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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Posnanski: Four theories about Hall of Fame voting changes

Theory 1: Because they don’t want performance enhancing drug users in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

...The Hall leadership may not want [Barry] Bonds or [Roger] Clemens elected, but it never really looked like they would be anyway. And I don’t think the Hall of Fame directors are manipulative in this way. I’m sure they’re not weeping for Bonds or Clemens, but I don’t believe that was the impetus here.

Theory 2: The Baseball Hall of Fame wants to maintain exclusivity.

... My sense in talking with people who have intimate knowledge about the Hall is that, if anything, the Hall of Fame would like to add MORE players from the last 40 or so years…

Theory 3: The Hall of Fame wants to clean up some of the BBWAA untidiness.

Now, we are getting to the point… The 15-year process has always been clunky. And it’s even harder in today’s world, where everything moves so fast and everything is so magnified. We in the BBWAA spend way too much time arguing about players and leaving them in limbo… Ten years is plenty. If anything it is too long.

But, I don’t think it stops here. I have one more theory.

Theory 4: The Hall of Fame is setting up for some major changes.

A few years ago, the Hall of Fame created a Special Committee on the Negro Leagues… a screening committee created a 29-person Negro Leagues Hall of Fame ballot… I have been told this by people who would know – getting Buck O’Neil into the Hall of Fame was the biggest reason the Hall of Fame had created these committees and set up this vote in the first place… Buck still fell short… And I think the Hall of Fame leadership learned a hard lesson: Museum or not, you can’t just give up complete control of your own business… By taking away five years of the BBWAA’s voting, the Hall can have their own committees consider players five years sooner…. They understand the BBWAA is evolving, baseball coverage is evolving, the idea of baseball credibility (which the BBWAA always provided) is evolving too…

So, this is my theory: The Baseball Hall of Fame is making some smallish changes now to set itself up for bigger changes soon. I’m sure they would deny this, and I would bet even they don’t know what those changes are. But they’re coming. I think in 10 years, the Hall of Fame will have a more open Hall of Fame voting policy that the BBWAA will have a part in but will not control entirely.

The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2014 at 02:27 PM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, buck o'neil, hall of fame, joe posnanski

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   1. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 30, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4760624)
Theory 1: Because they don’t want performance enhancing drug users in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

...The Hall leadership may not want [Barry] Bonds or [Roger] Clemens elected, but it never really looked like they would be anyway. And I don’t think the Hall of Fame directors are manipulative in this way. I’m sure they’re not weeping for Bonds or Clemens, but I don’t believe that was the impetus here.


So what became of the theory around here a year or two ago that the businessmen of Cooperstown would demand changes in the HoF guidelines that would make it easier to induct Bonds & Co., in order to counteract their dwindling attendance?
   2. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 30, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4760662)
Joe Posnanski's speculative guessing about the Hall's possible motivations in changing their rules to effect unknown change casts doubt upon certain people's hypothetical theories!
   3. DanG Posted: July 30, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4760665)
Pos has a link to an older article of his, "A Hall of Fame Idea". In that he says:

Every year, in our Hall of Fame voting packet, we will get a statistical packet that offers a brief statistical rundown of each player. In the 1970s and 1980s and even into the 1990s, this statistical packet was ESSENTIAL to vote. There was almost no access whatsoever to even the most basic numbers — not unless you had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia or an extensive baseball card collection.

Thing is they STILL send these packets. Every year, when I get it, I just look at these few stapled pages with basic numbers and shake my head. It’s like being a voter for the greatest mathematical advancement of the year and them sending you an abacus in the mail. These days I can find anything — ANYTHING — in a matter of seconds. Want to know what hitters batted off Mike Mussina after the seventh inning? Three clicks, bam, they hit .246. The BBWAA still sends these statistical relics of another time, and while it’s an innocent thing, it also seems symbolic of something.

This echoes something I wrote last year:

Perhaps there is an assumption that some of the voters are so inept that they can’t perform basic statistical research on the internet; that they would be so overwhelmed by trying to identify all the reasonable candidates themselves that they would make a complete botch of the task.

That’s it, isn’t it? They know that a significant portion of the electorate doesn’t have the necessities to do an adequate job without them first performing a drastic culling of the candidates. Does that sound kinda ridiculous to anyone else? It’s an indictment of the entire election process. Clinging to the ten-year rule (and the Screening Committee) is an admission that we are being subjected to an anachronistic charade being perpetrated by the BBWAA electorate. The Information Age has left them behind so that now too many of them are unqualified for the task at hand: performing a thorough analysis of the candidates.

   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 30, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4760707)
Joe Posnanski's speculative guessing about the Hall's possible motivations in changing their rules to effect unknown change casts doubt upon certain people's hypothetical theories!

Name names. I want names.
   5. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4760723)
I have been told this by people who would know – getting Buck O’Neil into the Hall of Fame was the biggest reason the Hall of Fame had created these committees and set up this vote in the first place… Buck still fell short…


Unfortunately Buck was simply not a HOF caliber ball player- if the HOF wants him in some other capacity, Baseball ambassador or something, but he was not a great player.
   6. DanO Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4760736)
God, Trevor Rabin was awful.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4760741)
Unfortunately Buck was simply not a HOF caliber ball player- if the HOF wants him in some other capacity, Baseball ambassador or something, but he was not a great player.


In its earlier days the HOF was more willing to elect individuals on their overall contributions to the game (real or not) than just their stats - Cummings, McCarthy, Spalding. I agree that Buck was not quite HoF worthy just as a player, but I wish the HoF had a mechanism to induct individuals such as Buck and Lefty O'Doul for their overall career at all levels.
   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4760746)
God, Trevor Rabin was awful.


He's had such a massively successful solo career since leaving YES. Seriously, how many members of a major band have dropped off the map so completely?
   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4760751)
The Ramones?
   10. BDC Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4760755)
In the 1970s and 1980s and even into the 1990s, this statistical packet was ESSENTIAL to vote. There was almost no access whatsoever to even the most basic numbers — not unless you had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia

Cripes, I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969, when I was nine years old. How scarce were they?
   11. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4760765)
Ten years is plenty. If anything it is too long.

This to me is the most important point. Too many guys are hanging around on the ballot longer than they deserve to, and ten years is more than enough time to fairly judge a player in this day and age.

Personally, I think the 5% threshold for falling off the ballot immediately is too low and should be 10% minimum, possibly even higher than that.
   12. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4760767)
I was thinking the same thing as BDC.. What possible excuse could a baseball writer with a Hall of Fame vote have for not owning a Baseball Encyclopedia?
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:43 PM (#4760769)
Cripes, I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969, when I was nine years old. How scarce were they?

"The Monster", as the original 2337 pp. Macmillan Encyclopedia used to be called, probably had more name recognition by 1970 than BB-Reference has today, possibly because Macmillan sent review copies to every baseball beat writer in the country. It was considered the cornerstone of any semi-serious baseball library.

Too bad it wasn't as easy to update as good old BB-Reference, but hey, nobody's perfect. (smile)
   14. The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4760773)
Unfortunately Buck was simply not a HOF caliber ball player- if the HOF wants him in some other capacity, Baseball ambassador or something, but he was not a great player.
I think the fact that there was one catch-all "Negro League" category indicates that non-playing contributions could have been considered. Negro League owners have been inducted.

how many members of a major band have dropped off the map so completely?
If the band only has to be as big as Yes, plenty. Whatever happened to Mick Taylor? Whatever happened to Michael Anthony? Unless you're the frontman of the band (Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, etc.), or the band was the Beatles, no one's gonna follow you when you go.
   15. bunyon Posted: July 30, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4760777)
Players should stay on the ballot so long as their vote either:

a) increases by 5% over the previous year

or

b) their vote percentage is 5 x years on ballot

If neither a nor b is true they are off the ballot.
   16. DanG Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4760790)
a) increases by 5% over the previous year

or

b) their vote percentage is 5 x years on ballot
Make it "3%" or "3 x years" and I'm totally down with it.
   17. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:07 PM (#4760796)
God, Trevor Rabin was awful.


Their only #1 single #######!
   18. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4760799)
God, Trevor Rabin was awful.


The guitar solo in Owner of a Lonely Heart was one of the most wonderfully screechily discordant things to ever get played endlessly on top 40 stations (Do they still exist?)

Rabin was supposed to be an original/founding member of Asia, but he left/got booted out and replaced by Steve Howe (of Yes)

Rabin then recorded a demo solo album, brought in Trevor Horn as a producer (of Buggles fame- ironically one of the Buggles had also become a member of Asia) The two Trevors re-recorded most of Rabin's album - many songs became duets between Rabin and Horn- some of the sessions guys on the re-recording sessions were unemployed former members of Yes*- and then before it was released, Horn's vocals and some of Rabin's, were cut and replaced by another singer- Jon Anderson (formerly of Yes)- and the record company decided to release what had started out as Rabin's solo album as a "Yes" album.

*Apparently the rights to the "Yes" name were owned not by the "band" or the record company- but by the Bass player Chris Squire-
   19. TJ Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4760803)
I was thinking the same thing as BDC.. What possible excuse could a baseball writer with a Hall of Fame vote have for not owning a Baseball Encyclopedia?


1. "I don't need a stinkin' book, I know a Hall of Famer when I see one."
2. "Why do I need a book? Everyone knows when a candidate reaches a magic number like 500 homers."
3. "I'm a sportswriter- just because I can write, don't assume I can read."

I'm sure there are other excuses as well that come to mind...
   20. GuyM Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4760807)
Cripes, I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969, when I was nine years old. How scarce were they?

If you got it in 1969, you have a first edition. Last I checked, that was worth a little bit. But I imagine Andy would know.....
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4760826)
2. "Why do I need a book? Everyone knows when a candidate reaches a magic number like 500 homers."


Magic numbers are overrated. Nearly half the 300 game winners took multiple tries to get elected.


If you got it in 1969, you have a first edition. Last I checked, that was worth a little bit. But I imagine Andy would know.....


Not sure how valuable it would be, it was hugely popular, I've heard stories of bars keeping copies to help settle arguments, I guess if you have the slipcase it belongs it, it might be worth a little more. But in comparison to how much it cost and how many years have passed, it's not likely to have been a "good" investment. (can get one on ebay for $60 right now)
   22. McCoy Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4760832)
I wish the HoF had a mechanism to induct individuals such as Buck and Lefty O'Doul for their overall career at all levels.

They do. They could have just done it.
   23. Moeball Posted: July 30, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4760836)
Cripes, I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969, when I was nine years old. How scarce were they?


Amen.

I was ten in 1969. What a year! The Beatles were still cranking out drug-hazed hits like "Come Together" - I asked my parents to explain the lyrics to me and they just told me I shouldn't be listening to that hippie music! Neil Diamond came out with Sweet Caroline, the Amazin' Mets stunned everyone...what a year!

And it was the year the real Big Mac came out - the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia! The first REAL baseball encyclopedia that had everything, and I mean everything! It had batter's walks included - radical, man! You mean some batters walk more than others? Whoa! That's so cool! My dad wouldn't get me one - he said it was ridiculous to pay $25 for a book - but they had one down at the local library and I spent every waking hour I possibly could going through every last page of it. That's why bicycles were invented, right? So 10-year olds could go down to the library and immerse themselves in this massive volume of numbers! I still get giddy at the thought!

All kinds of things were included...team's lineups from long ago eras...who the league leaders were highlighted in bold...I went to look up one of my favorite players - Harmon Killebrew - and there was this other guy on the same page named Ralph Kiner - I'd never heard of him but he led the NL in HRs seven years in a row! Are you kidding me? Who is this guy? Why have I never heard of him? But my favorite part was all these really old dudes that played before 1900...and all their statistics were in italics because they could only "estimate" what the numbers were. Groovy!

OK, so I got a little carried away there on my trip down memory lane. But, good grief, if this 10-year old kid could tell you in 1969 how good Ron Santo was, and how great Arky Vaughan had been - or Eddie Mathews - then why the heck couldn't the BBWAA figure this out? Why is Johnny Bench the only catcher in history to get elected to the HOF in his first year of eligibility? The BBWAA wasn't certain that Yogi Berra was a HOFer? They needed a few years to decide? How many MVP awards did he need to win to convince them? How many championship teams did he need to play on? As Casey Stengel used to say, "you could look it up" - and I did - in the Baseball Encyclopedia. But apparently the writers didn't.

While much has been made over the years about the Frankie Frisch Fiasco in letting so many marginally good players into the HOF during the 1970s, the BBWAA members weren't doing much better if they couldn't pick up a Baseball Encyclopedia and take a good look at all the player candidates and figure out what was going on. During the 1980s, as statistical research became more sophisticated, encyclopedias became a lot more detailed and a lot more context came to light about a lot of players that could have enlightened the minds of a lot of voters - but no, instead, they were basing their votes on little pamphlets that told them what somebody's batting average was. That's just preposterous. That's the BBWAA.
   24. puck Posted: July 30, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4760862)
He's had such a massively successful solo career since leaving YES. Seriously, how many members of a major band have dropped off the map so completely?

Didn't do soundtracks, like Stewart Copeland? (And more famously, like Danny Elfman.)
   25. toratoratora Posted: July 30, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4760918)
For years the Baseball Encyclopedia was my answer to the one book on a deserted island question.
Now I see them for free all the time at the Book Thing, sitting on the top shelf all lonely and sad, never chosen, doomed to malinger for weeks. It kinda breaks my heart-for so many years that was my bible and now the net has relegated it to the dustbin of history.
Damn you Sean Forman, damn your eyes (I jest, I jest)

Tangenting, I actually saw Yes on the 90121Live tour with Rabin playing-he was really good. Not Steve Howe, but he held his own in a very talented band which is saying something.
Chris Squire though, oh my, that guy can play some bass
(Note-I've seen Yes a few times, with various band members, so I have some comparative points)
   26. JE (Jason) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4760956)
Oops. Wrong Poz thread.
   27. DanO Posted: July 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4761035)
Didn't do soundtracks, like Stewart Copeland? (And more famously, like Danny Elfman.)


Huh, apparently so. I had no idea, but it looks like he scored such classics as Armageddon, Kangaroo Jack, and Snakes on a Plane. Somehow, this seems like a really appropriate career path for him, at least until Steve Howe finally dies (seriously, he's looked just like the Crypt Keeper for at least a decade) and Chris Squire invites him to rejoin Yes.
   28. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 30, 2014 at 11:50 PM (#4761070)
I wasn't born when 'it' was published, but I type this right now, not 15 feet from my own copy which I bought about 15 years ago, from where I cannot recall, but it did not cost me much at all. (walks over and picks it up). I forgot about this 'Dear Baseball Fan' letter by the Commish. This, and my 1920 copy of Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide the "Official Base Ball Rules" are my favorite baseball books.
   29. Lassus Posted: July 31, 2014 at 07:16 AM (#4761112)
I was rambling on about it until I realized Gonfalon covered what I was thinking in #2.
   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 31, 2014 at 07:47 AM (#4761115)
Cripes, I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969, when I was nine years old. How scarce were they?


If you got it in 1969, you have a first edition. Last I checked, that was worth a little bit. But I imagine Andy would know.....

Until BB-Reference came along and eliminated the need for a bulky reference book whose information it duplicated, the first edition went for a premium for one reason alone: Unlike all the revised editions, the first edition listed all the pitchers' batting records. In the subsequent editions, batting records were given only for a few select pitchers, and were usually remaindered for under ten bucks within a year or so after they came out. OTOH for as long as I had my shop, a nice copy of the first edition with its slipcase and the calculator wheel insert would still go for $20 to $25. I keep my personal copy today purely for nostalgia, and it's double-shelved and out of sight.

-------------------------------------------------------

This, and my 1920 copy of Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide the "Official Base Ball Rules" are my favorite baseball books.

While I'm talking about rarities, that 1920 Spalding (or Reach) guide was always considered one of the prime years to get, for two reasons: Coverage of the Black Sox series, and the commentary in the front that supported Frazee's decision to sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees. I could always get $100 for a nice copy of that year with the covers fully intact.
   31. VCar Posted: July 31, 2014 at 08:53 AM (#4761128)
Wow, a quasi-Yes thread, on the very day I saw Yes! Great show last night. And they closed with "Owner of a Lonely Heart", probably my least favorite song of the night (2 new songs notwithstanding).
   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 31, 2014 at 08:58 AM (#4761129)
So what became of the theory around here a year or two ago that the businessmen of Cooperstown would demand changes in the HoF guidelines that would make it easier to induct Bonds & Co., in order to counteract their dwindling attendance?


I thought that theory was predicated on the premise that the Hall would see some shutouts in the voting like they saw last year, which didn't happen -- six living people were inducted this year.
   33. Ron J2 Posted: July 31, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4761140)
#20 I got the 1969 edition as gift. My grandfather got a great price because the binding had been screwed up. Like I cared that the cover was upside down. Wonder if it would have been more valuable because of the rarity.
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: July 31, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4761151)
"Cripes, I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969, when I was nine years old."

yeah, I was 8. The page side of the book wound up having a dirt-darkened tinge - c'mon, what little boy washes his hands very often?

"I've heard stories of bars keeping copies to help settle arguments,"

this goes back to the BBTF post-softball game beerfest, where JE and Shooty among others were mystified that people used to call newspaper sports departments from bars to settle bets about sports history.
:)

and I once saw Steve Howe in a bar - the baseball one. will tell that story at the next BBTF-palooza. teaser: a couple of years later, I met my future wife in the same bar, about 4 feet away from where I saw Howe.

   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 31, 2014 at 10:00 AM (#4761177)
So what became of the theory around here a year or two ago that the businessmen of Cooperstown would demand changes in the HoF guidelines that would make it easier to induct Bonds & Co., in order to counteract their dwindling attendance?

I thought that theory was predicated on the premise that the Hall would see some shutouts in the voting like they saw last year, which didn't happen -- six living people were inducted this year.


You're right. It was a stupid theory built on a stupid premise that was built on projecting from a one time occurrence, a theory advanced in great part by the fervent wishes of its proponents to get Bonds & Co. inducted against the wishes of the writers.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

this goes back to the BBTF post-softball game beerfest, where JE and Shooty among others were mystified that people used to call newspaper sports departments from bars to settle bets about sports history. :)

When that happened too often, the writer who answered the phone would often give the answer that the caller wanted to hear, and then when the caller told the writer to "please repeat that to this other guy I'm about to hand the phone to", the writer would then give the opposite answer to the other guy, and then hang up the phone.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 31, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4761221)
this goes back to the BBTF post-softball game beerfest, where JE and Shooty among others were mystified that people used to call newspaper sports departments from bars to settle bets about sports history.

When I was in college (1989-93) we used to call the Globe or Herald sports desk to get scores of the late games that weren't over before the 11:25 sports report. Sportsphone still existed (IIRC), but it was cheaper to call the papers.
   37. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 31, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4761277)

You're right. It was a stupid theory built on a stupid premise that was built on projecting from a one time occurrence, a theory advanced in great part by the fervent wishes of its proponents to get Bonds & Co. inducted against the wishes of the writers.


Well, as long as we're clear it was stupid :-)

Though as I've said I don't give a whit anymore if Bonds or Clemens are voted in. You can have your Rich Gossage, the True Hall of Famer. It's kind of funny because there's actually a decent argument that Gossage couldn't even hack it as a starter, which would make Bronson Arroyo a more deserving Hall of Famer on that score.
   38. Ron J2 Posted: July 31, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4761320)
#37 Worth noting that WAR has his year as a starter as his 7th best by value. A look at his K rate for that year will tell you just how much he was pacing himself.

But I think it's likely wrong to say that a 91 era+ (in 224 IP) at 24 means he couldn't hack it as a starter. I mean you don't need to look any further than Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson.
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 31, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4761344)
You're right. It was a stupid theory built on a stupid premise that was built on projecting from a one time occurrence, a theory advanced in great part by the fervent wishes of its proponents to get Bonds & Co. inducted against the wishes of the writers.

Well, as long as we're clear it was stupid :-)


It really was dumber than a bag of rocks, loaded with quasi-conspiracy theories in order to keep it going, but I'm not even saying that you were one of the ones advancing it. I argued against it at the time with many people, but you weren't necessarily one of them.

Though as I've said I don't give a whit anymore if Bonds or Clemens are voted in. You can have your Rich Gossage, the True Hall of Famer. It's kind of funny because there's actually a decent argument that Gossage couldn't even hack it as a starter, which would make Bronson Arroyo a more deserving Hall of Famer on that score.

I'd vote for Clemens, and if Bonds got in I'd be disappointed but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Either way, the Hall of Fame is worth a visit by anyone who loves baseball. The plaque room is only the tip of the iceberg.

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