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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bruce Jenkins: Columnist proud to add to baseball history

Inside the HOF Expansion Era voting room with Bruce Jenkins. (Bosphorus Bridge…I’m on my way!)

Old-school thinking

What I realized in Orlando, both in informal settings and the three-hour meeting, is that everyone in the room spoke the same language, far removed from the complex lingo of new-age stat devotees. At one point, someone asked if it was necessary to bring WAR, a trendy new stat, into any discussion. There was a bit of mumbling, mostly silence, and it never came up again.

No, this was a soundtrack from the game I first covered in the early ‘70s, with the now-defunct Santa Monica Outlook, and as a beat writer for the Chronicle (1977 through ‘89, when I was given a column). Within that realm, players, managers and writers treated wins, RBIs, batting average and ERA as invaluable measuring sticks - and never really felt compelled to adjust. These categories are widely ridiculed by the modern-day faction known as “stat geeks,” many of whom have decided that old-school thought is a bunch of nonsense and that they are the true geniuses of baseball evaluation.

Whatever. I certainly didn’t feel dated or out of touch hashing out a man’s Hall of Fame credentials with Robinson, Fisk, Herzog or anyone else involved. I’m sure the brilliant Hirdt could have backed his opinions with WAR, WHIP or any other statistical measure known to man, but he spoke of traditional numbers and criteria of considerable weight: character, temperament, clutch performance and other intangibles, such as how it felt to witness the greats, and how they were viewed by other icons of the game.

Overall, it was a tremendous honor and unforgettable experience. As flawed as the process may be, that three-hour meeting created an atmosphere of truth and honesty. That’s important to remember.

Repoz Posted: December 10, 2013 at 10:32 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Bob Tufts Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4615666)
(the) three-hour meeting created an atmosphere of truth and honesty


Why should that matter? The results matter, not the collegial way that you got there - especially if we are not privy to your votes, reasons and a public defense of them.



   2. SouthSideRyan Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:37 PM (#4615670)
Jenkins: Columnist proud to sit around old baseball players and listen to them tell stories.
   3. Squash Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4615688)
Didn't Jenkins used to be a young rabble rouser and such? I seem to recall him being (relatively) willing to stir it up back in the 90s. May god strike me down the day I am proud to not know things.

EDIT: I mean good lord, the dude graduated from Cal in 1971. He can't always have been a fuddy duddy.
   4. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:27 AM (#4615690)
It's ridiculous that BBWAA members are involved in the Veterans' screening and selection committees. If the you're looking to give second looks to those bypassed the first time around (almost half the candidates here), then you shouldn't include members of the group that overlooked them the first time.
   5. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:28 AM (#4615691)
How long has it been since the Elias Sports Bureau was relevant?
   6. bobm Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:33 AM (#4615693)
FTFA:

My invitation came about two months ago, and I was stunned. I would be one of four historians in the group, along with Jim Reeves, longtime baseball voice of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA; and Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's most respected statistical institution. [Emphasis added]


Elias is only slightly more respected on baseball statistical analysis than the Count from Sesame Street. ("One! One run batted in! Ha ha ha ha ha! [Lightning and Thunder]")

What a joke.

   7. Curse of the Andino Posted: December 11, 2013 at 05:00 AM (#4615736)
It's ridiculous that BBWAA members are involved in the Veterans' screening and selection committees. If the you're looking to give second looks to those bypassed the first time around (almost half the candidates here), then you shouldn't include members of the group that overlooked them the first time.


Ideas, newsletter.
   8. Brian Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:13 AM (#4615749)
They weren't there as BBWAA members, they were HISTORIANS!
   9. I Am Not a Number Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:39 AM (#4615753)
The name is Jenkins and I'm here to tell you the emperor is fully clothed.
   10. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4615758)
It's a shame the institutions we care about are controlled by purposeful dunces, but what're you gonna do?
   11. Bob Tufts Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4615759)
I'm sure that reporters had the future Hall of Fame voting process in mind when they were thinking about press freedoms, keeping sources private.....etc.

National security, yes. Hall voting, no.

And to see the whining that if a player missed by one vote that they would be criticized and didn't want to deal with it......gutless. If you cannot defend your decision, you shouldn't be making any!
   12. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:06 AM (#4615761)
I prefer a secret ballot. I don't want a groupthink result, I want people to put some serious thought into their ballot. My problem with many of the voters is that they don't put a serious consideration into it. It is stunning to me that people are willing and even proud to admit that they don't keep up with the latest advances in their job. As an accountant I don't get to say "I don't care what the FASB says, I'm doing it like I did it in 1985."

It's a shame the institutions we care about are controlled by purposeful dunces, but what're you gonna do?


That's what makes following soccer so much fun, the complete transparency, fairness and lack of corruption!
   13. Publius Publicola Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4615762)
There was a talk show back in the eighties that featured a sportswriter panel that included Jenkins. I think David Israel was on it too. Anyway, they were grumbling about the difficult sports figure personalities like Sam Snead and the moderator asked who was somebody they liked. Jenkins answered "OJ. He's a great guy.".

So there's that.
   14. TJ Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4615765)
It's ridiculous that BBWAA members are involved in the Veterans' screening and selection committees. If the you're looking to give second looks to those bypassed the first time around (almost half the candidates here), then you shouldn't include members of the group that overlooked them the first time.


Couldn't agree more, SoSH. And to think that, for a fleeting moment, I felt the election of Ron Santo meant that the VC had made some positive changes and moved into the modern world. Silly me...

   15. Moeball Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4615768)
I mean good lord, the dude graduated from Cal in 1971.


Maybe that explains a few things. Maybe he did too much LDS in the sixties.

It's a shame the institutions we care about are controlled by purposeful dunces, but what're you gonna do?


I heard the last part in Tony Soprano's voice "Whayougondo?"
   16. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4615817)
Maybe he did too much LDS in the sixties.


The Mormons are noted anti-statisticians?
   17. Chone Mueller Posted: December 11, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4616199)
The Mormons are noted anti-statisticians?


The LDS line is a Star Trek joke.

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