodgers and the Red Sox do some fancy dancing

Matt Kemp's frustrating times with the Dodgers are over.

Matt Kemp’s frustrating times with the Dodgers are over.

One of the first questions approaching the winter meetings was whether the Dodgers would find a way to relieve their outfield gridlock. One of the first questions after Jon Lester decided the Cubs could make him feel at home was what the Red Sox—who’d rolled the dice, lowballed Lester on an extension in spring training, then traded him at the 2014 non-waiver deadline with a now-extinguished hope of re-signing him in the off-season—would do to repair their starting rotation.

The answers to both came late Wednesday and early today.

The Cubs showed Lester more than the money

This was Jon Lester helping the Red Sox win the second of two World Series while he pitched there. Guess what Cub Country hopes he'll do for them some time in the next six years?

This was Jon Lester helping the Red Sox win the second of two World Series while he pitched there. Guess what Cub Country hopes he’ll do for them some time in the next six years?

In the end, there was more to Jon Lester’s signing choice than the dollars in his own pocket. A man doesn’t take the second-best offer on the table because he’s only in it for the money. Lester himself made the point after the meeting that finally turned him into a six-year, $155 million Cub.

No Golden for the Hall of Fame this time, alas

Dick Allen (who didn't quite make the Hall on the Golden Era vote) and Jim Bunning (who hoped his old mate would make it), after Bunning threw out a ceremonial first pitch last June. "Hey, Jim, the ol' strike zone, she ain't what she used to be, ain't she?"

Dick Allen (who didn’t quite make the Hall on the Golden Era vote) and Jim Bunning (who hoped his old mate would make it), after Bunning threw out a ceremonial first pitch last June: Hey, Jim, the ol’ strike zone, she ain’t what she used to be, is she?

Nobody on the Golden Era Committee ballot was elected to the Hall of Fame when the committee voted at the winter meetings Monday morning. But Dick Allen and Tony Oliva missed by a single vote each. Jim Bunning, who played with Allen on the mid-1960s Phillies and called himself “disappointed” his old mate didn’t make it, would like to think he’ll have a better shot in 2017, when the Golden Era committee meets once again.

How the holdovers may look in this year’s BBWAA Hall vote

Now, we have a look at the holdovers on the Baseball Writers Association Hall of Fame ballot. If you want to call it that, the good news is that we don’t have to continue debating Jack Morris until a future Veterans Committee body takes it up again. The bad news, once again, is a crowded ballot—for which the writers can still only choose ten apiece, which is kind of silly—that may keep a few Hall-worthy players out yet again.

Here are the holdovers:

Bagwell (right) with his fellow Killer B(iggio)---they deserve to be in Cooperstown.

Bagwell (right) with his fellow Killer B(iggio)—they deserve to be in Cooperstown.