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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Don Malcolm: THE HALL OF FAME LOGJAM: A PERFECT STORM DISPELLED…

Haven’t gone through this yet (headwrapping Shugo Tokumaru/Black Moth Super Rainbow is time consuming!).

And what’s likeliest to happen over the course of the next few years is that the BBWAA will single out the most controversial (read: arrogant) players from the age of PEDs and make examples out of them. As a voting group, they know that it would be impolitic to bar the doors of Cooperstown to all the players from the wraparound decades (1990s/2000s). They also know (when they are not pontificating) that the Mitchell Report is not…a perfect instrument.

To leave too many of these players out of the Hall of Fame based on the unreliable evidence that has been assembled would make everyone look bad.

And thus the real catastrophe would happen in Cooperstown, New York, where the ongoing financial health of the Hall of Fame—dependent on a PR stream from new inductees—would be seriously threatened.

Though many erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust, they should not hold out false hope for such an occurrence. The BBWAA isn’t going to be party to that, no matter how devoutly one might wish it so. They will be stepping back from this brinksmanship and making an example of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

And there is tremendous good fortune in the fact that the two greatest players of the “age of PEDs” will be systematically ostracized. It will force the BBWAA to examine players that would otherwise get less attention in the voting process. This will serve to sustain several worthy candidates through what will be a crowded ballot period (people like Raines and Edgar Martinez) and give them a chance to be enshrined within the fifteen year period.

Repoz Posted: December 24, 2011 at 12:33 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, projections, sabermetrics, steroids

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2011 at 01:37 AM (#4022858)
And there is tremendous good fortune in the fact that the two greatest players of the “age of PEDs” will be systematically ostracized. It will force the BBWAA to examine players that would otherwise get less attention in the voting process. This will serve to sustain several worthy candidates through what will be a crowded ballot period (people like Raines and Edgar Martinez) and give them a chance to be enshrined within the fifteen year period.

Huh? I don't see how Bonds and Clemens eating up 25-50% of the vote for 15 years helps the backlog candidates. Doubly true given the persistent Bonds/Clemens are probably more likely to be Raines/Edgar voters to begin with. I don't see any way I can honestly list Edgar on my mythical 2014 ballot even using all 10 of my slots.

I can see how _maybe_, after the no-doubters clear off, this won't hurt them in the same way that, say, Lee Smith's presence hasn't really hurt Dawson or Larkin.

It's true that having a bunch of no-doubters come on the ballot at once hurts backloggers -- but it's a one-and-done sort of damage. It's not clear to me that's more damaging than 15 years of smaller impact on their support.

Of course I haven't RTFA so maybe Don is claiming their non-PEDdiness will make them more attractive. Maybe, but they're as attractive in that light now as they will be 5 years from now.

Edgar in particular I think will be hurt. While Thomas' election might in some sense open the door for DHs, it's also going to make it clear that Edgar is the #2 DH in history. And as we see Thome, Delgado, Giambi, Sheffield, Manny (ostracized), Sosa (ostracized), Vlad, Giles (one and done), Helton, Abreu and eventually Ortiz and Berkman come on the ballot, Edgar starts to look a lot less special. Depending on how they view Thomas, Thome and Ortiz, Edgar might be considered only the 4th best DH of all-time by the voters. I don't see how spending 12 years sharing the ballot with 3-4 guys who were actually better hitters (and played positions) plus another half-dozen sluggers with a case makes Edgar promising at all.

Raines is a whole different type of player whose only real "competition" in that category will be Ichiro (Lofton will be quickly dispensed with) so he'll be able to survive the logjam but maybe not at a high enough level to have enough time left to get to 75%.

Anyway, Don may mention this but I think the "solution" we are most likely to see is "strategic" voting from the "who cares about steroids" crowd. They'll always vote Bonds and Clemens. But they will consign Mac, Palmeiro, Manny and maybe Sosa to the bin knowing that it is hopeless. If they do that (and the sooner the "better") and use the full ballot, the backlog might follow a reasonably normal progression through the backlog.
   2. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 24, 2011 at 01:51 AM (#4022864)
I'm not sure why "erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust." What good would it do anyone to have no Hall of Fame, leaving people without work, and leaving upstate New York without one of its top tourist attractions?
   3. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 24, 2011 at 01:52 AM (#4022865)
I don't see how Bonds and Clemens eating up 25-50% of the vote for 15 years helps the backlog candidates.


Isn't the real question simply whether those voters who do support Bonds and Clemens will expand their ballots to do so? Average voter only uses 5-7 of his 10 slots. If those who vote for Bonds and Clemens year after year check 8 or 9 boxes instead of 6 or 7, then Bonds and Clemens won't depress the vote totals of any worthy candidates who are considered "untainted."
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2011 at 01:53 AM (#4022867)
Good article, not that it'll do anything to shut up the Chicken Littles. The only problem with it is that when Malcolm says that the BBWAA will make examples out of only Bonds and Clemens, he's only projecting through 2015. But after that, even assuming that enough writers will use a standard of evidence more rigorous than bacne, there's still A-Rod, Manny and Pettitte to consider. Not that those three negate Malcolm's thesis that the logjam is going to prove to be largely a myth, but it's not that the most prominent examples from 2013 are going to be the only two players affected.
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 24, 2011 at 01:57 AM (#4022868)
I'm not sure why "erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust." What good would it do anyone to have no Hall of Fame, leaving people without work, and leaving upstate New York without one of its top tourist attractions?


I think that's just Malcolm's over-the-top way of saying that some people no longer care who is and isn't in the Hall of Fame because of the BBWAA's questionable decisions, and that those people hope that the number of such people expands in the future.

As for me, I have found that, try as I might to truly not care, I still do care a little. But I understand that my caring is the irrational product of sentimentality, and that I will get over it as the years go by and Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, etc. aren't enshrined. It will be impossible to take the HOF seriously any longer in that sense. It will still be a wonderful museum and research institution.
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:04 AM (#4022869)
I'm not sure why "erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust." What good would it do anyone to have no Hall of Fame, leaving people without work, and leaving upstate New York without one of its top tourist attractions?

He may be referring to the "I'm going to hold my breath until you give me what I want" crowd that keeps saying that the Hall of Fame will somehow "delegitimitize itself" if it keeps out Bonds, Clemens, etc. You see that sort of idiotic rhetoric all the time here, as if people are going to start boycotting the HoF because the most unpopular superstars of their generation were being called to account. It's a distinctly minority POV, but they beat the drums so loudly on sites like this that Malcolm might give them more credence than they deserve.
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:11 AM (#4022873)
Walt, it's not clear to me that Edgar is an easy HOFer, even without the backlog issue. Giambi is perhaps broadly similar to Edgar, though WAR penalizes Giambi much more for defense, which seems wrong to me.

I have a lot of respect for Edgar's career -- but I have a lot for Giambi's as well. Both of them fall just short to me, though I could be persuaded otherwise.
   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:18 AM (#4022877)
I'm not sure why "erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust." What good would it do anyone to have no Hall of Fame, leaving people without work, and leaving upstate New York without one of its top tourist attractions?


I think Don got this a bit wrong. The issue is not that people would "want" to see the Hall crumble into dust, but that it risks a self-inflicted death, i.e., losing its respect as an institution, if several of the players of an entire generation -- including arguably the greatest hitter and pitcher who ever lived -- are kept out because the BBWAA voters go all Kardashian on the process instead of doing any serious or rational thinking on the matter to understand that steroids were just a part of the era just like amps were a generation earlier.
   9. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:19 AM (#4022878)
I think that if many of the most respected baseball thinkers feel that the HOF can no longer be taken seriously, then that's significant regardless of what the larger world of non-experts thinks.
   10. Eugene Freedman Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:22 AM (#4022880)
This post would have been much more interesting on usenet.
   11. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:23 AM (#4022881)
Yeah, the problem for the Hall is not that people might be upset with the way things were handled; it's that people won't care anymore.
   12. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:25 AM (#4022883)
I understand that my caring is the irrational product of sentimentality


The whole Hall of Fame is the irrational product of sentimentality.
   13. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:26 AM (#4022884)
Good article, not that it'll do anything to shut up the Chicken Littles...
He may be referring to the "I'm going to hold my breath until you give me what I want" crowd that keeps saying that the Hall of Fame will somehow "delegitimitize itself" if it keeps out Bonds, Clemens, etc. You see that sort of idiotic rhetoric all the time here, as if people are going to start boycotting the HoF because the most unpopular superstars of their generation were being called to account. It's a distinctly minority POV, but they beat the drums so loudly on sites like this that Malcolm might give them more credence than they deserve.


Because when it comes to throwing self-important hissyfits about who's not going to get in, the first people that come to mind are the steroid agnostics.
   14. Mayor Blomberg Posted: December 24, 2011 at 03:54 AM (#4022893)
I think that if many of the most respected baseball thinkers feel that the HOF can no longer be taken seriously, then that's significant regardless of what the larger world of non-experts thinks.


Most respected by whom? Not taken seriously by whom? Hasn't seemed to hurt the Pullet Surprise.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2011 at 04:05 AM (#4022897)
Because when it comes to throwing self-important hissyfits about who's not going to get in, the first people that come to mind are the steroid agnostics.

On this site they sure as hell are. How many steroid hardliners here do you find talking about how the Hall of Fame is going to "lose its credibility" or "can no longer be taken seriously" or "people won't care anymore" if Bonds and Clemens DO get elected? And yet on BTF that sort of rhetoric gets thrown around by the "steroid agnostics" (as you call them) so often and with such conviction that by this time the only response is a big fat yawn and a "yeah, whatever you say."

Of course in the outside world, the Chicken Little rhetoric is more balanced between the yahoos and their opponents, but whatever the proportion of the numbers may be, they have one thing in common: They both have this conceit that the Hall of Fame can survive (and be "respected") only on their terms.
   16. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: December 24, 2011 at 04:42 AM (#4022903)
I stopped caring about the hall once they wouldnt elect santo while he was still alive, it means nothing to
Me and as much as i love baseball and its history i will not support the hall because of that and how the future is shaping up. Bonds and company deserve to be in, a hall of fame with out them is just terrible
   17. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2011 at 05:39 AM (#4022911)
Average voter only uses 5-7 of his 10 slots.

If folks are only voting for 5-7 non-Bonds/Clemens, then Edgar and Raines and others aren't going anywhere anyway. Piazza, Biggio, Sosa and Schilling; followed by Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Kent and Mussina; followed by Johnson, Pedro, Smoltz and Sheffield; followed by Griffey and Hoffman. Delgado, Edmonds, LGonzalez, Lofton and a few other not shabby candidates pop up then as well. With, in all likelihood, Bagwell still on the ballot.

Again, it is reasonably likely that the 2014 ballot will have Bonds, Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Piazza, Biggio, Sosa, Schilling, Kent, Mussina, Bagwell, Raines, Edgar, Walker, McGwire, Palmeiro, Bernie. I can easily fill up 10 slots without Edgar. I'd probably give him one but I could easily see doing it without Raines. I'm not sure Bagwell is any better than 8th on that ballot.

Walt, it's not clear to me that Edgar is an easy HOFer,

Never said he was (he clearly isn't, he's sitting at 33%) or should be (I do not support his candidacy although it's very close). I'm responding to Don's claim that And there is tremendous good fortune in the fact that the two greatest players of the “age of PEDs” will be systematically ostracized. It will force the BBWAA to examine players that would otherwise get less attention in the voting process. This will serve to sustain several worthy candidates through what will be a crowded ballot period (people like Raines and Edgar Martinez) and give them a chance to be enshrined within the fifteen year period. I simply see no way that a crowded ballot helps Raines or Martinez.

Any of the anti-steroid crowd already not voting for Edgar or Raines will have plenty of worthy "clean" candidates over the next several years; any of the anti-steroid crowd already voting for Edgar or Raines will have plenty of as or more qualified "clean" candidates over the next several years; any of the "who cares" crowd will have at least 2 slam dunk "dirty" HoFers plus all the other "clean" candidates the anti-steroid bunch have to vote for. Near as I can tell, most of the rest are old curmudgeons who only vote for 2-3 "real HoFers" per ballot and they will have plenty of people to vote for without getting to Bagwell much less Raines/Edgar.

If any "borderline" candidates are likely to be helped by anti-steroid fervor, I'd assume it's the pitchers -- Schilling, Smoltz and Mussina will be viewed as "clean" and performed very well even with the field slanted against them since we all know steroids only help hitters (and Clemens). Anti-steroid fervor against McGwire and Palmeiro doesn't seemed to have helped Walker or McGriff and certainly hasn't pushed them far up the ladder.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2011 at 06:06 AM (#4022915)
Sorry, wouldn't let me edit ... but don't forget that 2014 ballot still has Morris, Smith, Trammell and Mattingly on it and they ate up about 135% of the last vote.

Also this isn't just about anti-steroid stuff. The ballots were gonna be crowded regardless and lots of worth candidates were gonna have to wait and life was gonna be tough for the deep backloggers. The anti-steroid stuff just keeps "no doubt" guys like Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro, probably Sosa and possibly Bagwell and Piazza on the ballot for very long time. That pushes it from the sublime to the ridiculous.

That said, I don't think the deserving "clean" candidates are going to have a huge problem getting through. Bagwell is probably stuck until 2017 but I think he'll make it. I think Biggio and Thomas will have a pretty easy time of it. The top pitchers will sail in. Raines might not have enough time to make it but he's in no danger of falling off the ballot. The group that will get decimated is Walker and McGriff and Edmonds, possibly all the way up to Edgar although I expect him to stay above 5% the whole time. Now there's a very good chance that even under normal circumstances those guys weren't gonna make the HoF so it's not the end of the world if they fall off the ballot. It's just "unfair" and not the standard HoF ballot scenario.

The only "clean" HoFers that won't make it are the blacklisted guys and some guys (like Raines although not necessarily him in particular) that the BBWAA often misses on anyway.
   19. Sonic Youk Posted: December 24, 2011 at 08:17 AM (#4022930)
Judging by the title, I thought this was another Conlin thread.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2011 at 08:52 AM (#4022933)
9. Sonic Youk  Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:17 AM (#4022930)
Judging by the title, I thought this was another Conlin thread.

are you just randomally spamming all the threads with this comment?
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2011 at 09:00 AM (#4022934)
Walt, it's not clear to me that Edgar is an easy HOFer, even without the backlog issue. Giambi is perhaps broadly similar to Edgar, though WAR penalizes Giambi much more for defense, which seems wrong to me.


The pro-Edgar camp likes to argue strictly based upon career war and his mulitple offensive season. You would have to be an idiot, of a Republican level of guilabilty(I mean these are people that think Evolution and moronic design are equivlent theories)/stupidity to think Edgar is a clear hofer.... he's a borderline at best(see dick allen) there are pros and cons on his argument, he's clearly on the border, he's not clearly a hofer(not like a Blyleven is clearly a hofer or Jack Morris is clearly not)

Edgar is a borderline depending on how you like to argue
   22. Something Other Posted: December 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM (#4022947)
I'm not sure why "erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust." What good would it do anyone to have no Hall of Fame, leaving people without work, and leaving upstate New York without one of its top tourist attractions?
Not to turn this into a travelogue, but upstate New York is a beautfiul place, dammit.

Lofton's a funny guy. No matter how often I look at his BBRef page, as soon as I leave my mind clouds over and I forget how good you have to be to put up a borderline HOF career after not becoming a full time player until you're 25. He's also one of those players that get killed on the margins. .299 career hitter, with a little better durability and a few more runs he'd have 12 consecutive seasons of 100 runs. Without the strike year in 1995 and a little more durability he gets to 9 consecutive seasons of 100... Certainly was good enough to have won the MVP the year he finished fourth. Any of those things would probably have been enough to keep him on the ballot for a while.

A fine peak, but not quite a great one. He was done as a special player by age 32.
   23. Lassus Posted: December 24, 2011 at 02:33 PM (#4022957)
Not to turn this into a travelogue, but upstate New York is a beautfiul place, dammit.

Less so during these particular months, but certainly agree.
   24. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 24, 2011 at 05:23 PM (#4023007)
If folks are only voting for 5-7 non-Bonds/Clemens, then Edgar and Raines and others aren't going anywhere anyway. ...


Right. But this is true whether Bonds/Clemens are made examples of, elected on their first try, or declared ineligible. The crowding out of Edgar (which doesn't really bother me that much) and Raines (which does) is not a result of the anticipated pitched internecine BBWAA war over the steroids poster children.
   25. AROM Posted: December 24, 2011 at 06:24 PM (#4023036)
Though many erstwhile revolutionaries would love to see the Hall crumble into dust, they should not hold out false hope for such an occurrence. The BBWAA isn’t going to be party to that, no matter how devoutly one might wish it so. They will be stepping back from this brinksmanship and making an example of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

And there is tremendous good fortune in the fact that the two greatest players of the “age of PEDs” will be systematically ostracized. It will force the BBWAA to examine players that would otherwise get less attention in the voting process. This will serve to sustain several worthy candidates through what will be a crowded ballot period (people like Raines and Edgar Martinez) and give them a chance to be enshrined within the fifteen year period.


I don't disagree that the BBWAA will want to induct a few people every year. I doubt their ability to come to an agreement on which lessor candidates to give 75% support to while they are divided on how to handle the roiders.
   26. Squash Posted: December 24, 2011 at 06:55 PM (#4023047)
I might be in the minority that thinks Bonds and Clemens et. al will eventually be elected. I'm thinking around year 6-8, maybe even earlier for the real studs, there will be an "enough is enough" meme, even from the hardcore anti-s, and they'll all start to feel okay about putting in guys who were obviously qualified beforehand. All these all-time greats will be staring everyone in the face and we'll hear things like "we've proved our point" and "they've learned their lesson" and they'll go in. I think people forget just how long the ballot lasts ... I mean, these guys are still going to be on the ballot in 2022 or whenever. That's a long way away. Are we still going to be obsessing about steroids then? Blood cools, and we'll have some brand new scandals to worry about in ten years.
   27. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 24, 2011 at 07:14 PM (#4023057)
I mean, these guys are still going to be on the ballot in 2022 or whenever.

Possibly. I'm pretty certain that the 2022 Justice Department will still be trying to put both of them in prison though.
   28. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 24, 2011 at 07:15 PM (#4023058)
I might be in the minority that thinks Bonds and Clemens et. al will eventually be elected. I'm thinking around year 6-8, maybe even earlier for the real studs, there will be an "enough is enough" meme, even from the hardcore anti-s, and they'll all start to feel okay about putting in guys who were obviously qualified beforehand. All these all-time greats will be staring everyone in the face and we'll hear things like "we've proved our point" and "they've learned their lesson" and they'll go in.

I agree that if the juicers ever get in, it'll be on the back of the argument that the point has been proven, and that the x-number of years of delay amounts to an informal "asterisk" on their plaques. It wouldn't shock me if that were to happen, but trying to predict when is another story altogether.

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