LAS VEGAS — Back in November, when the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the candidates up for election this year as part of its redesigned Veterans Committee, I predicted that none of them would get a plaque in Cooperstown next July. That wasn’t exactly a bold call: None of the former players drew much support from BBWAA voters on their first go-round, nor did they or the managers and front office executives up for consideration have particularly compelling cases. “Expect to see a result more common with Veterans Committees of the past: a shutout,” I wrote at the time.
Consider me corrected. On Sunday night, as MLB’s winter meetings began in Las Vegas, the Hall of Fame announced the election of two new members via the Today’s Game Era ballot: former all-time saves king Lee Smith, and longtime designated hitter Harold Baines. It’s a shocking result, and not in a good way. Although Smith is a fine if unspectacular choice for induction, it’s Baines who represents one of the most baffling and poor Hall of Fame choices in decades.
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