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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Murray Chass: NO TWO SIDES TO AN MLB.COM SELIG STORY and MORRIS UNLIKELY TO MAKE IT

Murray Sez… have a Bud and a Jack chaser

When I left The New York Times in 2008 after having written for the newspaper for 39 years, the first offer I received to continue writing came from a high-ranking Major League Baseball official who was in position to offer me a job as a columnist with MLB.com. My initial reaction was to say no, but some people urged me to reconsider and at least talk about and consider that possibility.

Accepting that offer would have turned out to be more economically lucrative than what I have done with this Web site the past three and a half years. But money isn’t everything. Writing for MLB.com just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.

How could I have gone to work for the organization I had spent my professional life covering? Wouldn’t I be compromising my professional ethics by accepting a salary from people I would be in position to criticize and question if necessary? ...

To be sure, MLB.com serves a purpose, even for baseball writers, for whom it can serve as a 30-team research site in one location and a source of comprehensive statistics that are not mingled with WAR and VORP and all of those other metrics, as their advocates like to call them.

But then there are the self-congratulatory articles that can induce nausea. I guess we don’t have to read them, but they are there as propaganda for fans to see and be taken in by. Yes, baseball propaganda. I had never thought about it before this moment, but that’s what it is. ...

And maybe someday, perhaps when he retires, whenever that is, Selig will be big enough to allow an MLB.com columnist to write the truth about collusion and his role in the labor wars.

By the way, this column was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Based on e-mail I have received from critics of Morris and me, the Hall of Fame should take the vote away from baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for players’ election. The players over the line make it, those under don’t.

Such a system would eliminate what is perhaps the greatest debate in sports, but that wouldn’t bother the stats zealots. Their numbers tell them who should be in the Hall of Fame, and the writers would be wrong if they disagreed.

That system would also eliminate the aspect of the voting that they hate most. Their opinion doesn’t mean beans. The writers’ opinion means everything.

bobm Posted: January 08, 2012 at 05:08 PM | 96 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, hall of fame, media, online, orioles, reds, tigers

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4031883)
Stay chassy, Murray.
   2. Matthew E Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4031884)
That system would also eliminate the aspect of the voting that they hate most. Their opinion doesn’t mean beans. The writers’ opinion means everything.


I guess that's fair. In fact, I don't like the valuing of my baseball opinion at 0 and some writer, I don't know, Richard Griffin or somebody, at 1. Should I? Do I, in fact, know nothing at all, while Griffin has perfect wisdom? No? Then, no, I don't like the current system in that sense. I don't like it where all these writers publish stupid things about who belongs in Cooperstown and who doesn't, but I'm the idiot for having an opinion.
   3. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4031885)
I WON'T BE AN MLB HELOT OR A STATS ZEALOT, MR. PRESIDENT
   4. Textbook Editor Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:47 PM (#4031886)
I VOTE FOR THE HALL OF FAME AND THEY CAN'T, HA-HA NANNY-NANNY FOO-FOO, MR. PRESIDENT
   5. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4031888)
NO ONE CAN PRODUCE MORE NAUSEA-INDUCING COLUMNS THAN ME, MR. PRESIDENT
   6. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4031889)
I'm sure someone has said it somewhere but I've never seen anyone seriously argue in favor of an "over/under" stat line to get into the Hall. Certainly it's discussed in vague terms but I'd be surprised if anything more than a small minority of basement-dwellers has any interest in a simple WAR/VORP/Ringzzz method of determining a Hall of Famer.
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM (#4031890)
Based on e-mail I have received from critics of Morris and me, the Hall of Fame should take the vote away from baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for players’ election. The players over the line make it, those under don’t.

Such a system would eliminate what is perhaps the greatest debate in sports, but that wouldn’t bother the stats zealots. Their numbers tell them who should be in the Hall of Fame, and the writers would be wrong if they disagreed.


I feel like he's making this up. We all discuss the HOF a lot, both on this site and in elsewhere, or in general conversation, etc. Has anyone here ever run into a person who advocated that the HOF "should take the vote away from the baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for a players' election"?

I call bullshit.

At the very least he's taking an extreme crazy email he received and pretending that it represents the thrust of peoples' criticism of him.
   8. Posada Posse Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:55 PM (#4031891)
WHAT AN ARROGANT PIECE OF S... I AM, MR. PRESIDENT.
   9. pkb33 Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:08 PM (#4031895)
I don't think a 'statistical line' for the HOF is a good idea.

I think voters who believe there is one (say....'3003 hits' or '500 home runs' or '300 wins') shouldn't be voters because they are dumbing things down too much.

If forced to choose between a sabermetric dividing line and the kind of voter noted above, though, I would certainly choose the sabermetric dividing line.
   10. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4031898)
Stats are dumb, you had to watch Morris pitch to know he had the most wins in the '80s.
   11. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4031900)
Based on my own intentionally small-minded and paranoid interpretation of an unfairly unrepresentative minority of e-mail I have received from critics of Morris and me, the Hall of Fame should take the vote away from baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for players’ election. The players over the line make it, those under don’t.


Fixed.
   12. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:23 PM (#4031901)
3. Benji Gil Gamesh is not being paid to be that guy Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4031885)
I WON'T BE AN MLB HELOT OR A STATS ZEALOT, MR. PRESIDENT

4. Textbook Editor Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:47 PM (#4031886)
I VOTE FOR THE HALL OF FAME AND THEY CAN'T, HA-HA NANNY-NANNY FOO-FOO, MR. PRESIDENT

5. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4031888)
NO ONE CAN PRODUCE MORE NAUSEA-INDUCING COLUMNS THAN ME, MR. PRESIDENT

8. Posada Posse Posted: January 08, 2012 at 08:55 PM (#4031891)
WHAT AN ARROGANT PIECE OF S... I AM, MR. PRESIDENT.




i know this is supposed to be some kind of parody, but it's retarded. it's not smart. it's not funny. it's not witty. it's banter on the level of sarah palin. stop it.
   13. Johnny Slick Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:29 PM (#4031902)
I LIEK NON WITTY BANTER, MR. PRESIDENT.

AND ALSO LOLCATS
   14. TR_Sullivan Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4031906)
Si vos vere volo hoc non est verum .... .... ubi vis invenire non potui abire volo .... hic missae ab aliis, aut si quis e-mail me
   15. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:32 PM (#4031908)
but it's retarded. it's not smart. it's not funny. it's not witty.

If anyone would know, it's you.
   16. nick swisher hygiene Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4031914)
12--Steagles, I don't dig it either, but at this stage we might as well complain about concealed Madeline Albright links--


   17. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: January 08, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4031924)
#16: nice.

Clearly Chass likes to just throw out straw men and slap 'em down.

The sad thing is, I was with him on his point about going to work for MLB. It's a valid point, worthy of some discussion, and he undercuts it all by taking yet another swipe at saber folks.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 08, 2012 at 10:16 PM (#4031926)
It's a trap!
   19. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4031929)
i know this is supposed to be some kind of parody, but it's retarded. it's not smart. it's not funny. it's not witty. it's banter on the level of sarah palin. stop it.

Gee Steagles, you need to relax. Sure it's silly, but it's still fun. #13, nice work

Great thing about Chass is you always know what you are going to get. You can't fault his consistency, that's for sure.
   20. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM (#4031932)
if neither Murray Chass nor Repoz existed, would someone have to invent them?
   21. Downtown Bookie Posted: January 08, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4031934)
But then there are the self-congratulatory articles that can induce nausea.


The irony meter just went off the charts.

DB
   22. Lassus Posted: January 08, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4031943)
I AM NOT CHANNELING MY INNER STEAGLES, MR PRESIDENT.
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 08, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4031951)
I know this is supposed to be some kind of parody, but it's retarded. it's not smart. it's not funny. it's not witty. it's banter on the level of sarah palin. stop it.


C'mon Steagles. Reading Murray Chass threads that turn into Mr. President one-downmanship contests is probably the closest you'll ever come to the experience of sitting in on ESPN anchors meeting while they're testing out potential catch phrases. Join the fun and unleash your inner Stuart Scott.

   24. larkin4HoF Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:11 AM (#4031960)
this is the best example I have seen for why we need a "What a maroon" tag.
   25. Dale Sams Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:19 AM (#4031963)
this is the best example I have seen for why we need a "What a maroon" tag.


Racist!
   26. Something Other Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:10 AM (#4031980)
Based on e-mail I have received from critics of Morris and me, the Hall of Fame should take the vote away from baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for players’ election. The players over the line make it, those under don’t.

Such a system would eliminate what is perhaps the greatest debate in sports, but that wouldn’t bother the stats zealots. Their numbers tell them who should be in the Hall of Fame, and the writers would be wrong if they disagreed.


I feel like he's making this up. We all discuss the HOF a lot, both on this site and in elsewhere, or in general conversation, etc. Has anyone here ever run into a person who advocated that the HOF "should take the vote away from the baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for a players' election"?

I call ########.

At the very least he's taking an extreme crazy email he received and pretending that it represents the thrust of peoples' criticism of him.
Yup. It's lazy and dishonest, at best. Even on crazed, stats oriented sites I've never seen anything like what Chass is claiming. Not that I spend a lot of time reading comments on AmazinAvenue, but I've never seen a single post asserting what Chass claims. I'm puzzled as to how he can be so utterly uninterested in finding out what constitutes a smart, stat-savvy argument.
   27. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:26 AM (#4031986)
To be sure, MLB.com serves a purpose, even for baseball writers, for whom it can serve as a 30-team research site in one location and a source of comprehensive statistics that are not mingled with WAR and VORP and all of those other metrics, as their advocates like to call them.


So, does anybody want to try and guess what Chass likes to call them?
   28. caprules Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:58 AM (#4031990)
Yup. It's lazy and dishonest, at best. Even on crazed, stats oriented sites I've never seen anything like what Chass is claiming.


We have post 216 saying
I've been using 62 WAR as my HOF in/out line the last few years. When you look at the guys on the ballot above this line, you quickly see that they all have something "wrong" with them -- all but one
. Post 222 agrees, although my sarcasm detector is pre-intertubes.
   29. larkin4HoF Posted: January 09, 2012 at 03:30 AM (#4031996)
Racist!

Hey, Some of my best friends are rabbits.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: January 09, 2012 at 04:26 AM (#4032000)
this is the best example I have seen for why we need a "What a maroon" tag.

C'mon, Steagles isn't that bad.
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 09, 2012 at 06:09 AM (#4032009)
Has anyone here ever run into a person who advocated that the HOF "should take the vote away from the baseball writers and simply establish statistical guidelines for a players' election"?

Not literally, but the open hostility and ridicule directed against "writers" in general, and against using any sort of non-statistical criteria (narrative**, character***, etc.) as the basis for a vote, has been so strongly expressed by many people here that it more or less amounts to the same thing. It hardly a majority sentiment, but it's certainly out there.

**The buzzword for dismissing narrative is usually that narrative is "anecdotal", often supplemented by the charge that contemporary eyewitnesses to a player's strengths didn't know what they were watching.

***with the exception of gambling
   32. BFFB Posted: January 09, 2012 at 06:29 AM (#4032012)
^^^ that's pretty much what I was going to say. Although my description would have been the extreme distrust which borders on pathological for some posters about using any criteria that is not strictly empircal & quantitative.
   33. majorflaw Posted: January 09, 2012 at 08:01 AM (#4032034)
Accepting that offer would have turned out to be more economically lucrative than what I have done with this Web site the past three and a half years.


So would pushing a vegetable cart.
   34. dlf Posted: January 09, 2012 at 08:48 AM (#4032047)
Si vos vere volo hoc non est verum .... .... ubi vis invenire non potui abire volo .... hic missae ab aliis, aut si quis e-mail me


According to Google translator:

If you really want this is not true .... .... Where wilt thou that I want to find I could not go their way .... posted here by others, or any e-mail me


Man, I love google translator.
   35. fra paolo Posted: January 09, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4032055)
To my shame, I clicked on the link and read the article. It turned out to be a very long piece about how the commissioner was a labour-hawk during the 1980s, in contrast with his 'Man of Peace' image of today. One might think it would be thoughtful and cogent, but clearly the sort of scoundrel who would make up nonsense about sabermetricians would be incapable of writing any such valuable contribution.
   36. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: January 09, 2012 at 09:18 AM (#4032058)
I AM NOT CHANNELING MY INNER STEAGLES, MR PRESIDENT.
how about your inner negrodamus?

Gee Steagles, you need to relax. Sure it's silly, but it's still fun. #13, nice work
it's not silly. it's not fun. it's the kind of thing that, were you to hear it on an escalator in the mall, it would drive you beat the red-headed step-child who said it.

the akbar thing--funny
ichiro thing--funny
#6 org--funny
never heard him--funny


this is not. let it die.
   37. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 09, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4032062)
never heard him--funny


this is not. let it die.


MURRAY CHASSISMS >>> NEVER HEAR HIM, MR. PRESIDENT.
   38. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4032063)
never heard him--funny


there goes any respect I had for you as a humor-standard evaluator. The worst chass thing is still funnier than all the "never heard him's" put together....
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 09, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4032066)
I gotta go with Steagles here. It's the endless repetition and the lack of the slightest bit of originality that's the problem, much like those endless riffs on Yakov Smirnoff and a million other one liners whose expiration date passed a loooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg time ago.
   40. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 09, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4032075)
It may not be funny but it's better than using "retarded" as an insult. I know we've had some go-rounds on this particular word so I'll just say that I find it terribly insensitive while realizing that many disagree with me.
   41. bobm Posted: January 09, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4032076)
I gotta go with Steagles here. It's the endless repetition and the lack of the slightest bit of originality that's the problem, much like those endless riffs on Yakov Smirnoff and a million other one liners whose expiration date passed a loooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg time ago.

In Russia, Yakov Smirnoff riffs endlessly on YOU
   42. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: January 09, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4032078)
there goes any respect I had for you as a humor-standard evaluator. The worst chass thing is still funnier than all the "never heard him's" put together....
every time i see the "never heard him" all i can think about is ray being a tone-deaf emotional amoebae.

i mean, the "never heard him" thing isn't exactly the reason why i think of that, but it reminds me of it all the same.



when i see these things, all i can think is jakovasaur. it's not funny. it's annoying. and if any of you can't see that, you need to lay off your mom's crack.
   43. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: January 09, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4032080)
It may not be funny but it's better than using "retarded" as an insult. I know we've had some go-rounds on this particular word so I'll just say that I find it terribly insensitive while realizing that many disagree with me.
if it makes you feel any better, it was kind of ironical, hence the sarah palin reference.
   44. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4032106)
We have post 216 saying

I've been using 62 WAR as my HOF in/out line the last few years. When you look at the guys on the ballot above this line, you quickly see that they all have something "wrong" with them -- all but one

. Post 222 agrees, although my sarcasm detector is pre-intertubes.


216 doesn't say that he would replace the BBWAA vote with 62 WAR; only that that's his personal line. (But not really, because he excepts Reggie Smith who had a 63 WAR.)

And later in post 239 he specifically states that 62 WAR is an informal line for him, not the final word:

"I probably should've been more clear but: I use 62 WAR as an informal in/out line, then look at other considerations."

And guess who "simply establishes statistical guidelines for players’ election; the players over the line make it, those under don’t"? Writers. 3000 hits means the player is in.
   45. Don Malcolm Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4032109)
And guess who "simply establishes statistical guidelines for players’ election; the players over the line make it, those under don’t"? Writers. 3000 hits means the player is in.

LOU BROCK AND MURRAY CHASS SEND YOU THEIR "REGARDS," MR. PRESIDENT!!!!
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4032114)
216 doesn't say that he would replace the BBWAA vote with 62 WAR; only that that's his personal line. (But not really, because he excepts Reggie Smith who had a 63 WAR.)

And later in post 239 he specifically states that 62 WAR is an informal line for him, not the final word:


Yeah, but even as an informal line, 62 WAR is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too precise. If you said "60-70 WAR", or "55-65 WAR" then I'd be with you.

But, given the precision involved with things like defense, park factors and replacement level (especially over a 100 year period) 62 WAR means between 55 and 70. People around hear have gone crazy to the point where guys with 60+ WAR are considered "no-brainers" and 50-55 WAR no-hopers, without any thought to the uncertainty.

My favorite poster boy for this is Andruw Jones who's 60 WAR depends on you believing that his D was 10 runs per season better than peak Willie Mays.
   47. Johnny Slick Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4032118)
In fairness, Andruw was a really, really good CF. As I remember from eyewitness accounts...

IN SOVIET RUSSIA IT'S A TRAP MISTER PRESIDENT
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4032124)
Yeah, but even as an informal line, 62 WAR is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too precise. If you said "60-70 WAR", or "55-65 WAR" then I'd be with you.


If it's an informal line, what does it matter how precisely it's defined? Particularly if the players, not the number, are setting the line (by looking at the grouping of players and finding where the cutoff exists where players above tend to be Personal Hall of Famers and those below are not).

I suspect Murray got two or three e-mails (out of the thousands of responses his idiocy, and Repoz's friendly links, sparks) from overeager stat enthusiasts and decided that was the stats zealots' take on the Hall of Fame. For as much as we like to ##### about the writer's ballots and results, I don't recall a single poster ever suggesting a hard and fast stat guideline for inclusion.
   49. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4032125)
are you the 6th biggest idiot ever?
   50. Dale Sams Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4032130)
Surely Facebook has gifted you all with the ability to scan a thread without actually reading it...passing over the vacuous and honing in on that which interests you...without actually reading it?
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4032131)
If it's an informal line, what does it matter how precisely it's defined?

Because it makes you think 62 WAR is conveying some information that it doesn't. Looking at comparing players across eras for an entire career, 62 WAR does not mean anything different than 60, or 58, or 65. We're deluding ourselves as to the amount of information contained in the stat.
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4032135)
Because it makes you think 62 WAR is conveying some information that it doesn't. Looking at comparing players across eras for an entire career, 62 WAR does not mean anything different than 60, or 58, or 65. We're deluding ourselves as to the amount of information contained in the stat.


But like I said, that's only if you say 62 is the line, and work from there (or hold it as a firm in/out line). But if you look at the players, find that most above 62 had Hall of Fame careers (in your estimation) and most below 62 did not (but don't hold that to be a hard and fast rule), then concluding that 62 as an informal line is perfectly reasonable, and certainly no different than 60-65. I'd only be concerned with false precision if the person felt bound to the number's dictates.



   53. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4032149)
Yeah, but even as an informal line, 62 WAR is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too precise. If you said "60-70 WAR", or "55-65 WAR" then I'd be with you.

But, given the precision involved with things like defense, park factors and replacement level (especially over a 100 year period) 62 WAR means between 55 and 70. People around hear have gone crazy to the point where guys with 60+ WAR are considered "no-brainers" and 50-55 WAR no-hopers, without any thought to the uncertainty.

My favorite poster boy for this is Andruw Jones who's 60 WAR depends on you believing that his D was 10 runs per season better than peak Willie Mays.


I completely agree, and I made some of the same points in that other thread. But he still did not advocate replacing the BBWAA vote with that. And he conceded that 62 WAR was not the final word.
   54. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4032155)
I DO THINK PRIMER MEMES GET BEATEN TO DEATH, BUT I NORMALLY AVOID THOSE THREADS RATHER THAN COMPLAIN ABOUT THEM, MR. PRECEDENT.
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4032156)
I completely agree, and I made some of the same points in that other thread. But he still did not advocate replacing the BBWAA vote with that. And he conceded that 62 WAR was not the final word.

Granted. I'm just saying that it's a dangerous mindset that you could have an informal line with that precision.
   56. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4032162)
the lack of the slightest bit of originality that's the problem
C'mon, I jammed a semi-relevant reference to the word "helot" into mine, that's gotta count for something.

every time i see the "never heard him" all i can think about is ray being a tone-deaf emotional amoebae.
Which is funny because now every time I see a MR PRESIDENT Chass headline, I think of how you get all bent out of shape about them for no apparent reason. (Which is funnier (to me anyway) because the all-caps is an integral part of both that meme and your handles.)

when i see these things, all i can think is jakovasaur. it's not funny. it's annoying. and if any of you can't see that, you need to lay off your mom's crack.
STEAGLES: I AM THE SOLE ARBITER OF WHAT IS AND IS NOT FUNNY ON BTF, MR PRESIDENT!
   57. Gotham Dave Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4032167)
(total derail) Snapper, I'm not saying the defensive statistics are absolutely right, but your complete refusal to believe that anybody could be significantly better in center field than Willie Mays is very, very perplexing to me. Maybe it's unlikely, but wouldn't it also be unlikely that whatever fatal flaw exists in (every single last one) of these systems would only apply to Andruw Jones?

You're too young to have seen Willie Mays play, so all you're going on is sepia-toned memories of '50s baseball chauvinists and a few grainy clips. Your certainty that Willie Mays was definitely, absolutely, without a doubt at or within a shade of the best it is absolutely possible to be at playing center field isn't any more defensible than somebody being equally sure that Jones was a win per year better.
   58. Gotham Dave Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4032172)
And I wouldn't vote for Jones for the Hall, but if somebody wants to do so it's pretty easy to justify by saying "very possibly the best center fielder ever, hit tons of home runs" rather than "65 WAR" or whatever. I'm sure plenty of non-stat inclined writers will put him on their ballots.
   59. The District Attorney Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4032196)
I'm sure plenty of non-stat inclined writers will put him on their ballots.
Really? I very highly doubt it. Try to think like a non-stat inclined writer (maybe hit your head with a hammer a few times).

Was Andruw "dominant"? From their point of view, no... they will see him as a good hitter/great fielder, not all that different from a Mike Cameron. He was normally not considered one of the best players in the league.

What's the "narrative" of his career? To the writers, it will be that he was pretty good for a while, got fat and lazy, and then hung around. They hate players whose careers end with several years as part-timers -- it damages the "immortal" image. And many of them will hold it against a player if they think his decline was his own fault. Think about Dave Parker, who was regarded as one of the best players in baseball at his peak, screwed up his career, came back to have some pretty good years, and he still got nothin'. Or Tim Raines, who was more acclaimed than Andruw as a player during his peak; can't even be blamed for his own demise; and then was a lot better than Andruw during his "hang-around" period.

(I do agree that it's not inherently implausible that Andruw was a significantly better fielder than Willie Mays. He may belong in the HOF... but I don't think it's gonna happen.)
   60. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4032197)
this is the best example I have seen for why we need a "What a maroon" tag.

Racist!

Hey, Some of my best friends are rabbits.


I don't like this. The whole rabbit/wabbit issue takes us uncomfortably close to nigger/nigga territory.
   61. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4032199)
it's not silly. it's not fun. it's the kind of thing that, were you to hear it on an escalator in the mall, it would drive you beat the red-headed step-child who said it.

So like anything you have ever posted here. Got it.
   62. Dale Sams Posted: January 09, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4032202)
I don't like this. The whole rabbit/wabbit issue takes us uncomfortably close to ######/nigga territory.


...and wiggers!
   63. Randy Jones Posted: January 09, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4032203)
You're too young to have seen Willie Mays play, so all you're going on is sepia-toned memories of '50s baseball chauvinists and a few grainy clips. Your certainty that Willie Mays was definitely, absolutely, without a doubt at or within a shade of the best it is absolutely possible to be at playing center field isn't any more defensible than somebody being equally sure that Jones was a win per year better.


Besides that, Mays only put up those defensive numbers because he was hopped up on amphetamines.
   64. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: January 09, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4032232)
Besides that, Mays only put up those defensive numbers because he was hopped up on amphetamines.
Yeah but Heyman has done extensive talking-to-people research that proves that the amps didn't help.
   65. JE (Jason) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4032237)
The sad thing is, I was with him on his point about going to work for MLB. It's a valid point, worthy of some discussion, and he undercuts it all by taking yet another swipe at saber folks.

Agreed. Chass claims that MLB.com writers have to deal with a conflict of interest but, in taking more pot shots at those who respect advanced statistics, neglects to mention that some newspapers, including NYT and WaPo, do not allow their scribes to vote for that very reason?
   66. Bob Evans Posted: January 09, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4032241)
I think we can pretty much all agree that "MORRIS UNLIKELY TO MAKE IT" is a good headline, with or without notification of Mr. Obama.
   67. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4032271)
I think we can pretty much all agree that "MORRIS UNLIKELY TO MAKE IT" is a good headline
i think that's only a temporary victory. isn't it almost guaranteed that morris will get in via whatever the hell it is that they call the veterans committee these days?

   68. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4032282)
(total derail) Snapper, I'm not saying the defensive statistics are absolutely right, but your complete refusal to believe that anybody could be significantly better in center field than Willie Mays is very, very perplexing to me. Maybe it's unlikely, but wouldn't it also be unlikely that whatever fatal flaw exists in (every single last one) of these systems would only apply to Andruw Jones?

You're too young to have seen Willie Mays play, so all you're going on is sepia-toned memories of '50s baseball chauvinists and a few grainy clips. Your certainty that Willie Mays was definitely, absolutely, without a doubt at or within a shade of the best it is absolutely possible to be at playing center field isn't any more defensible than somebody being equally sure that Jones was a win per year better.


Many, many long-time followers of baseball have judged Mays to be the greatest defensive CF ever. It's a long held consensus. If you want, just substitute "best CF ever" for Mays name in my argument.

Given the number of chances involved, yes, I highly doubt anyone could be 10 runs better than the previous best for a period of 10 years. That seems like a glitch in the metric. There's no reason to believe defensive talent varies that much at the high end.

If some metric claimed a SS was 10 runs per season better than Ozzie Smith, I'd say, check the metric.
   69. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4032298)
i think that's only a temporary victory. isn't it almost guaranteed that morris will get in via whatever the hell it is that they call the veterans committee these days?


Yes. As long as the Vet's Committee that covers his time frame is operational and filled with the types of individuals who have historically handled the role, he's pretty damn certain to go in that way.
   70. phredbird Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4032300)
never heard him--funny


wasn't the first appearance 'never saw him pitch', referring to bob feller? tried to find it, but couldn't ...

edit: oh wait. it was 'never heard him', referring to a broadcaster, right?
   71. Spahn Insane Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4032301)
the akbar thing--funny
ichiro thing--funny
#6 org--funny
never heard him--funny

this is not. let it die.


Behold!
   72. Spahn Insane Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4032302)
wasn't the first appearance 'never saw him pitch', referring to bob feller? tried to find it, but couldn't ...

No, Ernie Harwell. (It was "never heard him broadcast a game," or something, obviously, but it was about Harwell.)
   73. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4032303)
Just to give some support to Snapper here (with whom I often disagree), I don't think he is saying that Andruw Jones could not possibly have been better than Mays.

I think he's saying that if a metric says he was 10 runs/season better than Mays, then we really ought to check the metric to be sure. Certainly I don't have the confidence in any of our current defensive metrics to just accept an idea like Jones > Mays.
   74. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4032305)
i think that's only a temporary victory. isn't it almost guaranteed that morris will get in via whatever the hell it is that they call the veterans committee these days?

Yeah, but that's life. We all know we're gonna die eventually; doesn't stop us from trying to avoid it.

Maybe the next VC iteration will be expert-based, and they'll see through Morris. As long as he's out, we can always hope.
   75. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4032307)
wasn't the first appearance 'never saw him pitch', referring to bob feller? tried to find it, but couldn't ...


No, it was a reference to Ernie Harwell's death.
   76. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4032310)
What would be amusing is Andruw Jones getting votes because of writers believing him to have NOT used PEDs because he became fat.

That is some kind of logic there.

"His waist size grew by four inches. He's clean!"
   77. Randy Jones Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4032311)
Many, many long-time followers of baseball have judged Mays to be the greatest defensive CF ever. It's a long held consensus. If you want, just substitute "best CF ever" for Mays name in my argument.

Many, many followers of baseball have judged Jeter to be an excellent defensive SS. They are wrong. Why are you so sure that Mays in the best defensive CF ever? Maybe he was just average, but looked good on the field and so was overrated.

Certainly I don't have the confidence in any of our current defensive metrics to just accept an idea like Jones > Mays.

I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the defensive stats either, but I find it extremely easy to believe that Andruw >>>> Mays defensively.
   78. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4032313)

No, it was a reference to Ernie Harwell's death.


Yes, but to be fair, Ernie's death was pretty funny.

Most BTF memes get run into the ground long after they stopped being funny. The difference between most of them and Murray and the Commander in Chief one is that Mr. Prez never was funny.

   79. phredbird Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4032323)
i swear i edited before i saw 72 and 75. on the cracks in my mother's basement.
   80. JJ1986 Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4032326)
Is Mays really considered far and away the best defensive CF ever? I thought it was Mays, Flood, Blair and Maddox (and then White and Jones) with little to separate Mays out except career length.
   81. SoSH U at work Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4032332)
I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the defensive stats either, but I find it extremely easy to believe that Andruw >>>> Mays defensively.


Who is second to Jones, and what's the gap? I could believe Andruw was considerably better than Mays. I'd have more difficulty believing he ran circles around everyone.

   82. Randy Jones Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4032339)
Who is second to Jones, and what's the gap? I could believe Andruw was considerably better than Mays. I'd have more difficulty believing he ran circles around everyone.


I have no idea, and no argument with what you said. I was just pointing out the absurdity of the position that Mays is the best ever because people who saw him play say he was the best ever and there can be no argument about it. And if any metric rates another player as significantly better than Mays then that metric must be flawed.
   83. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 09, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4032344)
Is Mays really considered far and away the best defensive CF ever? I thought it was Mays, Flood, Blair and Maddox (and then White and Jones) with little to separate Mays out except career length.

Take whichever one or ones you want. All these guys are ~+15 over a sustained peak (~10 years) by BRef. You then have Andruw at +25 for 10 years. I don't believe the gap could be that big.
   84. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 09, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4032380)
I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the defensive stats either, but I find it extremely easy to believe that Andruw >>>> Mays defensively.


Agreed. I don't think these two statements are in any kind of opposition to each other.
   85. Gotham Dave Posted: January 09, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4032400)
I could believe Andruw was considerably better than Mays. I'd have more difficulty believing he ran circles around everyone.
I agree that it seems unlikely (and, in my estimation, IS unlikely), but sometimes someone is just that much of an outlier. We've had speed readings on pitchers for decades, and then all of a sudden Aroldis Chapman comes and throws 5 MPH faster than anyone else ever has. Some people are just freaks. And I think the likelyhood of such an extreme outlier may be higher for a complicated skill (playing CF) than a simple one (throwing a baseball).
   86. Johnny Slick Posted: January 09, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4032806)
The other thing I think you have to ask yourself is, "what if Andruw Jones really was better/faster/stronger than Mays in the field (if not at the plate, obvs), what would that look like?". One pretty obvious thing, I think, is that old-timer who saw Mays play and saw that he was clearly the best fielding CF of his day would say that he was better than Andruw for the same reason that, I don't know, people continue to insist that Frank Sinatra was better than Elvis or Elvis was better than Michael Jackson. Old people like nostalgia. It is what it is.
   87. cmd600 Posted: January 10, 2012 at 12:32 AM (#4032884)
How much of it could be that instead of Jones being better than Mays, the competition for Jones was much lower than it was for Mays? I'm just spitballing here but it seems fairly reasonable to guess that defense at CF was more highly sought in the 60s than in the 90s.
   88. Johnny Slick Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:55 AM (#4032909)
The 90s did have Griffey, albeit in a different league. I think early Seattle-era Griffey is a great comp for Willie Mays in the field.
   89. Something Other Posted: January 10, 2012 at 05:03 AM (#4032927)
abc
   90. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 10, 2012 at 06:52 AM (#4032941)
The other thing I think you have to ask yourself is, "what if Andruw Jones really was better/faster/stronger than Mays in the field (if not at the plate, obvs), what would that look like?". One pretty obvious thing, I think, is that old-timer who saw Mays play and saw that he was clearly the best fielding CF of his day would say that he was better than Andruw for the same reason that, I don't know, people continue to insist that Frank Sinatra was better than Elvis or Elvis was better than Michael Jackson. Old people like nostalgia. It is what it is.

Seriously, this is comical beyond belief. Not only does it assume that everyone who saw Mays play is suffering from some sort of "nostalgia"-induced dementia, while those who've seen Andruw play are clear-eyed and objective, but it tries to prove its point by citing a half-assed analogy that compares an apple to a carrot to a roast beef sandwich.

I have no idea whether Andruw Jones was a "better" CF in his prime than Willie Mays was in his, though I'm certainly willing to concede the possibility. The idea that he was ">>>>" than Mays, however, is absurd, unless each ">" represents some micro-figure that's the baseball equivalent of a mill.

As for trying to compare Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson in terms of who's "better" or "best", I's eagerly await the first moron who tries to wade into that one. Though "to each his own" might be the only way to resolve that unanswerable question.
   91. Ron J Posted: January 10, 2012 at 07:05 AM (#4032945)
The specific problem with Jones' defensive rankings is that grid based systems have him good but unremarkably so.

It's been a topic of many a conversation with Chris Dial. His theory is that Jones took (almost) all of the discretionary plays. Those plays where it's always an out -- just a question of who records it. These plays carry no signal in ZR.

If your HOF case is based on defense it really ought to show up on both the gridded and non-gridded methods. Ozzie Smith for instance does as well in DA as he does in TotalZone (and we do't have DA for his absolute best defensive years)

Oh and #88 Griffey does very poorly in the gridded methods too. So does Kirby Puckett. Dale Stephenson gets Griffey at -92 runs in 1989-95. Puckett's actually much worse. (-139 runs in CF)

Devon White laps the field in the DA era.
   92. Greg K Posted: January 10, 2012 at 07:24 AM (#4032946)
What % of outfield plays are discretionary?

I recall Bill James writing about Nap Lajoie taking all the discretionary plays at 2B while the rest of the baseball world was shifting them to SS. Though it seems like there are a lot more of them on the infield (pop ups, stolen base attempts).

I guess I can picture a lot of discretionary flyballs, but it seems like most of the time the CF has dibs on those.
   93. shoewizard Posted: January 10, 2012 at 08:14 AM (#4032970)
If there were a 6 month moratorium on linking Chass "article" here at BTF, he would dry and and blow away. This stupid feud is the only thing keeping him relevant.
   94. The TVerik of Lordly Might Posted: January 10, 2012 at 08:26 AM (#4032974)
The sad thing is, I was with him on his point about going to work for MLB. It's a valid point, worthy of some discussion,


I was not. I don't think he meant to do it, but Chass just called a whole flock of journalists who went to MLB.com propagandists or money-grubbers.
   95. Ron J Posted: January 10, 2012 at 08:31 AM (#4032975)
#92 Don't know. One of the many things on my list of things to do is to check the ratio of total chances made to ZR chances made. I'm quite confident that Jones has an unusually high number of chances converted that don't show up as ZR chances. There are a pretty fair number of plays to shallow center. And Jones played pretty shallow. He also ranged pretty far to left, taking balls that it's reasonable to assume the leftfielder could have caught (though that leftfielder was often Klesko. Not exactly Kevin Reimer, but playing for his bat)

Every now and then players show up who challenge our basic assumptions about how chances are distributed. Pete Rose's defensive numbers at third depend on how you deal with putouts. His assist numbers aren't terrible, but his putouts are weirdly low. I think that's mostly the shortstop calling him off a lot of discretionary plays. (There isn't a great amount of signal in third base putouts at the best of times. Size of foul territory is far more important than defensive ability)

Rogers Hornsby is a better example. He had an inner ear problem for most of his career that made dealing with popups difficult. Thing is that if the team knows it, it's no big deal. Most infield popups can be dealt with by another infielder. It's still an out. Occasionally a difficult play for either the shortstop, firstbaseman or pitcher, but mostly not.
   96. Johnny Slick Posted: January 10, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4033322)
Seriously, this is comical beyond belief. Not only does it assume that everyone who saw Mays play is suffering from some sort of "nostalgia"-induced dementia, while those who've seen Andruw play are clear-eyed and objective, but it tries to prove its point by citing a half-assed analogy that compares an apple to a carrot to a roast beef sandwich.
No, the point here is that regardless of the facts of the matter, that's what the eyewitness accounts would look like, which is one reason why eyewitness accounts in and of themselves are not enough to grade Andruw vs. Mays. FWIW, I also don't think that one single metric showing Jones heads and shoulders over Mays is valid either; as noted, some fielding ratings have him maybe a tick above, maybe about even for their 20s. But what you're doing is creating a straw man; I certainly am not accusing people of "dementia". I am accusing them of being human beings with human memories, which generally don't go well with statistical analysis.

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