Ask Gary: Examining the Hall of Fame ballot

by Gary Shelton on December 17, 2016 · 5 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Will you share your baseball Hall of fame ballot with us?

Scott Myers

Scott, I'm not really that impressed with the newcomers on this year's ballot. There isn't a slam dunk like Ken Griffey Jr. was on it.

I'd start with the highest finishers from last year's ballot. Jeff Bagwell barely missed last year, and there was no real reason. There are some steroid whispers, but nothing's been proven. I'd start by putting Bagwell in. After that, Tim Raines is long overdue. Great leadoff hitter. And Trevor Hoffman squeezes in.

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After that, I say no to Manny Ramirez. I think too much of his success can be traced to PEDs. The guy tested twice, robbing his teams of at-bats. I think Vlad Guerrero might get in, but no,  not in his first season.

Curt Schilling? I can't bring myself to vote for that kind of guy. Sue me.

I always vote for Fred McGriff. I just think if being dirty in the steroid era hurts you, then being clean should make you mentally adjust your numbers. No one can ever prove they were clean, but there wasn't a legitimate voice saying McGriff on on PEDs. He succeeds on my ballot.

Then there are the PED guys. My original stance was "no way, they cheated." But looking back, you don't know who was clean and who wasn't, what was definitive proof and what wasn't. So I've come down to this: If a player was a legit Hall of Famer before he did 'roads, I put him in. But if his career depended on the juice, I leave him out. It's a moving line, I realize, but it's my ballot.

So I ranked Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons differently from the rest. I think they both had Hall of Fame careers before steroid use came into being. I'd put them both on the ballot. (And if Bud Selig, the Great Enabler, gets in, whose to say no to greatness>) Mark McGwire? My gut tells me he was a product of chemicals. So I say no. It's my ballot, right?

Who else? Well, Pudge Rodriguez. I'm going to include him. There are drug whispers but, again, no proof. Maybe the best defensive catcher of his day.

What is that? Seven players in: Bagwell, Raines, Hoffman, Bonds, Clemens, McGriff and Pudge? That's enough for me.

Do we have even a prayer of keeping Mike Smith as our DC next year or should I expect him to be the lead candidate for the job in LA?  My Christmas wish would be that he would want to stay and help build a perennial winner and that the Glazers will pay him to do so.  What say you?

Michele Forte

Michele, it's hard to say if he'll get a head job. You never know what teams are going to want. There is a chance that Smith is back. He isn't one of the hot young candidates like Kyle Shanahan, and he isn't coming from a great program like Josh McDaniels (again).

Here's what would concerns me as a Bucs' fan: Smith did some fine work in Jacksonville. And while it was for a previous owner, he's thought of well there. If the Jags give up the silly notion of hiring 113-year-old Tom Coughlin, they might light on Smith. He's been a head coach, he's had success. The Jags have done worse.

But sure, there is a chance he's back. But only a chance.

Are you hearing that defensive coordinator Mike Smith is getting a lot of the credit around the NFL for the phenomenal turnaround of the Bucs defense this year? Do you think that there could be enough interest for another team to offer him a head coaching position once the season ends or will he need to prove himself for a longer period of time for that to happen?

Larry Beller

Of course he is. The Bucs' defense has opened eyes that last five games. If you look at this Bucs' defense, there still isn't a great pass-rusher. The safeties aren't really athletic. And yet Smith's team is playing as well as any team in the league. Someone has to get credit for that.

I never know who the hot candidates are. I was looking at a list in USA Today, and Smith wasn't among their top 10. But Smith isn't a new, cutting edge candidate. Still, his first go-round was much better than McDaniels. Teryl Austin, Sean McDermott and Mike Patricia all will get interviews.

Will they all get jobs? We'll see. Say there are seven jobs (which is about average), and each team interviews four guys. That's 28 possible assistants. Surely, Smith is one of those. But here's my question. Do you want to see it happen?

To me, coaching is adapting to your players. It's winning when no one expects it. Heck, if I had a team who needed a coach, I'd talk to Smith.

I was listening to Tampa Two with Derrick Brooks and the discussion came up about USF and Charlie Strong. Brooks said he was excited for USF making a bold statement because their last two coaching hires have been African American coaches. When I heard that it sort of struck me because it hadn't occurred to me that race was even a consideration anymore when choosing a coach or a QB. I do remember the days when it was a big deal that Doug Williams was a 'black quarterback' but that was almost 40 years ago. And yes, there were whispers when the Glazers hired Dungy. That was 20 years ago. When I heard Charlie Strong I thought okay, he's a defensive guy. (I wanted Lawrence Dawsey but okay.) I never thought, "he's an African American".  I certainly wasn't thinking that when we picked Jameis Winston. I didn't think 'black quarterback', I thought 'WINNER'!  Aren't we long past the issue of race being a deciding factor when choosing a coach or a quarterback in the world of football?  What say you?

Michele Forte

It speaks well that you heard about Strong and evaluated his coaching ability and not his race. But, sure, in certain circles, it still matters. After all, for most of our lives, the color of a man's skin kept him from attaining such a job (or the job as quarterback). It didn't matter if the guy in question was smart or creative or hard working He couldn't get it.

So it's easy for you and I not to allow it to matter anymore. Heck, Tampa Bay has done very well when it comes to hiring African-Americans. There was Dungy and Raheem Morris and Lovie Smith with the Bucs. There has been been Hal McRae with the Rays. There has been Willie Taggart and Strong with the Bulls.

But we live in a society where black people have had to work very hard for everything they've attained. If the right people want to keep track of how many minorities have been successful, well, I have no problem with it. Eventually, when it becomes routine to look at the sideline and it isn't an issue who the coach is, then people will stop counting. I'll be honest. I don't know how many college or pro coaches have been. Not enough, I'm sure.

What we have seen is that coaches are hired, and fired, because of their resumes. That's how it should be.

The Bucs have a good shot at beating Dallas this Sunday. The Cowboys looked unimpressive against the NY Giants last week. I believe the honeymoon is finally over for their young QB. He's now been around long enough that other teams have a good book on him. Won't be so easy for him from now on. It wouldn't shock me if the Bucs come out on top.

Howard Powders

Howard, it wouldn't shock anyone after what we've seen the last five weeks. But the Bucs will be underdogs. It's a Sunday night game at the JerryDome. The Cowboys are sure to be pumped, too.

I think the Bucs have to continue to play well on defense, especially against the run. I think they need to be better on offense. They need more takeaways. They need early success.

But, no, it wouldn't shock me if the Bucs won.

Rank the college football coaches in the state of Florida.

Jim Willson

Tough one, Jim. There are seven very good coaches on the FBS level. I would suggest that the biggest difference in them are the schools they coach and the conferences in which they play.

Here goes:

1. Jimbo Fisher, FSU: He's the only coach who has won a national title and been to the playoffs (twice).

2. Mark Richt, Miami: Richt's only stumble is that Georgia lost a lot of big games while he was with the Bulldogs.

3. Jim McElwain, Florida: McElwain still hasn't developed a quarterback, but he's won the SEC East twice.

4. Charlie Strong, USF: I wonder how soon Texas will question whether it gave Strong enough time in three years.

5. Butch Davis, FAU:  I've always been a Butch fan. His questions are his age and whether he can bring enough talent to the Owls.

6. Scott Frost, USF: He took the Knights from 0-12 to a bowl game. That's pretty good in one season.

7. Lane Kiffin, FIU: As I mentioned, I have a soft spot for Kiffin, who I think will be more stable in this job. But why would he leave Nick Saban?

Are you hearing any rumblings about the Rays stadium search?  I thought that once the season was over, things might start happening.

 Jim Willson
Nothing yet, Jim. But it takes time to get a stadium built. It has everywhere I've been. You don't want to endorse a site too soon and have it shot down. Then you look weak. So I think the Rays will do their due diligence on a lot of places, then pare it down.
I still think the Rays would love to get to Tampa, but the location is key. I do wonder how much the vote will hinge on how the Rays are doing. If they're in last place, do they have a  harder time of it than, say, if they're third? Or should it matter?
Pretty much, I'm fine with any location where they don't speak French.

I hate the Cowboys: Oh, the memories of Doug Williams getting pummeled by Too Tall Jones in 81, the failed 5 trips in the red zone during the 82 regular season, the bull-spit ref calls in the 4th qtr of the '82 playoff game, and the RIDICULOUS way the Bucs Cedrick Brown intercepted the ball in the end zone to win the game in 83…only for Danny White to get ball back with some time left and tie the game and win in OT!

I can go on. Ray Perkins calling only 4 freaking first half passes to Vinny Testaverde 1990. “The Playmaker” catching winning TD from Troy Aikman   in final minute in 1990,

Yeah, I hate the Cowboys.

Did the Giants expose any Cowboy deficiencies, or will the Bucs do that Sunday?

Nick Houllis

Nick, I'm glad to know it doesn't bother you very much. Hah, I can see you grabbing your therapist and screaming into his face. You'll be R.P. McMurphy all over again.

No, I don't think the NFL is a place where deficiencies are exposed. Remember when a very good Bucs' team went to the Raiders and were clobbered 45-0. We all wanted to act like that was the end of sunshine, but the next week, the Bucs were okay.

If the Bucs beat Dallas, it will be because they're able to expose certain match-ups. If Tampa Bay can hang with this great offensive line (they did a year ago) and give Dak Prescott happy feet, they have a shot.

Personally, I think the Bucs should be able to score 21 on the Dallas defense. If they can do that, they have a shot at winning.





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