Where Is the Love?

Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway asked this little question 50 years ago, and I’m thinking of it now as I fill out my 22nd Hall of Fame ballot with Alexa providing background vocals.

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Pete Rose, definition of a Hall of Famer with 4,256 hits, is living out his life at age 81 by signing autographs, doing podcasts and represented with no plaque in Cooperstown.

But you can be sure Ichiro Suzuki, a good guy with 4,367 hits if you include Japan, will have slurpy voters at his feet for a first-ballot selection in 2025.

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Barry Bonds, maybe the best player in the history of baseball, just came and went.

Even the Great Era Sages of Cooperstown let him come and go.

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Roger Clemens, one of the five best pitchers in the history of baseball, just came and went.

Even the Great Era Sages of Cooperstown let him come and go.

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Curt Schilling never had a chance only because his words offended others. It’s like the 3,116 strikeouts, 80.5 WAR and bloody sock never happened.

Even the Great Era Sages of Cooperstown let him come and go.

Where is the love?

Where is the love?

You said, you’d give to me

As soon as you were free

Five year waiting period after retirement. Ten-year eligibility period on the ballot. Great Era Sages of Cooperstown pontifications. In Charlie Hustle’s case, life.

Is this thing really working?

Imagine if Elon Musk got ahold of the Hall of Fame selection process. I detest much of what he’s doing to Twitter, but I’d still love to see him shake the hell out of this thing.

First he would suspend every voter.

Then he would give in to newspaper execs and he would open it up to a public vote.

Then suddenly all of you would decide elections from now on. Hell, you’re the patrons.

I’ve got nothing on you season-ticket holders in the field boxes who attend every home game and travel on the road, who watch your team wherever including Spring Training.

But for now this process is still up to people like me: about 400 of us BBWAA voters who covered the game a long time, and then the rotational Era Committees get their hands on the leftover scraps like Harold Baines or Fred McGriff.

I don’t know about my peers but I read your comments. Does any other organizational body get as soundly trashed as Hall voters? You say nice things, too. But I’m not blind or deaf.

Will it ever be?

Where is the love?

Now I’m looking at the ballot for 2023 Induction Weekend and it’s kind of a blend of privilege and satisfaction, confusion and futility. I read the accompanying materials in the big envelope as usual, including No. 5 on the BBWAA Rules for Election. It reads verbatim:

5. Voting — 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.

If I’m counting right, that’s six criteria, and exactly half of them pertain to whether a guy is a good guy or not. Integrity, Sportsmanship, Character — the “ISC” clause. And the first two on-field criteria are basically the same thing.

We need to start by rewriting that sentence. Morality is clearly being dictated. This is not about raising children, it’s about putting the best players in the Hall of Fame.

We suck at it right now. Some clique-ish press box buds will see it as “mission accomplished” — kept those assholes out of Cooperstown! No, you just denied fans some all-time greats.

Do the best players of our lifetime even have a legitimate chance?

You told me that you didn’t love him

And you were gonna say, goodbye

But if you really didn’t mean it

Why did you have to lie?

Was it a lie?

I’m looking at this ballot and my first thought is that some of these guys who I used to see as sure Hall of Famers don’t have a chance based on what we’ve just seen. It’s not even close. Sorry, folks, but shutout-a-comin’.

Álex Rodríguez jumps off this ballot, head and shoulders above the rest. He could have 1,000 home runs and no shot ever. Wasn’t good guy enough, wasn’t ISC.

Manny Ramírez? I considered putting him in the Lost Causes group and unchecking. He could have 1,000 home runs and no shot ever. Wasn’t good guy enough, wasn’t ISC.

Carlos Beltrán should be a first-ballot pick, second at worst. He’s already getting the ISC treatment. Some voters are doing it just to make a statement, then they’ll hit him up after supposedly making him sweat.

But I also see a lot of REALLY GOOD GUYS, so technically they should have just as good a chance this year. It’s half the criteria! Torii Hunter, best guy ever! R.A. Dickey, I remember him playing Wiffle ball with inner-city kids and writing a book. Bronson Arroyo, WHAT A GUY! Vote them all in. J.J. Hardy speech coming up.

John Lackey, I’m afraid, has virtually everything going against him, but “contribution to his team(s)” does make him stand out. Kind of like Josh Beckett, not a voter friend.

There are only three ways I see this moral ballot mentality changing:

A) Rule No. 5 is rewritten to make sense.

B) Infusion of younger voters as BBWAA 10-year sunset clause purges morality voters.

C) The Elon approach, blow it all up, piss off Elton John, and have everyone vote.

Man, this isn’t covering the 2024 Election. It’s about a baseball pantheon.

Where is the love?

You said, was mine, all mine

Till the end of time

Was it just a lie?

Where is the love?

I thought I would be happy to reach the point where no one was going to ask whether I’m voting for Bonds and Clemens. With those two gone, with Schilling gone and David Ortiz inducted, that’s four of my last 10 check marks that are replaced. I thought it would feel like a “fresh” era in the voting process, and refreshing not to be asked about Bonds and Clemens.

It’s not how I pictured it, though. It feels moot and ridiculous. But I still take it seriously. So without further ado, here are the 10 checks on my ballot. Since I’m just listening to Roberta Flack, you can refer to last year’s column for actual supporting baseball data:

1. Álex Rodríguez.
If you had, had a sudden change of heart

I wish that you would tell me so

2. Carlos Beltrán.
Don’t leave me hangin’ on the promises

You’ve got to let me know

3. Manny Ramírez.
Oh, how I wish, I never met you

I guess, it must have been my fate

To fall in love with someone else’s love

All I can do is wait

That’s all I can do, yeah yeah

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

4. Jeff Kent.
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

5. Andruw Jones.
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

6. Andy Pettitte.
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

7. Gary Sheffield.
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

8. Scott Rolen.
What a guy!

9. Todd Helton.
What a guy!

10. Billy Wagner.

What a guy!


11. Omar Vizquel.
Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

Where is the love? (Where is the love?)

So, where IS the love?

It is right there, a stroke of a pen, the freedom of Pete Rose and the acknowledgement once and for all that the Hall of Fame is for the best players in history. Open the door.

He is already past average life expectancy. Continuing to punish him for ethical reasons is arrogant and not in the Best Interest of Baseball.

Will it ever be?
Where is the love?

Mark Newman is a recipient of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence and author of No. 1 bestseller Diamonds from the Dugout. He has been a pro sports beat writer for The Miami Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and San Jose Mercury News; VP/GM at The Sporting News, and from 2002-2018 was a familiar byline to millions of baseball fans as Enterprise Editor and lead national writer for MLB.com plus the first 26,000 tweets & first 1.2 million followers as @MLB. The Indiana University graduate is a longtime Hall of Fame voting member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America working 25 World Series.

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Mark Newman


  1. Beltran is a 1st ballot HOF. Kent and Pettitte on your ballot. Seems pretty clear you’re a big Hall guy. So how does Wagner rate over Buehrle?

  2. Why put Ichiro in that spot? Pete Rose should be in…….What does that have to do with Scratchy?? Ruined the article for me right there.

  3. Hi there, very nice post. I agreed with you in almost everything you said here, the only part I don’t agree with is the Fred McGriff part, cause he was a great hitter and ended only 7 home runs away from 500, and he was an elite hitter. The guy was great! I agree with you on the rest that you said on this post. Where is the love?

    • Well, McGriff is certainly not equivalent to Baines, but he’s not a tremendous addition to the Hall either. He was an elite bat from 1988-1994, but the second half of his career was not so great. Add in him being a poor fielder in his late career and you end up with a 1B who has only 53 career WAR and a low peak for a HOF. Not a terrible selection for a HOF, like Baines, but he ought to be behind Keith Hernandez in line for induction. And if you care about being a baseball player, not just someone who hit a lot of HR, there are several guys on the outside whose overall contributions were similar to Crime Dog.

      • Fred McGriff should have been in the Hall of Fame long ago. First of all, 493 is not just a lot of home runs, it’s pretty amazing. But beyond that, the guy batted .284 and was more than solid you’re in and year out. The second half of his career? Roughly 10 years, just say from 1995 on, seven of those 10 years that guy had 90 RBIs or better and 100 plus in five of those. If hitting, getting on base, scoring and driving in runs are not what’s important in baseball more than fictitious WAR, what the hell are we watching the game for then? Those are the things that matter not some hypothetical nonsense based on every number the guy has and then divided by whatever. So he may not have been the greatest fielder of all time, how many people who played Major League baseball for the best of all time in every facet of the game? There would be about six guys in the hole if that’s what we’re going to go on. But it’s not like this guy was booting grounders into the stands and watching balls bounce off his face. He was definitely capable of Fielding his position and doing what he was paid for, getting on base and driving in runs. That was his job and he did an admirably. Definitely admirably enough to be in the Hall of Fame long ago.

  4. Nicely done sir. You say there are about 400 like yourself but that is clearly inaccurate. That would be 400 who understand that the purpose of the Hall is for the fans to see the greatest players of all time in there. And you are dead on the nose regarding the writers trying to make a statement. Unfortunately, no one cares about that statement. Hiding behind the integrity portion shows a complete lack of such on the part of those voters. What ped users did was to themselves, not to anyone else and in my mind, that’s called a mistake. Not a lack of integrity but an error in judgment. Wilfredo Cordero allegedly smacking his girlfriend with a telephone in the head is a lack of integrity. And like you, I too was very surprised to see that a committee supposedly made up of their peers couldn’t put the deserving guys in once again this year. But unfortunately, there are not just former players on that committee and therein lies the problem.

    Good job Mr Newman, at least we know there are a few sensible writers left.

    • So people who take the rules they are asked to implement seriously enough to actually consider the integrity clause therein thereby lack integrity? Are you capable of distinguishing between “integrity” and “how I want things to be”?

      As I said in my other comment when something happens that you didn’t expect, like the oldtimers’ committee voting against you, you should take it as a warning you are out of touch with reality and rethink, rather than doubling down.

      • Are you capable of distinguishing what the hell the post says? He’s right. Cordero whacking his girl is an integrity and character problem. These guys pumped themselves up and in a lot of cases paid the time. He’s right again that’s a judgement era. Doesn’t make them bad guys just stupid. You’re going to label somebody to have no integrity over peds? Crazy bro. Looks like you’re out of touch with reality

  5. Ridiculous article. Clearly this person doesn’t understand — or CARE — why the steroid cheats are rightly being shunned. Cheat the game, pay the price.
    But then, he also hates Elon Musk, so that tells me everything I need to know. Just revoke this guy’s ballot and give it to someone who understands the issues.

    • Nice halo John Crawford. Must be awesome to be perfect. Sounds like Mr Newman has a very solid grasp on humanity and reality. I assume you have never spent your good money to go to the Hall of Fame then since so many cheaters and unscrupulous characters have tainted it’s walls for decades now. Good luck in your future saintly endeavors.

    • Cheat the game pay the price?? Are you serious? So you mean unless your name is Ruth, Galvin, Aaron, Mantle, Mays, Schmidt, Stargell and on and on? Anyone who took illegal drugs while they were still illegal? Doesn’t matter if they’re illegal now. If peds ever become legal you’re not going to go back in time and put all these guys in and say oh well now they’re legal. Anyone who ever doctored a ball? Stole signs? Play the game drunk? Exhibited open racism like being a member of the KKK? Etc etc. Come on man, learn your history before lumping yourself in with the people who already sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s why these writers get beat up by so many people who know better. The integrity clause has been a joke for a great many years and those of us not living in the cloud of the last 20, have known it for a long time. Martyrs have never sounded very good to the masses, only to other people who have nothing important to say. Good job Newman.

    • 1. “Cheat the game, pay the price”. Bonds was headed to Hall anyway. Rose gambled a little, then the A’s move to Vegas?
      2. You actually like Elon Musk?
      3. Good job, Mr. Newman, bad job John Crawford.

    • Pay the price? But only if you did it after the Mitchell report right? No one one else ever had to pay this price and plenty of Hall guys “cheated the game”. Where were all you people before Congress stepped in? Hypocrisy is hideous and more so on clowns and followers.

  6. Unlike Pete Rose Ichiro never committed statutory rape, so please don’t sully his name via that association. Don’t besmirch the innocent in your campaign to rehabilitate the guilty.

    As for the rest of your argument, sure, if the rules are inconvenient to your agenda, rewrite them. After all obviously it’s you and your echo chamber of the like-minded who are entitled to decide what criteria will be used to select HOFers, it’s not the hall of fame’s right to choose its own. Who do they think they are, contradicting you? Obviously anyone who doesn’t do what you want needs to be Musked. I would caution you on your scheme to open the voting to the public, if you think you can get 75% of the voting public to abandon the traditional morality clause then, like I say, you are living in an echo chamber. Just like you were surprised when the oldtimers’ committee didn’t do what you expected- that should be a warning to you that you are out of touch with reality. Easier to just handpick your own voters so they will do what you want.

    So, yeah, go ahead, this seems like a great idea. Instead of blowing wind pointlessly, why don’t you go out and start your own hall of fame. Include all the best hitters, not just the ones who’ve fallen afoul of that other hall’s morality clause. After all, that will give yours greater legitimacy, right? If you are right this is a golden opportunity, people will flock to your hall of fame and that other one will have to adjust or be lost to the wastebin of history. Of course, neither you nor anybody else in your echo chamber is going to do that, even though there are plenty of businessmen on your side of the aisle. Maybe it’s because you just don’t care enough, despite all your blowing. Or maybe, just maybe, you know deep down your position is never going to have the legitimacy you represent it as having. No, probably just better to leave it hypothetical.

    • People who make the rules read the way they want them to read to make themselves look like martyrs lack integrity. The gambling rules call for a lifetime ban from baseball. If you break them then you do it knowingly and fully aware of the possible penalty. Failing a ped test is punishable by suspension. Once you have committed the crime and done your time, can you not move forward? Didn’t say that in the rules. As for other guys who cooperated with the Mitchell investigation under the pretense that telling the truth would not be held against them, guys who came out and explained what and when they used a substance, knowingly or not, and guys who were told that if they just come clean and apologize all would be forgiven, I would say those guys showed a lot of integrity by owning up whether you like it or not or you believe their reasonings or not. They still came forward and said their piece and now are being treated like pariahs for it. Yes, that definitely shows a lack of integrity on the part of the voters. Do you think Pud Galvin, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and the dozens of guys who were later found to have used amphetamines while they were still illegal should be removed from the hall? There won’t be very many superstars there at that point. And those guys didn’t even come clean about anything until either long after they were in the hall or in some cases, never. So yes, after a player has been punished and some malcontent voter decides to impose their own ban on the player by not voting for him when his statistics clearly merit such, definitely shows a lack of integrity. As does picking apart comments and only acknowledging the parts you can use to compare someone to Elon Musk. I don’t think anyone is hand picking voters so they will vote the way they want, the point is for them to vote the way they should. Not based on the personal preference of anyone on this comment board or in the general public but based on what we’ve always known the reality of a Hall of Fame player to be. Integrity is about being a better human being than the world’s dictators who have routinely placed a foot on the neck of someone who is down and never let it go. The point is, forgiveness and severance from past mistakes takes a lot more integrity than trying to pump yourself up by joining the crowd and punishing someone endlessly. No one said rewrite the rules, but don’t keep bending them to suit your argument either. It seems kind of a stretch to accuse someone of blowing air at the same time that you are displaying that exact tactic. There was nothing hypothetical there at all. Guy does crime, guy gets punished, punishment ends move on. Sounds completely legitimate to me unless we are trying to build a communist society here. Seems as though you are the one who wants to have your way, like all who are steadfast against the dreaded ped users. You have somehow put it on par with things like murder and rape when it is not remotely that. But you go ahead and build your hall of fame filled with semi-talented, high war guys and see how many people keep paying money to look at that. Also seems like your arguments are addressing several different people’s views and partially pulling things out of thin air so I would say yes, SOMEONE here definitely needs to “get in touch with reality” but it’s probably not who you are accusing of it. I also find it oddly telling that everyone on these comment boards who support killing ped users never have any answers for how many of the cornerstones the hall is built on being dirty. But hey, I’m no dictator so if you think there is integrity in punishing people forever, ignoring reality and not being able to tear down solid arguments other than to call the people Elon Musk or blowhards, then I guess that is your right.

    • Here’s a better idea, why don’t you open a Hall of Fame and take out everyone. Start all over again and go by your integrity clause, war and whatever other nonsense these guys are using now. So right off the bat there will be no Babe Ruth, no Mickey Mantle, no Ty Cobb, no racists, no greenies poppers, no sign stealers, no ball fixers, no pine tar abusers, no abusers of any kind, substance, spousal or otherwise, no bat corkers and for that matter let’s leave out anyone who ever celebrated in any manner consistent with an NFL penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct since sportsmanship is also a clause. And then instead of plaques you can mount your inductees on crosses so the place looks like the inside of the church you seem to think it is. Good luck, should be a fun place to visit.

  7. And don’t forget, just to remain consistent with how things are going now, it can’t be just the guys that we know about for sure, you have to also leave out everyone who is, “guilty by suspicion” as well just so it is completely”fair”.

  8. Mr. Newman is right. Put Pete Rose in! So he bet a little. That’s illegal, all right, but I seem to recall Babe Ruth doing several illegal things as well. He’s in, put Rose in!

    • Pretty childish to keep the guy out at this point. A punishment should fit the crime, not pummel the guy’s head into the concrete forever. Who cares what he agreed to then, it was over 30 years ago and he’s apologized a million times already. Complete lack of compassion in the face of attrition and humility doesn’t look any better than the silly “morality” infraction of betting on a game that now advertises gambling on the back of the mound during televised games. Which looks stupid by the way.

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