One more shot

Raines, Smith down to fi­nal chance on base­ball writ­ers ballot

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tim Raines is down to his fi­nal chance.

Af­ter fall­ing 23 votes shy of in­duc­tion into base­ball’s Hall of Fame, Raines’ can­di­dacy will come down to next year’s vote. It will be his 10th and fi­nal year of el­i­gi­bil­ity on the Base­ball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica ballot. New­com­ers to the ballot in 2017 in­clude Manny Ramirez, Ivan Ro­driguez and Vladimir Guer­rero.

Raines stole 808 bases in his 24-year ca­reer, sur­pass­ing 70 in ev­ery sea­son from 1981-86. He later won two World Se­ries ti­tles as a mem­ber of the New York Yan­kees and fin­ished his ca­reer with a .294 life­time bat­ting av­er­age.

He re­ceived the sup­port of 69.8 per cent of the vot­ers this year in re­sults an­nounced Wed­nes­day. A player needs 75 per cent to gain elec­tion. On Wed­nes­day night, a se­ries of mes­sages ap­peared on Raines’ Twit­ter ac­count, ex­press­ing grat­i­tude.

“A heart­felt thank you to all the fans on Twit­ter/in per­son who con­tinue to show love & sup­port,” one of his tweets said. “My fam­ily and I are touched.”

Ken Grif­fey Jr. and Mike Pi­azza were elected to the Hall this year, and Raines was one of three other can­di­dates who came pretty close. Jeff Bag­well missed by 15 votes, and Trevor Hoff­man was 34 shy in his first year on the ballot.

Here are a few things to watch in next year’s Hall of Fame vote:

LAST SHOT

Raines and Lee Smith are the two play­ers down to their fi­nal ap­pear­ance on the BBWAA ballot. In 2014, the Hall of Fame changed the max­i­mum num­ber of years on the ballot from 15 to 10, but Smith was grand­fa­thered in and will be al­lowed his 15th chance in 2017.

Smith, who had 478 saves in his 18-year ca­reer, was at 34.1 per cent in this year’s vote.

SLUG­GERS

Ramirez hit 555 home runs in his 19-year ca­reer, but he doesn’t fig­ure to be in­ducted any time soon, with the vot­ing still tak­ing place un­der the cloud of per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drug sus­pi­cion.

Barry Bonds and Roger Cle­mens, for ex­am­ple, were be­low 50 per cent in this year’s vot­ing.

Ramirez was sus­pended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Los An­ge­les Dodgers af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for a banned drug.

Guer­rero, who has man­aged to avoid the PED con­tro­versy, hit .318 with 449 home runs in his 16-year ca­reer, mostly with the Ex­pos and An­gels.

PUDGE AND POSADA

With Pi­azza set for in­duc­tion, the fo­cus turns to two other catch­ers who will de­but on the ballot for 2017.

Ro­driguez hit .296 with 311 homers and won 13 Gold Gloves, but vot­ers con­cerned about PED al­le­ga­tions may be hes­i­tant to sup­port him. For­mer Texas team­mate Jose Canseco al­leged he in­jected steroids into Ro­driguez.

Posada played his en­tire 17year ca­reer with the New York Yan­kees and was part of five World Se­ries cham­pi­ons.

PITCHER PROGRESS

Curt Schilling was at 52 per cent this year, and Mike Mussina checked in at 43 per cent. Their progress will be worth mon­i­tor­ing, and Hoff­man is al­ready within strik­ing dis­tance of be­ing in­ducted.

FAN FA­VORITES

Ja­son Varitek and Mag­glio Or­donez may not come all that close to the Hall thresh­old, but their pres­ence on the ballot for 2017 will bring back fond mem­o­ries for fans in Bos­ton and Detroit.

Edgar Ren­te­ria, whose 11thin­ning hit won Game 7 of the 1997 World Se­ries for the Florida Mar­lins, makes his de­but on the ballot as well.

AP PHOTO

Mon­treal Ex­pos’Tim Raines ac­knowl­edges ap­plause from fans April 6, 2001, as he is pre­sented be­fore the Ex­pos home opener in Mon­treal.

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