Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Baseball Post

So no one got in, at least not on the writers' ballot.

I don't know...given what I expected, I'd say it wasn't bad at all. Jack Morris failed to move up; he may have a surge next year, but then again it's just as likely that extra publicity won't help him. The thing about Morris is that this isn't a "traditional stats" vs. "sabermetric stats" thing. Any careful look at the stats may hurt him. His case really is that weak.

The worst thing that happened was that Bernie Williams (clearly below my line) and Kenny Lofton (close call) both fell off the ballot -- but in Lofton's case it was pretty much expected, since he really doesn't have a HOF profile. I actually would have guessed that Williams would survive to next year; he might have been zapped by the one-and-out rule combined with voters who believe in the 1st ballot thing.

Speaking of much as I think that there's absolutely no difference at all between Bonds and Clemens on the one hand and Mays and Bonds on the other, I really don't care if they have to wait a few years. I don't care if Palmiero and McGwire wind up going in ten, even twenty years from now. I don't care if they make Piazza and Bagwell wait based on rumors. As long as they all wind up going in, and I think they all will.

The biggest problem right now is the ballot logjam; next year there will be over ten automatic types, and another half dozen or so solid ones. We're at the point where some guys will fall off even sensible ballots because of the ten vote cap. And that's without idiots who self-impose some sort of lower maximum, even outside of the rest of it.

All that said: wow, a lot of the writers really made fools of themselves. I watched a good-sized chunk of MLB network on HOF day, and read a bunch of was just unreal. I heard I think more than one guy swear he would never vote for any steroid-era player, and then defend a vote for Jack Morris, who whatever else you think of him was in fact active during the "steroid era." I heard several writers who expressed absolute certainty that multiple players were "clean." And I'm not talking here about overlooking amphetamines, or saying that certain guys never had rumors about them; I'm talking about writers who are absolutely convinced that they know which guys never touched steroids. Just unreal.

Anyway. I'm as convinced as ever that the'll all wind up in. The HOF simply has too strong an interest in (1) having inductions, and (2) honoring a relatively good version of the greatest ever players. As I've said before: there's nothing that makes the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown the real, authentic, HOF that counts except that we all believe that it is. And if it's a joke, then we'll find some other real or virtual HOF to care about. So the Hall can't just skip a generation of players. Meanwhile, the writers only have the vote because it works well for the Hall; if it stops working well, they'll find a different set of voters. We know the history of this: whenever something goes wrong and they stop inducting players, they change the rules to get the pipeline moving again.

And with that, the date for pitchers and catchers to report is just barely over the horizon. Excellent!


  1. "Speaking of much as I think that there's absolutely no difference at all between Bonds and Clemens on the one hand and Mays and Bonds on the other, I really don't care if they have to wait a few years. "

    One difference is there's a whole credible book (GAME OF SHADOWS) written by respected reporters that describes in great detail Bonds' use of PEDs.

    I don't have strong feelings about whether these players should be inducted or not. I do find arguments that we HAVE to induct them based on their accumulated stats odd though. We have record books and sites like Baseball Reference that make it simple to find out who had the best stats if that's all you want to know. It seems reasonable that a higher standard than just "was one of the best statistically" should be required for the Hall of Fame. And in fact, the voters are instructed to take into account non-statistical factors.

    Anyway hurray for pitchers and catchers reporting soon! May my Braves unseat your Giants as champions!

  2. I'd think that when we all settle down we'll re-assess stats from this time on a different scale (in the same way that we distinguish stats from the "dead-ball era") so that, for instance, "500 home runs" will have lost its fetishistic power, and so Palmeiro--not a HOFer in any other way--won't make it; it might even mean that Piazza won't (I doubt that, and I'd regret it since in his case it's all speculation--not crazy speculation, though--uh, and also I'm a Mets fan). I'd never vote for McGwire because--just as he says--the PEDs kept him on the field. He was a great power hitter from the beginning, but never had full seasons, and surely never would have. It wouldn't have been a HOF career, then. Bonds and Clemens--can't keep 'em out for being sonsofbitches, though I sympathize with that sentiment.

    1. I'd think 3000 hits + 500 home runs is Palmeiro's claim, not just the 500 home runs. That puts him in a club with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, and nobody else. That includes nobody else from the steroid era. A. Rod will join them next year, presumably, but with Chipper about to retire, Pujols is the only other active player who looks likely to do it, and he won't hit 3000 hits before 2017.

      Maybe Palmeiro nonetheless doesn't deserve to be in the Hall - whether for steroids or just for not have a really outstanding prime (or some combination of the two). But his case isn't just the 500 home runs.

    2. You're right, I did overshrink Palmeiro's history. PEDs -> longevity would be part of the calculus, there, I'd say.

  3. I didn't expect Bonds to make it the first year, but he was a Hall of Famer before his home run records. They can't keep him out more than another year or so. Writers who have seen all the drugs over many the years (a few hours in the Pirates clubhouse in 1980 educated me) should know better than to be so moralistic about this.


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