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Friday, January 11, 2013

Posnanski: Patience and Virtue

Jeff Idelson has learned, in his tumultuous time as President of the Baseball Hall of Fame, that you can’t ever get too caught up in the moment…

I ask [Idelson]: The character clause is obviously vague—do you think the Hall of Fame should clarify the clause to offer guidance to voters?...

Idelson says something a little bit unexpected: “Everyone should understand that ‘character’ is not to be used as a moral compass, but refers to how they respected the game, how they treated the game, how they used that character in the contributions they made to their teams.”

Maybe this is common knowledge … but I had never actually heard the Hall of Fame clarify that character should not refer to morality and instead should ONLY refer to baseball. It makes sense, of course, but if this is what the Hall of Fame means by “character” then I would argue that it should be written in the BBWAA guidelines that way. Because I think some voters DO look at character beyond the baseball diamond, and they hide behind the character clause when they do so. What this version of the character clause means for PED users … hard to say. On the one hand, the steroid question is obviously DIRECTLY tied to respect for the game, how they treated the game and so on. On the other hand, I hear people say all that time that even though steroids weren’t policed at all by Baseball, it was “against the law.” If the character clause refers only to baseball, that shouldn’t be part the conversation.

The District Attorney Posted: January 11, 2013 at 12:04 PM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, joe posnanski

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   1. Downtown Bookie Posted: January 11, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4345142)
Posnanski has begun a discussion about character. The ball is on the tee; let's see who'll be the first to take a good whack at it.

DB
   2. Anonymous Observer Posted: January 11, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4345148)
This clarification won't make a difference, because with it, the same people will still be on the same sides of the fence.

Anti-PEDs: Okay, no moral compass, but respect for the game and how they treated it. They didn't respect the game because they cheated, regardless if it was "against the rules" or not.

Don't care about PEDs: See! This isn't a moral compass! They respected the game so much, and treated it as best as they could by making themselves as good as they could possibly be. That they had to use drugs to get there, doesn't matter, because that wasn't against the rules.

It's just another never-ending circle.
   3. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 11, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4345152)
On the other hand, I hear people say all that time that even though steroids weren’t policed at all by Baseball, it was “against the law.” If the character clause refers only to baseball, that shouldn’t be part the conversation.


I don't think this is true. I think you can make a case that "baseball" (read: MLB) is harmed by people doing things that are not expressly a violation of the rules of the game but would still be considered immoral. I think it's still a difficult uphill climb to argue fairly that steroids are a disqualifier but racism, collusion or drug running are not.

An active MLB manager getting arrested for DUI is a black mark against baseball. He is a very public figure who represents the game whether he wants to be or not.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4345157)

An active MLB manager getting arrested for DUI is a black mark against baseball. He is a very public figure who represents the game whether he wants to be or not.


Yea, but not enough to warrant exclusion from the Hall (especially considering how casually the public views DUIs unfortunately)

The only situation where I can see an off-the-field issue invoking the character clause would be an OJ Simpson situation.
   5. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:08 PM (#4345174)
Ultima reference FTW.
   6. jobu Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:17 PM (#4345182)
Posnanski has begun a discussion about character. The ball is on the tee; let's see who'll be the first to take a good whack at it.


I'll bite.

“Everyone should understand that ‘character’ is not to be used as a moral compass, but refers to how they respected the game, how they treated the game, how they used that character in the contributions they made to their teams.”

Hmmm. I followed the Poz/Paterno/Sandusky stuff pretty closely, and one thing I cannot recall there being much debate about is whether Paterno and Sandusky respected the game of football (per se). Molestation of young boys in the locker room, while criminal and morally repugnant, has nothing to do with the game of football or treatment of the game of football (unless you extend "the game of football" to include the facilities), and only has something to do with contribution to the team to the extent it is discovered (reputational effect), so long as the rest of the team/community is unaware of the molestation or turns a blind eye to it. So you could argue that the BB HOF "character clause" would not expressly apply to Sandusky or Paterno. That doesn't mean I think it shouldn't.

I am actually pretty astounded that Idelson has publicly interpreted the clause in this way at this time.
   7. OsunaSakata Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4345189)
I am actually pretty astounded that Idelson has publicly interpreted the clause in this way at this time.


Why are you surprised? For financial health of the HOF and the other businesses of Cooperstown, he wants players inducted. A cursory reading would imply he wants voters to ignore steroids and just judge by the performance on the field.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4345201)
Speaking of which, Milton Bradley is now facing up to 13 years in prison for domestic abuse charges. Does that hurt his HOF chances?
   9. G.W.O. Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4345202)
I remember when the Hall Of Fame stood for such simple American values as refusing to show Bull Durham, as Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon didn't agree with President Bush.

Good times...
   10. AROM Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4345204)
A cursory reading would imply he wants voters to ignore steroids and just judge by the performance on the field.


While I'm on the side who would like this to be true, I think that interpretation is clear or obvious. And reading the article it seems he has no interest in making the judgement, but leaving in the hands of every individual voter.

Does steroid use consitute "disrespect for the game"? If so, is this automatically disqualifying? Should it be weighed against a player's other accomplishments? Do you treat supposedly limited offenders (Pettitte) as harshly as guys who used for their entire careers (No certain example, but pretend Canseco hit 600 homers and was still on the ballot)?

We're still going to get 600 sets of answers to the series of questions.
   11. The District Attorney Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4345205)
A cursory reading would imply he wants voters to ignore steroids and just judge by the performance on the field.
I definitely take it as trying to shoot down the "are PED users supposed to be worse human beings than racist Cap Anson/crazy Ty Cobb/etc.?" argument that is often made.

#2's claim that PED users respected the game more, although often seen here, is a bit of a smart-alecky counter-argument to the standard line, IMO. I don't think you're going to get too far in the larger world arguing that.

Poz makes a better effort by pointing out that the illegality of steroids should by this logic no longer be relevant... which does sound right... but if you're claiming that steroids were "disrespecting the game", their legal status doesn't much matter.

Of course, we can and probably should get even more meta with this and point out that Idleson AFAIK has no power to unilaterally interpret or change the HOF rules, that (barring further developments) most voters will never be aware he said anything, etc. (And I do agree he is trying to give his own personal interpretation, but still leave interpretive power in the hands of the voters.)
   12. Ron J2 Posted: January 11, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4345217)
#7 I'd be happy if that's what he meant, but I really doubt it's as clear as you see it.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4345228)
I'd guess the Hall, while not happy with a live-inductee-free weekend, is content to let the BBWAA take the brunt of any steroid dissatisfaction in regards to the Hall of Fame voting, while hoping that over time Harvey's expectation for softening attitudes will prevail.* Taking a side on a polarizing issue isn't in the Hall's best interests (and there are people out there who would be just as aghast at the election of these cheats as there are people who think the Hall has no credibility without them).

* I do think Harvey is correct in his assessment.
   14. DanG Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4345234)
Sounds like Idelson agrees with my take in #234 in the "Gizmo" thread:

5) Character – This means character as related to professional baseball. Did he show up every day ready to help his team win? Did he stay in shape? Did he play hard? Was he sober? These days, this criterion is popularly misapplied to non-baseball related behavior. Note that the very first HOF class had men of fairly suspect personal morals. It’s clear to me that individual’s peccadilloes are not what Cooperstown wants voters to consider when assessing candidates.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4345235)
Taking a side on a polarizing issue isn't in the Hall's best interests (and there are people out there who would be just as aghast at the election of these cheats as there are people who think the Hall has no credibility without them).

That's really all you need to consider about the Hall's reaction to the voting. Why go out of your way to alienate a sizable bloc of voters when the "logjam" is likely to be nothing but a one year blip?
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4345252)
Why are you surprised? For financial health of the HOF and the other businesses of Cooperstown, he wants players inducted. A cursory reading would imply he wants voters to ignore steroids and just judge by the performance on the field.


Hmm. That's not how I read his comments at all. He's saying, don't consider it an issue if a candidate is racist or a wife beater (or whatever), but consider character as to how it manifested itself on the field and in the player's respect towards the game. To me, that pretty much says "Yes, consider steroids." But who knows.
   17. Ron J2 Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4345254)
#15 I'm doubtful it's a one year thing. And I doubt Kenny Lofton (and those who fail to poll 5% next year -- there will a few viable candidates who fall off) see this blip as not mattering.
   18. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4345256)
A couple of years back I asked whether anyone here would be willing to vote a convicted pedophile into the HOF (assuming his baseball performance was up to snuff), and don't recall any takers.
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:36 PM (#4345258)
The only way for the Hall to fix this is to take a stand:

1. Instruct the twits that steroids are not relevant to a HOF inquiry since amphetamines and spitballs and all other forms of cheating weren't; and
2. Strip the voting privileges from any voter who confesses that he considered steroids.

Or:

1. Remove the character clause (now that Idelson shockingly told us that he doesn't consider off the field issues to relate to character as it is meant under this clause); and
2. Strip the voting privileges from any voter who confesses that he considered character.

Maybe even require each voter to explain the rationale behind his vote. And strip the voting privileges from any voter who confesses that he didn't follow the rules.

All the character clause does is allow voters to abuse the process and then say, "I'm making sh!t up, and using standards that are unfair because they are inconsistent with past precedent. Character, character!"
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4345262)
That's really all you need to consider about the Hall's reaction to the voting. Why go out of your way to alienate a sizable bloc of voters when the "logjam" is likely to be nothing but a one year blip?


We told you that the logjam (*) would happen, and it did happen, and now that it happened you're certain it's a one year blip. Why? There are still more qualified candidates than ballot slots, and still a problem moving the steroids candidates off the ballot. (Though allowing more ballot slots isn't the answer since many voters aren't using the 10 they do have.)

(*) Why the scare quotes? There IS a logjam.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4345287)

We told you that the logjam (*) would happen, and it did happen, and now that it happened you're certain it's a one year blip. Why? There are still more qualified candidates than ballot slots, and still a problem moving the steroids candidates off the ballot. (Though allowing more ballot slots isn't the answer since many voters aren't using the 10 they do have.)


The logjam will continue. It will eventually sort itself out, though not to the liking of everyone.

The weekends without elections are a one-year blip, at least for awhile.

The Hall cares a hell of a lot more about the latter than the former.


   22. Peter Farted Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4345290)
Ah, Ultima IV. Available free (and yes, legally so) at GOG.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4345291)
The logjam has little or nothing to do with roids or the character clause. Bonds and Clemens at 35% are not causing a logjam.

The logjam is caused by a ton of good candidates hitting the ballot over a short period of time. If Bonds and Clemens had received the 99% they deserved this year, everybody else would be a little further away from election and no more likely to advance with all the studs joining the ballot in the coming years. Take Bonds and Clemens completely out of the equation and Biggio is still 12th in career WAR on next year's ballot. Take Palmeiro and McGwire and Sosa and Piazza out and he only moves up to 11th. Logjam.

To the extent the blackballers are contributing to the logjam, it is if there are 7% of them who didn't vote Biggio based on nothing but rumors. And there might be although Bagwell's continuing advance and Biggio and Piazza's strong debuts suggest that contingent is not very large.

The problems here are as much or more standard BBWAA problems -- lousy at evaluating all-around players without milestones, lousy at evaluating Cs, some foolishly high "1st ballot" standards, not looking ahead. The logjam is caused more by the fact that they refused to wave in obvious candidates, sometimes making them work through 3+ ballots -- Bagwell, Alomar, Larkin, Raines, now Biggio and Piazza -- due to standard issue BBWAA stupidity, not roids. The only way the backlog can or ever could be avoided is if the voters started regularly inducting 3+ candidates a year -- that would be historically unprecedented and strongly counter to recent trends (and also probably not what the HoF wants for induction weekend).

To be honest, if not for all the roid silliness, we might be praising the BBWAA this year. Despite having the milestone of 3000 hits, the BBWAA is treating Biggio in the same way they treated Alomar, Larkin and Sandberg. The way they treated Alomar, Larkin and Sandberg was moronic but at least they are largely ignoring Biggio's milestone and appropriately gauging him relative to his comps -- I don't think I saw a single comp of Biggio to Carew despite the fact they're both "2B" with 3000 hits.

The worst of the roid blackballing is over. We lost. The HoF and the voters now just have to deal with the deluge of candidates that they would have had to deal with whether B/C had been elected or not. That won't be easy and the BBWAA will screw it up but it's not made substantially harder by the blackballers. Or at least we have no evidence yet that it will be.
   24. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4345292)
A couple of years back I asked whether anyone here would be willing to vote a convicted pedophile into the HOF (assuming his baseball performance was up to snuff), and don't recall any takers.


Boy that's a hell of a question. Obviously that would be a person incredibly difficult to feel comfortable voting for. Honestly if I had a vote and was a working writer I would probably not vote in favor of him simply to cover my ass. I can only imagine the letters to my editor if I voted for someone who did such a thing. I'm not sure that would be the "right" thing to do though.
   25. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4345294)
SoSH: If the Hall is smart, it would be concerned not only about weekends without elections, but with the looming specter of a generation of ballplayers largely absent from the Hall, including some of the greatest ever to play the game, steroids or no. The Hall should be concerned because such picture would be one of absurdity, and would impute the appearance of blanket unfairness to the process, which would be a striking contrast to the Hall's efforts over many decades to construct an election process - including the usage of the VC - that is thought to be fair. It would reduce the credibility of that Hall.

Do you think the Hall should be concerned about this? It's of course fine to disagree, but I'd be curious as to why.
   26. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4345297)
Someone may have already said this, but isn't it possible that the character clause was just a "discretion rule" whereby the BBWAA guys could vote in whomever they wanted? That way, the "He was a statute in the field with a .538 OPS but he always gave me an interview" could potentially qualify you for the HOF.]

Why the scare quotes?


There should be a high school class on how to properly use quotation marks. I have seen instances where people have put their own names in quotes. What?

EDIT: Statute = statue.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4345298)
A couple of years back I asked whether anyone here would be willing to vote a convicted pedophile into the HOF (assuming his baseball performance was up to snuff), and don't recall any takers.


No. But I've got no problems with a vague character clause, if only to deal with such situations.

OTOH, I wouldn't support yanking a pedophile out who's already been inducted. I oppose that practice.

Do you think the Hall should be concerned about this? It's of course fine to disagree, but I'd be curious as to why.


Of course, but I also understand that not everyone thinks like me. A great many people, perhaps only because they've been fed a diet of media righteousness, really oppose those dirty, stinking juicers and will vow to never step foot inside again if Bonds, Clemens and co. are inducted. How serious is that threat? I don't know. Probably as serious as the threats being made by the pro-juice crowd.

The point is, the Hall would rather avoid either side taking out its anger at the institution. So the best way is to let the BBWAA take up the fight, and hope that time will fix what the Hall can't right now, and that someday all of the greatest players of this generation will find its way to Upstate New York in the summer, and that all baseball fans are OK with that.
   28. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4345304)
We told you that the logjam (*) would happen, and it did happen, and now that it happened you're certain it's a one year blip. Why?

Two words: Greg Maddux. If you want to put money against him getting in next year, I'll be glad to take it. And if you want to claim that he's in the same category as any of the first year candidates who appeared on the ballot this year, all I can say is: You're nuts.

(*) Why the scare quotes? There IS a logjam.

For one year. You and Walt can take it from there.

And BTW I never claimed that anyone would be elected this year. Others did, but I wasn't among them.

And so what if they didn't? Neither the world nor the Hall of Fame is coming to an end because there won't be a rush of tourists in Cooperstown for one weekend next Summer. Talk about scare quotes, the idea that the HoF is facing some sort of existential crisis because of Tuesday's results is little more than a scare scenario.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4345306)
Walt, anywhere from 6-8 of the following players would be in already if not for the steroids issue:

McGwire
Palmeiro
Clemens
Bonds
Bagwell
Piazza
Sosa
Biggio

   30. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4345310)
Boy that's a hell of a question. Obviously that would be a person incredibly difficult to feel comfortable voting for. Honestly if I had a vote and was a working writer I would probably not vote in favor of him simply to cover my ass. I can only imagine the letters to my editor if I voted for someone who did such a thing. I'm not sure that would be the "right" thing to do though.


I think this sums up (although more drastically) the average individual situation of each BBWAA voter regarding steroid era players. As a whole the writers may have booted the steroid issue, but individual writers may have just succumbed to public pressure or just some inner sense that steroids are bad, Q.E.D. no vote.

My other guess is that the voters put SUBSTANTIALLY less thought and analysis into their votes than do the more prominent columnists, hardcore fans, sabermetricians, etc. Sometimes in the grocery store I just pick things using a coin flip approach or by gut feeling. I'm sure many writers do the same.

I have noticed there is an astounding number of people I come across in life (I may be one myself) who come to surprising conclusions without evidence, without analysis, or both. Many people's conclusions, if converted to a term paper, would earn them an F. Maybe many of the BBWAA writers are the same.
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4345315)
Why the scare quotes?


There should be a high school class on how to properly use quotation marks.

"Scare quotes" are nothing but a way to employ a term in common usage while denying its accuracy within the context it's being used. It's got nothing to do with any rules of grammar or punctuation.

In the case of the HoF "logjam", the implication isn't that it's just a one year phenomenon, but that it'll result in certifiably clean players permanently being denied plaques that they otherwise would have gotten. I think I'd like to wait more than one or two years before accepting that implied crisis as being something that can't resolve itself over time. It's not as if players with over 30% of the votes sink off the ballot after one election.
   32. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4345320)
"Scare quotes" are nothing but a way to employ a term in common usage while denying its accuracy within the context it's being used. It's got nothing to do with any rules of grammar or punctuation.


I reject your "explanation."
   33. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4345321)
Walt, anywhere from 6-8 of the following players would be in already if not for the steroids issue:

McGwire
Palmeiro
Clemens
Bonds
Bagwell
Piazza
Sosa
Biggio


Of course three of them (McGwire, Palmeiro and Bonds) aren't in because the evidence against them is objectively compelling. Bagwell, Piazza and Biggio are likely to make it in well before 15 years. Clemens and Sosa are the only ones who might conceivably be permanently affected by dubious evidence.

Two out of eight is of course two too many, and there's no defense for writers who vote on the basis of suspicion and dubious evidence alone. But you're still talking about three fairly distinct groups of players, and lumping all together. It's an easy way to oversimplify what's taking place, but it's mixing up apples, oranges and grapefruit in the process.
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4345322)
I reject your "explanation."

I'll bear that in mind, but if I were you I'd stick to being a doctor.
   35. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:54 PM (#4345330)
Of course three of them (McGwire, Palmeiro and Bonds) aren't in because the evidence against them is objectively compelling. Bagwell, Piazza and Biggio are likely to make it in well before 15 years. Clemens and Sosa are the only ones who might conceivably be permanently affected by dubious evidence.

Two out of eight is of course two too many, and there's no defense for writers who vote on the basis of suspicion and dubious evidence alone. But you're still talking about three fairly distinct groups of players, and lumping all together. It's an easy way to oversimplify what's taking place, but it's mixing up apples, oranges and grapefruit in the process.


Andy, I grouped them together as all being affected by steroids. And they were. You're creating a diversion to distract from my point by narrowing the issue to evidence, but I wasn't talking about that. If that's your point, fine, but my point is that they have all been affected by the steroids issue.

"Oh, the writers are being reasonable because they've only really screwed 2 players, not 6-8." No. 6-8 of them have been screwed.
   36. CrosbyBird Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4345331)
The only way for the Hall to fix this is to take a stand:

Or wait. The HOF survived a period of outrageous austerity in the past, and it survived a glut of unworthy candidates from the VC. It will survive this.

If you think the HOF process is full of problems, you should root for this sort of outcome. We can fix mistakes of exclusion twenty years from now, if need be, but nothing that doesn't seriously hurt the bottom line for the HOF will change the way voting rights are distributed. (If that even needs to happen. We're going to probably age out of a lot of this problem.)
   37. Booey Posted: January 11, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4345332)
The logjam has little or nothing to do with roids or the character clause.


Sure it does. How are otherwise qualified players who would have been elected already hanging around forever NOT contributing to the congestion?

The logjam is caused by a ton of good candidates hitting the ballot over a short period of time.


True, but several of those candidates would have already been elected if it weren't for roids, so the logjam would have been smaller. There's going to be 19 players on next years ballot that would get my vote, and between 4-7 of them would have been selected already if not for steroid ties or suspicions (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Palmeiro for sure, possibly Bagwell, Piazza, and Sosa). 12 deserving players on one ballot is still a logjam, but 19 is far worse.

The logjam is caused more by the fact that they refused to wave in obvious candidates, sometimes making them work through 3+ ballots -- Bagwell, Alomar, Larkin, Raines, now Biggio and Piazza -- due to standard issue BBWAA stupidity, not roids


Maybe, but it's also possible that there are enough "no one from the steroid era" voters that the controversy may have delayed the elections of even the "non-juicer" candidates like Alomar and Larkin. Hell, if even 1% of the voters thought like that, that was enough to keep Alomar on the ballot an extra year.

Edit: Coke to Ray and others
   38. Booey Posted: January 11, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4345339)
(*) Why the scare quotes? There IS a logjam.


For one year.


Just cuz there's not likely going to be another shutout anytime soon doesn't mean the logjam is fixed. There's already 15-20 worthy players on the ballot with another 3-5 coming every year for the next 5 years or so. Electing 1-2 a year isn't going to solve much. We're still going to see qualified players like Lofton, Palmeiro, Sosa, McGwire, McGriff, Kent, Walker, etc, dropping off the ballot.
   39. CrosbyBird Posted: January 11, 2013 at 07:25 PM (#4345343)
I think the logjam will break on its own. Players that don't suffer steroid taint yet are in the full-ballot folks' top 10 will appear each year: Maddux in 2014, RJ (and probably Pedro) in 2015, Griffey in 2016.
   40. CrosbyBird Posted: January 11, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4345346)
We're still going to see qualified players like Lofton, Palmeiro, Sosa, McGwire, McGriff, Kent, Walker, etc, dropping off the ballot.

It depends on if there's strategic voting or not. I feel like if I were a voter, I might vote for the ten worthy candidates that I felt had the greatest chance of falling off the ballot. I don't think that even violates the spirit of the rules, since HOF induction is binary: either a player deserves the HOF or doesn't. Once I have more than ten players that I find worthy, there's really no guidance as to which ten to pick.
   41. Booey Posted: January 11, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4345363)
It depends on if there's strategic voting or not. I feel like if I were a voter, I might vote for the ten worthy candidates that I felt had the greatest chance of falling off the ballot

The only problem I see with this is that if too many of the voters did it, even guys who seem like locks (Maddux, RJ, Griffey) might not get voted through.
   42. natebracy Posted: January 11, 2013 at 08:17 PM (#4345370)
I feel like if I were a voter, I might vote for the ten worthy candidates that I felt had the greatest chance of falling off the ballot.


So that's why no one gets 100%.

BTW, how many future HOF'ers should be active in the league in any year? Or has that been explored? Is an average of two per team too many? Too few?
   43. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4345379)
I can only imagine the letters to my editor if I voted for someone who did such a thing.

You know, we only take it on faith that they actually voted for the guys they say they voted for and some writers review candidates without making it clear if that's a complete list of who they voted for.

But, really, in this hypothetical, the pressure on MLB to ban the player from association with the game and/or the HoF from banning him from the ballot would be more than enough to keep the voters out of this bind.

McGwire -- yes
Palmeiro -- yes
Clemens -- yes
Bonds -- yes
Bagwell -- no
Piazza -- no
Sosa/Biggio -- one of these, not the other


But that's beside the point. With no roids you have Bagwell and Piazza about where they are or lower and probably at least one of Sosa/Biggio sitting about where Biggio is right now. The backlog would be the same as it is now.

You see, B/C/M/S/P ate up only 1.11 slots per ballot. That's not very much, they aren't jamming anybody anymore than Garvey, Rice, Allen, Concepcion and Nettles jammed the 1996 ballot. If they stole any votes at all, the votes they stole were more often from Edgar, Walker, McGriff than they were from Biggio, Bagwell or Piazza.

Piazza -- debuted much better than Carter, the same as Campy, worse than Berra and Fisk (not 1st balloters) and worse than Bench (the only C first balloter). There was never any reason to expect Piazza to debut substantially higher than he did, he certainly wasn't going to be 1st ballot in this field, roids or no roids.

Biggio -- debuted worse than Alomar, much better than Sandberg and Larkin. His 68% is not really that different than Yount's 78%. He'd have battled with Sosa for the third spot -- possibly both over but also possibly both stuck in the high 60s. The top of the 2013 non-roids ballot would have looked pretty much exactly like 1999 (B/C = Brett/Ryan; Sosa/Biggio = Yount/Fisk; Bagwell=Perez; Piazza = Carter but with a better result). Morris is the wild card.

Bagwell -- he probably started out lower than one would expect even for the BBWAA but he's had pretty standard growth for a guy who started where he did. There's no strong evidence roids has affected his vote total significantly.*

Jamming comes from the top, not the bottom. Yes, the guys in the 50s and 60s aren't going to advance, will probably fall back some, in the next 2-3 elections. That was going to be the case anyway and has little/nothing to do with B/C/M/P/S on the ballot.

But if you take M/P/Bagwell off the ballot, leave everybody else exactly where they are** ... you still have 3.2 names per ballot in the backlog (and I can only imagine the historical low ballots in 2012). To elect all 5 of B/C/B/P/S, they'd eat up at least 4.2 to 4.3 names per ballot meaning you'd need a jump to 7.5 names per ballot to keep pace. As is, we saw only 6.7 names per ballot. Of course if M/P/B are all elected quickly, Morris goes in in 2011 or 2012.

There is absolutely no evidence that there is a large block of voters refusing to vote for any and all sillyball candidates. Alomar got 90% in the end, Larkin got 86% in the end and their careers overlap with B/C/M/P/S, Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza almost perfectly. When a voter says they won't vote for sillyball candidates then, at worst, they mean they won't vote for cartoon-forearmed sluggers of the sillyball era (and Clemens) ... and yet most of them will still vote for Thomas just like they are already voting for Bagwell. Bagwell, Biggio and Piazza are virtually guaranteed eventual election and they are little/no worse off in the voting than they would be otherwise.

Which of course means there is no risk of losing a "generation of players". The HoF will "lose" B/C/M/P/S (some chance for B/C) if the system doesn't change but that is not a generation of players. You can look at the upcoming guys as easily as I can and those top names are all going to be inducted. The sillyball era VC will have its job cut out for it no doubt.

An expansion of the ballot would surely help Bag/Bigg/Piazza/Raines as well as the guys stuck below 50% -- the guys below 50% are the guys who are about to get royally screwed.

*again, by counting stats, Bagwell has fewer HR, fewer hits, fewer RBI than Fred McGriff. Fortunately the BBWAA has had no trouble in determining that Bagwell was much better than McGriff.

** This is unlikely if M/P had been off the ballot for year. The remaining backlog would probably all be a bit higher but not by a lot.



   44. CrosbyBird Posted: January 12, 2013 at 01:23 AM (#4345450)
So that's why no one gets 100%.

To be fair, I'm a small-hall guy. It's only this year that I can think of as a ballot where I'd consider there to be 10 worthy HOfers. In 2012, I'd have only had seven guys to vote for (Bagwell, Walker, Larkin, Trammell, Raines, Palmeiro, McGwire).

BTW, how many future HOF'ers should be active in the league in any year? Or has that been explored? Is an average of two per team too many? Too few?

I think 60 active HOFers in a given year sounds terribly high. Maybe 30-40 (counting players that debut but eventually become HOFers and HOFers playing out the garbage at the end of a career).
   45. natebracy Posted: January 12, 2013 at 05:32 AM (#4345511)
I should clarify that I mean players who merit the HOF (or at least have a fairly strong argument for induction), not necessarily those who are elected. Since the average HOF career is so long (WAG 17 yrs?), there ought to be quite a bit of overlap.
I'm likely a bigger-hall guy than you, but one HOF per team seems really small - especially when you acknowledge that they don't all need to be in their primes.

   46. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 12, 2013 at 05:54 AM (#4345514)
As bad as the writers treated HOF caliber players who have never admitted or been caught using steroids this year, how it led them to treat Kenny Lofton was worse. A player better than Jim Rice, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, & Lee Smith couldn't get even 5% of the vote and is off the ballot forever after a single year?

Even if you don't think Kenny is HOF worthy, he's close enough to warrant extended debate and inclusion on ballots for a long time.

Kenny is who the logjam screwed, and it's going to screw others in the same way.
   47. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: January 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4345541)
"He was a statute in the field with a .538 OPS but he always gave me an interview"


"I could read ERISA faster than he could make the pivot!"
   48. vivaelpujols Posted: January 12, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4345543)
The moral compass part just means that transgressions or good deeds should only count if they leak into the game. Brett Myers is ok as long his teammates are ok and he doesn't start beating up Asdrubal Cabrera on the field in the middle of a game. I think voters have used the clause correctly in that sense. PED usage certainly is relevant to the game and the players relationship with their teammates and such, so I think it's fair game. It's not like people are arguing PEDs are bad just because they are against the law - Cepeda was below borderline by WAR and got pretty high vote totals and got in with the vets committee, Raines is looking good.

Refers to how they respected the game, how they treated the game, how they used that character in the contributions they made to their teams.


The last thing about "contributions they made to their teams" sounds like a quantitative thing to me. How did Bonds' usage effect his teammates? Well it may have made some players worry or something, but damn Jeff Kent had some freaking good years.. so we'll say it's only a minor hindrance, knock off 10 bbwaaWAR. The other two parts being grouped in with that one implies that the that the whole clause is meant to be looked at alongside performance and not in absolute terms.

Historically the writers have done that with Ty Cobb and then not done that with Rose. I think PED usage falls in between those. Unlike Cobb it's a matter of unfair advantage, but unlike Rose it's not in direct conflict with the entire goal of the game. So I'd say that best approach with PEDs is to weigh them with performance. That kicks Mac, Sosa, Palmeiro out, maybe kicks Biggio out if you really fudge it, keeps Bonds and Clemens in. I'd say about 20% of the writers are doing that (Bonds' percentage - McGwire's), 15% don't care about steroids at all, 60% are steroid dis-qualifiers and 5% are your average nutjob who never voters for anyone on the first ballot.

It sure sounds like Idleson wants to give the BBWAA some sort of instruction. I'm not sure why he doesn't just send out a private memo (or maybe he has).



   49. vivaelpujols Posted: January 12, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4345545)
I definitely take it as trying to shoot down the "are PED users supposed to be worse human beings than racist Cap Anson/crazy Ty Cobb/etc.?" argument that is often made.


I disagree. Ty Cobb cleating that guy during a baseball game is certainly relevant to the game of baseball. Definitely fits under "respect for the game".
   50. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4345547)
To be fair, I'm a small-hall guy. It's only this year that I can think of as a ballot where I'd consider there to be 10 worthy HOfers. In 2012, I'd have only had seven guys to vote for (Bagwell, Walker, Larkin, Trammell, Raines, Palmeiro, McGwire).

Seven is a big ballot, especially for last year's slate. I also would've had seven (I'd swap Martinez in for Palmeiro) and I consider myself a big-hall guy.

Historically the writers have done that with Ty Cobb and then not done that with Rose.

The writers didn't do anything with Rose.
   51. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 12, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4345548)
Dupe.
   52. CrosbyBird Posted: January 12, 2013 at 06:38 PM (#4345754)
Seven is a big ballot, especially for last year's slate. I also would've had seven (I'd swap Martinez in for Palmeiro) and I consider myself a big-hall guy.

These guys are all repeats, though. Trammell, Bagwell, and Larkin are players that really are slam-dunks for even small-hall guys. I could see people disagreeing on Walker (not weighting defense and baserunning as heavily as I do for him), Raines (didn't stay good long enough), Palmeiro (accumulator, poor relative peak), and McGwire (a player particularly susceptible to the "but for steroids" argument). The logjam was already starting in 2011 or even earlier.

I should clarify that I mean players who merit the HOF (or at least have a fairly strong argument for induction), not necessarily those who are elected. Since the average HOF career is so long (WAG 17 yrs?), there ought to be quite a bit of overlap.
I'm likely a bigger-hall guy than you, but one HOF per team seems really small - especially when you acknowledge that they don't all need to be in their primes.


I don't know.

Let's look back at the 2000-2009 ballots. Here are the players I vote for (and continue to vote for until inducted or removed from the ballot) listed in the first year of the sample where they show up:

2000: Blyleven, Fisk, Carter, Hernandez
2001: nobody
2002: Ozzie, Trammell
2003: Murray, Sandberg
2004: Molitor
2005: Boggs
2006: nobody
2007: Ripken, Gwynn, McGwire
2008: Raines
2009: Rickey

That's a ten year run of HOF voting with only 15 inductees (it's actually worse, because Hernandez, Blyleven, Carter, and Fisk aren't on the ballot for the first time in 2000). I think expansion, population growth, and international presence might push that up a little, but I don't think you get close to 60 legitimate HOFers in the league at the same time.

EDIT: You might have 60 argument-worthy players, though, especially if you consider guys like Saberhagen or Appier argument-worthy.
   53. Booey Posted: January 12, 2013 at 11:23 PM (#4345928)
I think 60 active HOFers in a given year sounds terribly high. Maybe 30-40 (counting players that debut but eventually become HOFers and HOFers playing out the garbage at the end of a career).


Well, let's take a random year and see. I started collecting baseball cards and memorizing stats after the 1987 season, so let's look at that one. There's currently 26 players in the HOF who were active in 1987, including those who were just starting out and those who were finishing up - Niekro, Murray, Ripken, Boggs, Rice, Sutton, Sandberg, Dawson, Fisk, Larkin, Carlton, Ryan, Brett, Molitor, Yount, Puckett, Blyleven, Carter, Winfield, Henderson, Reggie, Eckersley, Schmidt, Gwynn, Gossage, Ozzie.

Plus there are at least 4 more that look like locks for future induction - Maddux, Glavine, Morris (will be VC for sure if not next year), Raines.

Plus 4 more who would be in if not for roids - Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro.

There's also 14 additional HoMers, some of whom may be eventual VC selections - Ted Simmons, Graig Nettles, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Darrell Evans, Dwight Evans, Bret Saberhagen, Willie Randolph, Keith Hernandez, David Cone, Rick Reuschel, Edgar Martinez, Will Clark, Dave Stieb.

And lastly, there's several other players that won't make the HoM but who also seem like possible VC choices, guys like Dale Murphy, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, Dave Parker, Dave Concepcion, Don Mattingly, Steve Garvey, Fred McGriff (the only one of these players I'd vote for), etc.

I realize this is just one random year and it may vary wildly from season to season, but if you add the first 3 groups you get 34; throw in a handful of the last two groups from the VC and yeah, 40 looks about right*. Good call, Crosby.



* This was a 26 team league, though, so more modern seasons may deserve a few more.




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