On Tom Verducci’s peculiar, Mike Piazza-less Hall of Fame ballot


During MLB Network’s Hall of Fame debate, which aired on Friday night, Tom Verducci’s vote for this year was revealed. Verducci voted for the 10 players below:

Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, and John Smoltz.

When Verducci’s ballot was presented, no one on the panel asked him why he left off Mike Piazza, the only notable omission.

Verducci has stated numerous times that he will never vote for a known steroid user, and has named the offenders: Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds.

During Mike Piazza’s first three years on the ballot, Verducci has not voted for him a single time.

While Verducci hasn’t voted for Piazza, he also hasn’t accused him of steroid use. He has, however, cited “facts” about Jeff Bagwell – who is often unfairly accused along with Piazza of steroid use – that led him to initially withhold his vote:

"I try to be fair. Speculation alone is dangerous. I’ll use Jeff Bagwell as an example. He’s a guy I voted for again. But here are some facts about Bagwell: he hired a bodybuilder (later hired by Luis Gonzalez) in 1995 to make him “as big as I can,” flexibility be damned; took the steroid precursor andro (as well as supplements such as creatine, HMB, zinc, etc.), underwent a massive body change; maintained a bodybuilder weightlifting regimen; called the whistle-blowing in 2002 by Caminiti “a shame” and the one in 2005 by Jose Canseco “very disappointing . . . whether it’s true or not;” promulgated the red herring that drugs don’t help baseball players (“Hand-eye coordination is something you can’t get from a bottle,” he said of his andro use); and as recently as 2010 in an ESPN interview openly endorsed steroid use by anyone from a fringe player (“I have no problem with that”) to superstars such as Bonds and McGwire (“I know you took it but it doesn’t matter”) as well as the HGH use by an injured Andy Pettitte (“That’s not a performance enhancer”).I disrespect his position on steroids and wonder why someone of a bodybuilder mindset who endorses steroid use would walk right up to the steroid line himself without crossing it. His comments, right before his first year on the ballot, bothered me so much that I didn’t vote for him that year — I needed more time to process his candidacy, a kind of deferral that is not uncommon. Without subsequent information, I have voted for him since. No, voting isn’t easy. This is the kind of toxicity the players left behind from The Steroid Era."

Something doesn’t make sense here.

Verducci is voting for Bagwell, who he once suspected of steroid use, but is not voting for Mike Piazza, who he has not accused of steroid use.

The above means one of two things.

1. Tom Verducci feels that Mike Piazza isn’t as worthy of the Hall of Fame as Fred McGriff, Craig Biggio, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent, John Smoltz, and Jeff Bagwell.


2. Tom Verducci believes that Mike Piazza took steroids, is withholding his vote because of that belief, but is refusing to provide reasoning when explaining his ballot.

To be familiar with Tom Verducci is to know that there’s no way he would ever believe that supposedly-clean players Craig Biggio or Mike Mussina or Tim Raines or Fred McGriff are more deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame than a clean Mike Piazza.

Using deductive reasoning, it’s fair to infer that Tom Verducci believes Piazza used steroids but isn’t willing to explain why. That’s a problem.

On the same special where Verducci revealed his vote, fellow voter Ken Rosenthal said the following:

"If you’re not going to vote for someone based on alleged PED use, there has to be some kind of confirmation…to withhold a vote on the basis of suspicion to me is borderline un-American. It’s simply not right."

Tom Verducci is free to vote any way he chooses. However, the Hall of Fame is sacred to many. Who does and doesn’t get in is extremely important to an enormous amount of people.

To be as well respected as Verducci and keep arguably the greatest hitting catcher of all-time off your ballot, while voting for another player who you openly suspected of steroid use, while failing to accuse Piazza of the same makes zero sense.

If Verducci believes he knows something about Piazza that no one else does, he needs to say it.

While it’s not required by the BBWAA, Tom Verducci owes every baseball fan – and his fellow writers – an explanation as to why Piazza has been left off his ballot.