Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fame & Infamy, Part II

A Goose Flies into Cooperstown...

...with 86% of the vote. That's a huge increase (130 votes more than he got two years ago) and it brings us to the point: what changed? The BBWAA didn't get fifty new voters, I don't think--some of these guys had to have changed their minds after years of not voting for Gossage. Same thing applies to Jim Rice--he's reached the 72% mark, just 16 votes shy of entry this year, and virtually a lock to make it next season on his 15th(!) try. Down the ballot, Bert Blyleven picked up 76 votes(!) a year after taking a step back. This is why Hall of Fame voting doesn't make much sense. Blyleven's been on the ballot for 11 years, and his vote total has quadrupled in that time, almost quintupled from its low point in 1999 (70 votes, 14%). He lost support last year, slipping under 50% after he'd broken into the majority in 2006, which made it look like his candidacy was stalled. Now that he's reached the point Gossage was at in the 2006 election, who knows? I swear, it feels like some of these guys are just throwing darts at the ballot.

And if that's the case, Tim Raines's name must have been at the bullseye, 'cause most of the voters couldn't hit it. Only 132 voters (24.3%, less than a third of what's required for election) checked his name on his first turn on the ballot. Fortunately for him, as we've seen, the voters are incredibly inconsistent from year to year, so this is far from the last word. Next year, a whole bunch of guys might just "discover" Raines, or offer some lame excuse about him not being a first ballot guy, blah, blah, blah. Or we might be in for a decade-long saga, like Rice and Blyleven. Mark McGwire's fans might also be in for a fifteen-year campaign, maybe hoping that by 2020, people will be so up in arms about gene doping and the use of bionic limbs that they'll get a massive surge of nostalgia for guys who "just" used steroids.

By the way, speaking of 'roids (and not at all to rain on Goose's well-deserved day) here's a question. Goose was a big guy, threw hard, had a long career, and appears to have been an endless reservoir of rage both on and off the field. Anyone else think that if he played today, he'd be one of the guys suspected of juicing?

Rocket Defense

A dozen years after Goose's career ended, other big, hard-throwing righties with on-the-mound anger issues don't seem to be getting the benefit of the doubt. Roger Clemens came out on 60 minutes and denied Brian McNamee's accusations against him as definitively as possible. The same day that interview aired, he sued McNamee, and on Monday he faced the press. Still, no one seems convinced, and it's unlikely they'll be swayed even if/when Clemens goes before Congress next week, and tells them the same thing. If Clemens tells the same story before next week's hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he'll have passed the point of no return. That means that if there's anyone out there that can corroborate McNamee's story, or link Clemens to steroids in any way, he'll likely face perjury charges--that's the risk he's taking by initiating this litigation and keeping this issue in the public eye.

I broke down the Clemens litigation over at Baseball Prospectus, and I think the final paragraph is instructive:
However, let me offer a final cautionary note for Clemens. When I was in practice, and someone threatened one of my clients with a defamation claim, the warning to the would-be litigant was often, "Remember Oscar Wilde." In 1895 Wilde brought a criminal defamation suit against the Marquis of Queensberry (the same one who promulgated the rules of boxing) because of an insult the Marquis made about Wilde's sexuality. At trial, the defense was able to produce witnesses to Wilde's lifestyle, who proved that the insult was actually truthful and not defamatory. As a result of the inquiry he initiated, Wilde wound up being convicted of "gross indecency" and sentenced to two years' hard labor. The lesson? If you sue for defamation, you better have the truth on your side—otherwise, it might be more than your reputation that gets hurt.
Unless he's clean, Roger's opening up a huge can of worms. I hope for his sake the risk is worth it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Clemens-McNamee phone conversation, what do you think of the theory that the ex-undercover cop McNamee likely knew he was being taped, and was trying to trap Clemens into witness tampering, just as much as Clemens was trying to trap him into admitting he lied to Mitchell?

McNamee kept repeating: “Tell me what you want me to do.” Translation: “please tamper with me, offer me something or direct me to do something that helps you in some way.”

Is that the key to making sense of that strange conversation? I.e., McNamee trying to set up Clemens the way he used to set up drug dealers and buyers when he was an undercover cop?