I've been more inconsistent than usual about posting these lately, but back on track this week. First, the sad news is the great Greg Spira, baseball analyst, founder of the Internet Baseball Awards, and estwhile rec.sport.baseball regular back during the heyday of rsbb, died last week. Here's Greg on player birthdays, and on pitching to the score (it's a myth). See also a fine appreciation by Dave Pease. I only knew him through rsbb, but anyone who helped make that place work is very high on my list. I miss rsbb, and I'll miss Greg.
UPDATE: A tribute site has been set up here. Also looks as if the IBAs are going to be named for him, which is good to see -- nice job, BP people.
Meanwhile, it's time for a HOF post. We'll hear the results this coming week; here's my two cents.
It's another year without any major obvious types added to the ballot. As I said last year, of the returning candidates McGwire, Raines, Trammell, Larkin and Bagwell all seem like obvious choices to me. And I still feel the same way about Palmeiro: he was never a favorite of mine, and he doesn't really stand out all that much from the other 1Bs, but I can't really come up with a legitimate reason to vote against him. So six fairly easy ones for me.
I have five continuing players who are tough cases for me. Edgar Martinez, McGriff, Parker, Murphy, and Walker. I've been saying yes on Edgar and McGriff, a solid no on Parker, and I punted on Murphy and Walker -- didn't have enough room.
Of the new players, the only real candidate is Bernie Williams. An awful good player...but I think he falls short. His peak was high enough that I'd vote for him if he had a long career, but he didn't have a long career, and for a peak vote I'd like to have someone who was clearly one of the best players in baseball for a few years, and he really wasn't. Even if you give him credit for an extra season's worth of excellent postseason play, which I do. I don't know that he had a better career than Ellis Burks, and I think he wasn't as good as Reggie Smith, and I sort of think of Smith as my HOF CF cutoff. Put it another way: I'm pretty sure that Dale Murphy's peak is better (helps to play every single game, by the way), and their career length is the same...Murphy, of course, packed more of his career into his peak than Williams did, but I think that's a better career shape.
Can I just vote for Reggie Smith? I suppose he's probably on the one-and-out HOFers, along with Lou Whitaker, among others.
Larry Walker? I'm going to say no again. I'm not sure why...baseball-reference has him worth 67 wins, which is certainly HOF territory. He had a short career for a HOFer, and I guess I just never thought that he was really in the conversation for best player in baseball. Or even best player, merely mortal division (since Bonds was around). Certainly couldn't fault anyone who voted for him, but I wouldn't at this point.
One more person to talk about...Christina Kahrl (speaking of rsbb greats) says she would vote for Lee Smith. Really? I was a huge fan when he was playing, and I'd love to say that I would support his case, but I don't see it. Lots of guys during his time had much better (short) peaks, so it really comes down to what longevity is worth in that position in an era that it was very hard to come by. I don't see it. If my team developed a Lee Smith who comes to the majors in 1980 is it really going to make a difference? See, that's the problem; I don't think so.
So it's McGwire, Raines, Trammell, Larkin, Bagwell, Palmerio, Edgar, McGriff, and Murphy. Yes, I know, that's four 1Bs, and that doesn't seem right. The last one in was Murray, though, in 2003, and before that (if you don't count Tony Perez, who is an obvious mistake, or Orlando Cepeda, who I'm obliged to not believe was a mistake) you go all the way back to McCovey in 1986, unless I missed someone.
Of course, the real fun comes next year -- and starting next year, it looks as if there will be not enough room on the ballot for a long, long time. The ones I'm really rooting for this year? The first three on that list -- McGwire, Rock Raines, and Trammell. All clear HOFers, all really needing a surge this year to get into the territory where it's pretty clear that it'll work out eventually, even if it takes a while.