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Who will join Griffey in Hall of Fame?


Who will join Griffey in Hall of Fame?

The best day of the offseason is coming up. On Wednesday night at 6 p.m., the new class of the Hall of Fame will be announced. It’s the first time the announcement has come in the evening.

I’m not a 10-year member of the Baseball Writers, so I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote, but I follow the voting closely.

Ken Griffey Jr. will be voted in. According to Ryan Thibs, every one of the 141 ballots that have been publicly announced (voters are encouraged, but not required to disclose their votes), lists him.

Hopefully, Griffey will become the first unanimous selection. There have been many who deserved it, but there have always been a few silly holdouts.

One of the new Hall of Fame procedures increases the chances for a unanimous vote.

The Hall purged the voting rolls and at least 100 voters who had cast ballots previously no longer will. Writers who had not covered baseball in the past 10 years lost their privileges.

Many of those who no longer can vote retired from writing. Others moved on to other sports or to writing about things over than sports, and some left the business. A number of them still follow the sport closely, but they can’t vote.

The 141 ballots represent about a third of those distributed. On them, Thibs calculates that Mike Piazza (87.2 percent), Jeff Bagwell (81.6) and Tim Raines (80.1) would exceed the 75 percent threshold for Hall of Fame enshrinement if the rest of the ballots mirror the publicly released ones.

Last year, those publicly announcing their ballot ahead of time voted for Bagwell, Piazza and Raines in greater numbers than those who didn’t.

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One of the most interesting trends in Hall of Fame voting has been the movement by writers to use all 10 places on their ballot. Last year more than half did that, and that could enable more candidates to be elected. A year ago, the writers elected four: Craig Biggio, Rnady Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.

According to Thibs, Trevor Hoffman in his first year of eligibility has picked up 62.4 percent of the vote, Curt Schilling 60.3, and Mike Mussina whose cause I champion annually, 56.0.

A year ago, Mussina was named on about 30 percent of the public ballots, and about 16 percent of those that weren’t.

If he comes anywhere close to 50 percent, it would represent a huge jump from the 24.6 percent he received last year and could give him the momentum he needs to get to Cooperstown.

Perhaps most interesting of all, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have received just under 50 percent of the publicly released ballots. Last year, they didn’t crack 40 percent in the actual voting.

The Baseball Writers have petitioned the Hall of Fame to increase the ballot size from 10 to 12. It’s been at 10 since the Hall of Fame was established. The Hall of Fame has rejected the call.

While the Baseball Writers voting hasn’t been perfect, overall it’s been excellent. There are a few candidates that didn’t receive the needed 75 percent who I think should be in the Hall: Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Jack Morris and Lou Whitaker.

Once those candidates exhaust their eligibility on the writers’ ballots, which has been reduced from 15 years to 10, they can still get in on a vote from the Veterans Committee.

But, since 2001 just two players who went through the writers’ process: Joe Gordon and Ron Santo, were elected by the Veterans Committee.

Jealous non-voters often say that the voting base should be expanded. Players and baseball executives “who know the game” should be included in the process, they argue.

Players and executives are on the veterans committees along with some writers, and they’ve elected very few.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame procedure is far superior to those in football and basketball. In the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 46 voters—one representing each franchise and some at-large voters, decide who gets to Canton. The Basketball Hall of Fame’s process is secretive. No one knows who the voters are.

A greater number of voters is better than a smaller number. The large majority of those voting take their duties very seriously, and spend a great deal of time on voting.

It’s also something that fans can relate to. Many longtime fans fill out mock ballots, many of which are similar to those of writers. I can’t imagine many avid NFL fans arguing over the merits of offensive linemen and punters.

The voting procedure is just fine, with some modifications of course, and the hope here is that one day I’ll get to join in on the fun.

MORE BASEBALL: Orioles looking to add to their club as 2016 begins

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 


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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense


David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."