Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Fennelly: Rules are rules, so no Bonds and Co. on Hall of Fame ballot

Not by my hand.

The newest inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Wednesday.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have a fighting chance.

They made real headway in voting last year.

This could be the moment when the steroids stigma is put to rest.

Not by my hand.

I'm a holdout.

I didn't vote for Bonds or Clemens.

Nor did I vote for Manny Ramirez, who is in his first year of eligibility.

Nor do I plan on voting for Alex Rodriguez when he becomes eligible.

Not by my hand.

I tried and I tried.

Had my pen right over the boxes next to their names, ready to check off Bonds, Clemens and Ramirez.

But I just couldn't do it.

I know. I've just tested positive for being holier than thou.

Tell me I'm living in a world that never was.

I couldn't bring myself to vote them in.

Yes, there are all kinds of reasons to look the other way.

Former commissioner Bud Selig recently was elected to the Hall by the Today's Game Era Committee — Selig, who essentially did nothing to stop the steroids epidemic.

He's in and the users are out?

I began to check the boxes …

Then there's the fact that the Hall recognizes all the records set and held by Bonds, Clemens and others.

Their records are in the Hall, but they aren't?

I began to check the boxes …

A friend and fellow voter asked: "Can you write the history of the game without these men?"

Bonds, Clemens and Rodriguez are among the greatest players in baseball history. Can't write the story without them.

Can't write the story without Pete Rose, either.

Time to check the boxes …

I still couldn't do it.

Still can't get around the "character clause" in the rules for election.

"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

Until they get rid of that clause, I have no choice.

And I don't feel high and mighty or holier than thou.

Those are the guidelines.

It isn't my fault that baseball left it in the baseball writers' laps to clean up this steroids mess.

And there are some arguments that just won't fly with me.

For instance, the notion that everyone was doing it.

I don't believe that. What's worse, to keep a few cheaters out or label an entire generation of players dirty?

There's the argument that players such as Bonds and Clemens were Hall of Fame players with Hall of Fame numbers before they cheated. To me, that just makes what they did more onerous. They were already great. They didn't have to do this.

I'm not saying there aren't pitfalls to my stand. I voted for Mike Piazza last year and for Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez this year, and there have been suspicions about all three.

And someone made a great point about Tim Raines, who was on my ballot: Raines' admitted cocaine use during his career didn't exactly lend itself to "character" and "integrity."

Others point out the Hall is filled with scoundrels. Why are there racists such as Ty Cobb and Cap Anson in the Hall, or boozers such as Babe Ruth? What about the ballplayers who used "uppers" to supplement their games?

Okay, let's make a new rule: Every year, for each player we vote in, we get to vote one out.

In about 12 years, we will be left with Stan Musial playing harmonica to Phil Rizzuto.

No system is perfect.

This one sure isn't.

All I'm saying is I don't think Bonds and Clemens deserve the highest honor their game can bestow. They forfeited that.

Look, it will happen anyway.

Bonds and Clemens will make the Hall.

Not by my hand.

Comments
Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

PORT CHARLOTTE – It may have seemed that things couldn't get worse for the Rays after an opening week of spring training that included the dumping of two veterans to harshly negative reviews including from their own players, the trade of the te...
Updated: 2 hours ago

How the Rays’ DFA of Dickerson paid off, with a reliever and a prospect from Pirates

PORT CHARLOTTE – The Rays' surprising and controversial decision to designate for assignment 2017 All-Star OF/DH Corey Dickerson to prompt a trade paid off Thursday in a deal with the Pirates.Assuming you consider it a good return to get vetera...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays find taker for Corey Dickerson, get Daniel Hudson, prospect from Pirates

Rays find taker for Corey Dickerson, get Daniel Hudson, prospect from Pirates

The Rays found a taker for OF/DH Corey Dickerson, trading him Thursday to the Pirates for veteran reliever Daniel Hudson, minor-league INF Tristan Gray and $1-million cash.Hudson, 30, will compete for a spot in the Rays bullpen, coming off a rou...
Updated: 7 hours ago
New pitcher Anthony Banda already “loving the vibe” with Rays

New pitcher Anthony Banda already “loving the vibe” with Rays

Acknowledging the "whirlwind" that comes with being traded, LHP Anthony Banda said he is excited to come over from Arizona because he figures to have a better opportunity with the Rays.And he already likes the fit."I'm very excited to be here and con...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Spring is in the air as games start today

Spring is in the air as games start today

After a week of players stretching, doing mundane drills and practicing practice, spring training moves to the next phase today with the start of exhibition games.Ah, baseball in the sunshine.Consider it a soft opening in this part of the state, with...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays are adding players?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays are adding players?

The Rays signed veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez to a one-year contract one day after trading Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona. In his latest podcast, Rick Stroud discusses reaction to the moves from players, as well as super fan Dick Vitale.Plus, the Bucs...
Published: 02/22/18
Grapefruit League 2018 day-by-day schedule

Grapefruit League 2018 day-by-day schedule

Here is the 2018 day-by-day Grapefruit League schedule. Check out the Tampa Bay Times’ 2018 Spring Training Guide for stadium locations, contact information, team-by-team schedules, ticket information and more.Thursday, Feb. 22U. of Tampa vs. Philade...
Published: 02/22/18
Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

PORT CHARLOTTE – Dick Vitale, the Rays' most visible and, as of late, vocal fan, took to Twitter and the 620-AM airwaves Wednesday morning and later in the day in a phone call to the Tampa Bay Times to blast his local baseball team.Vitale, ESPN...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

PORT CHARLOTTE — Going against popular opinion, here's an odd thought to ponder:What if the Rays actually know what they're doing?The deal agreed to Wednesday afternoon with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez — one year for a hefty-for-them ...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

PORT CHARLOTTE — 2B Nick Solak reported to camp Wednesday, while LHP Anthony Banda, the other player acquired in the Steven Souza Jr. trade, is on his way.Banda, whose fastball hits the mid-90s, pitched in eight games last season with the Diamo...
Published: 02/21/18