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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

J.T. Snow, Rule 10.20 and the Hall of Fame

During the last homestand of the Giants’ 2008 season, J.T. Snow signed a one-day contract with the club to officially retire as a Giant. He was listed as the starting first basemen in the line-up while taking infield in a Giants uniform one last time. He then tipped his cap and shook hands as he walked off the field, being replaced at first base before the game started. But do you know the funny thing about that appearance? According to Rule 10.20 of the Official Baseball Rules, this counts as a game played in Snow’s stats!?! That’s right, Snow has this statistical line for the 2008 season:
2008     40 SFG	NL	1 0 0	 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0	0 0 0	 0 0 0 0 0
This got me to thinking. How much would someone pay to see their name immortalized in the records of the Game? Picture your smiling face on a Baseball-Reference page! Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show on steroids!

Well, why not? MLB is always looking for new revenue streams, here’s a golden opportunity. Player for a day! Not just throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, but actually getting credit for playing in a major league game! Forget the Star Registry, this time it counts!

People shell out five or ten grand for season tickets. You would think they could find 81 fans willing to pay $5,000 for a Snow job. The fee would entitle them to be treated with all the respect that J.T. Snow received when he did his farewell stunt. You get a uniform, get to hang with the players a bit before the game, even take the field during warm-ups for a couple tosses. You then get to stand with the team during the national anthem. After jogging out to your position you tip your cap and shake hands as you trot off the field.

It might seem a little awkward and distracting at first, but I think it would quickly become a seamless part of the pregame routine. I think it could actually be very beneficial for a team’s public relations, with the Pro-for-a-day being a bridge; as the fans’ representative, he/she would give them a feeling of greater connection with the players.

For Snow himself there is a downside to his final bow. He actually last played in a MLB game for Boston on 6/18/06. Normally this would allow him to appear on the HOF ballot in 2012, the upcoming election. However, because his appearance in 2008 is technically a Game, the Hall of Fame has indicated that Snow cannot appear on the ballot until 2014. This decision seems a little at odds with Rule 3.C of the BBWAA Election Rules which says: “Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election….” Snow didn’t try to work himself into game shape in 2008; his intent was never to actually be an “active player”, but to be honored in a Giants uniform.

Rule 10.20 is actually inconsistent with another rule. Rule 10.23(c) tells us that Snow’s Game in 2008 is not sufficient to continue a consecutive-game playing streak. For that he would actually have to play a half-inning on defense or complete a time at bat. Well, why not use that same rule to define what constitutes a continuation of a career? Add this sentence to Rule 3.C of the election rules: Unless a player plays at least one-half inning on defense or completes a time at bat, in the regular season or the post-season, he will not be considered to be an active player in that season for purposes of HOF eligibility.

I also suggest that MLB should modify Rule 10.20 and credit a player with a Game played only if they are in the game when something happens. I think that precipitating a pitching change or some other managerial move by your announced presence does not constitute "being in the game when something happens." A Game played should be credited when a player is in the game and on the field when either 1) one pitch is thrown, 2) one fielding chance occurs, or 3) a base is gained.

As things stand, as long as Rule 10.20 is left unchanged we can all appear on the Rolls of MLB players without ever actually playing. Let’s hope some enterprising ball club picks up on this opportunity!

Daniel Greenia Posted: February 22, 2011 at 04:22 AM | 54 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. TomH Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3755619)
remove Larry Yount from the reference book!
   2. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:09 PM (#3755622)
As things stand, as long as Rule 10.20 is left unchanged we can all appear on the Rolls of MLB players without ever actually playing.

Well, as long as the commissioner's office approves the transaction, which they probably wouldn't if teams were abusing the rule.
   3. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:28 PM (#3755629)
As things stand, as long as Rule 10.20 is left unchanged we can all appear on the Rolls of MLB players without ever actually playing.

Well, as long as the commissioner's office approves the transaction, which they probably wouldn't if teams were abusing the rule.


That and roster limitations. I can't see a team playing with only 24 real players in exchange for a measly $400,000 in extra revenue. Snow's stunt came after Sep 1 when the MLB rosters are allowed to expand.
   4. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:33 PM (#3755632)
And it's about rosters. The Giants needed to put JT on the 25-man for this trick, I believe. It wouldn't scale well to have Joe Blow on your team's roster. And it would have unintended consequences - does Joe qualify for major-league meal money? Is he eligible for benefits? What if he has a heart attack and dies during his "moment in the sun"? Who pays compensation for that?


I know that I'm arguing with a sarcastic take. But it's early and I'm tired and a bit cranky.
   5. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:37 PM (#3755634)
That and roster limitations. I can't see a team playing with only 24 real players in exchange for a measly $400,000 in extra revenue.

I don't think the MLBPA would be super-thrilled about people paying to be on the roster, either.
   6. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:43 PM (#3755636)
Well, if a guy can pay to play astronaut then buying your way into another profession for a day isn't that outrageous a thought.
   7. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:44 PM (#3755638)
Well, if a guy can pay to play astronaut then buying your way into another profession for a day isn't that outrageous a thought.

Are the astronauts in a union?
   8. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#3755640)
If no one has done it yet, I'd like to design the logo for this astronaut's union.
   9. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3755642)
If no one has done it yet, I'd like to design the logo for this astronaut's union.

The International Workers above the World!

Would you have freedom from gravity?
Then come join the grand astronautical band
   10. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:52 PM (#3755644)
So, aside from the commissioner, the union, and the teams themselves likely being against this idea, I don't see any obstacles.
   11. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: February 22, 2011 at 02:58 PM (#3755650)
And it's about rosters. The Giants needed to put JT on the 25-man for this trick, I believe.
I don't think so. This was during the last weekend of the 2008 season so they had expanded rosters. He would have had to be on the 40-man, I guess.
   12. Pingu Posted: February 22, 2011 at 03:02 PM (#3755652)
Even if someone forked over enough cash to convince a MLB team to let him pull this stunt, it would have to be MUCH more than $5k, and at the end of the day still remains a stunt. Repeating the stunt again and again for multiple temas cheapens it.
   13. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: February 22, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#3755657)
I could see this being worth the trouble in a Make-A-Wish type situation for a terminally ill kid. But for some random Joe Blow paying for the privilege? Naaah.
   14. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: February 22, 2011 at 03:19 PM (#3755665)
Ah, I don't think a terminally ill kid would care about actually being active for a game. He'd be happy just to meet a few players and get a jersey with his name on the back.

When my brother was a kid, I played Double Dragon - an arcade game - semi-seriously. Once he insisted on playing with me; not wanting to waste the quarter and have his character just get beaten up and lose, we played the demo that you see when no quarters are in the slots. He never noticed.
   15. Bob Evans Posted: February 22, 2011 at 04:06 PM (#3755692)
More revenue = Players s/b for it.
More revenue = Selig s/b for it.
More revenue = Owners s/b for it.

If you want to be "special", set a really high price for it.

I've thought for years that putting rich guys on the September 40-man and letting them PH, or have an inning in LF, would be pretty neat.
   16. bobm Posted: February 22, 2011 at 04:21 PM (#3755707)
81 home games for 30 teams could mean adding 2,430 "players" every year.

The front page of baseball-reference.com states there are "17,497 MLB players all-time."

So, is this bad for B-R (more player records to manage) or good for B-R (more player pages to be sponsored)?
   17. dr. scott Posted: February 22, 2011 at 05:24 PM (#3755784)
The problem, as #5 states, there are issues with the union. First there is the minimum salary for a player, compensation etc. To be on a major league roster you have to join the union... the price would have to be much larger than 5K to make it worthwhile for MLB the teams or the Unions. Either way they already have camps for middle age rich folks to play with the big guys in spring training, and Im sure for enough money you can shag flies during BP. No need to make anything official, and if you do its probably more like 100K+.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: February 22, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#3755805)
I've thought for years that putting rich guys on the September 40-man and letting them PH, or have an inning in LF, would be pretty neat.


The ordinary rich? Nah. Now if they open it to rich celebrities, I could get on board. Who doesn't love celebrities?
   19. Mark S. is bored Posted: February 22, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3755820)
So, is this bad for B-R (more player records to manage) or good for B-R (more player pages to be sponsored)?


Who wouldn't want to sponsor their own page after they paid a bunch of money to "play" in the major leagues.
   20. The District Attorney Posted: February 22, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3755831)
it would quickly become a seamless part of the pregame routine.
... which would make it not worth paying thousands of dollars for.
   21. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 22, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3755851)
Um... what's the point in having a submission and approval process for Newsblog entries if they're all just approved? I mean, this is a step worse than self-linking. There's not even an article to link to, this guy just wrote a blog post and submitted it as an excerpt. Clearly nobody actually reviewed this.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: February 22, 2011 at 06:33 PM (#3755875)
Um... what's the point in having a submission and approval process for Newsblog entries if they're all just approved? I mean, this is a step worse than self-linking. There's not even an article to link to, this guy just wrote a blog post and submitted it as an excerpt. Clearly nobody actually reviewed this.


Alas, when operating under his alter handle DanG, he regularly fights for truth, a larger Hall ballot and no 5 percent threshold, while defending the Hall of Merit and its annual BTF-wide Hall of Fame vote against the evils of the small-hall mindset. He's OK.
   23. DanG Posted: February 22, 2011 at 06:37 PM (#3755880)
I expected there would be some revision of my Modest Proposal necessary to see it implemented. Nice work.

The larger point, of course, is the absurdity of the rule that it counts as an official game for any player who's listed on the official starting lineup, even if they are replaced before the first pitch is thrown. I don't understand that; why does that count as a game when he didn't play?

The other issue is why would the Hall of Fame interpret the term "active player" in Rule 3 of the BBWAA Election Rules in such a way as to delay JT Snow's HOF ballot appearance? Their attitude is "a game is a game".

Here is what I was told by the HOF: "MLB recognizes Snow having played a game in 2008, so that means he is not eligible for the BBWAA ballot until 2014. This is what the BBWAA recognizes as well."

I responded by pointing out a few considerations including the fact that we know that Snow retired in 2006; he did a one-time stunt that was counted as a game, although he didn't play; that to restart his HOF eligibility waiting period based on this non-appearance makes no sense and is unfair and disrespectful to Snow; and that obviously, JT Snow isn't a big deal - he won't get 5% from the voters, it's about establishing a precedent in case Ichiro or Pujols or someone truly great does the same thing.

Surprisingly, a week later I got another response: "The BBWAA sets these rules, not the Hall of Fame." OK, now they wanna pass the buck.

Well, by that time I had already exchanged correspondance with the BBWAA, which likewise went nowhere.
   24. flournoy Posted: February 22, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3755907)
To be on a major league roster you have to join the union...


Surely this is false.
   25. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 22, 2011 at 07:13 PM (#3755926)
Um... what's the point in having a submission and approval process for Newsblog entries if they're all just approved? I mean, this is a step worse than self-linking. There's not even an article to link to, this guy just wrote a blog post and submitted it as an excerpt. Clearly nobody actually reviewed this.

He paid $5,000 to have it posted for a day. I just sold him 3 Primeys for an undisclosed sum.
   26. DanG Posted: February 22, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3755933)
In response to [21]. The article is more aptly labeled what they used to call "Primate Studies" here at BBTF. This site still invites article submissions, listing them on the homepage as "Featured". I agree that the self-link at the top is a little strange.

I don't really have a blog to call my own; I'm not prolific enough to draw much traffic to one. So when I write something I really like I'll usually try to get it posted on an established blog. Szym liked the article and decided to run it, for which I heartily thank him.
   27. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 22, 2011 at 08:09 PM (#3755997)
Ah, it appears I was a bit hasty. Although in my defense I did first look to make sure it was listed under newsblog. And then I clicked on the user name And saw that the user had 8 posts and 0 comments.
   28. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 22, 2011 at 08:18 PM (#3756011)
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: February 22, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#3756027)
I think this is a fantastic idea, as mentioned it would have to take place after the expanded rosters, and teams would have to have an available roster spot on their 40man roster, but I could see this becoming some type of annual event for teams to generate revenue, I have no clue why anyone would think the players association or the league would disapprove of this, the only thing I could see stopping this would be potential fan backlash, and if the teams use this revenue to actually either improve the team or have "free hot dog day" at the stadium then the backlash could be muted.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: February 22, 2011 at 08:38 PM (#3756037)
When my brother was a kid, I played Double Dragon - an arcade game - semi-seriously. Once he insisted on playing with me; not wanting to waste the quarter and have his character just get beaten up and lose, we played the demo that you see when no quarters are in the slots. He never noticed.


I was great at that game, elbow punch for the easy knock downs, and if you kick and grab and timed it well you could knee your opponents head endlessly racking up 50 points per knee, just had to worry about running out of time. Magazines used to list high scores throughout the country for the different arcade games, and I think Double Dragons high score was 127,000 but I would routinely get 135k or higher if someone I didn't like joined in and I could beat them up and get more points, plus it restarted the timer. (note those numbers are from memory, I know I beat the magazines listed high scores, just rough estimate of the numbers--of course I could also beat the theoretical high score on Dragons Lair because our arcade had a laser disc which would error out when you were plummetting down the well and would reset you back to earlier in the game while keeping your score going--yes I was an arcade geek)
   31. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2011 at 09:37 PM (#3756093)
... which would make it not worth paying thousands of dollars for.

Why? Do ticket prices decline? Do signed baseballs go down in value? There are plenty of rich folks and the product the team would be selling doesn't cost them anything and they are not making a billion of them.

First there is the minimum salary for a player, compensation etc.

So you set the price at cost+X.

I don't really see how the union or the leagues would have a problem with this as long as you cut them in on the proceeds. Hell, Buddy put spiderwebs on bases for crying out loud. Now the fans might just be the biggest obstacle in this since I'm sure the stink over this would be huge.
   32. DanG Posted: February 22, 2011 at 09:44 PM (#3756097)
remove Larry Yount from the reference book!
No, just the one Game not played. He was announced but didn't actually play, so he shouldn't be credited with a game. What they should do is include him on the official roster of mlb players, since he was on the active roster with Houston in 1971; but show him with zero Games played in 1971. Everyone credited with MLB service time with the team should be listed.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: February 22, 2011 at 10:01 PM (#3756114)
that to restart his HOF eligibility waiting period based on this non-appearance makes no sense and is unfair and disrespectful to Snow; and that obviously, JT Snow isn't a big deal - he won't get 5% from the voters, it's about establishing a precedent in case Ichiro or Pujols or someone truly great does the same thing.


I don't think it's unfair at all. There are plenty of ways to be honored by a former team and "retire as a ______." If the player getting honored has concerns about his HOF clock, he can choose some way that doesn't affect it.
   34. God Posted: February 22, 2011 at 10:29 PM (#3756136)
Larry Yount actually got on the mound and pitched. That's a little bit different from Joe Millionaire buying his way in. I think he should stay in the record book.

So, let's say you send Manny Mota up to pinch hit and the opposing manager brings in a righty to face him, so you pinch hit for Mota. You guys are saying Mota hasn't actually played in the game, so he shouldn't get credit for a game played? And if Mota hasn't played in the game, does that mean they can send him up to hit again?
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: February 22, 2011 at 10:41 PM (#3756147)
If just appearing in a lineup could fetch, say, $100,000, I bet an actual at-bat could go for 5X that.
   36. DanG Posted: February 22, 2011 at 10:46 PM (#3756152)
Larry Yount actually got on the mound and pitched. That's a little bit different from Joe Millionaire buying his way in. I think he should stay in the record book.
I agree with this. Keep him in the record book since he was an active MLB player. Just don't give him credit for playing a game when he never did.

I'm trying to draw a distinction between being announced and actually playing. Once you're announced you may not re-enter the game; it was the manager's decision to use you in that way. But I am arguing that you should actually need to play to get credit for playing a game.
   37. bjhanke Posted: February 23, 2011 at 11:24 AM (#3756450)
I don't know if this kind of publicity event (it was meant as an homage, not a 'stunt') has ever happened before, but Snow is not the only such entry in MLB history. Among possibly others, Stan Musial has a career pitching line (certainly not batting) of 1 game played and nothing else. As a pub stunt, the Cards had Stan pitch to one batter in a meaningless game (the reason was that Stan had been a pitcher in the minors before he injured his arm). The batter hit into an error and did not score. That left nothing to add to the one game pitched, not even a third of an IP. Now, of course, we would have to count him as having one Batter Faced. - Brock Hanke
   38. DanG Posted: February 23, 2011 at 04:42 PM (#3756558)
The 'stunt' part (or gimmick if you prefer) was to write Snow's name into the starting lineup, making it officially count as a Game for him. That same month, September 2008, Colorado honored Eric Young in much the same way, signing him to a one-day contract so he could retire as a member of the Rockies. They gave him all the on-field honors and the standing ovation from the crowd. The only difference was they didn't put him on the starting lineup card. Like Snow, Young retired in 2006, so he will be on the 2012 BBWAA ballot. Why not Snow?
   39. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 25, 2011 at 02:15 AM (#3757792)
I don't believe that you have to be a member of the Players' Association to be a MLB player. As I recall, Rick Reed, a replacement player, was denied entry into the union because of his decision to cross the imaginary picket line.
   40. DanG Posted: February 25, 2011 at 07:50 PM (#3758212)
I don't think it's unfair at all.
"Justice delayed is justice denied."

It's a small injustice, but an injustice nonetheless. Snow has fulfilled the spirit of the ballot rule requiring players to be inactive for five years. Since the term "active player" is not defined in the BBWAA Election Rules, I am arguing that Snow has also fulfilled the letter of the rule.

Appearing on the HOF ballot is an honor that only 7% of major league players receive (72 of 1029 players who last played 2001 to 2005). For players like Snow, it is the highest honor the Game has for them. Snow has earned a place on the HOF ballot with his play. He has fulfilled the necessary waiting period. His honor is now due.

When the HOF adheres to rules that defy common sense, it calls into question the quality of the honor being bestowed. The rules for the HOF (as well as the rules of the Game) have been continuously reviewed and tweaked as necessary. This just another time where a weakness in the rules should be addressed.
   41. S.F. Giangst Posted: March 09, 2011 at 03:14 PM (#3767020)
Snow's not making the Hall of Fame so the only question is what year he falls off the ballot. There's no injustice here; in fact the delay will keep people saying "J.T. Snow" and "Hall of Fame" in the same sentence for an extra two years.

As for gaming the rosters and lineups for extra revenue... disgusting to about the same degree as the designated hitter.
   42. DanG Posted: March 22, 2011 at 05:07 PM (#3775802)
I was told today by Marty Lurie, the Giants pre and post-game host on KNBR, that he would mention this issue on his pregame show.
   43. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 22, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#3775854)
I read this when it was first posted and re-read it today and I'm still not quite sure what the problem here is. The Giants had/cleared space on their 40 man roster and signed him to a contract making him an eligible player and he was in the starting lineup. His worthiness of being on the HoF ballot has not changed but the timing has. This does not even approach "injustice" because Snow willingly did this. He is not being kept off the ballot by some hook or crook, he is merely waiting. If it was important to Snow to be on the 2012 ballot he could have gone the Eric Young route.

The five year rule makes sense, give writers a chance to gain some perspective while making sure a player is well and truly retired (that 2004 Roger Clemens induction would have been fascinating though).
   44. DanG Posted: March 22, 2011 at 06:31 PM (#3775919)
Snow willingly did this
Consider the following analogy.

What Snow did is like getting a speeding ticket on an unmarked road. You approached a town and reduced your speed from 70 to 30. When you complain to the cop he says, "Hey, when you enter our town the speed limit goes from 70 to 25. It's right there on the traffic regulations page of the town's website." In other words, you behaved prudently and reasonably but got blindsided by an arcane rule that only a minority could be expected to have any awareness of. But you are responsible for your actions and you actually were speeding so you take the hit for an unreasonable law.

We shouldn't presume to know where the impetus for Snow's activation came from, whether it was more his idea or the Giants'. In any case, since Snow didn't think of himself as a hall of famer, he likely had no concern with how he would be treated by the HOF/BBWAA regarding his eligibility. And, like the driver in the preceding paragraph, there was no reason for him to expect any adverse consequences from his action. So I'm saying that delaying his eligibility is illogical and not anything he would have plausibly anticipated; therefore, a small injustice is being done to him. The rules should be reformed to avoid these kinds of events in the future.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2011 at 06:44 PM (#3775938)
What Snow did is like getting a speeding ticket on an unmarked road. You approached a town and reduced your speed from 70 to 30. When you complain to the cop he says, "Hey, when you enter our town the speed limit goes from 70 to 25. It's right there on the traffic regulations page of the town's website." In other words, you behaved prudently and reasonably but got blindsided by an arcane rule that only a minority could be expected to have any awareness of. But you are responsible for your actions and you actually were speeding so you take the hit for an unreasonable law.


I think it's more like, heading into town, the speed limit drops from 70 to 30 two miles before the town line. However, to make up for that, if you keep going straight you're allowed to go back up to 70 two miles before you get out of town.

Snow wasn't punished. If this had somehow resulted in him not getting to appear on the ballot, that would be an injustice. That he doesn't get to get rejected for an extra two years is not. Sure, it could have an affect on a guy at the margins (maybe Kenny Lofton gets to scrape by the 5 percent threshold instead of falling off), but it's just as likely to happen the other way too (that the earlier ballot is stronger and the later one is weaker). The strength or weakness of the ballot when you appear on it is just one of them bad luck deals that you statheads don't appreciate (or so I've read).
   46. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 22, 2011 at 06:57 PM (#3775957)
So I'm saying that delaying his eligibility is illogical and not anything he would have plausibly anticipated; therefore, a small injustice is being done to him. The rules should be reformed to avoid these kinds of events in the future.


Why is it illogical? Frankly, it makes just as much sense as J.T. Snow being introduced in the starting lineup for a game he is not planning on playing in.

Guys have come back to play altering their HoF clock in many instances over the years. Minoso had dropped off, played a couple of publicity stunt games and wound up on the ballot for an extended run. Jose Rijo retired, got votes, came back and played, retired again and got back on the ballot (though no votes this time).

This is going to be a non-issue though. As SoSH U says, whether J.T. gets his 1 or 2 votes in 2010 or 2012 is pretty irrelevent. I am not sure what "injustice" you are seeing here.
   47. DanG Posted: March 23, 2011 at 02:16 PM (#3776380)
Surely injustice is in the eye of the beholder; I explained my position in [40] and [44] above.

I'll recap what I see as the main issues here:

1) Rule 10.20 is illogical and should be changed. The rules should credit a player with a Game played only if they are in the game when something happens, not for merely having their name announced. So, a Game played should be credited when a player is in the game and on the field when either 1) one pitch is thrown, 2) one fielding chance occurs, or 3) a base is gained.

2) The BBWAA election Rules are inconsistent with the rules of Baseball. Snow’s Game in 2008 is not sufficient to continue a consecutive-game playing streak. (Rule 10.23 says that a player has to play a half-inning on defense or complete a time at bat to continue a consecutive games streak.) I suggest that the HOF should use this same criteria for continuing a career; amend rule 3.C of the BBWAA Election Rules and add this: Unless a player plays at least one-half inning on defense or completes a time at bat, in the regular season or the post-season, he will not be considered to be an active player in that season for purposes of HOF eligibility.

3) Diminished respect for the process. When the HOF adheres to rules that defy common sense, it calls into question the quality of the honor being bestowed. The rules for the HOF (as well as the rules of the Game) have been continuously reviewed and tweaked as necessary. This is just another time where a weakness in the rules should be addressed.

4) The precedent. If Ichiro or Pujols or someone truly great does the same thing, this could be a major controversy. Get the rules fixed now.

5) It’s unfair to Snow. Appearing on the HOF ballot is an honor that only 7% of major league players receive (72 of 1029 players who last played 2001 to 2005). For players like Snow, it is the highest honor the Game has for them. Snow has earned a place on the HOF ballot with his play. He has fulfilled the necessary waiting period. His honor is now due.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: March 23, 2011 at 02:47 PM (#3776403)
Dan,

I've got no problem with Points 1-4. I think you're absolutely right that this is a problem that MLB needs to fix.

My issue is with 5. J.T. Snow is not being denied a place on the ballot. If he were, that would be another matter. But he will be get the honor he's earned, the one that only goes to 7 percent of the all big league players. It will be slightly later, due largely to a gimmicky choice J.T. Snow made voluntarily. From my perspective, by making this "injustice," (which, as far as I can tell, scant few else, including J.T. Snow, sees as one), a key part of your argument, you wind up detracting (or at least drawing attention away) from the legitimate points you make.

Just my .02.
   49. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 23, 2011 at 02:58 PM (#3776416)
I think #4 is your best point and I think it's quite relevant. If I were a Sammy Sosa or a Barry Bonds I would do whatever I could to get one more game in the big leagues because I think time is going to be a key factor in the steroid era guys' chances.

I fail to understand how this diminishes respect for the process. The consecutive game streak/game played rule has always been a weird one (I think Pierre had a consecutive game streak ended in a game in which he actually pinch ran and scored a run but since he neither played defensively or batted he did not extend his streak). I think once a player is announced he should be deemed to have played since even if he comes out at that point he is no longer eligible to return to the game.

My bigger issue is I'm a bit skeptical of changes to the HoF voting. I think there is a lot of unintended consequence stuff to this. Ultimately any changes in the inclusion/exclusion of players is going to be based on a change in the electorate, not the process. The problems historically (and that still exist) have not been process problems but problems of identifying what is or is not a Hall of Famer.
   50. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 23, 2011 at 03:16 PM (#3776430)
Hideki Matsui's consecutive game streak ended when he was seriously injured in a game he apparently didn't play. (The injury occurred in the top of the first, before he'd batted.) That the game is not included in his total would certainly come as news to his left wrist.
   51. DanG Posted: March 23, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#3776569)
I think once a player is announced he should be deemed to have played since even if he comes out at that point he is no longer eligible to return to the game.
To me there is a logical distinction between "deploying" a player and him subsequently "playing". Deploying him (being announced) renders him ineligible to return to the game. The manager may immediately choose to replace him before he plays any baseball. The replaced player has done as much actual playing as anyone who sits on the bench the entire game; he is more akin to those players than to the guys on the field of play. The rule should be: No play, no game. IMO.

These players on the bench are credited with Major League service time. This is another item in their statistical profile at BB-Ref. Currently only the career total is listed; I think that BB-Ref should include year-by-year service time for players. Anyone on a team's active roster, accruing service time, should be listed with the team that year, even if he never played. My comments [32] and [36] above also talk about this.

Question: When players are in military service, are they accruing MLB service time?
   52. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: March 27, 2011 at 12:57 AM (#3778929)
Imagine an alternate universe where a borderline HOFer (let's call him Alan Trammell) happens to retire the same year as an absolute mortal lock HOFer (let's call him Cal Ripken) who played the same position and everyone agrees makes a comparison which is unflattering to Trammell. I don't think it would be a good thing for Trammell to be able to game his HOF eligibility date by getting his name on a lineup card 2 or 3 years later, thus avoiding the direct comparison.

I say this despite my personal opinion that the real world Trammell (and Whitaker) should be in the HOF, and that Raines has always been hosed by unfair comparisons to Rickey.

The HOF and MLB should clean this up before the system gets gamed, not after.
   53. DanG Posted: March 29, 2011 at 02:29 PM (#3780433)
[49]
Ultimately any changes in the inclusion/exclusion of players is going to be based on a change in the electorate, not the process. The problems historically (and that still exist) have not been process problems
Process should flow from the objective, the goal of the enterprise. Action without aim is dissipation.

What is the Hall of Fame’s aim? (Their banner says “Preserving History * Honoring Excellence * Connecting Generations”) Are there aspects of their process that fail to serve, or even run counter to, that aim? These are questions that every organization, every person, should consider as part of a self-examination. For the HOF I see very little of this sort of introspection; any change tends to be reactive and poorly considered. The resulting change is usually sub-optimal.

As Jose mentions, the electorate is the weakest link; but they are a part of the election process. That is the elephant the HOF will not face head-on, due to entrenched tradition and political considerations. They prefer employing secondary review boards and other chipping away at the margins of the process in order to move towards their goal. Given this, modest incremental gains are the best we can expect.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Those of us who care about the Hall have long considered ways to improve the process; really, anyone could devise a better election system than the present one that was cobbled together through the years.
The problems are relevance and awareness: it’s only the freakin’ Hall of Fame so it’s just not important enough in the grand scheme to engender the necessary outrage that would motivate those in control to reform the process. Especially when the needed reform threatens the status of those people.

That’s probably a more thoughtful answer than the issue merits. ;-)

Here's another treatment of the topic of J.T. Snow and the Rules.
   54. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: April 04, 2011 at 06:47 PM (#3785901)
Someone should ask stop J.T. Snow what he thinks about the issue and how it might have influenced his actions had he been aware of the rule's effect on the timing of his HOF candidacy.

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