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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mark Faller: On the clock for the Baseball Hall of Fame

Oops…I blanked last week on posting Faller’s blank ballot followup.

Some of you may recall that last year, the first time that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens appeared on the ballot, I sent mine back without voting for anyone. The blank ballot was a silent protest against a system that forced the Baseball Writers Association of America to pass judgment on the so-called steroids era when Congress, the courts, the Hall and even Major League Baseball was unable, or unwilling, to do so.

I won’t submit a blank ballot this time. Last year, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t trying to make a statement to anyone but myself. I was angry, and I wasn’t afraid to say so. But a couple of things are clearer to me now. First, nothing is going to change. The BBWAA continues to be charged with selecting new Hall of Famers under the same criteria as the past, so I can either accept this or give up my vote.

Second, if I’m going to keep the responsibility, I also have to accept the reality that we are being asked to be gatekeepers — as generations of voters were before us, for different reasons — and make the call to the best of our abilities. So, even though I cannot say for certain who was dirty and who wasn’t, I can apply the concept of reasonable doubt to the process and move forward. Really, that’s all any of us can do.

Repoz Posted: December 25, 2013 at 01:01 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Bhaakon Posted: December 25, 2013 at 02:26 AM (#4623779)
He never actually says as much, but I pretty much came away thinking that he just doesn't want to be THAT GUY. The one who didn't vote for Maddux.

Though I'm sure there will be a THAT GUY. There always is.
   2. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 25, 2013 at 02:30 AM (#4623780)
It's not really a silent protest if you tell everyone about it, is it?
   3. Srul Itza At Home Posted: December 25, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4623867)
Where is the Repoz Ballot Collecting Gizmo this year?
   4. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 25, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4623877)
Some good comments on the article, including one by John Northey.
   5. Repoz Posted: December 25, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4623878)
Where is the Repoz Ballot Collecting Gizmo this year?

Getting it together right now...
   6. DanG Posted: December 25, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4623951)
to pass judgment on the so-called steroids era when ... even Major League Baseball was unable, or unwilling, to do so
Wrong. MLB has passed given us their judgment on the steroids era: nothing to see here. Nobody has been banned from the HOF ballot. No awards have been rescinded. No records have been stricken or even asterisked. Championship-winning managers with players using to the hilt are elected unanimously to the Hall.

The HOF and MLB haven't said a thing against the so-called "cheaters". The campaign against them is being waged by self-appointed "gatekeepers". This results in the BBWAA voters, as a group, failing to do their job: to identify and elect the greatest players in the game's history.

If I can fault MLB and the HOF for anything it's their failure to express this reality to the voters: "Look, we did next to nothing at the time to discourage PED use, and we're imposing no retroactive sanctions. What happened, happened. We're not here to assign blame at this late date. [Since we greatly enabled players' PED use.] We suggest you abandon this crusade and start recognizing what is obvious in the game's record as it stands, and elect all of the great players of the past 25 years."
   7. Cblau Posted: December 25, 2013 at 10:30 PM (#4623961)
Who says their job is to elect the greatest players? Has the Hall of Fame ever said what the purpose of the Hall of Fame is? Certainly the voting instructions don't say they are supposed to elect the greatest players.
   8. DanG Posted: December 25, 2013 at 11:30 PM (#4623974)
Who says their job is to elect the greatest players?
The HOF rules certainly indicate this.
   9. Cblau Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:26 PM (#4625000)
What rules are those? Not the voting rules, which are here, and don't say anything like that.
   10. DanG Posted: December 28, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4625032)
Right here:

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
You seem to be saying that this rule says that if you have a "playing record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribute to your team" that it makes you a hall of famer. What?!? No, it's about being "great".

I take it to imply that a player has to have a GREAT playing record, playing ability and contribution to his team. The other stuff (integrity, sportsmanship, character) is simply there as a possible disqualifier if the player was a disgrace to the game in some way.
   11. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 28, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4625035)
I take it to imply that a player has to have a GREAT playing record, playing ability and contribution to his team. The other stuff (integrity, sportsmanship, character) is simply there as a possible disqualifier if the player was a disgrace to the game in some way.


I'm not sure how you can parse a six-item list so that the first, second, and sixth are the only important ones.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:50 AM (#4625047)
I'm not sure how you can parse a six-item list so that the first, second, and sixth are the only important ones.


The same way everyone else always has?
   13. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:25 AM (#4625053)
The same way everyone else always has?


You mean, by applying your preconceptions of what they probably meant? If we're talking about what the rule actually says, there is no implication there that half the things listed are only tiebreakers.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:40 AM (#4625057)
You mean, by applying your preconceptions of what they probably meant?


I would call it using good judgment.
   15. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:51 AM (#4625060)
I would call it using good judgment.


Really. DanG claimed that the rules prioritize playing ability, in spite of them doing no such thing, and that's "using good judgment."

If you want to say what the Hall ought to do, or what everyone knows it does, fine. But go back and read posts 7 through 10. We're talking about what the rule actually says. Now read the rule.
   16. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2013 at 03:09 AM (#4625063)
Monty, what the #### are you arguing? That sportsmanship ought to be exactly as important playing record? Character exactly as important as playing ability? Did the first voters badly err by electing Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth?

You're right, the rules do not explicitly prioritize one criterion over the other. More to the point, as Cblau demonstrated, hopefully with tongue in cheek, the voting guidelines do not even say that the player needed to be good. "Playing ability" has no positive or negative implication. Now we're talking about what the rule actually says.

My guess is that whoever crafted the rules didn't expect people to be such pedantic twats about the exact language, because it must have been obvious, from day one, that the point of the whole project was to celebrate the best players. If you really need something official to help interpret those impenetrable criteria, the Hall's mission statement says that it honors, "by enshrinement, those individuals who had exceptional careers."
   17. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 28, 2013 at 03:39 AM (#4625067)
Monty, what the #### are you arguing? That sportsmanship ought to be exactly as important playing record? Character exactly as important as playing ability? Did the first voters badly err by electing Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth?


No, I'm arguing that -- hang on.

You're right, the rules do not explicitly prioritize one criterion over the other.


Good job! You figured out what I was arguing! Well done. The rule does not imply which criteria are the important ones. Which DanG specifically said it did. That's what the discussion was about before you showed up. What the rule said. Not "what the Hall is for."

My guess is that whoever crafted the rules didn't expect people to be such pedantic twats about the exact language


Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize this was a name-calling discussion. Go #### yourself.
   18. Morty Causa Posted: December 28, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4625086)
In anything there are the formal rules and there is a custom that develops as to the meaning and use of those rules. Everything is not in those rules. It's in how the rules are understood and utilized. This results of course in practice having the result of impressing meaning, of altering the rule and dictating what the important criteria should be and which attributes are to be emphasized in making a judgment.

Nor does a literal reading of the rule prohibit doing that. Rule 5 read literally only tells the voters what they shall consider. It does not say what weight to assign any of the particular elective factors, much less does it mandate that they all be assessed so as to have equal weight in the voter's considerations. And a long history tells us that it has not been the practice that the various elements of that rule have been assessed so as to have equal force. Practically any and every organization has a character clause to be considered. That isn't carte blanche to run a loose moral inventory on every candidate for an honor. In fact, the character/moral threshold is pretty low, and is only perfunctorily considered except in rare cases involving extraordinary occurrences. The quality of the performance as to the essential business endeavor is always at the forefront of consideration, whether that is in the realm covered by the Chamber of Commerce or by the Hall of Fame.
   19. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM (#4625100)
At the risk of being a simpleton about this stuff, I think it pretty much comes down to this: If you were really awesome at playing major-league baseball (or managing it, or umpiring it, or being in management), one of the best at your job ever - then you should go into the Hall of Fame. The one exception: gambling. In sports, the moment people think the outcome may be "fixed" in some way other than everybody just trying to win games and championships, it becomes professional wrestling. Even PEDs - where people where trying to get an edge because they wanted to win - doesn't fit into this category at all.

It's about how good you are at playing baseball. Higher powers will sort out what happens to people based on their character for things much more important than a "Hall of Fame". (Tongue is slightly in cheek, there.)
   20. McCoy Posted: December 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4625102)
The problem with the gambling loophole and a game being "fixed" is that with steroids the outcome can be rigged. Just look at the Eastern Bloc Olympic teams of the 60's and 70's.
   21. Lassus Posted: December 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4625127)
I hate to be over-meta here, but two people I would have least expected to be involved in an internet fistfight - with each other - would be PreservedFish and Monty. Please stop, you're ruining my Christmas.
   22. Morty Causa Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4625184)
The problem with the gambling loophole and a game being "fixed" is that with steroids the outcome can be rigged. Just look at the Eastern Bloc Olympic teams of the 60's and 70's.

The idea that those that the use of PEDs in general, and steroids in particular, is athletically inconsequential doesn't pass the giggle test, yet it seems to be a default predicate here for justification. If that is indeed so, then this is biggest phoney tempest in a teapot ever. And not just wrt baseball, but college athletics, amateur track and field, the Olympiad complex of events, including those qualifying for the Olympics, and that's not even getting into things like horse-racing.

Moreover, that some did the PEDs in contravention of rule, law, and custom is undeniable. That others didn't is also true. And that's the problem. To many that seems unfair, as is the retro humiliation of the innocent (boy, you sure were a sucker, to think there were rules, expressed and implicit). And those who ridicule the idea that steroids can have health consequences don't help the problem. Ask your doctor why he doesn't give you a lifetime prescription to them.
   23. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4625185)
He never actually says as much, but I pretty much came away thinking that he just doesn't want to be THAT GUY. The one who didn't vote for Maddux.

Though I'm sure there will be a THAT GUY. There always is.

Isn't Chass voting only for Morris?
   24. ajnrules Posted: December 28, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4625190)
Isn't Chass voting only for Morris?


That was last year. This year he said he was voting for Morris, Maddux, Glavine, and maybe Frank Thomas (but I highly doubt it.)

Post here
   25. Sunday silence Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4625204)
And those who ridicule the idea that steroids can have health consequences don't help the problem. Ask your doctor why he doesn't give you a lifetime prescription to them.


that they dont give you lifetime steroids, hardly proves anything. Most doctors I know are very defensive about anything that might get them in trouble and so they are cautious with things like that. Of course there are many other doctors prescribing ritalin and prozac and stuff like that so who knows? But I dont think you can prove much about steroids based on standard practices. It just might be a sort of ingrained belief at this point, that they cause long term damage.

There have been some roid rage cases; like the ex Steeler, I think it was Justin Strlzek who led police on a chase through New York. Lyle ALzado seems to have some freakish cancer/similar things happen to him at the end. Steve Courson needed a new liver, and he admitted he did a lot of that stuff, but that was never conclusively tied together. One thing that I read and seems well documented is that if you give male patients male hormones, they will stop producing their own male hormones, which can lead to problems if you started out as healthy in that dept.
   26. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 28, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4625220)
And those who ridicule the idea that steroids can have health consequences don't help the problem. Ask your doctor why he doesn't give you a lifetime prescription to them.


Weak sauce, you are going to have to come up with something much stronger than this. Clearly steroids can be taken in moderate dosages with minimal negative side effects for reasonable periods, just as Viagra, Amphetamines, etc, and many other prescription drugs can. None of them have zero side affects, but almost all have benefits that substantially outweigh their side affects (especially Viagra according to my wife).

The reason that doctors don't give out prescriptions willy nilly is that we've lawyered up a nanny state that regulates very closely what you can choose to put in your body, and punishes you and your doctor very severely for any transgressions.
   27. Morty Causa Posted: December 28, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4625224)
Yeah, yeah, if only all drugs were legal to everyone, we be in that Brave New World. I have a sneaky feeling that we are going to get our chance to find out--since the increase in drug use of the last 40 plus years and the effect thereof hasn't been persuasive.

But, anyway, that's not how the paltering here goes. And athletes, like weight-lifters and body-builders, do not take them judiciously.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4625243)
I hereby apologize for going into Internet jerk mode. Forgive me Monty!
   29. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: December 28, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4625272)
1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2. Number of games played.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4. Former winners are eligible.
5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

Rules for MVP voting. Note that they don't explicitly state to vote for the most valuable -- it's just obvious to the voters based on their independent knowledge of what award they're voting for. Kind of like how Hall of Fame voters are fully aware of the express purpose of getting together to hold a vote in the first place, and therefore don't need to be told "Remember, guys, you're voting to enshrine the best players" in the guidelines. Arguing "But where does it say that?" is absolutely pedantic twattery, and its practitioners should absolutely be called on it.
   30. Srul Itza Posted: December 28, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4625363)
"But where does it say that?" is absolutely pedantic twattery, and its practitioners should absolutely be called on it are acting in the finest traditions of the internet when they engage in it.


You must be new here. Just got a computer for Christmas, son?

;-)
   31. PreservedFish Posted: December 28, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4625370)
But, anyway, that's not how the paltering here goes.


New word. Thanks Morty!
   32. DanG Posted: December 29, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4625548)
[29]
Hall of Fame voters are fully aware of the express purpose of getting together to hold a vote in the first place, and therefore don't need to be told "Remember, guys, you're voting to enshrine the best players" in the guidelines. Arguing "But where does it say that?" is absolutely pedantic twattery
Thank you. This is the simple point I was trying to get across to Cblau upthread. To understand the meaning, the overall intent of the rules, rather than dissecting isolated words and phrases.

IMO, the Hall rules boil down to just two things:
--How great was the player?
--Is there anything else serious enough that would make the player unfit to include among the ranks of the enshrined? (The gist of the words "integrity, sportsmanship, character"; was the player such a scum that it overshadows his great play?)

Currently, that second point is a stumbling block for the entire election process. In time, I believe the so-called "steroid cheats" will be admitted to the HOF. When the hysteria abates and the issue is put in historical perspective, pre-testing PED use will be seen as just another point on the game's time-honored spectrum of cheating. The Powers That Be gave their tacit approval and the game thrived, partly due to the "cheating".

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