Giants

Hall of Fame voters' biggest issue: Do they work for the job or the sport?

Hall of Fame voters' biggest issue: Do they work for the job or the sport?

With Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, and maybe even Trevor Hoffman about to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, we have re-entered the hellish debates about who should vote, and why they should vote, and whether needles are good or bad and whether both are trumped by cashing the checks those needles made possible and why being transparent about their votes is good and why being transparent about their votes is actually bad.
 
In other words, the Hall of Fame isn’t actually about players any more. It’s about the voters.
 
The Danes call this “rampant narcissism.”
 
We have danced around this central fact for years now, hiding behind debates about performance enhancing drugs and the profiting thereof, voting limits and their degree of strangling artificiality, and the new writers vs. the old veterans, and who should be vilified, justifiably or otherwise, by whom.
 
Yay hatred by proxy!
 
But the process arguments ultimately aren’t the central point here. The argument is really about something more basic.
 
Are voter/journalists supposed to help enhance the mythology of the sport, or dispassionately tell its story? Who are they working for when they vote?

To that end, every vote tells a story well beyond the names checked off or the blank ballots submitted. One man, Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs, to you), has been invaluable in delving into the voting minutiae from the growing number of voters who release their opinions early. But, and he’ll admit this if you strike him often enough, that’s still a process discussion, and the core of the debate is found elsewhere.
 
Baseball writers are like football writers and basketball writers and hockey writers and curling writers and blah-blah-blah-de-blah-blah, in that they are prone to love the sports they cover beyond their journalistic mandate. That’s probably true of most journalists in most fields, but baseball has the Hall of Fame outlet to allow this internal debate to play itself out before our faces.
 
So the question becomes whether their votes are the representation of dispassionate analysis, or a defense of the mythos of the sport and the concept of the Hall itself. Boiled down to its essence, who are the voters defending here, the sanctity of the myth, or the ugliness of the reality?
 
The answer, as it usually is, is, “Depends on who you talk to.”
 
Hall of Fame debates usually lump all voters into one amorphous blob, a level of lazy and stupid thinking that should in a more perfect world be punishable by death. Okay, we kid. Life on a Louisiana prison farm, with parole after 25 years.
 
In fact, voters cover a fairly wide swath of opinion, and for whatever perceived shortcomings they might have, there are enough of them (about 450) to be a fairly accurate measure of the diaspora of baseball opinion across social, cultural, sporting and chronological lines.
 
But the argument about whether an individual voter feels more responsible to the job he or she is paid to do or to the game he or she covers as part of that job remains largely unconsidered, or at the very least masked by other considerations.
 
This manifests itself all the way down to the hot-pocket word “cheating.” Baseball is about cheating, and about honor. It’s about racism, and trying to overcome it. It’s about greed, and selflessness. It’s a sport, and it’s a business. It’s America, in all its glorious and hideous manifestations. To employ “cheating” as a word is in itself dishonest, and given that everyone got rich off the PED era and kept all the money they made makes PED use a de facto workplace condition approved by management and labor.
 
That may be unsavory, and it certainly is illegal without a proper doctor’s prescription, but because by their inaction the owners decided not to punish it (and in fact chose to reward it with contracts and extensions for users even after testing was instituted), it isn’t “cheating.”
 
And even if that argument doesn’t heat your rec room, it isn’t the role of the writer to punish it. It is the role of the writer to reveal it by journalism means, but that’s where the journalist’s role ends. The people who ran baseball took the journalism, acknowledged it, and did nothing until it ramped up detection and did little other than blame the union for a failing that both sides share equally.
 
So in the end, Raines’ votes or Barry Bonds’ votes or Curt Schilling’s votes or Edgar Martinez’ votes are fun to debate, but they aren’t the issue. It’s whether the voters think when they sit down and confront their ballot every year who exactly they’re working for – the job, or the sport.
 
And yes, I vote. Voted for the maximum 10. You’ll find out tomorrow the contents of my ballot. Then you can make that a process story, too.

Giants misplay grounder in shift, can't recover against Braves

Giants misplay grounder in shift, can't recover against Braves

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants did not take batting practice on Wednesday or run through any pregame drills on the field, but even with a six-hour workout they probably would not have practiced the play that helped put them in a deep hole. 

Jeff Samardzija should have been out of the second with the game still scoreless, but the Giants botched what looked to be an inning-ending double play. Ozzie Albies hit a one-hopper back to the mound and Samardzija spun to throw, but there was a shift on, and third baseman Evan Longoria, playing short, did not cover the bag. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, playing where a second baseman usually would, also did not cover. 

After a 9-2 loss, Samardzija called it a "freak thing," "unfortunate" and something the Giants hadn't really worked on. 

"I turned around and really just saw center field," Samardzija said. "I tried to lead one of them to the bag and obviously at that point it was too late. There are a lot of great things about the shift, but sometimes it does get guys out of position."

The Braves ended up with two on and one out, and Dansby Swanson blasted a flat cutter into the left-field seats for a three-run homer a few batters later. Freddie Freeman made it 6-0 two pitches after that with a solo shot to right-center. Samardzija mixed a costly wild pitch into the rally, too. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said the miscommunication in the shift was something the staff and players would discuss. 

"They're not set up like that very often, but it's all about communication and knowing who has got it," Bochy said. 

[RELATED: Bochy mixes up pregame routine looking for better starts]

In Cincinnati or Denver, perhaps the Giants would have rallied. But this being Oracle Park, the rest of the night was a slow crawl to loss No. 27.

All six runs on Samardzija's line went down as unearned. He said he was happy with the way he battled after the early mistakes. But that second inning was all it took. 

"You've got to be on your game the whole time and can't give them extra chances, and if you do, you've got to shut the door," Samardzija said. 

Watch Giants playoff hero Cody Ross sink hole-in-one at Pebble Beach

codyrossusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Watch Giants playoff hero Cody Ross sink hole-in-one at Pebble Beach

Cody Ross is famous for a few particular swings during his tenure with the Giants.

He has since retired, but apparently still has a knack for the memorable moment.

On Wednesday, the former playoff hero was jumping for joy again, but this time, it was due to a different sort of athletic achievement.

Ross, of course, was named the 2010 NLCS MVP and hit five home runs in the 2010 postseason on the way to the first of three Giants' World Series titles in a span of five years.

[RELATED: New rules would have prevented Giants from adding Cody Ross in 2010]

Clearly, he can still put a good swing on a ball.