Sports On Earth Newsbeat
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
“The lesson to learn might be that we screwed this thing up.”
Less than a year after leaving Sports Illustrated for the MLB/USA Today startup Sports on Earth, columnist Joe Posnanski is on the move again: He just agreed to a contract with NBC Sports.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Joe Posnanski speculates:
Nobody is getting into the Hall of Fame through the Baseball Writers door this year. I mean, yes, it’s possible—POSSIBLE—that Craig Biggio will slip into the Hall by a few votes. But I don’t think so. Not this year. Not on this crazy ballot…
I don’t know if this year’s ballot blackout will cause… administrative changes—looking ahead, I sort of doubt it. As weird as this year is, it’s really something of a one-year aberration… I think if any rule will be tinkered with, it will be the player-vote limit… I wouldn’t be surprised if it went up to 15 for next year’s ballot.
As for the rest … I don’t think there will be Hall of Fame voting changes. I think, instead, players who are better than at least half of the players in the Hall of Fame will keep getting overlooked and underappreciated and measured against an impossible and imaginary standard.
Then the Crickets, Blowfish, or whoever they are vote a bit.
I don’t have a ballot and am glad that I don’t. This whole thing is a mess. The idea that Craig Biggio or Curt Schilling might go into the Hall of Fame but Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens won’t is ridiculous. If results on the field don’t matter, then this becomes a beauty contest, backroom politics, a vote for prom king and queen supervised by the faculty to make sure that the right candidates succeed.
Today is only the beginning. The process is going to become harder and harder as science moves stem cells around and creates synthesized genetic athletes in the future. (OK, what do we do about this Jason Bourne?) What should be legal? What shouldn’t? If I have laser surgery, say, to give me the same eyesight as Ted Williams, am I cheating? The BBWAA and the Hall have to look for a way to accommodate its history and this future and dole out asterisks or italicized comments where necessary. Something has to change.
If I had a vote, I think I would cast my ballot in protest for Pete Rose—and only Pete Rose—every year until that change was made in the criteria for selection.
BALLOT: Pete Rose.
Football writer here!...
I suppose if you want to write off an entire period of your sport’s history as The Steroid Era, cast a pall of suspicion and disgust over a decade’s worth of sports memories, and basically say that everything exciting and delightful that happened in baseball from about 1988 to 2002 was squirted from a syringe into the bloodstream of some villainous cad, you can keep a generation’s worth of all-time greats out of the Hall of Fame for being maybe-slightly guiltier than everyone else of a crime no one bothered to accurately define or enforce.
What’s that? You say that’s what many voters are perfectly willing to do? O-kay. Well, let me just concentrate on the Pro Football Hall of Fame and cast all my votes for Cris Carter.
BALLOT: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa.
Edit: Link fixed. Jim
Monday, December 31, 2012
Don’t see any Hall of Fame votes for players who normally went by the first name “Cliff”. Fiscal Clifford Earl Torgeson got 0.7% of the vote, and Fiscal Clifford Carlton Cravath peaked at 1.2%.
Hall of Fame voting, and the subsequent discussion, is becoming something that’s grueling to witness. It’s becoming not fun anymore. Everybody loves a good sports debate—and by “debate,” I mean “ a meaningful exchange of considered, reasoned ideas,” and it’s sort of sad that “First Take” has required me to remind people what “debate” means—but what’s happening with the Hall of Fame voters isn’t a debate: It’s people making intractable stands and then yelling about how the other side is not only wrong, but peppering them with personal invective. This is happening on both sides. Those who think sabermetrics should be the center (if not only) tenet in evaluating players believe the BBWAA voters who don’t use advanced stats are unworthy of a vote, and the BBWAA voters who insist on the value of their own eyes claim their detractors are just haters who wish they got to vote. No matter which side you agree with—or, you know, if you’re a normal human being who sees values in both sides, a.k.a., “probably not a person who writes about sports for a living”—you find yourself leaving all “discussions” wishing for a pox on both houses. People are screaming past each other, and not paying the least bit attention to the readers, the fans … the people they ostensibly write columns for.
It’s becoming impossible to deal with. It’s turning something as fun and meaningless—and talk all you want about the sacred nature of the Hall of Fame, let us not forget that it’s just a building in upstate New York with weird-looking bronzes of people who used to run around and swing pieces of wood for a living but now do awkward local commercials and put their name on car dealerships—as deciding who’s a legendary ballplayer and who isn’t, and it’s turning into an endless political debate between two parties who have no interest in taking the slightest step forward toward the other. I no longer believe any side in the debate anymore. They’re either trying to advance an agenda (the BBWAA still matters! Old sportswriters are terrible!) or they’re holding some time-worn grudge against someone who was mean to them in the clubhouse, or they’re just blindly throwing in the top 10 guys in WAR to prove a point, or whatever. It’s not fun to read about, it’s not fun to write about it and it’s not fun to talk about.
That’s a serious problem. This is the Hall of Fame. This is the ultimate sports debate. This is how we’ve always classified guys, how we’ve organized the world of baseball for years. We’ve never thought of the Hall of Fame as “just a building” because it was supposed to mean so much more. It was supposed to be fun. But not now. The discussions about the Hall of Fame, and the actual ballots, are turning into the fiscal cliff debate, with people operating in bad faith, abusing their power, making decisions for reasons that have nothing to do with how good of a baseball player a certain guy was. It’s like watching politicians. And sports should never, ever be like watching politicians.
I’m not sure how this gets turned around. But I’ve never enjoyed the Hall of Fame discussions less than I have this year. And it’s just going to get worse. This is not helping anybody. If you take the fun out of the Hall of Fame, you just have a dusty old building. That’s to say: You have nothing.
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