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Sunday, January 06, 2013

WSJ: Marchman: Let the People Have a Vote

An argument against.

Hall of Fame arguments are so bad because… the debate… is essentially an ideological one about how the sport should be covered… it is fundamentally nonsensical, irrelevant to an appreciation of great ballplayers like Kenny Lofton and Larry Walker. The worst element, though, is that the writers debating all of this have the franchise even though there’s no real reason for them to have it: They have no special knowledge of the game relative to anyone else, and they’ve never done a good job.

The first point here, that writers know little more than anyone else, shouldn’t be especially controversial. The voters are (theoretically) good at writing about baseball, which has no obvious connection to assessing what players’ legacies mean within the broad context of 160 years of history. No one who wanted to know who the most important presidents of all time were would think to poll political reporters rather than historians or the public. Why do the same in baseball?

The second point should be even less controversial. In 1938, there were more than 50 future Hall of Famers on the ballot, including Eddie Collins and Rogers Hornsby, the two best second basemen of all time. One player, Pete Alexander, was elected. This year, with at least a dozen truly great players on the ballot, it seems quite likely that none, or one at most, will be voted in. The intervening years comprised an uninterrupted run of botches and inexplicable calls.

In light of this, it’s hard to understand how the public would do a clearly worse job. Average baseball fans may not have any special insight into the men who play the game, but then neither do most Hall voters, who in many cases haven’t actively covered the sport for years. The fans wouldn’t always pick the right players, but then neither does a voting body that never got around to electing Johnny Mize and Arky Vaughan, genuine all-time greats.

The best thing about a public vote, though, would be its inherent legitimacy. If baseball fans were to vote in Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, that would end all sorts of handwringing over whether players who used (or, more often, are weakly alleged to have used) performance enhancing drugs are worthy of being honored alongside past greats of dubious character. If they weren’t voted in, that would offer clear proof that the public really does consider the use of steroids different from the use of amphetamines, racism, violent tendencies, or other characterological defects displayed by the already enshrined. Either way, the focus would be on baseball and memory, not on the useless philosophizing of 600 or so sportswriters.

The District Attorney Posted: January 06, 2013 at 11:23 PM | 73 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, tim marchman

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   1. JRVJ Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:20 AM (#4340460)
Don't buy it.

Best argument against: the IMDB 250, and I say this as somebody that actually got to see Shawshank when it was playing in a movie theater in February 1995 (and deeply love it).

If HoF inductions are going to be subject to popular vote, we will get an even worse HoF than we have now.
   2. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:22 AM (#4340461)
If the vote was given to the public, you'd end up with guys like Roger Maris getting elected off of name value.
   3. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:41 AM (#4340477)
Yeah, this is silly. Look whom the public elects to Congress and the Presidency. Read the "discussions" at Yahoo Sports.

The best thing about a public vote, though, would be its inherent legitimacy.


Ah--so Stephen King really IS one of the all-time great writers!!
   4. bobm Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:48 AM (#4340482)
[T]he writers debating all of this have the franchise even though there’s no real reason for them to have it: They have no special knowledge of the game relative to anyone else, and they’ve never done a good job.because they write newspaper articles like this one essentially at no cost to MLB that promote the business of baseball and a Hall of Fame located in the middle of nowhere based on the Abner Doubleday myth.


FTFY
   5. SteveM. Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:07 AM (#4340494)
The people also elected Richard M. Nixon president twice.
   6. dave h Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:21 AM (#4340501)
I think the IMDB Top 250 is great. Shawshank is a great movie and a completely reasonable choice for #1. I actually just saw it in the theater today, and on the 20th watching it is still incredible. The rest of the list is very good as well, although I think it's gotten a bit worse in the last five years or so and is getting somewhat too modern. I think this analogy indicates the fans should have the vote, because I think the IMDB list is far better than say, the AFI list.
   7. OCF Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:35 AM (#4340513)
In 1999, a public vote was held to name the "All-Century Team" for 20th century baseball. And here's what the public, in its infinite wisdom, chose:

C: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra
1B: Lou Gehrig, Mark McGwire
2B: Jackie Robinson, Rogers Hornsby
3B: Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson
SS: Cal Ripken, Jr., Ernie Banks
OF: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Ken Griffey, Jr., Pete Rose
P: Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Bob Gibson, Walter Johnson

There was a "panel of experts" given the power to override egregious omissions; that panel added Honus Wagner, Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, Christy Mathewson, and Lefty Grove.

The biggest points of public controversy afterwards were about the inclusion of Rose (something of a nose-thumbing gesture by people who knew very well that Rose was banned) and the exclusion of Roberto Clemente (who finished one spot out of the outfield list). But you can look at other aspects of it.

One 1990's first basemen on the list, and it's McGwire? One 1990's outfielder on the list and it's Griffey rather than Bonds? Nolan Ryan as one of the six greatest pitchers of the century? So much to chew on here. Sure, they got some obvious cases right, but they also missed some obvious ones like Wagner and Grove. (One could quibble that while Cy Young was indeed great, half or more of his value lies outside the 20th Century. And you could quibble with the "experts" picking Mathewson over Alexander.)
   8. Tripon Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:37 AM (#4340515)

If the vote was given to the public, you'd end up with guys like Roger Maris getting elected off of name value.


It is called the Hall of Fame. Roger Maris is more famous than say, Jim Rice. A hall that actually celebrates its most famous players regardless of actual statistical production would be interesting, and probably the only hall that a guy like Steve Garvey could make.
   9. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:41 AM (#4340519)
I think the IMDB Top 250 is great.

Well considering the voters all seem to be blokes aged between 25-40, it's an awesome list for them. I too like many of the films on the list, but there is no possible way in any universe that Fight Club should be in the top 10.

I agree with you that is slanted towards to modern films. I know there are guys on this forum who know a lot more about older films then I do if you can get one them to recommend a few things, you'd see some pretty amazing movies.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:45 AM (#4340522)
The intervening years comprised an uninterrupted run of botches and inexplicable calls.

Huh? Every election since 1938 has been botched and/or inexplicable?

If they weren’t voted in, that would offer clear proof that the public really does consider the use of steroids different from the use of amphetamines, racism, violent tendencies, or other characterological defects displayed by the already enshrined.

Of course it wouldn't. The public is largely ignorant on every topic. Election or non-election of B/C would tell you as much on this topic as the re-election of Obama tells you about how the public feels about grain subsidies. What percentage of the public are even aware that amps were commonplace in baseball? Heck, those who voted for the All-Century team didn't even elect Honus Wagner and you think they know who the racists in the HoF are?

It would be a referendum on the popularity of B/C at a given point in time, that popularity certainly affected by media coverage. It would tell you nothing about how the public compares B/C with Aaron/Gibson much less Cobb/Johnson.

If there's an advantage it's to the HoF's bottom line in letting its potential market decide who they're willing to show up to see* plus the marketing (and corporate advertising!) generated by the voting. All told this probably would be a good money-maker for the HoF ... or to have a separate "fan's choice" election after the BBWAA.

For the first 50-60 years, the BBWAA was doing a pretty bang-up job. If anything they were being too strict -- only a couple guys who got through probably didn't deserve it. Over the last 15-20 years though, yes, the elections of Perez, Puckett, Rice, Sutter, Gossage (and arguably Dawson and a few others) and the strong performance of Morris along with the easy dismissal of darn good candidates does suggest they're a bit all over the place these days. But even I'm not sure that's more than the result of having relatively few "great" candidates (who were all elected 1st ballot) and the selection from the uninspiring backlog having more randomness come into play.

*Except that anybody who works in marketing will tell you that doesn't work very well -- people are always telling you one thing and doing another.
   11. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:16 AM (#4340549)
Don't give the public the keys but it would be fun to give them a vote. As in a single vote to be tallied along with the rest of them and counted for or against the 75%. Maybe after five years of public 'yes' votes on Bonds and the others, the writers would figure out that no one except them really gives a #### about PED usage.
   12. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:26 AM (#4340551)
I too like many of the films on the list, but there is no possible way in any universe that Fight Club should be in the top 10.

10 is way too low.
   13. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:05 AM (#4340555)
Compiled in 1999, the top ten novels of the 20th century, as chosen by the board of the Modern Library publishing house:

1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce
4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck

The top ten novels of the 20th century, as determined by public voting in the Modern Library's concurrent readers' poll:

1. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
2. THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
3. BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
6. 1984 by George Orwell
7. ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
8. WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand
9. MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
10. FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard
   14. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 07, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4340570)
Well, 1984's a reasonable choice, and Tolkein and Lee are good reads. As for the others, if a box containing those seven washed ashore and were my only source of entertainment, I'd open a vein.

Has Modern Library not heard of Proust? I assume they have, therefore I assume the choices were among only English novels. Looks like the IMDB top 250 draws largely on English films, making it a fairly pointless exercise. It's like having a Hall of Fame with 150 first basemen.

I think the IMDB Top 250 is great. Shawshank is a great movie and a completely reasonable choice for #1. I actually just saw it in the theater today, and on the 20th watching it is still incredible. The rest of the list is very good as well, although I think it's gotten a bit worse in the last five years or so and is getting somewhat too modern. I think this analogy indicates the fans should have the vote, because I think the IMDB list is far better than say, the AFI list.


That you enjoy the heck out of a movie is only one small component of its greatness (or lack). In fact, the movies we really, really enjoy very often are not great; great films challenge us, they don't confirm our views or play to them in ways designed to please us. Shawshank is not a great film precisely for that reason.

That said, Shawshank is a very pleasing, wholly contrived story of a man's fall into hell and through his escape from hell, redemption. Other than Andy, there isn't a single interesting character in the film. No one else has any complexity or any ambiguity whatsover to him, the way every human does (the three villains are paricularly cartoonish); instead, we have two-dimensional characters put through their paces. It's all leavened with just enough pain and anguish to feel sort of real.

We don't, for example, experience Red's passage to understanding. We hear only his description of it in the parole hearing. It's just a story he tells. Compare that with how Le Stephanou earns his redemption in Rififi, and with that film's much more ambivalent, although nominally happy ending. Compare that with Shawshank's absolutely pat, happy ending. Then compare that with the "happy" ending of Memento, which is much more complex, resonant, and interesting.

Shawshank is an enormously satisfying film, but there's almost nothing interesting about it.

edit: I also wanted to note how preposterous the repeated gang rapes are in Shawshank. According to Red, Andy is gang raped more often than not when he's attacked by "the sisters", and he puts up for a long time with his asshole being regularly ripped open. The world never works that way. Short of being a vegetable a man who is gang raped and knows it's going to happen over and over again to him gets himself a shank and murders the leader of his assailants. It's not conceivable that a reasonably fit man like Andy would behave the way he does. It's just a very, very badly written, completely unbelievable section of the film.


.
   15. boteman Posted: January 07, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4340593)
It is called the Hall of Fame. Roger Maris is more famous than say, Jim Rice. A hall that actually celebrates its most famous players regardless of actual statistical production would be interesting...

When I (half-jokingly) made a similar point here a few years ago, I was excoriated for my foolishness and shallowness. Beware.

But these days, with so much performance and historical information available online for most players, is the HoF even necessary as physical institution? I used to dream of one day driving up to Cooperstown, but now I figure "Why bother?" I can view photos, maybe even videos, of a player's greatness, read his biography, see a photo of the baseball from a famous game or play attributed to him, and so on all from the comfort of my home.

How much do I miss by not visiting the HoF? And by extension, what value does the existence of the HoF hold these days?
   16. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4340603)
One 1990's first basemen on the list, and it's McGwire? One 1990's outfielder on the list and it's Griffey rather than Bonds? Nolan Ryan as one of the six greatest pitchers of the century? So much to chew on here. Sure, they got some obvious cases right, but they also missed some obvious ones like Wagner and Grove. (One could quibble that while Cy Young was indeed great, half or more of his value lies outside the 20th Century. And you could quibble with the "experts" picking Mathewson over Alexander.)


A public informed by the sportswriters of the day would assume Griffey to be the better player than Bonds. It would be an incorrect assumptions, given the fact that Bonds was hated and thus his greatness as an OF to-date (that is to say, through his 1999 season) was terribly undersold to the general public, and due to the fact that Griffey's career had not yet been derailed completely by injury. In 1999 it was an obvious mistake to leave Bonds off of the OF list, but not an obvious mistake to include Griffey. (Note also that the vote happened in the immediate media aftermath of McGwire/Sosa's chase for the single season HR title in 1998, which skews the voting away from Bonds-99, who was at that point simply the greatest all around baseball player alive, but not as of yet a 70+ HR mashing fool. (One can do one's own math on how being left off of the All-Time Greats team, while 'roided up Mark McGwire was included, might have impacted Bonds' decisions about his career's final act.)

The other clear misses by the public vote on that team were all historical misses. That is to say, the public failed to vote for the superstars from before the television era. Again, this is a sampling bias and a media saturation bias issue, not a voting by the public issue. I think we can say with some degree of certainty that historical inductees shouldn't be voted on by the general public. Historical performers should be voted on by historians. But that doesn't really indicate that recent qualifiers shouldn't be voted on by the general public. If you limit the obvious mistakes from the 1999 vote to television era players, the only clear mistakes was the omission of Bonds and the inclusion of Ryan. We've covered why Bonds was under appreciated by the general public in 1999 (i.e. the media hated him and simply didn't report his greatness to their audiences.) Ryan was just one of those guys whose character (in the Disney sense, not in the moral reasoning sense) and legend (7 no-hitters) outweighed his statistical evaluations, in the public eye. That will happen on the edges of any popular vote, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. As has been said above, it is a Hall of Fame, after all.

And going forward the problem of media bias sabotaging a player's reputation, the way it did Bonds, should be lessened, what with the internets and all.
   17. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4340605)
The top ten novels of the 20th century, as determined by public voting in the Modern Library's concurrent readers' poll:

1. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
2. THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
3. BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
6. 1984 by George Orwell
7. ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
8. WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand
9. MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
10. FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard


Wait, that can't be right, ANATHEM wasn't written until 2008.
   18. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4340611)
Has Modern Library not heard of Proust?


Internet poll, almost certainly. Thus skewed to the hyper-active Randian nutters who troll the internet.
   19. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4340617)
12. AJM Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:26 AM (#4340551)

I too like many of the films on the list, but there is no possible way in any universe that Fight Club should be in the top 10.

10 is way too low.

1,000 is way too high.
   20. dave h Posted: January 07, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4340618)
The list in 13 is a good indication that you would need to keep the system from being gamed. It's a tough job to make the voting difficult enough that only interested people vote, but not so difficult that only rabid partisans vote. I don't necessarily think it's a good idea, but it's not outrageous.

And I don't understand the movies people keep coming up with as counterexamples. Fight Club is also a spectacular movie, even though I don't agree with the premise. It's not necessarily top 10, but it's not an egregious mistake. And while there are too many modern movies, I believe that's more a problem with movies that have come out since the list started; i.e. it's a problem with how they weight number of votes in their results. There are still plenty of older movies, and I think any good list will be somewhat skewed to newer stuff. Whether or not we've gotten better at making movies (and I think we have) there are just so many more of them being made, so I don't see any reason why most of the greatest movies of all time would be fairly recent.

That you enjoy the heck out of a movie is only one small component of its greatness (or lack). In fact, the movies we really, really enjoy very often are not great; great films challenge us, they don't confirm our views or play to them in ways designed to please us. Shawshank is not a great film precisely for that reason.


That's just like, your opinion man. I think enjoyment is a large component - although it's not just limited to movies that make me happy. At the very list it's necessary, if not sufficient. The AFI list is just snobbery - I take the list that includes Die Hard any day.
   21. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4340622)
And I don't understand the movies people keep coming up with as counterexamples. Fight Club is also a spectacular movie, even though I don't agree with the premise. It's not necessarily top 10, but it's not an egregious mistake. And while there are too many modern movies, I believe that's more a problem with movies that have come out since the list started; i.e. it's a problem with how they weight number of votes in their results. There are still plenty of older movies, and I think any good list will be somewhat skewed to newer stuff. Whether or not we've gotten better at making movies (and I think we have) there are just so many more of them being made, so I don't see any reason why most of the greatest movies of all time would be fairly recent.


In any popularity poll, voters will display a recency bias. That's just how the human primate's brain works.
   22. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4340635)
The top ten novels of the 20th century, as determined by public voting in the Modern Library's concurrent readers' poll:

1. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
2. THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
3. BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
4. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
6. 1984 by George Orwell
7. ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
8. WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand
9. MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard
10. FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard


Great, 7 out of 10 books written by the founders of two of the creepiest cults of the 20th century. OTOH at least one of the cultists didn't make it to the vice presidency, so that's some consolation.

But then when you look at the Modern Library's own list, it is kind of strange to see that the entire 20th century is represented by works that were published between the early 1920's (Ulysses) and the early 1960's (Catch-22), even though the voting was conducted in 1999. It may or may not be a coincidence that the Modern Library itself was founded in 1917 and took off as a publishing phenomenon in the mid-1920's.

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

The AFI list is just snobbery

Not hardly, it just reflects the age of the people who picked it, and if anything it's a tamer and more whitebread list than the IMDB version. The real problem is the conceit that the "100 best movies" or the "10 best novels" can possibly be determined with any sort of objectivity. It's like trying to argue that Chuck Berry was a "better" singer than Mick Jagger, or that Bach was a "greater" composer than Beethoven, or vice versa. Arguments like that are fun, but inherently it's just a stupid and impossible exercise.
   23. Mayor Blomberg Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4340638)
Andy, Sons and Lovers was 1913. But I'd agree that the lack of Conrad and late James are surprising, but how much more surprising than Woolf's absence?
   24. The District Attorney Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4340647)
Maybe after five years of public 'yes' votes on Bonds and the others, the writers would figure out that no one except them really gives a #### about PED usage.
Unfortunately, I think it's complete fantasy to think that the public at large would vote that way.

I suppose we would never know for sure until we tried it, but I find it very likely that the public would routinely turn in votes that made the omissions of Johnny Mize and Arky Vaughan look brilliant. I mean, Mize and Vaughan deserve to be in, but I'd hope we could all agree that even without them, we could still have a HOF that generally did a good job of honoring the best players. I think that would cease to be the case very quickly with a public vote.

Voting makes sense in a democracy because the entire principle there is self-determination, rather than honoring "the most deserving" person in some more objective sense.
   25. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4340651)
Sight and Sound's Greatest Film's Poll is more wide-ranging, and has critics and directors as voters. That's an interesting mix. The Top 20 films includes directors from Sweden, Russia, Japan, Britain, America, Italy, France, Denmark. I'm always interested in how many small pictures make the list. I would have thought directors would have particularly appreciated degree of difficulty in making a film, though Apocalypse Now and 2001 are pretty high up there. And if a list doesn't have Tokyo story somewhere in the top 20, it's a joke.

The BFI's Top 100 is pretty scary. Somewhere in the 40s is Gregory's Girl. I know they had a war to deal with, but it gets thin awfully fast.

Wait. Someone would actually argue Beethoven was better than Bach? WTF?
   26. boteman Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4340662)
do while true {
printf 
"Tastes great! Less filling!"
}
enddo 
   27. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4340665)
Wait. Someone would actually argue Beethoven was better than Bach? WTF?

"Better" in this sentence is a bit unfair, and I'm in a camp that in the absense of an actual god, I instead have no problem worshipping Johann Sebastian.
   28. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4340673)
I suppose we would never know for sure until we tried it, but I find it very likely that the public would routinely turn in votes that made the omissions of Johnny Mize and Arky Vaughan look brilliant.


If anything, opening the HOF to a public vote would create distance between the HOF and the HOM, which might be a really good thing in the long run. Hall of Fame with Nolan Ryan and Jim Rice? No problem. Hall of Merit with no Jim Rice? No problem.

It's probably time to stop pretending that the Hall of Fame is about merit.
   29. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4340687)
Andy, Sons and Lovers was 1913.

Sorry, my bad on that one.

But I'd agree that the lack of Conrad and late James are surprising, but how much more surprising than Woolf's absence?

Or Ralph Ellison, or any one of a number of others. (You'll note that those top 10 writers had certain genetic traits in common.) When you've got only 10 slots to fill and an entire century's worth of novels to fill them with, you're basically conducting a Rorschach test of the voters as much as any kind of objective survey.

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

Sight and Sound's Greatest Film's Poll is more wide-ranging, and has critics and directors as voters. That's an interesting mix. The Top 20 films includes directors from Sweden, Russia, Japan, Britain, America, Italy, France, Denmark. I'm always interested in how many small pictures make the list. I would have thought directors would have particularly appreciated degree of difficulty in making a film, though Apocalypse Now and 2001 are pretty high up there.

I've visited that Sight and Sound poll way too often, and I agree that it's more "credible" (if that's the word) than any other poll out there, because of the range of people it surveys, and just the fact that it's not restricting itself to the Hollywood product. But given that the list seems to change with every passing decade, even for films that hadn't just become eligible for voting, it only goes to show just how fluid the idea of "greatest" can be.

And if a list doesn't have Tokyo Story somewhere in the top 20, it's a joke.

I'd tend to agree with that opinion about one of my favorite movies, although to me any list that leaves out Angi Vera is even more suspect.

Wait. Someone would actually argue Beethoven was better than Bach? WTF?

Bach is my Composer God as well as Lassus's, but I have no idea how I could ever "prove" his "objective" superiority over Beethoven.
   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4340691)
It's probably time to stop pretending that the Hall of Fame is [exclusively] about [statistical] merit.

Add those two words, and then tell it to your friends here who seem to confuse the two institutions, in spite of 77 years' worth of countering experience.
   31. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4340700)
The other clear misses by the public vote on that team were all historical misses. That is to say, the public failed to vote for the superstars from before the television era. Again, this is a sampling bias and a media saturation bias issue, not a voting by the public issue. I think we can say with some degree of certainty that historical inductees shouldn't be voted on by the general public.
Right; as I pointed out at the time, Honus Wagner was not excluded because the public said, ""Wagner? He wasn't that good. He played in a weak league and how many home runs did he hit, anyway?" He was excluded because the public said, "Who?" Judging Wagner to not be good enough for the ACT is stupid; not knowing who he is is just ignorance.
   32. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4340702)
I too like many of the films on the list, but there is no possible way in any universe that Fight Club should be in the top 10.

10 is way too low.


1,000 is way too high.
See, Lassus? We agree on something.
   33. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4340704)
Bach is my Composer God as well as Lassus's, but I have no idea how I could ever "prove" his "objective" superiority over Beethoven.

Those guys are good, but they're no Smokey Robinson.
   34. AROM Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4340726)
If HoF inductions are going to be subject to popular vote, we will get an even worse HoF than we have now.


They can't possibly screw up the voting as bad as the 2013 voters are doing. At worst they'll be equally bad.

Turning it over to the public makes me wonder what public? I think this could work out great if the HOF acts in it's self interest here. After all, the reason no living inductees is a bad thing for them and the city of Cooperstown is that it means too little business next summer.

So provide an in person ballot to every person who buys a ticket to the museum during the year. Set up a new candidate wing, showing video, memorabilia, and highlights for every candidate on the ballot. Let people decide who they want to vote for during their day in the museum, and turn it in at the exit.

Anybody here who'd make a trip to Cooperstown, that you otherwise might not make, to fill out your ballot? I try to go there every few years. I think something like this would make it a must do, every year trip for me.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4340730)
So provide an in person ballot to every person who buys a ticket to the museum during the year. Set up a new candidate wing, showing video, memorabilia, and highlights for every candidate on the ballot. Let people decide who they want to vote for during their day in the museum, and turn it in at the exit.


I think something like that's an excellent idea. There are any number of ways you could handle it to make it work.
   36. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4340738)
I do, too.

But... then again, do you really want that heavy a voting bias from Syracuse, Binghamton, Schenectady, and Utica? That's doofus territory.
   37. Tim Marchman Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4340769)
I think that's a very good idea. You could probably even tour the exhibit around to every major league city during the year. Anyone who went to see it would get a vote. It would do a lot more to increase knowledge and appreciation of both baseball and the Hall of Fame than polling sportswriters or locking a bunch of historians up in a room somewhere to come to scientifically correct conclusions, and if it ended up with Jack Morris in and Roger Clemens out, so what?
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4340771)
You could probably even tour the exhibit around to every major league city during the year.


Yeah, you'd probably want a way around the geography bias issue Lassus raises.

   39. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4340786)
Add those two words, and then tell it to your friends here who seem to confuse the two institutions, in spite of 77 years' worth of countering experience.


Just as soon as you explain to the old folks home that no, seriously, Barry Bonds was really famous as well as really good, chief.
   40. boteman Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4340792)
I think that's a very good idea. You could probably even tour the exhibit around to every major league city during the year.

So...like the All-Star Game balloting, then?
   41. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4340795)
Anybody here who'd make a trip to Cooperstown, that you otherwise might not make, to fill out your ballot?


I have never considered a trip to Cooperstown - museums are things I visit when I go to major cities, not things I make a trip into bumblefuck upstate NY to visit. In that sense, I think of the Baseball HOF a bit like I think of the World's Largest Ball of Twine, or Wall Drug. I've sort of internalized as this really overhyped, baseball themed version of a corn maze.

If they did this thing with a ballot/vote, I would consider visiting. If they did it with a travelling exhibit to major league cities, I'd definitely go.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4340807)

So...like the All-Star Game balloting, then?


Sort of, but it would be like old-time All-Star voting that had to be done at the stadium (and, presumably, no ballot stuffing). The main purpose isn't really to get the fans involved in the process, but to get more people into the Hall of Fame/its on-the-road counterpart.
   43. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4340809)
I have never considered a trip to Cooperstown - museums are things I visit when I go to major cities, not things I make a trip into bumblefuck upstate NY to visit. In that sense, I think of the Baseball HOF a bit like I think of the World's Largest Ball of Twine, or Wall Drug. I've sort of internalized as this really overhyped, baseball themed version of a corn maze.

Hyperbole is not valid by default just because you (plural) uttered it.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:53 PM (#4340819)
Hyperbole is not valid by default just because you (plural) uttered it.


In contrast, Sam uttering something damn near invalidates it by default.

   45. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4340829)
In contrast, Sam uttering something damn near invalidates it by default.


Invalidates questioning it's obvious truth!
   46. Dudefella Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4340832)
On the HOF itself: IMO if you like baseball it's worth a trip at least once in a lifetime. Regardless of how one feels about the BBWAA and its various chicaneries, the museum is pretty great and the library is fantastic. And Cooperstown, as a town, might be a small place, but it's beautiful (including Otsego Lake and the nearby countryside), there are plenty of other things to do even if you don't like hiking or boating, and you could very easily spend a perfectly charming long weekend up there. It's no metropolis, but it's not a bumblefuck either.
   47. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4340836)
It's no metropolis, but it's not a bumblefuck either.


Are you saying it's bigger than Royston, GA?
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4340837)
Add those two words, and then tell it to your friends here who seem to confuse the two institutions, in spite of 77 years' worth of countering experience.

Just as soon as you explain to the old folks home that no, seriously, Barry Bonds was really famous as well as really good, chief.


Sam, I'm having a hard enough time explaining why you're not in the Hall of Fame, let alone some parvenu like Barry Bonds. Let's take it one step at a time.
   49. AROM Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4340838)
I think that's a very good idea. You could probably even tour the exhibit around to every major league city during the year. Anyone who went to see it would get a vote. It would do a lot more to increase knowledge and appreciation of both baseball and the Hall of Fame than polling sportswriters or locking a bunch of historians up in a room somewhere to come to scientifically correct conclusions, and if it ended up with Jack Morris in and Roger Clemens out, so what?


Yeah, I think that kind of system is one where I could be OK if it results in Jack Morris or Roger Maris (if such an idea is applied to players that only a veteran's committee can consider) getting in. There would be a stark line between what the Hall of Fame is and what the Hall of Merit is in that case.

There is obviously a difference now. I think the reason it bothers me is that the HOF goes through a pretense of limiting the gatekeepers to experts, but then so many of them display a complete lack of understanding of the game, or ability for critical thinking. And you wind up with a process that concludes Jim Rice was better than Dwight Evans, or that Jack Morris was better than Orel Hershiser or Kevin Brown. Now if the public wants to punish Bonds for steroids, doesn't know what player skills actually win ballgames, and prefers fame and a good story hook to quiet consistent greatness, that's OK. They are the customers, give them the players they want to see. At least nobody pretends they are experts.

If this became a travelling baseball exhibition, ballot stuffing could be controlled simply by having 1 ticket = 1 ballot. No need to leave a box around where somebody can pull out and punch a few thousand.
   50. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4340840)
Sam, I'm having a hard enough time explaining why you're not in the Hall of Fame, let alone some parvenu like Barry Bonds.


You shouldn't time your discussions for right after pudding. They all need their naps after pudding time.
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4340842)
It's no metropolis, but it's not a bumblefuck either.


Are you saying it's bigger than Royston, GA?

No, but down in Deliverance Land the class of inbreeds is arguably superior.
   52. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4340843)
You shouldn't time your discussions for right after pudding. They all need their naps after pudding time.

Naps come naturally after reading these Hall of Fame discussions.
   53. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4340870)
Yeah, I think that kind of system is one where I could be OK if it results in Jack Morris or Roger Maris (if such an idea is applied to players that only a veteran's committee can consider) getting in. There would be a stark line between what the Hall of Fame is and what the Hall of Merit is in that case.

There is obviously a difference now. I think the reason it bothers me is that the HOF goes through a pretense of limiting the gatekeepers to experts, but then so many of them display a complete lack of understanding of the game, or ability for critical thinking. And you wind up with a process that concludes Jim Rice was better than Dwight Evans, or that Jack Morris was better than Orel Hershiser or Kevin Brown.


This is the heart of the current, on-going, generational conflict. In the past, the Hall of Fame was the only game in town, and the BBWAA were the gatekeepers of both "fame" and "merit." As with any political body that has some modicum of power, they want to hold onto the thing which makes them special and powerful. A new generation of baseball writer and fan has decided that the BBWAA and the existing HOF don't do a very good job of judging merit and have pushed back hard against them in various ways, even creating a Hall of Merit itself, outside of the HOF rubric entirely. But the HOM has classic little brother envy and doesn't like that the HOF still gets all of the press and coverage on ESPN. They want in on that game as well. Never has the phrase "the politics of glory" been so apt.
   54. Bourbon Samurai Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4340874)
I think that's a very good idea. You could probably even tour the exhibit around to every major league city during the year. Anyone who went to see it would get a vote. It would do a lot more to increase knowledge and appreciation of both baseball and the Hall of Fame than polling sportswriters or locking a bunch of historians up in a room somewhere to come to scientifically correct conclusions, and if it ended up with Jack Morris in and Roger Clemens out, so what?


This would be super awesome and I would be hugely excited about when it came to my town. I'd probably take a vacation day for it.
   55. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4340880)
fan has decided that the BBWAA and the existing HOF don't do a very good job of judging merit

If you're going to split them up into two entities, I don't think the existing HOF judges anything - they convey the merit that the BBWAA judges. I do wonder of the relationship there, personally. Has there ever been any press? Now's the time, really.


But the HOM has classic little brother envy and doesn't like that the HOF still gets all of the press and coverage on ESPN

Considering the promotional effort the HOM has put up, and how vocal they are about their own place on the scale, I can't imagine how you'd think this was true.
   56. AROM Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4340897)
How many people even know what the Hall of Merit is? A few hundred? Maybe into the thousands? It's a fun project and I'm glad it exists, but it is not a viable alternative to the Hall of Fame. No rational person would be envious of the HOF for getting all the media attention because there is no reason to think such levels of media attention could possibly be focused on the Hall of Merit.
   57. The District Attorney Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4340900)
It would do a lot more to increase knowledge and appreciation of both baseball and the Hall of Fame than polling sportswriters or locking a bunch of historians up in a room somewhere to come to scientifically correct conclusions, and if it ended up with Jack Morris in and Roger Clemens out, so what?
I don't really know how to respond to this.

"So what" in the sense that the world would keep revolving on its axis? Acknowledged.
"So what" in the sense that anyone who knew a decent amount about baseball would realize that the Hall of Fame didn't at all reflect who the best players were? That'd be really bad for the Hall of Fame!

(I'm not talking about just Morris in/Clemens out, of course -- that by itself wouldn't doom the entire enterprise -- but rather about the terrible voting across the board that I would expect.)

When it comes to questions of expertise (rather than electing their own representatives), people are capable of simultaneously casting their own vote when asked, while acknowledging that the vote of someone more knowledgeable is probably a better guideline. If you put together a well-publicized committee of logically qualified experts to determine who the greatest American was, that would be more respected than the "Greatest American" poll I linked in the intro. The People's Choice Awards are not more respected than the Oscars. (Even though the Oscars, much like a certain other honor, have a problematic voting pool and have made a lot of bad choices...)
   58. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4340927)
How many people even know what the Hall of Merit is? A few hundred? Maybe into the thousands? It's a fun project and I'm glad it exists, but it is not a viable alternative to the Hall of Fame. No rational person would be envious of the HOF for getting all the media attention because there is no reason to think such levels of media attention could possibly be focused on the Hall of Merit.


Okay, if I concede that the HOM has been less 'envious' and more 'just secondary,' I'd still maintain that a lot of the time and energy the stat crowd puts into complaining that old farts love them some Jack Morris would be better spent promoting the HOM, to the point of putting together something outside of the BBTF umbrella, and maybe one day even building a building or two.

Or just wait for the old guard to die out slowly and adjust the HOF to your standards when you're the old guard who refuses to believe that a kid with a bio-mechanical knee joint should be considered for the HOF with fully human players.
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4340966)
Okay, if I concede that the HOM has been less 'envious' and more 'just secondary,' I'd still maintain that a lot of the time and energy the stat crowd puts into complaining that old farts love them some Jack Morris would be better spent promoting the HOM, to the point of putting together something outside of the BBTF umbrella, and maybe one day even building a building or two.

Nah, that'd take too much work, and it's more fun making fun of Murray Chass and Joe Morgan.
   60. Tim Marchman Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4340975)
I mean so what. I don't see how it could possibly hurt the Hall of Fame's credibility with baseball fans to reflect what actual baseball fans want it to be through the self correcting mechanism of mass voting. If baseball fans wanted it to be the Hall of WAR, it would be. If they wanted it to be the Hall of Clutch, it would be. It wouldn't make any difference to me; I don't look to the Hall of Fame to validate my opinions on who was a great ballplayer, and like the few other thousand people who really care about such things, I wouldn't even if it were dedicated to conveying some sort of sober, scientific consensus arrived at solemnly by serious men. I would, though, be interested in seeing it reflect broad public opinions on who was special, memorable, great and worthy of honoring.
   61. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4341003)
Nah, that'd take too much work, and it's more fun making fun of Murray Chass and Joe Morgan


I never have understood the thrill of outsmarting the slow kids.
   62. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4341023)
In that sense, I think of the Baseball HOF a bit like I think of the World's Largest Ball of Twine, or Wall Drug.


Three places that are on my personal bucket list :)

-- MWE
   63. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4341025)
I don't see how it could possibly hurt the Hall of Fame's credibility with baseball fans to reflect what actual baseball fans want it to be through the self correcting mechanism of mass voting.


Serious question: How do we know it isn't?

-- MWE
   64. Lassus Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4341041)
I would, though, be interested in seeing it reflect broad public opinions on who was special, memorable, great and worthy of honoring.

The problem I have with this is that we already have this reflection, in massive quantity and moreso now and in the future than any time prior. I don't want the HOF to be that. I want it to be more discerning than public opinion, not equalling public opinion.
   65. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4341059)
Add those two words, and then tell it to your friends here who seem to confuse the two institutions, in spite of 77 years' worth of countering experience.
Once more: nobody confuses the two. One is the one voted by smart people and one the one voted by dumb people. It's you who keeps trying to turn the HOM into an "alternative" HOF instead of a smarter one.
   66. AROM Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4341061)
and maybe one day even building a building or two.


That would require venturing forth from mother's basement. I'll pass.
   67. rr Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4341088)
I always like it when Andy refers to the HOF and the HOM as "the two institutions", as if one is the Library of Congress and the other is the Smithsonian or something. The HOF is an institution; the HOM is a website based on the interests of a few hundred (max) hardcore baseball fans. It is, as noted, a "fun project"--but that's all it is.

There may be some teenage Primate lurking who is also a great baseball player, and he may indeed one day care about about whether he makes the HOM in 2042 and go national with that wish, and there may someday be an Internet Baseball HOF, that offers pay-as-you-go virtual tours and nationally-covered Skype-ish induction ceremonies. But for now, the HOM is a website.
   68. Tim Marchman Posted: January 07, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4341171)
63: It probably is in the sense that I doubt the public would vote very differently than sportswriters. It almost certainly isn't in the sense that if you were designing a voting system from scratch you wouldn't build one designed to encourage tedious ideological sparring among sportswriters rather than appreciation of ballplayers.
   69. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4341189)
I always like it when Andy refers to the HOF and the HOM as "the two institutions", as if one is the Library of Congress and the other is the Smithsonian or something. The HOF is an institution; the HOM is a website based on the interests of a few hundred (max) hardcore baseball fans. It is, as noted, a "fun project"--but that's all it is.

Well, Sam has a brain and David has a brain. That doesn't mean that their brains are comparable in size or reasoning ability, but I think we'd all agree that Sam and David are both institutions.

   70. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4341197)
I think we'd all agree that Sam and David are both institutions.


Or maybe that they should be *in* institutions, along with the rest of us :)

-- MWE
   71. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4341211)
Or maybe that they should be *in* institutions, along with the rest of us :)


Having Wall Drug on your bucket list does seem somewhat certifiable.
   72. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4341218)
I always like it when Andy refers to the HOF and the HOM as "the two institutions", as if one is the Library of Congress and the other is the Smithsonian or something.


Come on, Robin, don't make fun of the slow kid. He'll figure it out some day.
   73. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4342361)
Yes, Andy and the HoM is always a hoot.

But we will never compete with the HoM as a museum. What we really need is the Hall of Merit Baseball Family Fun Park and Wall of Fame featuring the Saberhagen roller coaster, the Dale Murphy Cliff Dive and the Moises Alou water slide.

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