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Table: Axios Visuals

When Baseball's Hall of Fame voting results are announced tonight, it's likely that the Baseball Writers' Association of America will not elect any new entrants for just the sixth time since 1963.

The state of play: This is partly due to a weak crop of newcomers, but the bigger story is that Hall of Fame voters have become increasingly disenchanted with the once-revered responsibility of selecting Cooperstown's newest residents.

The backdrop: Last year, just four players earned even 50% of the vote (besides Larry Walker and Derek Jeter, who got above the requisite 75% for election), and they all carry significant red flags.

  • Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are in their penultimate year on the ballot, but their careers have been tainted by steroids.
  • Curt Schilling is also running out of time, but his history of offensive remarks (he recently supported the insurrection) has barred him thus far.
  • Omar Vizquel looked like an eventual shoo-in until domestic abuse allegations surfaced in December.

Between the lines: Hall of Fame voting comprises nine rules, but none loom as large No. 5's character clause, stipulating that players must display "integrity, sportsmanship [and] character."

  • The clause has been around since the 1940s, but only recently began dominating the conversation in the wake of the steroid era.
  • Interestingly, then-commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (ironically, a noted racist) introduced the clause to give less-accomplished players a chance to gain entry on the strength of superior character.

The big picture: The BBWAA has repeatedly asked for rule changes and guidance on how to treat steroid users, but the Hall seems intent on letting the writers do their dirty work.

  • "You're supposed to be doing a fun thing, voting for the Hall of Fame," vote-tracker Ryan Thibodaux told WSJ (subscription). "Instead you're trying to weigh various transgressions and indiscretions."
  • The situation gets murkier still when you consider the players from baseball's golden era who made the Hall when the character clause was ignored.

What they're saying: ESPN's Jeff Passan stopped voting in 2017 for this very reason, spurred by a letter from Hall of Famer Joe Morgan asking voters not to elect steroid users to "the most sacred place in baseball."

"If, by sacred place, the Hall means one in which racists, wife beaters, drunks, gamblers and purveyors of manifold moral turpitude otherwise are celebrated, well, Cooperstown is a shining beacon of divinity set upon a hill of hypocrisy."
— Passan's scathing response

The bottom line: Voters and the Hall seem to agree that times have changed, but they can't seem to agree on how best to change with the times.

Looking ahead ... Things won't get any easier in 2022, when a certain superstar named Alex Rodriguez debuts on the ballot.

Go deeper: Hall of Fame voting has become a hassle (NYT)

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jan 27, 2021 - Sports

Curt Schilling asks to be removed from Hall of Fame contention after character snub

Table: Axios Visuals

There will be no Class of 2021 in the Baseball Hall of Fame, as voters pitched a shutout on Tuesday, rejecting all 25 candidates for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

The state of play: The top three candidates — Curt Schilling (71.1%), Barry Bonds (61.8%) and Roger Clemens (61.6%) — all fell short of the 75% needed.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.