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Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoma: Baseball Hall of Fame approaches a crossroads

Make Ed Thoma a BBWAA Chapter Chairperson!...Or at least let him walk Yogi around on stage or something!

But here’s the thing: Nobody’s numbers should be taken at face value. All baseball stats are creatures of context.

The National League — the entire league, pitchers included — hit .303 in 1930. In the American League in 1968, no regular player hit better than .301. An outfielder in the 1930 NL who hit .290 wasn’t helping; an outfielder in the 1968 AL who hit .290 was a star.

Shifting from the general to the specific:

Christy Mathewson pitched his entire career with darkened, mushy baseballs. Babe Ruth didn’t compete with black players. Ted Williams lost years to military service. Mel Ott piled up home runs in a particularly friendly venue. Sandy Koufax benefited from a high pitchers mound. Mike Schmidt spent most of his career on artificial turf.

And Bonds, Clemens and company starred in the steroid era. Deal with it.

...If the Hall of Fame electorate doesn’t see it that way — if the writers block Bonds and Clemens (and Sosa and Piazza) as they have Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jeff Bagwell — the backlog of candidates will become oppressive.

The suspect will be excluded. The nonsuspect might be too, because so much attention will be devoted to the suspects. And if they are admitted while clearly superior players are out, that’s not good either.

Repoz Posted: July 25, 2011 at 11:14 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, projections, rumors, sabermetrics, steroids

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   1. BDC Posted: July 25, 2011 at 01:33 PM (#3884655)
Bonds, Clemens and company starred in the steroid era. Deal with it


The problem is that people deal with it in two diametrically-opposed ways. One camp says "they're great with or without steroids" and votes them in; the other says "they cheated with or without greatness" and keeps them out. The assumptions are very different.

For the latter camp, that sentence is like saying "Jackson, Cicotte, and company starred in the game-throwing era. Deal with it."
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 25, 2011 at 01:52 PM (#3884666)
The problem is that people deal with it in two diametrically-opposed ways. One camp says "they're great with or without steroids" and votes them in; the other says "they cheated with or without greatness" and keeps them out. The assumptions are very different.

For the latter camp, that sentence is like saying "Jackson, Cicotte, and company starred in the game-throwing era. Deal with it."


All right, we are two nations. Deal with it.
   3. Wins Above Paul Westerberg Posted: July 25, 2011 at 02:32 PM (#3884702)
Ha! This article is from the Mankato Free Press, a terrible paper even by townie-paper standards.

In 1920, in what has to be one of Minnesota's darkest moments, there was a lynching of three black men in Duluth. Everyone - the community, the state, the nation - was outraged. Except the Mankato Free Press, which famously ran an editorial shortly after declaring the lynching as okay by them.

And if that doesn't make your skin crawl, remember: Vikings spring-training goes down in Mankato. It's a God-forsaken town. And my family's from there.
   4. Babe Adams Posted: July 25, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3884723)
It would seem simple enough to cut the 15 years on the ballot down to 5, so that some of these guys would already be leaving the ballot.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: July 25, 2011 at 03:02 PM (#3884731)
It would seem simple enough to cut the 15 years on the ballot down to 5, so that some of these guys would already be leaving the ballot.


I don't think that would be helpful. Some very deserving Hall of Famers (including one who just went in Sunday) needed time to build a candidacy. I can see having different levels of support required to stay on the ballot, such as 20 percent after 5 years or 40 percent after 10, but a hard limit on years eligibility will make worse the problem of not enough deserving guys making it.

But I do think this guy's overall point is correct. Hall of Fame voting is entering a very challenging period, and I personally think the Hall's board may need to deliver some guidance on the issue if it doesn't want a mess that results in the election of a small handful of guys (Maddux, Griffey, Big Unit) and nobody else.
   6. DanG Posted: July 25, 2011 at 03:43 PM (#3884754)
I personally think the Hall's board may need to deliver some guidance on the issue if it doesn't want a mess
Yes; already long overdue.

One simple solution would be to shorten Rule 5:

Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#3884969)
One simple solution would be to shorten Rule 5:

Except that would solve nothing. The HoF voters don't have to justify their votes any more than the guy who votes for the presidential candidate he'd most like to have a beer with.

Some sizeable chunk of the voters consider steroids to be "cheating". Changing a rule to say "vote on their playing record even if they achieved it by cheating" is not going to sway those voters.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#3884970)
Grrr ... f'ing oversensitive new laptop touchpad...
   9. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2011 at 08:31 PM (#3884971)
See #8
   10. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: July 25, 2011 at 08:52 PM (#3885000)
And if that doesn't make your skin crawl, remember: Vikings spring-training goes down in Mankato. It's a God-forsaken town. And my family's from there.


I've been to mankato a few times. I have friends who live there. It seemed to me to be a perfectly pleasant small midwestern town.
   11. Jay Z Posted: July 25, 2011 at 08:57 PM (#3885007)
Voting Induction shall be based upon the player's WAR record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played


Fixed.
   12. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 25, 2011 at 09:01 PM (#3885017)
Except that would solve nothing. The HoF voters don't have to justify their votes any more than the guy who votes for the presidential candidate he'd most like to have a beer with.

Some sizeable chunk of the voters consider steroids to be "cheating". Changing a rule to say "vote on their playing record even if they achieved it by cheating" is not going to sway those voters.
Besides, it will never happen; the media would report this as "The HOF says that integrity no longer matters." Not exactly good PR. If they make a change, it will be more subtle.
   13. DanG Posted: July 25, 2011 at 09:42 PM (#3885052)
The HoF voters don't have to justify their votes
There's your solution then.
Not exactly good PR.
Sure, let's not make any changes until we're sure it'll go well with the MSM.

OK, make this change to Rule 5:

Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, contributions to the team(s) on which the player played and teh FEAR.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: July 25, 2011 at 11:39 PM (#3885107)
The HoF voters don't have to justify their votes
There's your solution then.


After all they are writers, so why not require every vote to be public and require them to write an article explaining their selection, and defending their omissions. (mind you I think this is overkill personally, I think if they just have a rule saying that ped allegations or facts are not to be considered as an integrity or character issue, then I think several voters will change their mind on the issue. I don't think all will, and heck I think some will use it to even say "I voted for him but I protest" etc)
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: July 25, 2011 at 11:42 PM (#3885109)
Nobody seemed to have noticed that he said it was Blyleven's last trip on the ballot.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: July 26, 2011 at 06:42 AM (#3885529)
After all they are writers, so why not require every vote to be public and require them to write an article explaining their selection, and defending their omissions.

To what end? Many do that already of course but no matter how tortured their logic ("I'm just not a Rickey guy") they get to keep voting.

I think if they just have a rule saying that ped allegations or facts are not to be considered as an integrity or character issue

Such "guidance" might be useful but is different than striking "integrity, etc." from a rule nobody pays attention to anyway unless it suits their purpose. But it's still tough from a PR position: "HoF says use of illegal drugs is not a character issue" followed by the obvious slippery slope arguments. Probably better would be "Because MLB had no rules or punishment of PED usage until 2003 (or whenever), evidence of PED usage prior to that year should not be considered 'cheating.'" One it puts the blame on baseball, second is legalistic and third still allows those who want to cite "character". But I seriously doubt any guidance, rule change, etc. will get Palmeiro or McGwire elected and I'm pretty sure Manny is completely toast.

With this, the Conlin coloured plaques silliness and I think there was another similar article last week, we might finally be seeing some cracks in the anti-steroid backlash.

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