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Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, December 29, 2008

2009 BBTF HOF Results: Henderson, Raines, Blyleven, Trammell and McGwire Should Be Enshrined!

In his first year of eligibility, all-time stolen base king Rickey Henderson was selected by the BBTF electorate unanimously.

With 99% support last year, terrific leadoff hitter Tim Raines improved to a perfect 100% of all ballots.

His fourth time on a BBTF ballot, curveball specialist Bert Blyleven had his best percentage so far with 97% this year (he had 96% in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and 87% in 2007).

Tiger shortstop Alan Trammell also improved with his 94% (he had 79% in 2005, 81% in 2006, 84% in 2007 and 83% in 2008).

Last but not least, impressive slugger Mark McGwire easily made it past 75% again this year with 84%, up from last year by 9%. Will the anti-Big Mac faction in the BBWAA show similar percentage progress this year or are we just more forgiving as a group than the baseball writers?

Rounding out the top-ten were: Andre Dawson, Tommy John (big increase this year, but too little, too late), Dale Murphy, David Cone (first year of eligibility) and Lee Smith.

94 voters participated in our exercise, 49 less than our record of 143 in 2008 (in our first BBTF in 2005, we had only 28 voters casting a ballot).

How will the BBWAA compare?

As for our HoM subgroup, Henderson, Raines, Trammell and Blyleven were all unanimous picks, while McGwire missed 100% by only 1 vote.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a ballot or joined in the discussion! Thanks also to OCF for help with the tally!

RK   LY  Player            PTS  Bal   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1T  n/e  Rickey Henderson   94   94  45 21 14 11  3                              
1T    1  Tim Raines         94   94   2 26 19 21  9  4  3  8  2                  
 3    2  Bert Blyleven      91   91  44 18 13 10  6                              
 4    3  Alan Trammell      88   88      3  5 17 31 11  3  4  6  8               
 5    5  Mark McGwire       79   79   1  7 26 19 18  6  1     1                  
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 6    6  Andre Dawson       35   35      6 10  2  4  4  5  1  1  2               
 7   10  Tommy John         27   27      1  3  4  7  5  2  3     2               
 8    7  Dale Murphy        26   26         1  3  1 10  8  1  2                  
 9  n/e  David Cone         24   24     12  1        4  1  2  2  2               
10    8  Lee Smith          23   23         1  2  3  4  3  3  7                  
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11   11  Dave Parker        16   16            1     1  5  6     3               
12   12  Jim Rice           11   11                  2  2  3  4                  
13   13T Don Mattingly       6    6            2     1  1  1  1                  
14   13T Jack Morris         3    3               1  1  1                        
15   15  Harold Baines       2    2   2                                          
16T n/e  Mark Grace          1    1         1                                    
16T n/e  Jesse Orosco        1    1               1                              
Ballots Cast: 94
RK   LY  Player            PTS  Bal   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1T    2T Bert Blyleven      27   27  12  6  3  2  3  1                           
1T  n/e  Rickey Henderson   27   27  14  3  2  7  1                              
1T    1  Tim Raines         27   27      5  7  5  3  1  2  3  1                  
1T    2T Alan Trammell      27   27      3  1  3  9  2  2  3  3  1               
 5    5  Mark McGwire       26   26      2  7  5  8  2  1     1                  
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 6    6  Andre Dawson       16   16      2  5  1     4  1     1  2               
 7  n/e  David Cone         15   15      5  1        3  1  2  2  1               
 8    7  Dale Murphy        11   11            1  1  3  3  1  2                  
 9    9T Tommy John          9    9      1        1  2  2  2     1               
10   11  Dave Parker         8    8                     3  3     2               
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11    9T Lee Smith           7    7            2     1  1  1  2                  
12   12T Jim Rice            4    4                  1     2  1                  
13   12T Don Mattingly       3    3            1        1        1               
14T  16  Harold Baines       1    1   1                                          
14T n/e  Mark Grace          1    1         1                                    
14T  14T Jack Morris         1    1                     1                        
Ballots Cast: 27

 

 

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 29, 2008 at 12:47 AM | 55 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 29, 2008 at 04:05 AM (#3039341)
What happened to all of the voters that participated last year?
   2. Juan V Posted: December 29, 2008 at 04:12 AM (#3039344)
Agh. I remembered just now (I've had a pretty busy Christmas season, and then a bad flu), only to find voting had ended.

I would have voted Blyleven, McGwire, Murphy, Raines, Rickey, Trammell and Cone, BTW.
   3. Bucky Posted: December 29, 2008 at 05:48 AM (#3039373)
Alas! I thought I still had a day to vote! I would have voted for Blyleven, Henderson, Raines, Dawson, and Trammell.
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 06:29 AM (#3039388)
Last but not least, impressive slugger Mark McGwire easily made it past 75% again this year with 84%, up from last year by 9%. Will the anti-Big Mac faction in the BBWAA show similar percentage progress this year

Yeah, he may jump all the way up to 35%, heh heh.

or are we just more forgiving as a group than the baseball writers?

Could be, or more to the point, most people here continually seem to confuse the Hall of Fame with the Hall of Merit, and would like to pretend that the HoF character clause doesn't exist, and should be ignored if it isn't applied with uniform consistency against everyone this side of Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken. I only wish I could dig out a certain prominent Primate's prediction the first time around that McGwire's first year vote was only some kind of a one year slap on the wrist.
   5. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 29, 2008 at 07:12 AM (#3039396)
If we're going to include character, isn't Raines a candidate for applying it as well?
   6. HGM Posted: December 29, 2008 at 07:22 AM (#3039398)
And Blyleven.
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 29, 2008 at 01:30 PM (#3039443)
Alas! I thought I still had a day to vote! I would have voted for Blyleven, Henderson, Raines, Dawson, and Trammell.


Looks like a few people didn't read the top of both the discussion and ballot threads. :-)

Sorry about that, guys. I don't think I can restart the election at this point, however.

Yeah, he may jump all the way up to 35%, heh heh.


Well, I didn't say he would sail in this year, Andy. :-)

Could be, or more to the point, most people here continually seem to confuse the Hall of Fame with the Hall of Merit, and would like to pretend that the HoF character clause doesn't exist, and should be ignored if it isn't applied with uniform consistency against everyone this side of Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken.


Obviously, one man's definition of character is different than another's (for good or for bad).
   8. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 01:33 PM (#3039444)
Could be, or more to the point, most people here continually seem to confuse the Hall of Fame with the Hall of Merit, and would like to pretend that the HoF character clause doesn't exist, and should be ignored if it isn't applied with uniform consistency against everyone this side of Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken.

If we're going to include character, isn't Raines a candidate for applying it as well?

Exhibit A, equating recreational drugs with steroids.

And Blyleven.

Exhibit B, which could extend to 95% of the players currently in the Hall.

Good thing that the writers can see through BS like this. It may be about the only thing regarding HoF voting that they do well, but it's better than nothing.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 01:36 PM (#3039446)
Corrected version of the above post:

Could be, or more to the point, most people here continually seem to confuse the Hall of Fame with the Hall of Merit, and would like to pretend that the HoF character clause doesn't exist, and should be ignored if it isn't applied with uniform consistency against everyone this side of Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken.

If we're going to include character, isn't Raines a candidate for applying it as well?


Exhibit A, equating recreational drugs with steroids.

And Blyleven.

Exhibit B, which could extend to 95% of the players currently in the Hall.

Good thing that the writers can see through BS like this. It may be about the only thing regarding HoF voting that they do well, but it's better than nothing.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 29, 2008 at 01:47 PM (#3039448)
Is it me or is the case for and against McGwire generational? I may be wrong, but it seems like the younger you are, the more likely you will support Big Red's HOF candidacy.

The 40-somethings (which include me) appear to be the dividing line and probably the most conflicted.

This probably has been hashed about already, but I hadn't seen it here.
   11. Repoz Posted: December 29, 2008 at 01:58 PM (#3039449)
Is it me or is the case for and against McGwire generational? I may be wrong, but it seems like the younger you are, the more likely you will support Big Red's HOF candidacy.


I'm near rot...but McGwire goes in.
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: December 29, 2008 at 02:04 PM (#3039450)
Ditto.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: December 29, 2008 at 02:09 PM (#3039453)
Could be, or more to the point, most people here continually seem to confuse the Hall of Fame with the Hall of Merit,


That's clearly not it. It's always been about defining ways in which the HoF could be better and more fair.
   14. Rusty Priske Posted: December 29, 2008 at 02:20 PM (#3039456)
I see no reason the 'character clause' should keep him out.
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 29, 2008 at 02:33 PM (#3039459)
would like to pretend that the HoF character clause doesn't exist, and should be ignored if it isn't applied with uniform consistency

You do realize that those aren't the same thing, right?

equating recreational drugs with steroids

You do realize that arguing that neither is a disqualification is not the same as equating them, don't you? (Of course, arguing that both are disqualifications is not the same as equating them either.)
   16. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 29, 2008 at 03:20 PM (#3039468)
I see no reason the 'character clause' should keep him out.


Who? There are three separate players being discussed.

For me, Bonds and Clemens make it over my HoF cutoff because they had HoF careers before steroids entered the picture, as best as I can tell from the evidence. McGwire doesn't because he didn't.

-- MWE
   17. Chris Fluit Posted: December 29, 2008 at 03:44 PM (#3039479)
What happened to all of the voters that participated last year?


Oops! I had fully intended to vote but I missed out due to, among other things, my own incompetence (I thought we had more time to vote).
   18. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: December 29, 2008 at 03:49 PM (#3039484)
Nick Cafardo's HOF ballot: Henderson, Rice, Dawson, Morris, Blyleven, Trammell.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 04:30 PM (#3039510)
I see no reason the 'character clause' should keep him out.

And that's why we have forums like this. I'm only glad that in this case the writers evidently aren't paying much attention to this benign reading of the clause.

----------------------------

I see no reason the 'character clause' should keep him out.


Who? There are three separate players being discussed.

For me, Bonds and Clemens make it over my HoF cutoff because they had HoF careers before steroids entered the picture, as best as I can tell from the evidence. McGwire doesn't because he didn't.

-- MWE


That's one way of framing the debate, and it'll be interesting to see how the writers view it. At this point I have no idea whether they'll adopt that POV or whether they'll see steroids as an automatic disqualifier. To me it's still the best reason for making a clear distinction between the Hall of Merit and the Hall of Fame, even if that's clearly a minority view here.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 29, 2008 at 05:22 PM (#3039564)
Nick Cafardo has a HOF ballot?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
   21. CFiJ Posted: December 29, 2008 at 05:27 PM (#3039569)
If we're going to include character, isn't Raines a candidate for applying it as well?

Exhibit A, equating recreational drugs with steroids.


I don't see that at all. The character clause is precisely that, a character clause. Is it your contention, then, that the character clause only applies to steroid use? Other modes of cheating, and/or breaking of city, state or national laws do not apply? And keep in mind, this is about applying an equal standard to McGwire and Raines; it has nothing to do with previous precedent.

To be clear, I agree with you regarding Blyleven; being an occasional pain in the ass should not trigger the character clause. But Ivan of Honkers made a completely valid point. He's not saying "Cobb was an a-hole, but he's in." He's talking about two contemporary players for which we can fairly apply a stricter standard. Also, it's apparent that the writers have their own, different reasons for not voting for Raines, unrelated to character, steroids, or McGwire, so my question is really to get a better understanding of your position, Andy.
   22. OCF Posted: December 29, 2008 at 05:49 PM (#3039588)
Raines's "character issues" would not disqualify him from being President of the United States. Let's not forget that he had his great 5-year peak, 1983-87, after he'd done his brief stint at rehab. The evidence is consistent with him having been clean since then.

I don't think the BBWAA writers were looking at that - they just can't evaluate his on-field value. And note that 90+ BTF posters who argue fiercly about other things (including McGwire) voted unanimously for Raines.

There are two possible effects that having Henderson on the ballot could have on Raines. One is to note that (on career value) Henderson is clearly better - that Henderson kept doing things in his 30's that Raines didn't do. And in ranking them, we'd clearly have Henderson ahead. In a zero-sum sort of way, that hurts Raines.

But there's the other effect, on that recognizes that this isn't exactly zero-sum. I mentioned Raines's 1983-87 peak. You can fairly argue that he was as good as Henderson then - as good as Henderson as his peak. And Henderson is arguably an "inner circle" player. To match the peak of an inner circle player, even if you don't match the career - isn't that an argument for induction?
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#3039612)
If we're going to include character, isn't Raines a candidate for applying it as well?

Exhibit A, equating recreational drugs with steroids.


I don't see that at all. The character clause is precisely that, a character clause. Is it your contention, then, that the character clause only applies to steroid use?


In terms of drugs, yes. For reasons spelled out and debated back and forth in countless past threads. I don't give a rat's #### what players do to themselves in terms of pot, cocaine, greenies, etc., since I don't see any of them as "performance enhancing" in the same way that steroids are. The writers obviously agree with this in the case of McGwire, and in the many cases of amp users they've elected without any controversy at all.

Of course here that's minority view. Fine. We're all minorities at one point or another.

Other modes of cheating, and/or breaking of city, state or national laws do not apply? And keep in mind, this is about applying an equal standard to McGwire and Raines; it has nothing to do with previous precedent.

If by "cheating" you mean spitballs, corked bats, sign stealing, etc., then no. Again, this has been argued over and over and needs no repetition. Once again, by coincidence I seem to be aligned with the BBWAA but not the majority of BTF people. So be it.

As for "city, state or national laws," then obviously it depends on the laws you have in mind. But this wouldn't affect my vote one way or the other for either McGwire or Raines.

Of course I voted for Raines and Blyleven for both the HoF and HoM, and voted for McGwire for the latter. For reasons spelled out many times.

None of this is new to most people who post here, since we've spelled out our views on this subject to the point of absurdity, and I'm as guilty as anyone. I don't want to see steroids criminalized, and I don't see juicers as inherently evil people. In their place I might have done the same thing. But by the same token, I don't want to see them honored in Cooperstown. Let the Hall of Merit be their final resting place, where the juice factor can be sanitized and rendered into merely mathematical debating points. IMO this is one of many good reasons why I'm glad we have the Hall of Merit---it renders character relatively meaningless. Hell, for the HoM I'd even entertain arguments about Shoeless Joe and Rose.
   24. Paul Wendt Posted: December 29, 2008 at 07:38 PM (#3039711)
10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 29, 2008 at 08:47 AM (#3039448)
Is it me or is the case for and against McGwire generational? I may be wrong, but it seems like the younger you are, the more likely you will support Big Red's HOF candidacy.

I have supposed that chiefly the older and younger generations are harsh about drug use of all kinds. --older and younger than mine, the Baby-Boomers. I have supposed that that represents one success of the Reagan Revolution. I don't have evidence except in my own life experience and it is not something that I will research deliberately.

22. OCF Posted: December 29, 2008 at 12:49 PM (#3039588)
Raines's "character issues" would not disqualify him from being President of the United States. Let's not forget that he had his great 5-year peak, 1983-87, after he'd done his brief stint at rehab. The evidence is consistent with him having been clean since then.

I don't think the BBWAA writers were looking at that - they just can't evaluate his on-field value. And note that 90+ BTF posters who argue fiercly about other things (including McGwire) voted unanimously for Raines.


How much do we know about why the writers vote as they do? How many voters are active baseball columnists and how many of those devote a column to their annual ballots?

I have supposed what OCF says, that Tim Raines loses about zero votes because he used cocaine, about the same number as Paul Molitor. For what it's worth, I never believed there was much evidence that baseball fans denigrated or BBWAA writers voted against Orlando Cepeda or Ferguson Jenkins because they were busted with pot on hand (poh), marijuana in hand (mih), whatever.

How much do we know about who votes? I suppose that the BBWAA membership never expires, but how many retired baseball writers keep it up? and how many of those (almost all, I presume) do vote annually?
   25. CFiJ Posted: December 29, 2008 at 07:45 PM (#3039720)
Andy,

I'm cool with not voting for guys because of steroids; no need to rehash countless threads. But then it's disingenuous to tie it into the character clause, written long before steroids were even an issue, and obviously meant to cover other things beyond, though not exclusive to, steroids.

How much do we know about why the writers vote as they do? How many voters are active baseball columnists and how many of those devote a column to their annual ballots?


Well, sample size and all, but the voters who have columns aren't generally shy about being sanctimonious, and as far as I know only one's mentioned the drug issue for Raines. All others have been "He's no Rickey Henderson" and/or "He just doesn't feel like a HOFer."
   26. Obama Bomaye Posted: December 29, 2008 at 07:57 PM (#3039727)
Hall of Fame ballots are not ranked, so I don't understand why rankings are included in the tally to confuse matters.
   27. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: December 29, 2008 at 08:01 PM (#3039731)
Nick Cafardo has a HOF ballot?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Rice and Morris aren't popular picks here, but he's a Boston writer, so he's gonna vote for Rice. You no likey his Trammell and Blyleven picks?
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: December 29, 2008 at 08:04 PM (#3039733)
Well, sample size and all,

I don't know enough to say that sample size is an important obstacle. For all I know there are hundreds of eligible voters with baseball columns.

--
On another matter I guess that some voters listed their Yesses in alphabetical order and others in merit order. That explains the close calls, 45-44 and 14-12, for Rickey Henderson over Bert Blyleven. Harold Baines precedes Blyleven alphabetically and the only two people who voted for Baines listed him first.
   29. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 10:30 PM (#3039861)
Andy,

I'm cool with not voting for guys because of steroids; no need to rehash countless threads. But then it's disingenuous to tie it into the character clause, written long before steroids were even an issue, and obviously meant to cover other things beyond, though not exclusive to, steroids.


No question that the character clause covers other things besides steroids, but since the very word "character" is wholly subjective, the only way to surmise the HoF's working definition of it is by examining who's been excluded and who hasn't, and drawing the logical conclusion.

And by that test, it's clear that only two classes of otherwise qualified HoF candidates seem to be excluded: Those associated with unambiguous gambling situations (Shoeless Joe and Rose); and one player associated with steroids.

Whereas many players associated with brawling (Cobb), racism (Cobb and Anson), post-grandfathered spitballing (Perry), and drug use of any other kind (countless numbers) have not been excluded. There's not a spot of evidence that even one writer sees greenies as performance-enhancing in any disqualifying sense, whereas there's a ton of inductive evidence in that McGwire vote that they see steroids (but only steroids) as a no-no.

Now I have to admit OTOH that McGwire's two rejections only form one piece of evidence about where the writers stand on steroids in general. And if Bonds and/or Clemens makes it in, then it'll be clear that while there's a steroid "discount" that shoves McGwire below the line, there's no absolute steroid disqualifier. IOW they'd be taking the same position as those HoM voters who bypassed McGwire on the grounds that without steroids his numbers would've been sub-qualifying, while voting for Bonds and Clemens on the grounds that they had the HoF wrapped up before they ever touched the stuff. Call it a No Steroids Lite policy.

So until Bonds and Clemens come up for a vote four years down the road, we won't have a true test of BBWAA sentiment. But if I were Bonds or Clemens right now I wouldn't necessarily be booking any Cooperstown reservations on a non-refundable basis.
   30. HGM Posted: December 29, 2008 at 10:42 PM (#3039868)
I think we know where the BBWAA stands. You seem to be forming your opinion of the character clause based on what the writers think, instead of forming it on your own. The writers also don't think that Tim Raines isn't HOF-worthy while Jim Rice is, but that doesn't mean they're right. Likewise, they're interpretation of the character clause isn't necessarily the correct, or only, way to view things.
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 29, 2008 at 11:27 PM (#3039898)
I think we know where the BBWAA stands. You seem to be forming your opinion of the character clause based on what the writers think, instead of forming it on your own.

That may be the single most risible thing that's ever been said about me on BTF. You are hereby awarded The Moscow Primey for making the entire Kremlin break out in a grin.

The writers also don't think that Tim Raines isn't HOF-worthy while Jim Rice is, but that doesn't mean they're right.

And I guess now I'm forming my opinion based on what you think, rather than the writers, since to me Raines should be a mortal lock for the HoF while Rice is at least one step below the line.

Likewise, they're interpretation of the character clause isn't necessarily the correct, or only, way to view things.

And I've never said that it was. In the particular case of McGwire I happen to agree with them, but I've also acknowledged that there are at least four different ways of framing the steroids question** that are all perfectly legitimate, and two of them would admit McGwire and three would admit Bonds and Clemens. My comment about the writers in # 29 only pointed out the obvious, which is that they're either opting for #3 or # 4, but at this point we don't know which one.

**1. steroids don't matter, and they're all in
2. factor in steroids, and all three still remain above it
3. factor in steroids, and McGwire dips below the dew line while Bonds and Clemens remain above it
4. steroids disqualify you, and they're all out
   32. Blackadder Posted: December 30, 2008 at 01:15 AM (#3039964)
Andy, your position is, as you say, perfectly consistent. However, I know that if I took the character clause to imply that Bonds and Clemens should not get into the hall--which I believe is your position, apologies if I am misinterpreting you--there would be a number of people currently enshrined who I would oppose. I can't think of any non question-begging notion of "character" under which Mark McGwire has a worse character than Ty Cobb. As long as you are indeed opposed to Cobb's enshrinement, I can't see any purely logical grounds for objecting to your position.
   33. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 01:42 AM (#3039976)
Andy, your position is, as you say, perfectly consistent. However, I know that if I took the character clause to imply that Bonds and Clemens should not get into the hall--which I believe is your position, apologies if I am misinterpreting you--there would be a number of people currently enshrined who I would oppose. I can't think of any non question-begging notion of "character" under which Mark McGwire has a worse character than Ty Cobb.

As a human being, I couldn't agree more. But as a baseball player, I couldn't agree less. And question pertains to Cooperstown, not the Heavenly Gates.
   34. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 30, 2008 at 02:02 AM (#3039984)
Exhibit A, equating recreational drugs with steroids.

I wasn't doing that. I was responding to the previous post which only mentioned McGwire and not other possible applications of the character clause. I just wanted a more complete listing of players on this ballot potentially affected by it for the discussion.
   35. Blackadder Posted: December 30, 2008 at 02:40 AM (#3040008)
Well, "character" means character, not character insofar as it is manifested in one's endeavors specifically related to baseball. There is no such thing as one's "baseball character" (and even if there, I think one could perhaps STILL make the case that McGwire had more of it than Cobb, if the stories of Cobb's frequent actions intended to cause physical harm to other baseball players are true). Now I think that it is for this reason that it was somewhat unfortunate that character was included as one of the selection criteria, and happy that until recently it has been completely ignored in Hall of Fame discussions for players who were not banned for life.
   36. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 03:19 AM (#3040026)
Exhibit A, equating recreational drugs with steroids.

I wasn't doing that. I was responding to the previous post which only mentioned McGwire and not other possible applications of the character clause. I just wanted a more complete listing of players on this ballot potentially affected by it for the discussion


Well, without being too flip about it, here's a complete list of players on the current ballot whose "character" under any definition is likely to come into any significant play with the writers:

1. Mark McGwire
2. ----

-------------------

Well, "character" means character, not character insofar as it is manifested in one's endeavors specifically related to baseball. There is no such thing as one's "baseball character"

But of course there is. It's only tough to tell at times because it's so infrequently invoked, for the good reason that historically it's been applied only to cases of extreme misconduct in matters directly relating to the game on the field. It has never had anything to do with anything in a player's personal life that didn't directly affect the game.

(and even if there, I think one could perhaps STILL make the case that McGwire had more of it than Cobb, if the stories of Cobb's frequent actions intended to cause physical harm to other baseball players are true)

But you don't have to condone Cobb's behavior to acknowledge that fighting and spiking have always been as much a part of the game as spitballs, bat enhancing, and greenies. These and other related "crimes" all more or less fall under what you might call the Common Law defense, in that they have long been accepted as "part of the game," or minor offenses at worst. The only people within baseball who've ever gotten worked up about these infractions seem to be opposing managers in specific game situations, which is understandable, but not indicative of any deeply held disinterested belief system. There are few True Christians (or True Ethicists) in baseball, Tommy LaSorda and Steve Garvey notwithstanding.

Now I think that it is for this reason that it was somewhat unfortunate that character was included as one of the selection criteria, and happy that until recently it has been completely ignored in Hall of Fame discussions for players who were not banned for life.

I'm glad that the clause is in there, and I'm also glad that it's so infrequently invoked. Which goes to show just how seriously steroids are seen as a violation of "baseball character," since none of the other infractions that have been mentioned here not relating to gambling have ever been seen as disqualifiers. Just because the death penalty is seldom invoked doesn't mean that it's not a good thing to have in reserve for special cases.
   37. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 30, 2008 at 05:54 AM (#3040086)
Uh, steroids were just as much a part of the game (much fault for that goes to ownership/commish) as greenies, spitballs and corked bats from 1993-2003, probably even much further back. Tom House admits to doing them in the 1970s. I think you need to get your head out of the sand.
   38. Chris Cobb Posted: December 30, 2008 at 06:01 AM (#3040088)
Well, "character" means character, not character insofar as it is manifested in one's endeavors specifically related to baseball. There is no such thing as one's "baseball character"

But of course there is. It's only tough to tell at times because it's so infrequently invoked, for the good reason that historically it's been applied only to cases of extreme misconduct in matters directly relating to the game on the field. It has never had anything to do with anything in a player's personal life that didn't directly affect the game.


Dick Allen might beg to differ.

Otherwise, what Joe said.
   39. HGM Posted: December 30, 2008 at 07:25 AM (#3040113)
Well said Joe. That argument that the other forms of cheating are okay because "they are/were always part of the game" makes no sense to me.
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 01:30 PM (#3040143)
Uh, steroids were just as much a part of the game (much fault for that goes to ownership/commish) as greenies, spitballs and corked bats from 1993-2003, probably even much further back. Tom House admits to doing them in the 1970s. I think you need to get your head out of the sand.

---------------

Well said Joe. That argument that the other forms of cheating are okay because "they are/were always part of the game" makes no sense to me

Fine. As I said, there's more than one way of framing the issue, and if you want to keep forcing square pegs into round holes in order to formulate what you see as the only true form of "consistency," feel free to do so. You'll always find majority support here, for whatever that's worth. But we've been through the details of this debate more than enough times to have to keep repeating it for the peanut gallery. It's in the archives for any newcomer who might be interested.

Well, "character" means character, not character insofar as it is manifested in one's endeavors specifically related to baseball. There is no such thing as one's "baseball character"

But of course there is. It's only tough to tell at times because it's so infrequently invoked, for the good reason that historically it's been applied only to cases of extreme misconduct in matters directly relating to the game on the field. It has never had anything to do with anything in a player's personal life that didn't directly affect the game.


Dick Allen might beg to differ.


And what, exactly, was (or is) there about Dick Allen's personal life that has been used against him in any Hall of Fame argument? The "attitude" charges one hears against Allen are precisely about his "baseball character," and nothing else.
   41. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 01:35 PM (#3040145)
Sorry, that last post suffered from lack of the Edit function. I'll try again.

Uh, steroids were just as much a part of the game (much fault for that goes to ownership/commish) as greenies, spitballs and corked bats from 1993-2003, probably even much further back. Tom House admits to doing them in the 1970s. I think you need to get your head out of the sand.

---------------

Well said Joe. That argument that the other forms of cheating are okay because "they are/were always part of the game" makes no sense to me


Fine. As I said, there's more than one way of framing the issue, and if you want to keep forcing square pegs into round holes in order to formulate what you see as the only true form of "consistency," feel free to do so. You'll always find majority support here, for whatever that's worth. But we've been through the details of this debate more than enough times to have to keep repeating it for the peanut gallery. It's in the archives for any newcomer who might be interested.

Well, "character" means character, not character insofar as it is manifested in one's endeavors specifically related to baseball. There is no such thing as one's "baseball character"

But of course there is. It's only tough to tell at times because it's so infrequently invoked, for the good reason that historically it's been applied only to cases of extreme misconduct in matters directly relating to the game on the field. It has never had anything to do with anything in a player's personal life that didn't directly affect the game.

Dick Allen might beg to differ.


And what, exactly, was (or is) there about Dick Allen's personal life that has been used against him in any Hall of Fame argument? The "attitude" charges one hears against Allen are precisely about his "baseball character," and nothing else.
   42. Blackadder Posted: December 30, 2008 at 02:12 PM (#3040153)
I disagree with Andy about character, but going further into the semantics of "character" would be navel-gazing even by BBTF standards. I wonder, Andy, what your position is on players who were opposed to integration, and took active efforts to prevent it from happening. That is certainly misconduct directly related to activity on the field, and is, I hope we all agree, more damning than taking steroids. Even limiting oneself to a dubious notion of baseball character, Cap Anson and others fail if McGwire does.
   43. Chris Cobb Posted: December 30, 2008 at 03:31 PM (#3040195)
And what, exactly, was (or is) there about Dick Allen's personal life that has been used against him in any Hall of Fame argument? The "attitude" charges one hears against Allen are precisely about his "baseball character," and nothing else.

I brought up Allen because in an earlier post you had asserted that there were only two classes of players being excluded by the writers under the "character" clause -- gamblers (who are actually excluded by the Hall of Fame's policy, not by the baseball writers--one wonders what the writers would have done with Pete Rose if given a chance) and steroid users. You wrote:

No question that the character clause covers other things besides steroids, but since the very word "character" is wholly subjective, the only way to surmise the HoF's working definition of it is by examining who's been excluded and who hasn't, and drawing the logical conclusion.

And by that test, it's clear that only two classes of otherwise qualified HoF candidates seem to be excluded: Those associated with unambiguous gambling situations (Shoeless Joe and Rose); and one player associated with steroids.


Dick Allen provides one example of a player whose exclusion appears to be strongly influenced by "character" considerations that have to do neither with gambling nor with steroids. I would add further that there is probably at least one Negro-League player, John Beckwith, who has been excluded because of supposed "character" issues (I say "supposed" because I think recent research strongly indicates that most of the claims against him are slanderous). In sum, to argue, as you have done, that the working definition of "baseball character" is sufficiently narrow to encompass only two groups--gamblers and steroid users--is incorrect. If you want to judge the impact and the appropriateness of the character clause, you would need to look at Allen and Beckwith and also look more carefully to see if there are any other examples of earlier players who might have been elected but who lost support because they were of "questionable character" or they were not liked by the writers. What about Albert Belle, for instance? How much does his lack of support stem from the fact that he was a disagreeable man?

You may be able to justify the exclusion of steroid users by reference to the character clause, but you can't justify the character clause based on the case of steroid users. Its effects are broader and more subtle, and treatment of teammates (and reporters) seems also to be factors considered under its heading.
   44. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 03:43 PM (#3040203)
I disagree with Andy about character, but going further into the semantics of "character" would be navel-gazing even by BBTF standards. I wonder, Andy, what your position is on players who were opposed to integration, and took active efforts to prevent it from happening. That is certainly misconduct directly related to activity on the field, and is, I hope we all agree, more damning than taking steroids. Even limiting oneself to a dubious notion of baseball character, Cap Anson and others fail if McGwire does.

I guess what you mean by this is either

(a)Would I have voted Anson into the HoF in 1939?

or

(b)Would I vote to kick him out today, knowing what we know, and applying the standards of 2008 rather than those of the Jim Crow era?

To which I'd answer

(a) I don't know, because we haven't quite perfected not only time travel, but time travel with a side order of generational lobotomy. I'd like to think that I would have been enlightened enough in 1939 to raise the question of Anson's moral role in keeping blacks out of the game (which was more symbolic than real, since the temper of the times wasn't going to allow integrated baseball any more than it was going to allow integrated marriages), but I'm afraid that that would be giving myself way too much credit.

(b) No. See my views on the Walter Duranty Pulitzer Prize in the recent NY Times thread. Once you're in, you're in.

Now if they did purge the Hall and had to begin from scratch, I'd still vote for him today, but with an asterisk that would likely take up half of his plaque. Just like I might vote for Jackson, Rose, Bonds, or McGwire if their plaques were to have a similar notation right out front.
   45. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 04:01 PM (#3040215)
And what, exactly, was (or is) there about Dick Allen's personal life that has been used against him in any Hall of Fame argument? The "attitude" charges one hears against Allen are precisely about his "baseball character," and nothing else.

I brought up Allen because in an earlier post you had asserted that there were only two classes of players being excluded by the writers under the "character" clause -- gamblers (who are actually excluded by the Hall of Fame's policy, not by the baseball writers--one wonders what the writers would have done with Pete Rose if given a chance) and steroid users. You wrote:

No question that the character clause covers other things besides steroids, but since the very word "character" is wholly subjective, the only way to surmise the HoF's working definition of it is by examining who's been excluded and who hasn't, and drawing the logical conclusion.

And by that test, it's clear that only two classes of otherwise qualified HoF candidates seem to be excluded: Those associated with unambiguous gambling situations (Shoeless Joe and Rose); and one player associated with steroids.


Dick Allen provides one example of a player whose exclusion appears to be strongly influenced by "character" considerations that have to do neither with gambling nor with steroids.


Yes, but as I said above, in the first sentence of mine that you copied, it did have to do with traits of his that were associated with his baseball playing, and not his purely personal, non-baseball related behavior. And I think you'd also have a very hard time showing, let alone proving, that his "character" issues are primarily responsible for Allen's exclusion.

I might vote for him myself, but with a career as short as his (only six seasons with 140+ games) and no particular signature moments or career counting stats that jump out at you, there's more than enough precedents you could cite for keeping him out. Character issues aside, he's more of a classic HoM candidate than a HoF one.

Now you can fairly argue that the overall effect of the character clause is deleterious, since it allows unfair subjective factors to hurt the candidacy of a player like Allen's, and I can see your point in Allen's case. But I'd argue that the way to counter this would be to keep answering these charges against Allen to the best of one's ability in the court of public opinion, which hopefully might influence the Veterans' Committee at some point. (That's if you think that his statistics are Hallworthy.) I don't think that ditching the character clause is much of a solution to anything.
   46. rawagman Posted: December 30, 2008 at 05:22 PM (#3040302)
Whatever you may think of Jim rice and his upcoming election, it has been claimed by his supported ad nauseum (14 years now) that his election has been stalled precisely because of his supposedly poor character (of course, this may be conspiracy theory run rampant). Rice was famous for being grumpy with reports, and it seems that some of them have remembered it of him when pondering their ballots.

I have also noticed the reverse to be true - of the writers who do fill column inches on their ballot choices, many have included phrases like "class act" when describing a Dale Murphy type, and reverse sentiments when discussing Rice, (previously) Belle and rehashing negative character traits (Coke - Parker) when it applies.

Which leads to the question - how much of it is racially motivated? How many white players are dinged for bad character? How many black players are lauded at voting time for being classy?

Have the cases of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens been given equal treatment by the press? Assuming they do not return to playing, will they get equal treatment by the voters in 2013? I hope so.
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 30, 2008 at 06:06 PM (#3040355)
I'd bet my case dollar that Bonds and Clemens either both get in or both get blackballed, and by very similar votes.

Which way it'll go is another story altogether. But unlike in the case of all these other bogus analogies that have been thrown about, it's almost impossible to formulate a plausible argument for or against either Bonds or Clemens that you wouldn't be forced to apply to the other, if only to escape the R-word charge. I'd leave the legal cases to the experts, but in terms of the general public perception of their juicing (they're both guilty) and their otherwise Hallworthiness (they're both mortal locks without the juicing), the two are as nearly alike as peas in a pod.
   48. Wes Parkers Mood (Mike Green) Posted: December 30, 2008 at 07:30 PM (#3040422)
Right, MHITS. For those of us who discount for PED inflation, we no longer have Clemens and Bonds battling it out with Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth for the title of greatest pitcher and position player of all time. Clemens and Bonds were the greatest pitcher and position player of the decade 1985-1995, and that ought to be enough.
   49. JMPH Posted: December 30, 2008 at 07:45 PM (#3040440)
What's the character clause argument against Blyleven? The f-bombs on TV? The "I heart to fart" t-shirt? Is there something I'm missing? He seems like an odd choice to bring into this discussion.
   50. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 30, 2008 at 07:49 PM (#3040443)
What's the character clause argument against Blyleven? The f-bombs on TV? The "I heart to fart" t-shirt? Is there something I'm missing? He seems like an odd choice to bring into this discussion.


He sat out a couple of weeks early in 1980 to force a trade from the defending World Champion Pirates. Mike Emeigh or Harveys Wallbangers can tell you more about it. There was a recent thread (on the main site) where there was some debate over whether this was comparable to Dick Allen's "retirement" in 1974 (I think Steve Treder was on the 'they're not comparable at all' side of the argument).
   51. JMPH Posted: December 30, 2008 at 07:53 PM (#3040450)
Ah, okay. I didn't know about that. Thanks.
   52. yest Posted: January 13, 2009 at 04:45 PM (#3050573)
A few thoughts on the actual HoF election
1. Dawson is going to almost defiantly get in. Every player who got the most votes in an election but did get in on that election has eventually made it except for Hodges in 1976.
2.This year there were a record of only 13 returning players on the ballot next year shatters that with only 11.
   53. OCF Posted: January 14, 2009 at 06:58 AM (#3051378)
Dawson is going to almost defiantly get in.

I know, spelling and proofreading have never been yest's strengths as a poster. But I'm kind of charmed by the idea of "defiantly" winning election - just not sure about that "almost."
   54. base ball chick Posted: January 14, 2009 at 07:12 AM (#3051380)
where was your ballot posted? i didn't even see it or i would have voted too
   55. OCF Posted: January 14, 2009 at 07:29 AM (#3051386)
It was posted over here in the Hall of Merit blog, although as you can see, the majority of our voters weren't regular HoM voters. We'll do this again about a year from now - so if you want in, you've got about 11 months to form your opinions of Larkin, Alomar, Edgar, the Crime Dog, and Ventura, along with Raines, Trammell, Blyleven, McGwire, Dawson, Morris, and the other holdovers.

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