Hal McCoy: Ortiz gets Hall of Fame nod in perplexing vote

The voting for the baseball Hall of Fame is perplexing, a real knuckle-cracker.

David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz was voted into the Hall of Fame by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday.

But Barry Bonds wasn’t. Nor was Roger Clemens nor Curt Schilling nor Alex Rodriguez.

If Ortiz is a Hall of Famer, then so are Bonds, Clemens and Schilling. Their numbers warrant a Hall of Fame nod more than Ortiz.

It is obvious why voters turned their backs on Bonds, Clemens and Schilling. And they are done, as far as being on the BBWAA ballot. All three have expired, 10-and-done. A player can only be on the ballot for 10 years and it was the 10th and final try for the trio.

Bonds and Clemens are linked to performance-enhancing drugs and Schilling’s off-the-field activities played the major role in them getting snubbed.

But wait a minute.

It is known, or should have been, that Ortiz once tested positive for PEDs. It was reported in 2009 by the New York Times that Ortiz tested positive in 2003.

He vehemently denied it but flicked aside any questions about it until 2016, just before he retired from the Boston Red Sox.

“That came out in 2009 about what allegedly occurred in 2003,” said. “Baseball drug policies started in 2004. I never failed a test. So, you know, the reality is that it’s noise. Let me tell you, there’s not one player in baseball, not one player, that has been drug-tested more than David Ortiz. I guarantee you that. I never failed a test.”

Indeed, he was never suspended by MLB. But neither was Bonds, Clemens or Schilling. A-Rod, of course was suspended 211 games by MLB before an arbitrator reduced it to 162 games.

Perhaps the voters believe Ortiz’s denials. Then why don’t they believe Bonds and Clemens? Most likely it is the other issues.

Ortiz is a good citizen, one of Boston’s all-time favorite athletes. He was prominent in helping the city heal after the Boston Marathon shootings. He is cooperative with the media.

Bonds? He was one of the surliest players ever to slip into a baseball uniform. His relationship with the media always was contentious.

Clemens, too, had issues, including one with me. He struck out 20 Seattle Mariners in a game while pitching for the Boston Red Sox. Since he was born in Dayton, the Dayton Daily News sent me to Boston to do a feature story on him.

caption arrowCaption
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2007, file photo, Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling pitches against the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the baseball World Series at Fenway Park in Boston. Like many baseball writers, C. Trent Rosecrans viewed the Hall of Fame vote as a labor of love. The results of the 2021 vote will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, and Rosecrans was not alone in finding the task particularly agonizing this time around. With Schilling's candidacy now front and center — and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens still on the ballot as well — voters have had to consider how much a player’s off-field behavior should affect his Hall of Fame chances. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Credit: Kathy Willens

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2007, file photo, Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling pitches against the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the baseball World Series at Fenway Park in Boston. Like many baseball writers, C. Trent Rosecrans viewed the Hall of Fame vote as a labor of love. The results of the 2021 vote will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, and Rosecrans was not alone in finding the task particularly agonizing this time around. With Schilling's candidacy now front and center — and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens still on the ballot as well — voters have had to consider how much a player’s off-field behavior should affect his Hall of Fame chances. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Credit: Kathy Willens

caption arrowCaption
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2007, file photo, Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling pitches against the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the baseball World Series at Fenway Park in Boston. Like many baseball writers, C. Trent Rosecrans viewed the Hall of Fame vote as a labor of love. The results of the 2021 vote will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, and Rosecrans was not alone in finding the task particularly agonizing this time around. With Schilling's candidacy now front and center — and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens still on the ballot as well — voters have had to consider how much a player’s off-field behavior should affect his Hall of Fame chances. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Credit: Kathy Willens

Credit: Kathy Willens

He put me off for two days when I appeared in the clubhouse, then gave me 10 minutes in the dugout, sitting about 10 feet away from me. And he said, infamously, “The best thing about Dayton was seeing it in the rear-view mirror.”

Clemens and Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, an inductee with an alleged PED past, had issues. Clemens once hit Piazza in the temple with a pitch and Piazza said he did it on purpose. Then in the 2000 World Series, Clemens, pitching for the New York Yankees against Piazza’s New York Mets, picked up Piazza’s shattered bat and threw it at him.

Some believe Piazza got even with Clemens at the 2004 All-Star game in Houston. Clemens pitched for the Astros and his catcher that day was Piazza. It was Clemens’ worst nightmare, worst inning of his career.

In the first inning, the American League scored six runs off Clemens, including a three-run homer and a two-run homer. Clemens recorded only one swing-and-miss the entire inning. It was suspected by some that Piazza was telling the hitters what pitch was coming.

Schilling didn’t endear himself to BBWAA voters when he was not voted in last year. He asked, via letter to the Hall of Fame, to be taken off the ballot so he could be later judged by a veterans committee.

“I will not participate in the final year of voting,” he wrote. “I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player.”

His request was denied and his chances further plummeted when he came out in favor of the Capitol insurgence during Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration.

Fans like to say that a player should be judged solely on what they do on the field and what they do off the field shouldn’t count. What they don’t realize is that is says, right on the back of the ballot, that character, integrity and sportsmanship should play a part in a player’s considerations.

Perhaps the voters believed Ortiz’s character, integrity and sportsmanship outweighed his connection to the Mitchell Report, where he was named as one of 89 players who used PEDs. Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and A-Rod did not get that pass.

Full disclosure. I did not vote for Bonds. I did not vote for Clemens. I did not vote for Schilling. I did not vote for A-Rod. And I did not vote for Ortiz.

Right or wrong, and there is no right or wrong because all are entitled to their personal opinions, I am sticking to my long-ago decision to not vote for players connected to PEDs.

Many years ago, former St. Louis Cardinals third baseman turned broadcaster Mike Shannon asked me on his radio show if I voted for the suspected or proven PED guys and I said no. Every year he asks me, “Are you sticking to your guns?” When I say yes, he says, “Atta boy, partner.”

My ballot: Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner, Todd Helton, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones. I also ignored Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent, Sammy Sosa and Andy Pettitte.

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