Friday, July 13, 2018

Keep Families Together

Keep Families Together
Commentary  by Sanford D. Horn
July 13, 2018

The visual remains unpleasant, even disturbing - hundreds, if not thousands of foreigners - the “wretched refuse,” if you will, teeming toward the southern border, clammoring, nay, demanding to be granted entry into the United States of America, knowing they are violating the laws of the very country within which they seek refuge.

The visual instills pangs of sadness, empathy, and even a desperate desire to help, but these are the emotions that should be rerserved for homeless American veterans, mentally adled American citizens wandering the streets of this country aimlessly  because they either can’t get, ot don’t know how to get the help they need.

This is not to dismiss the plight of these foreigners, some may have legitimate reasons for fleeing their home countries, but the United States is a nation of law and order; without which, chaos and anarchy erupts, and from recent appearances, there are those Americans seeking just that - they are the enemy from within.

Admittedly, the United States has a broken immigration system. It takes far too long for otherwise worthy future Americans to be granted legal admission to this country. Yet similtaneously, the United States has much worsening problems - a broken border, a nation too generous for its own good, and a legal system beyond the immagination of the writers of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

None of the potential illegal aliens should have been detained because none of them should have been allowed to cross the border. Thus the wall and strict border security. A nation is not truly a nation without borders and rules for those wishing to cross over those borders. This is not a matter of cruelty, nor is it a matter of nativism or nationalism. This is a matter of common sense. What other country has such porous borders and such a liberal acceptance policy to grant people in this country illegally things that legeal residents and citizens are hard pressed to acquire? What other countries grant free medical care, education, welfare, even drivers licences to people who broke the law to get here and then brazenly make demands of the country to which they pledge no loyalty as they parade around the flags of their countries of orign?

For the same reason we lock our cars or the doors to our homes, our borders - at all directions, not just south, must be secured - secured by personnel and painstaking efforts to vet vigorously all who wish to enter - for any purpose - business, education, vacation or permanant status.

Instead of detention, all those potential illegal aliens should have been denied entry and turned back. By denying them entry one thing is assured - families will remain together. This is what everyone wants - for children to remain with their parents - and what most people want - for them to do so on their side of the border.

If and when those folks decide to apply for legal entry, they must be strictly vetted to ensure first, that they are who they say they are, and that they actually are the parents of the children with whom they travel. The sad fact is, that there are myriad adults masquerading as parents to gain access to the American way of life when in fact they are dangerous criminals, be they drug dealers/smugglers or pimps/human traffickers.

In addition to physical border security, anyone who desires entry into the United States must be fingerprinted and photographed for a national data base. Every guest in this country should be able to be tracked. After all, do we really know the motives of everyone who crosses our borders? Enforce the deadlines on all student visas, business, and vacation travel plans. It is especially important that foreign students return to their homelands, take their new knowledge and help grow their countries educationally and economically; after all, a rising tide lifts all boats and the more international growth, the less people will see the need to sneak into the United States. Create real jobs in those countries and help reduce the drug trade. Strengthen the drug laws in this country, and get people the help they need to become clean and sober.

We are a generous nation - to a fault - and it is our fault that we have allowed millions of illegals to take advantage of our generosity to the tune of billions and billions of dollars for decades. Free medical care, free public school education, granting in-state tuition for illegals, food stamps - which deserves a separate column of its own, welfare, drivers licenses which becomes costly as many illegals fail to procure auto insurance. The United States must turn off the spigot and force illegals to self-deport - which many will do, if they have the above reason to return home.

The current crisis is yielding some interesting, yet damning, statistics. Under the Obama administration families released after the maximum 20 day holding period were issued a court date to return for their asylum hearing. The Department of Homeland Security indicated that 97 percent of those people - all in the United States illegally - failed to return for their mandatory hearings. Catch and releasae must be abolished.

On the other hand, the visual of housing many of these illegals on military bases until their hearings, is being identified as akin to the internment camps during World War II when more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans were held under the Franklin Roosevelt administration. The huge difference was that FDR was wrong to incarcerate Americans. Under President Donald Trump these people, are here in the United States illegally. Let’s not sugarcoat it with euphemisms. They chose to come to the United States and illegally enter this country without permission; they have broken the law. Emotion versus fact.

The outcry regarding the separation of children from their mothers is disingenuous. If an American mother robs a bank, is captured, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to prison, naturally this American mother will be separated form her children. There is no outpouring of sympathy here to keep children with their mothers; but for the illegals, a demand for speacial treatment. Emotion versus the rule of law.

We are a nation of law and order; we abide by the rule of law or there are consequences - certainly for the Americans, but why not for the illegals? They must pay the price for their truculent, criminal behavior. Entering the United States was their choice. No one coerced them to commit breaking and entering against the American people.

While the United States is a nation of laws, and admittedly some tinkering of the law to streamline the process of admission would be beneficial to those who are applying legally, one drastic change need be made to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. We need to end the birthright mishegas - and immediately. When righting the serious wrong following the War Between the States of granting citizenship to freed slaves, the authors unlikely considered illegal aliens as a group who should benefit from the amendment, yet, via the “anchor baby” system of birthright, illegals are gaming the system like no other. Why is the United States rewarding illegal aliens for giving birth on US soil after sneaking into this country? But that is exactly what is happening; and that reward is American citizenship and permanant status in the US for the illegal. Shame on us.

I have long said, like the concept of fruit from the poisonous tree in a courtroom when a judge denies the use of evidence obtained from a bad search, the child born to an illegal alien should not be considered an American citizen. Amend the 14th Amendment. Amend it now.

Our elected officials are too busy running for reelection and trying to be all things to all constituents, which is not possible, especially when they should be doing their jobs. The members very quickly forget they work for us, not the other way around, and what the people want and need are secure borders and immigration reform that actually favors the United States for a refreshing change. Make it happen Congress, or the next change will be you.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Defending the Unpopular

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Defending the Unpopular
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 26, 2018

Remaining steadfast in my belief that less government is best, I would be hypocritical to not, yet again, defend the unpopular; albeit doing so knowing that through the American system of capitalism and justice, these things work themselves out.

There has been more than just a little consternation over the recent treatment Trump administration Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders received by Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA. About a week ago Sanders and her dinner party were asked to leave The Red Hen restaurant for no other reason than her affiliation and association with the Trump administration.

Here’s where one cannot both have their cake and eat it too.

For years the big government left has demanded government sanction and penalize private businesses to the point of shutting them down for refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings as a matter of religious or conscientious choice. The cadre of -ists and -isms are thrown around as to why private enterprises should be forced to conduct business with people or groups with whom they have chosen not to.

They are hypocrites for their selective tolerance. And while it’s Wilkinson’s right to refuse service to whom she chooses, she should pay more attention to the quote hanging on her own restaurant: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Those are the immortal words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

The flip side of this entrepreneurial conundrum is the small government right calling for private enterprises be left alone to conduct their business as they see fit - consequences be damned, or not.

They are hypocrites for their selective outrage. They want Sanders et al to be served, but they balk at baking the gay couple’s wedding cake.

I remain consistent. Government is already too busy sticking its fingers in far too many pies. Leave the business of business to the business men and women, and let the chips fall where they may. Ultimately these issues will resolve themselves. Quite frankly, if a baker refused me service because of my religion I would go elsewhere - I don’t want my wedding cake to “accidentally” contain a cup of salt instead of a cup of sugar - oopsies, as my younger daughter would say. Same if I were asked to leave a restaurant. I don’t want a plate full of G-d knows what being served to me that may have “accidentally” fallen on the floor or ended up with a gob of phlegm as a side dish.

I will spend my money where it is appreciated. We should all do likewise. Speak with our wallets and with our voices. Government need not get involved. If those who are outraged with the bakery not wanting to bake the cake for a gay couple opts to take their business elsewhere, it will affect the bottom line of the bakery in question. That business will suffer for its decision, or perhaps it won’t. Perhaps it will flourish because people will support it for taking a moral stand. Likewise with the restaurant. Perhaps all those who support President Trump will stay away, and as has been the immediate response, take to social media to opine, and cause the restaurant to lose a ton of cabbage. On the other hand, perhaps all the anti-Trumpers will flock to The Red Hen to demonstrate its support for Wilkinson’s decision.

I’m pretty sure I would not patronize the bakery or the restaurant - and that is my choice, just as it is and should remain the choices of the proprietors to discern with whom they choose to conduct business. That is the American way, the people’s choice, not the government’s mandate. G-d help us if the reverse ever becomes reality.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What Religion is Your Chicken?

What Religion is Your Chicken?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 16, 2018


“Welcome to Chick-fil-A. Before you order your chicken sandwich, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? No? I’m sorry, no food for you! Next, please.”


I’ve visited Chick-fil-A restaurants in easily half a dozen states and have never encountered such a greeting. Folks, you know me, I would certainly have noticed!


Apparently, in the warped notion dreamed up by The New Yorker magazine’s Dan Piepenbring, Chick-fil-A is seeking global domination via the cow mascot/preacher’s attempt at proselytization of all who misguidedly deign to enter its restaurants. In his April 13 article, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” Piepenbring belies the cosmopolitan airs of the Big Apple with his small-minded, parochial fears that the mere existence of Chick-fil-A in New York City will bring on the second coming of witch trials, prohibition, and the loss of women’s suffrage.


“...the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism,” wrote an almost paranoid Piepenbring.


Infiltration? There are more than eight and a half million people living in New York City with but four Chick-fil-A restaurants; the latest, on Fulton Street, is the world’s largest at more than 12,000 square feet. Even with the proposed plans to open about a dozen more, does that sound like an infiltration, let alone a creepy one? Are there more than 16 McDonald’s in New York City? More than 16 Starbucks? Is there a fear of oversaturation by those franchises?


Of what is Piepenbring afraid? Is he afraid of juicy, good tasting chicken sandwiches? Is he afraid of good service from clean-cut workers with good manners and the ability to speak English proficiently? That is what he will experience, and more, when choosing to dine at a Chick-fil-A. Workers greet customers with a smile, visit tables offering refills on beverages, even clearing away refuse while patrons are still finishing up their meals. Is it Shangri-La? No, of course not. And to be fair, their iced tea is often weak, but the restaurants are crowded for a reason. It certainly is not the least expensive of the fast food options, but business is good, because Chick-fil-A is a good business.


A good business with a business model that works for them. But a “pervasive Christian traditionalism?” Squads of preachers are not waiting at every table with church applications or asking anyone to join a prayer circle. What is so visibly Christian about these restaurants? And what would be wrong if Chick-fil-A were overtly Christian, replete with Bible verses or even crosses on the walls? Walk into a kosher restaurant and you will see a mezuzah on the doorpost along with sinks for hand washing and the appropriate Hebrew prayer, as well as the blessings for before and after meals. I’m pretty sure that won’t lead to planetary dominion by the Orthodox community.


But why the condemnation of a Christian-owned restaurant? Is it simply because the owners believe in G-d in the first place? Yes, the restaurant’s corporate purpose begins “to glorify G-d.” And sure, Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest to spend as they choose. They are not required to attend church, or any other religiously affiliated building. Quite frankly, if I owned a restaurant I might want to close Friday after lunch through Saturday in observance of my Sabbath. Like Chick-fil-A, that would be my choice, just as it is Piepenbring’s choice whether or not to patronize the restaurant.


Is Piepenbring’s condemnation because Chick-fil-A believes in traditional values such as marriage and contributes money to anti-LGBT groups? Chick-fil-A also contributes “thousands of pounds of food to New York Common Pantry,” as Piepenbring begrudgingly admits. I don’t think a person in dire need of food is overly concerned about the political leanings of the donor. Chick-fil-A does not discriminate in who it serves or who it hires.


Where is the condemnation of restaurants that support Planned Parenthood? Where is the condemnation of Starbucks for their vocal anti-Second Amendment stance? Hearing crickets. Why? Because of the far left, secular agenda of publications like The New Yorker and its ilk - which is their right, as I am an avid defender of the First Amendment. But don’t claim to be objective or speak for the people, especially when those people are in line purchasing a Chick-fil-A sandwich every six seconds at one New York City restaurant, according to Piepenbring himself.


The bottom line is that Chick-fil-A is an honest business serving the community good food, putting money its pockets, and is successful enough to be able to support the communities’ tax coffers, that in turn help all the people whether or not they eat more chicken. If their belief system includes a belief in G-d, more power to them - there is nothing to fear there.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. Having grown up in North Jersey, he is thrilled Chick-fil-A is in New York City.

Monday, February 5, 2018

GOP, ADL Don't Challenge Nazi

"Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis." - Jake Blues

GOP, ADL Don’t Challenge Nazi Commentary by Sanford D. Horn February 5, 2018 Much to the posturing protestations by the Illinois state Republican Party and the Anti-Defamation League, a self-avowed Holocaust denier is set to become the GOP nominee for the United States Congress in the Third District in the Land of Lincoln. The 70 year old political gadfly, whose name was not to be printed here, for he does not deserve the publicity, is Arthur Jones - people need to know who this ignorant cretin is, in order to vote against him - has been active in both Illinois and Wisconsin since the 1970s, having run for mayor of Milwaukee as well as numerous other offices in Illinois, including Congress. A former leader of the American Nazi Party, Jones often refers to the Holocaust of European Jewry as “an international extortion racket,” and has been on the radar of both the Illinois GOP as well as the ADL for decades. The “Anti-Defamation League has been keeping tabs on him for years,” noted the Chicago Sun-Times. This potential GOP nominee “proudly displays Holocaust denial, xenophobia and racism on his blog and website, has a long history of hateful, extremist and anti-Semitic views,” said Lonnie Nasatir, regional director of the ADL Chicago-Upper Midwest Region. “The Illinois Republican party and our country have no place for Nazis like Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the Third Congressional District,” said Tim Schneider, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. With all the notoriety given this racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, it is shocking that the Illinois Republicans could not find a primary challenger to this crackpot. While he has the right to run for public office, the people should also be given choices on their ballots. The claim that this district is so overwhelmingly Democrat in its political makeup as an excuse not to field a candidate is tragic. No candidate should run unopposed for office - any office. Sadly, the complaints lodged by both the GOP and ADL are disingenuous as they are complicit in allowing someone as repugnant and truculent to attain ballot status when they could have worked together to find a challenger. Certainly even a novice should be able to defeat a Nazi. As the GOP nominee, he would face the winner of the Democratic primary race between incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Catholic who voted against granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens, both good stances, and Marie Newman. Lipinski is considered a more conservative Democrat, especially for a district that includes parts of the City of Chicago as well several surrounding suburbs. This district’s voters has sent a Democrat to Congress the last 22 consecutive terms. The last Republican elected in IL-3 was Robert Hanrahan in 1972, serving but one term. I understand long odds, having run for a city council seat in Baltimore, MD as a Republican when the registered Republicans totaled eight percent of the voters, but it was important to give the citizenry an alternative. Needless to say, the outcome was less than successful, but not surprising as a Republican has not been elected to the Baltimore City Council since 1939. As a Republican I am incensed that the party went straight to surrender. As a Jew I am disgusted that the Jewish community didn’t rally together to recruit someone to, at the very least, challenge Jones to debate the issues and out him for the danger he clearly is. Perhaps voters ought to mount a write-in campaign for the March 20 primary. Were I a resident in Illinois’ third Congressional district, I would have thrown my yarmulke into the ring as a GOP contender - money or no money. Some things are simply too important. Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Trump's DACA Betrayal

Trump’s DACA Betrayal Commentary by Sanford D. Horn January 29, 2018 A week following President Donald Trump trumping Senator Chuck Schumer’s Shutdown, the President is behaving as if he not only lost, but is being held hostage on the DACA debacle. On the eve of Trump’s first State of the Union address, I feel betrayed. And judging from the collective outrage, I am not alone. For all the early promises kept in his first year in office, and for his historic notoriety as being the champion deal maker, President Trump seems to have skipped negotiation and compromise and gone straight to surrender on DACA. His current, on the table proposal would grant complete, total amnesty and an ultimate path to citizenship to 1.8 million illegals - more than double the estimated 800,000 DACA participants. That’s more than proposed under Barack Obama’s heinous plan when he drew up the Executive Order that was never law in the first place. My own needle moved from the far right position of deport anyone in the United States illegally - period, to what I wrote in my January 12, “DACA is a Dilemma” column: http://sanfordspeaksout.blogspot.com/2018/01/daca-is-dilemma.html. Simply put, granting legal status, while not citizenship or the right to vote, is the same status as a permanent resident who came to this country legally. People here illegally should not have more rights than those who arrived here legally - even if those people, the DACA people, had no choice in the decision made that brought them to the US in the first place. Including the people who made the conscious choice to enter this country illegally on the path to citizenship with their, then minor children, is as bad an amnesty as that which was granted in 1986 that legalized more than three million interlopers in an effort to squelch the perpetual run of illegals flooding into the US. The four-pronged plan does not end with granting a path to citizenship, even a 10 year path, for 1.8 million illegals. There is the call for $25 billion to build the border wall - a dire necessity. Eliminating the visa lottery and ending chain migration are also part of the plan, but to what end? Where is the use of e-verify? Yes, the three “sticks” are vital parts of the plan, but the giant “carrot” not just legalizing, but granting citizenship to more than double the DACA numbers is simply unacceptable - even at the cost of not supporting the bill in its entirety. It is tantamount to total capitulation with the Democrats. To the Democrats calling the $25 billion for the wall a “ransom,” they are hypocrites as they themselves held the whole country hostage in mid-January by voting en masse against the budget bill because it did not include DACA provisions. The Democrats would rather protect illegals than the American military and citizenry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for including the best of the best as part of the American fabric, calling for strong vetting of the 1.8 million - how that becomes reality remains to be seen. Sessions also said that there will be deportations of DACA people who are criminals, “gang members, drunk drivers, and fraudsters.” What is the likelihood those miscreants will emerge from the shadows, admit their crimes and face deportation? Republicans supporting this new plan are even worse than the Democrats. While I have never been a one-issue voter in the past, I simply cannot vote for a House or Senate member willing to grant citizenship to criminals as an expedient manner of gaining the wall or the other “sticks.” Thinking this so-called immigration reform bill will stem the tide of illegals entering the United States? Think again. Foreigners wanting to come to the US, risking imprisonment, deportation, or their very lives, will work tirelessly to achieve their goal. More illegals will arrive, and perhaps another 32 years will pass before the next amnesty. Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, expecting changes. Call your House members and your Senators. Remind them, politely, they work for you, and you oppose this pitiful excuse for compromise. The phone number for the Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121. They won’t get my vote. Will they get yours? Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tribe's Thome, Vizquel Lead Class of 5 Into Hall

Tribe’s Thome, Vizquel Lead Class of 5 Into Hall
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 19, 2018

For the last several years I have devoted time and space in my annual Hall of Fame column to consistently rail against the evils of steroids and the potential allowance of players tainted by steroids to call Cooperstown their immortal home.

Either due to a lack of a prescient Hall of Fame policy or fear that too many members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) have short memories, as certain former players are inching closer to the 75 percent vote total required for enshrinement, Joe Morgan penned a letter to the BBWAA voters regarding the steroid issue.

Not a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, or Oakland A’s, I nevertheless long admired Morgan the player, a Hall of Fame second baseman inducted in 1990, enjoyed his commentary on ESPN, and even more so now that he has taken his position public. Morgan continues to serve on the Hall of Fame’s board of directors, a position he has held since 1994. Much of the contents of Morgan’s letter were the subject of a December 4, 2017 Sports Illustrated article, “Letter of Intent,” written by Jay Jaffe.

Morgan, in his e-mailed letter, requested that the BBWAA voters “reject players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s [2007] investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report.”

“We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here,” wrote Morgan. 

Morgan signed his letter “Vice Chairman,” his title with the Hall’s board of directors since 2000, making it “an official position,” wrote Jaffe.

Jaffe further opined that Morgan was disingenuous with his letter for using “the term steroids and not performance-enhancing drugs” avoiding the fact that amphetamines were used for decades, long after their classification as controlled substances. Jaffe also criticized baseball as an industry for hypocrisy over splitting hairs regarding one set of substances versus the other. “Steroid use was due to a complete failure that implicated the commissioner, owners, players and media,” wrote Jaffe.

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig is without a doubt complicit in the growth of the steroid era by refusing to address the larger than life elephant in the stadium. Following the baseball strike of 1994, Major League Baseball revived itself and grew its fan base with the accomplishments of Cal Ripken, Jr. and the home run battle waged between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

Career-long Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop, Ripken, one of the true class acts in the history of the game, who I had the privilege to meet in 2001, set the standard for durability eclipsing the consecutive games played streak of New York Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig. Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games stood for 56 years until Ripken played in consecutive game number 2,131 on September 6, 1995. On that historic night, Ripken hit a home run, and the Orioles defeated the then California Angels in Baltimore at Camden Yards 4-2. Ripken’s streak would continue through game 2,632, a record I believe will not be broken due to the current climate of the game.

Three years later, the epic 1998 McGwire-Sosa home run behemoth was akin to Godzilla swallowing Tokyo. Back and forth the sluggers went trading places on the leaderboard until September 8 when McGwire hit home run number 62 at home in St. Louis in a game against Sosa’s Chicago Cubs with Sosa watching from the outfield. Also present were the children of the late Roger Maris, whose record McGwire broke, having initially been set in 1961 with the Yankees. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs at Busch Stadium that night 6-3. By the end of the 1998 season, McGwire won the home run title 70 to 66. 

Another three years later Barry Bonds of the Giants would pass McGwire with 73 home runs, but by that time the rumors of steroids had become more of a reality. In fact, both Bonds and McGwire admitted to steroid use while Sosa and others such as pitcher Roger Clemens and infielder Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, known unaffectionately as A-Roid, have been linked to steroids with a preponderance of strong innuendo and overwhelming circumstantial evidence. But Selig did little if anything to thwart the use of steroids, instead enjoying the renewed popularity of America’s favorite pastime. Sadly, Selig himself was enshrined in Cooperstown last year.

The cloud of controversy has been dark and heavy, while initially eliminating others from Hall of Fame contention; yet in the cases of Bonds, Clemens, and even Sosa with his less than 10 percent support, have seen their numbers rise from 2016 to 2017. The BBWAA voters’ support of Sosa rose from seven percent in 2016 to 8.6 percent in 2017. Bonds’ support rose from 44.3 percent to 53.8 percent during that same time, and Clemens’ totals jumped from 45.2 in 2016 to 54.1 last year. Manny Ramirez, another accused steroid user received 23.8 percent of the vote in his first balloting opportunity last year. The voting results due to be released on January 24 will determine if a trend is looming or if the BBWAA voters have come to their senses and reverse course. What is not released are the ballots of the voting members of the BBWAA. I think they should be disclosed to the public. Let the BBWAA voters defend their votes as I have defended mine, even if not as a member of the BBWAA.

In the interim, in an effort to shrink the window of opportunity for tainted ball players to achieve Hall of Fame status, the board reduced the number of years of eligibility to reach the 75 percent promised land, from 15 to 10 in 2014. But Jaffe sees that as hypocritical. “Recognize the era’s best, while understanding the context in which they thrived, and move on,” he concluded. 

I disagree vehemently. The only way steroid users should enter Cooperstown is with a paid ticket for admission. Jaffe encourages rewarding bad behavior. It’s how they got there to be the best that should matter. Cal Ripken played a clean game, as did myriad others, including, but not limited to Hall of Famers Joe Morgan, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Lou Brock, Brooks Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and future hall of famer Jim Thome. It’s time to stop perpetuating the bad behavior. Many wrongs do not make anything right. Now is the time draw the baseline in the sand.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has a so-called character clause. “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.” So-called because it has existed since 1945 and more than a fair share of ne’er do wells have found their way to Cooperstown. (https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/bbwaa-rules-for-election)

With voting in mind, were I privileged to be charged with the task of electing the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018, seven former major leaguers would earn my votes - four first ballot denizens and three holdovers. Of those seven, I expect three to be inducted on July 29, along with two others for whom I would not vote, but deserve induction. Candidates must receive at least five percent of the vote in order to remain on the ballot should they not attain 75 percent the previous year.

Because members of the BBWAA are permitted 10 votes, I’m throwing one to Jamie Moyer in his first year on the ballot, mostly for his longevity in the league - 25 years pitching in the Major Leagues, but also for some of the statistics. Let that sink in for a moment - Moyer toiled in the Bigs for a quarter century. Only five pitchers appeared in 25 or more seasons: Nolan Ryan (27), Tommy John (26), Jim Kaat (25), and Charlie Hough (25) - all having hurled since the 1960s. Five other non-pitchers have done likewise: Cap Anson (27), Deacon McGwire (26), Rickey Henderson (25), Bobby Wallace (25), and Eddie Collins (25) - interestingly, all  but Henderson had retired by 1930.

Moyer became the oldest player to win a game at age 49 years and five months, minus one day, on April 17, 2012. Moyer tossed seven innings, yielding two runs, neither earned, on six hits, picking up the win at Coors Field, as his Colorado Rockies defeated the San Diego Padres 5-3. His 269 wins ranks 35th - 23 of the top 24, sans Clemens, are in the Hall with 300 or more victories. Of the next 10, five are also in the Hall. With 2,441 strikeouts, Moyer ranks 40th. Moyer, having started 638 games, ranks 16th, and all but two of the top 15 are also in the Hall. While Moyer would get my vote, I don’t expect him to reach 75 percent.

Another freshman on my ballot not expecting to reach the magic number but would still earn my vote, is pitcher Johan Santana. His win-loss record of 139-78 and his 3,20 ERA are very good, but not great. He led the league in wins once and in ERA three times. Of his 12 seasons, eight are worthy of discussion, yet only four could be considered very good to excellent. My vote for Santana is mostly for the no-hitter he tossed while playing for my favorite team, the New York Mets, on June 1, 2012 versus the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-0 victory at Citi Field in New York. This was the first no-hitter in the history of the Mets, but certainly not enough to warrant Hall entrance beyond this year’s symbolic vote.

The last two freshmen on my ballot were teammates for nine years with the Cleveland Indians - Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel, both of whom I expect to be enshrined in July. Both players suited up for six teams each, but are best known for their time with the Tribe.

With his 612 home runs, Thome is eighth on the all time list and 16 times in his 22 year career did Thome hit 20 or more homers. Six times he hit 40 or more. Nine times Thome batted in more than 100 runs and his career total of 1,699 RBI places him 26th on the all time list. Thome was five times an All Star and earned MVP votes in nine different seasons. Thome is one of only five players in MLB history to accumulate 500-plus home runs, 1,500-plus runs scored, 1,600-plus RBI, and 1,700-plus walks. Of the other four, three are Hall of Famers - Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams, while one, Barry Bonds, should not be.

Thome’s teammate, Vizquel, was the quintessential shortstop of a generation, having won 11 Gold Glove awards during his 24 year career, second most at that position all time. Vizquel was also the oldest shortstop to win a Gold Glove, having done so at age 39 in 2006. After five years with the Seattle Mariners, Vizquel took his talents to Cleveland continuing to be the defensive gem that will vault him into Cooperstown.

Vizquel was three times an All Star, overshadowed by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. On the field, Vizquel led the league in Fielding Percentage six times as a shortstop and is the all time leader in Fielding Percentage at .985. Vizquel shares the season record with Cal Ripken, Jr. for committing the fewest errors by a shortstop playing in at least 150 games with a paltry three. Additionally, Vizquel is first all time in double plays turned by a shortstop, third all time in assists at shortstop, and 11th all time in putouts made by a shortstop.

At bat, Vizquel compares rather favorably to Hall of Fame shortstops Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, and Luke Appling. Vizquel hit more home runs than Smith and Appling, trailing Aparicio by only three. Vizquel drove in more runs than Smith and Aparicio, stole more bases than Appling, hit for a higher batting average than Smith and Aparicio, while collecting more hits overall than all three. Vizquel and Thome should be inducted together, donning Indians caps.

Rounding out the ballot first timers who I believe will win the necessary votes for enshrinement is Chipper Jones, who played his entire 19 year career with the Atlanta Braves. Jones, with his 468 home runs, ranks 33rd, and his 1,623 RBI, ranks 34th to go along with his .303 career batting average is practically a lock for Cooperstown. Jones was selected for eight All Star games, garnered MVP votes in 13 seasons and won the award in 1999. Jones is one of nine players to accrue at least a .300 batting average, .400 on base percentage, .500 slugging percentage, while belting at least 400 homers. Seven of the other eight are already ensconced in Cooperstown: Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas, and Ted Williams. The eighth, Manny Ramirez, should be disqualified from the Hall of Fame for steroids.

While there is no doubt Jones deserves a plaque in Cooperstown, I would not vote for him. He single-handedly slaughtered the Mets for two decades. He enjoyed such success in Queens, he named a son Shea - home of the Mets from 1964 through 2008.

In addition to Jones, I am fairly secure in saying Vladimir Guerrero will also be elected into the Hall of Fame, but I would not be voting for him. In his first year of eligibility, Guerrero garnered 71.7 percent of the vote in 2017, falling 15 votes short of election. He has excellent credentials. In his 16 year career Guerrero batted .318, hit 449 homers, driving in 1,496 runs on 2,590 hits. He earned MVP votes in 12 seasons, winning the award in 2004.

Of the three holdovers from 2017 I would have voted for last year and again this year, Trevor Hoffman seems the only one likely to gain admittance into the Hall of Fame, having earned 74 percent of the vote, falling a mere five votes short. Neither pitchers Mike Mussina nor Curt Schilling are likely to reach 75 percent this year, but I continue to support their candidacies. Mussina’s stock rose as he earned 51.8 percent of the vote in 2017, up nearly nine points from 43 percent in 2016, while Schilling lost some momentum slipping seven points to 45 percent last year from 52.3 percent in 2016.

Hoffman pitched his 18 years in the majors with the then Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee Brewers racking up 601 saves while hurling mostly for mediocre teams where save opportunities were not as prevalent as for sure-fire Hall of Famer to be in 2019 Mariano Rivera. Known as a Padre the majority of his career, Hoffman represented the team as a six-time All Star, and one additional selection as a Brewer. The first pitcher to reach both the 500 and 600 save threshold, Hoffman was four times in the top 10 voting for the Cy Young Award and five times received votes for MVP. In 1998 Hoffman converted 41 consecutive save opportunities – a record at the time.

With 270 career wins, five-time ballot occupant Mussina spent 10 years with the Baltimore Orioles and eight with the New York Yankees. A big fan of “Moose,” an economics graduate from Stanford University as an Oriole, it hurt my eyes to see him donning pinstripes. Mussina made five All Star teams and won seven Gold Gloves. While overshadowed by Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz in 2015, Mussina garnered more victories than Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal – with whom Mussina was compared, and Whitey Ford. Mussina ended his career at age 39, the oldest to record his lone 20-win season, going 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA. 

Schilling, bloody sock and all, is a six-time All Star who pitched 20 seasons in the big leagues – three with the Orioles, one with the Astros, eight-plus with the Phillies, three-plus with the Arizona Diamondbacks, then calling it a career with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling tossed 83 complete games, appeared in three World Series, and had three 20-plus win seasons within a four year span at ages 36, 38, and 39. Schilling should have his ticket stamped this summer – was my mistaken prediction the last five years, and while he probably won’t reach 75 percent this year, Schilling still belongs among those earning a plaque in Cooperstown.

While it is important to not sully the Baseball Hall of Fame with the likes of Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, and Sosa, the focus must be on the greats who will be enshrined this July and how they will continue to be the true ambassadors to the community as so many before them have been. Ambassadors such as Jim Bunning and Bobby Doerr, who sadly left us in 2017 – Bunning at age 85, on May 26 and Doerr at age 99, on November 13. Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies on Father’s Day 1964 against the Mets at Shea Stadium. He later went on to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate. Doerr, at the time of his death, was the oldest living former major leaguer, and the last living person to play in the 1930s. Doerr, a career Red Sox player, missed the entirety of the 1945 season serving his country during World War II. May their memories always be for a Blessing.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He has been a Patron-level member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 2007.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Messer Polled Smartly

Messer Polled Smartly
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 13, 2018

In Tony Cook’s January 12, 2018 Indianapolis Star article “Messer accused of rigging straw poll,” the sounds of sour grapes and lost opportunities could be heard from several of the six Republicans vying to be the next US Senator from Indiana.

This was actually a smart move on the part of US Rep. Luke Messer and his campaign to cover the cost of college students wishing to attend and participate in the straw poll. Why should anyone pay to participate in the straw poll - especially students? The purpose of paying to play, as it were, is simply to raise funds for the state GOP - a common practice by both major parties nationwide.

Paying the students’ fees simply encourages them to become more engaged in the political process. It does not guarantee a vote for the candidate actually paying the fee. It also sounds like sour grapes on the part of US Rep. Todd Rokita for not motivating his base. That was demonstrative by the final tally, as Messer won handily, 147 to 82 over Rokita, or 45 percent to 25 percent of the 326 votes cast in a six-man field.

Messer clearly has a more motivated base and an ever-growing ground game that hopefully will propel him to garner the GOP nomination in the May 8 primary, and ultimately winning the the US Senate seat in November.

Mark Braun ironically noted that “the straw poll results should be the result of a free and open process.” Sounds like an indictment against the event itself, that had a $30 price tag attached to it for college students - not a small price for students on a budget. And, quite frankly, with an attendance figure of more than 500 people, college students or not, more than a few balked at the ticket price for casting a ballot in the straw poll.

Braun, mostly self-financing his campaign, finished a distant third in the poll with 36 votes, or 11 percent. Rounding out the bottom half of the polling were Mark Hurt, with 29 votes, or nine percent; Andrew Takami, with 20 votes, or six percent; and Andrew Horning with 12 votes, or just under four percent. Apparently so insignificant are the candidacies of the bottom three, that their names were not mentioned until the last paragraph of a 26 paragraph story.

Braun’s effort appears to be a vanity campaign in what is largely a Messer versus Rokita race, in which I am proud to support Messer. Having met several of the candidates, including Messer, I can attest that he is a genuine family man, pro-life, fiscally conservative, a solid supporter of Israel, and listens to the people, regardless of the district in which they reside. I look forward to casting my vote for free in the May 8 primary.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.