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Baseball Hall Of Fame Facing Perfect Storm In 2022

February 13, 2019
Let's see, what do we have to talk about?

Super Bowl LIII is in the rearview mirror; they're just starting baseball warmups in Florida and Arizona; we're closing in on March Madness; the NBA and NHL still have ways to go before wrapping up sometime around Father's Day, and Sports Illustrated has postponed its swimsuit issue until May because there's no interest in bathing suits or body paint this time of the year. 

It's a good thing February is the shortest month of the year. Nice timing.

Fortunately, even though the pickings might be slim, there is a nice story brewing about the perfect storm that's scheduled to hit baseball in 2022 -- and it has nothing to do with labor relations and/or a possible shutdown. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be in their last year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Hall of Fame ballot -- and it's the first year Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz make an appearance. 

In the interest of full disclosure and complete transparency, it should also be noted that Sammy Sosa will be making an exit that year, while Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield will still be around, making this something of a last call of sorts for those who have been accused, associated with or suspected of connection to performance enhancing drugs, also known as PEDs or steroids, for short. 

If he lasts that long, which seems unlikely, it would also be the last hurrah for Curt Schilling, who may have some social detractors but is otherwise free of suspicion. If he hasn't been elected by then, it could be Schilling's easiest path to Cooperstown, but that's not the issue here.

If the featured quartet of Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez and Ortiz shows up on the ballot, along with the supporting cast already in place, it very likely could produce the most star-studded alignment since the very first ballot -- and still be subject to a shutout, because as we know, there are no guarantees.

But it would be kind of fun if we could waive the rules and make this the ultimate PED debate, with all those somehow associated with PED use put on the same ballot for an up or down vote -- and be done with it. Good luck on that one.

* * * 

It hardly surprises me the outgoing president of baseball's Hall of Fame, Jeff Idelson, was the first to point out that, for the first time, the World Series and Super Bowl opponents represented the same cities, assuming of course you consider Foxborough part of the Boston metroplex. We already know Los Angeles pretty much covers all of southern California.

Speaking of Idelson, his decision to retire after 11 years is a great loss for the HOF. It's a certainty that he's moving on, rather than moving out, but he will be sorely missed by those of us who consider Cooperstown a must stop every year.

* * * 

If you want to count this as an explanation, rather than a defense, of Harold Baines' election to the Hall of Fame via the Today's Game Era Committee, please be my guest, but here are a few considerations:

- One reason Baines failed to generate much support during the five years he was on the BBWAA ballot is because there were 15 others from those years who ultimately were elected, either during those years or eventually by a Veterans Committee -- and there were at least eight eventual HOFers on each of those ballots, including nine in both the first (2007) and last (2011).

- With 1,628 RBIs, Baines ranks 34th on the all-time career RBI list. Of the 33 ahead of him, the only 11 without a plaque in Cooperstown are either not yet eligible, somehow associated with PED use or both. Of the top 100 in that category, there are 39 in the Hall of Fame who rank behind Baines.

- Baines is also 46th on the career hit list (2,866). Six of the eight ahead of him not in the HOF are not eligible (including all-time leader Pete Rose and A-Rod), plus Bonds (37th) and Omar Vizquel (43rd), who is new to the discussion.

Taken individually, none of the above makes Baines a Hall of Famer. Collectively, well, I'm just saying …

For sure this is not a "farce" or "embarrassment" as some have said ... and written. 

***

Ernie Accorsi has worn many hats in what has really been a storied career. He worked in the sports department at the Baltimore Evening Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer and was a sports information director at Penn State. He was the director of public relations and then general manager for the Baltimore Colts, executive vice president for the Cleveland Browns and George Young's hand-picked successor as VP-GM of the New York Giants. He and Young are in the Giants Ring of Honor.

He's also an avid sports fan and admitted baseball junkie (he was one of Peter Angelos' first hires in 1994 before Young came calling), so I always feel in good company when we share an opinion. I happen to think Tony Romo is a breath of fresh air when it comes to football analysis on television -- and he was never better than he was in the Super Bowl.

So, I asked Accorsi, a football guy by profession, a baseball addict by nature, what he thought of Romo in the broadcast booth, and whether or not he was an offensive coordinator or head coach in waiting. 

"I think Romo is the best analyst I've ever heard in any sport ... I think he's brilliant," Accorsi said. "Why would he want to get caught up in that [coaching] whirlwind?"

'Nuff said for me.

* * * 

The general consensus seems to be that the latest Super Bowl was something short of a masterpiece, but we tend to forget that "The Greatest Game Ever Played" featured nine turnovers, or about the same number of punts the Los Angeles Rams had in the first half.

Hey, it can't be that boring if one play could have changed the outcome right up until the final minute of play.

* * * 

But that's just my opinion. Yours?

Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com 

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox