Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

After seeing two all-time great players, in Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, obtain the necessary 75 percent of the vote to receive enshrinement into the Hall of Fame last January, the baseball world has been abuzz for the past year as to who would be elected in 2017. With a ballot loaded with several great returning players as well as numerous first time players, everyone around the baseball world had their own strong opinion as to who they felt should be in.

But the waiting and speculation finally came to an end on Wednesday evening, when it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez had received more than enough votes to join Bud Selig and John Schuerholz (both elected in December) as part of the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class set to be inducted in July.

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Jeff Bagwell received 381 of the 442 votes cast, giving him 86.2 percent of the vote and earning him induction into the Hall. With 449 career home runs and 2,314 hits, Bagwell doesn’t jump off the page in quite the manner that a lot of other players do, but he is still very deserving. It took him longer than many thought it would to get into the Hall, but I’m sure he would be the first to tell you that getting in is all that counts in the end.

Joining Bagwell was Tim Raines, who placed second in voting with 86 percent of the vote. Despite not having a lot to show for his career in the power category, Raines was exceptional over his 23 years in a number of other categories. Sitting fifth all-time in stolen bases with 808 to go along with 2,605 hits and a .294 lifetime average, Raines was more than worthy of being elected in his final year of eligibility on the ballot.

On the flip side, Ivan Rodriguez was awarded induction in his first time on the ballot, becoming just the second catcher ever (Johnny Bench was the first) to be elected their first year. Rodriguez set numerous catching records over his career, and was a solid hitter as well, taking part in fourteen total All-Star games. Despite being clouded by the suspicion of PED’s, Rodriguez finds himself headed to Cooperstown.

But while this was the fourth straight year with two or more players being elected to the Hall of Fame, some players fell just short. Trevor Hoffman came one percent shy of the necessary three-quarters of voters’ support needed, with Vladimir Guerrero (who many felt was a first-ballot Hall of Famer) getting 71.7 percent. However, although they didn’t make it this time around, confidence is high for both of them to get in next year.

The two most controversial players on the ballot for the last several years, Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens both fell below the 55 percent mark, failing to get in once again despite having first-ballot Hall of Fame stats aside from their PED use. But while it was once thought that neither would ever get in, they are both making steady progression up the percentage ladder, and very well could slip in before all is said and done.

Regardless of if Bonds and Clemens ever get in, sixteen players from this year’s ballot are guaranteed to never get into the Hall. With Lee Smith running out of eligibility years and players such as Jorge Posada and Tim Wakefield not securing the needed five percent to stay on the ballot, those players will forever be known as simply great — but not all-time great — players.

The results of the 2017 Hall of Fame election certainly proved that the voting tide is slowly beginning to shift. As more and more players are shoveled into the Hall of Fame at record rates, only time will tell how the next few years will see the Hall of Fame grow.

It’ll be interesting to see which players make it into the Hall of Fame in 2018.

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MLB Instant Replay to Expand In 2014

Major League Baseball announced its plan to expand instant replay, beginning next season, on Thursday afternoon, leaving baseball fans around the country with a mix of emotions. Some like the idea of further replay, while others prefer the way the game has always been, with the human element. (As I’ve stated in the past, I’m somewhere in between.) But no matter which side you fall on, you have to take the time to appreciate the fact that Thursday will forever go down as a historic day in baseball history.

But the news of further replay in 2014 shouldn’t come as a major surprise, as there has been a vast amount of debate recently, regarding a replay system for Major League Baseball that would enable the right calls to be made the majority of the time, without increasing the length of games–game time being the major concern among fans.

However, according to Braves’ President, John Schuerholz, the change in replay policy would decrease replay time, from a current 520d34702020e_preview-300average of three minutes and four seconds all the way down to one minute and fifteen seconds. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you combine multiple replays per game with the time saved by managers not arguing with the umpires over close calls–perhaps reducing the number of manager ejections, in the long run–it really does add up.

With advancing technology, many question why something hasn’t been done sooner–the NBA, NHL and NFL all have replay systems in place–however, it’s taken awhile, and a lot of convincing, for many people to get onboard with the idea; and of course, an agreeable plan had to be formed, over which plays will be reviewable and which won’t.

“Reviewable plays will cover 89 percent of those incorrect calls that were made in the past”, Schuerholz said on Thursday. “The 11 percent remaining are in the non-reviewable [category], which can still be argued by the manager. And the manager can still request that the umpires get together and discuss it to see if anybody else on the crew saw it differently. But it’s not reviewable.”

Here’s how the expanded replay is set to work:

Every game, each manager will get three challenges–one challenge from the start of game time through the sixth inning, with the other two challenges being available from the seventh inning on. If a manager elects to challenge a play, and the replay results in an overturned call, the manager receives his challenge back, which he can issue again, however, if the call stands, the manager loses his challenge, up until the seventh inning, when he will get another two to use, if needed. (If a manger doesn’t use, or lose, his one challenge in the first six innings, it doesn’t carry over.)

While this might seem a bit complicated, I actually find it rather appealing. It’ll keep managers from challenging a play unless they’re absolutely sure–in their mind, at least–that a call was blown. People seem to be complaining that managers will be challenging close plays right and left, but I disagree. I feel the managers will be less likely to attempt to challenge a non-crucial play. But only time will tell for sure.

how-adding-15-more-umpires-would-solve-baseballs-replay-crisis“You should know that the umpires are very, very receptive to this”, said Schuerholz Thursday. “They have spent enough time being abused or being the butt of bad comments about what’s happened or what’s been viewed on replays. And with the advanced technology that we have on replays, they understand that it can be a valuable tool for them. And we intend to use it as that.”

The only flaw in the replay plan that I could see taking place is the fact that there’s still the chance of human error by the official play reviewer, at MLB.com headquarters, up in New York, that ultimately decides whether or not a call should stand.

Every once and awhile, even with replay, it can be difficult to determine for sure what the correct call should be. If the official gets the call wrong, one way or another, it could cost the manager his one challenge in the first part of the game, that he otherwise would’ve been able to use again, had the correct call had been made. And ultimately, it could cost the team the game.

Therefore, as with anything, it’s not completely perfect.

“It is a phasing plan”, as Schuerholz put it. “At the end of ’14, we’ll go back and look at what we’ve done well–what’s worked, what hasn’t worked–and make adjustments….It’s going to take some time.”

While it will indeed take some time, one thing is for sure: The game of baseball will never be the same, ever again. While some despise that, with the available technology, if you can work out a way to get the calls right the majority of the time, is a permanent change to the game really such a bad thing?