Make Ed Thoma a BBWAA Chapter Chairperson!...Or at least let him walk Yogi around on stage or something!
But here’s the thing: Nobody’s numbers should be taken at face value. All baseball stats are creatures of context.
The National League — the entire league, pitchers included — hit .303 in 1930. In the American League in 1968, no regular player hit better than .301. An outfielder in the 1930 NL who hit .290 wasn’t helping; an outfielder in the 1968 AL who hit .290 was a star.
Shifting from the general to the specific:
Christy Mathewson pitched his entire career with darkened, mushy baseballs. Babe Ruth didn’t compete with black players. Ted Williams lost years to military service. Mel Ott piled up home runs in a particularly friendly venue. Sandy Koufax benefited from a high pitchers mound. Mike Schmidt spent most of his career on artificial turf.
And Bonds, Clemens and company starred in the steroid era. Deal with it.
...If the Hall of Fame electorate doesn’t see it that way — if the writers block Bonds and Clemens (and Sosa and Piazza) as they have Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jeff Bagwell — the backlog of candidates will become oppressive.
The suspect will be excluded. The nonsuspect might be too, because so much attention will be devoted to the suspects. And if they are admitted while clearly superior players are out, that’s not good either.
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