Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

A Response to Mr. Pearlman

Mr. Pearlman, here is your response.

What we know about the steroids era and the players who were involved in it are two separate things and considering yourself an arbiter, a judge, a jury and an executioner of who did what on solely circumstantial evidence, with no proof, hard evidence, or even testimony, is a terribly irresponsible use of power.

As Ol’ Hoss Radbourn’s twitter said, saying “This player did steroids, here is my proof,” is what a responsible reporter would do. Saying “I think player X did steroids because Players Y and Z did it too” is what a gossip columnist would write.

Barry Bonds admitted to using the cream and the clear in a leaked grand jury testimony. Roger Clemens was cited in testimony for using HGH. Alex Rodriguez admitted to doing steroids while at Texas. Andy Pettitte admitted to HGH use while in recovery from an elbow injury.

This is evidence–and hard evidence at that. Citing before and after pictures is circumstancial evidence. It is not proof.

Two more points:

1. How can any player prove he didn’t do steroids?

Imagine, if you will, someone starts spreading a rumor that you’re gay. So how do you go about trying to prove you’re not gay? Start acting more hetero? That’s proof that you’re trying to hide it. Start going on dates with more women? You’re coming off too strong to show off your hetero-ness.

How do you talk to the people who started spreading this rumor? Almost anything you say will be used against you. “He said he’s going on a date with this girl Emma, it’s pretty obvious he’s just overcompensating.”

There is no way for a player who is suspected of doing steroids to prove he didn’t do steroids.

2. It’s not the voters’ jobs to judge who did and didn’t do steroids.

If evidence comes to light that he did use steroids, talk can begin of removing his plaque. I’d rather his plaque be removed upon being found guilty of using any performance enhancer than to further instigate any steroids gossip. But voting on suspicion is entirely bullshit and goes against the basic principles of justice.

I hope this answers your question.

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Filed under Baseball Hall of Fame, MLB

Ah, but how could I forget Howard Bryant’s piece today.

It deserves it’s own post, really.

Outrage at HOF voting baseless

Hmm.  OK.  Good headline.  Let’s see what you have to say.

From the overheated outrage expressed by baseball fans, the blogosphere and, most embarrassingly, the ostensibly objective journalists over the fact that Andre Dawson was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010, it seemed as though voters who didn’t choose Roberto Alomar had reduced the sum total of his spectacular accomplishments to being on par with the feats of, say, Marty Barrett, and that Barry Larkin’s wonderful career was just slightly better than Gene Larkin’s.

Well, something that was overlooked by and large, even by myself, is that a very large majority voted for both Blyleven and Alomar and less than 5% more than that voted for Andre Dawson.  That just turned out to be the difference between enshrinement and waiting another year.  It’s a good point, but the outrage expressed was directed more at the hypocrisy of voting and the problem of having a bloated, sometimes under-educated voting masses who get lifetime passes to vote, even if they don’t keep up with the sport.

Two pivotal, fundamental changes in baseball culture have surrounded and smothered the process, however, and the result this year was faux anger that suggested a great injustice had been done to Alomar, when in fact voters behaved in a manner consistent with that of their predecessors.

Hmm yes all voters should vote similarly to their predecessors, where a candidate stands on wage slavery in turn-of-the-century Chicago is important to me.  You can tell already there’s going to be a strong “f**k progress” tone in this piece.

The piece kinda meanders and spreads itself thin, but eventually …

[…]The second change is that the voting process has been hijacked by technology, with greater statistical analysis as well as the preponderance of opinions available on the Internet.

I wouldn’t say the voting process has been hijacked.  I mean, favorites of the stats community are still being avoided, including Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. But yes, statistical analysis is a big change in baseball today–a progressive change, I feel, and a change made to help us better understand the game we love.

The messengers, once less partisan, now are activists. The blogosphere, almost by definition, is not objective but rather reactive, comprised of Web sites whose origins are rooted in recognizing the mainstream media as the enemy, incompetent or both. The mainstream media — which still includes many of the Hall of Fame’s voters, often in need of a group hug or weary from constant abuse — panders in turn.

Perhaps it is the reacted who has become … the reactor?

Statistical analysis is cyclical,

Sigourney Weaver: On a warm spring day, when the sun rises and the flowers bloom, stastical analysis peaks its head of its hybernation hole for the first time in four months, with its two bear cubs in tow.  Emaciated, the statistical analysis is hungry and must find its first meal before she starves.

and thus players who produce certain figures — the great OPS-ing of the Hall of Fame ballot — get greater consideration, lest voters incur the wrath of the numbers people.

I think the point our friend here Howard is missing is that even something as simple as on-base percentage isn’t about stats.  It’s about the advancement for understanding the game.  Where should value be placed in the sport? And for years, the standard for batting and pitching evaluation–batting average and wins–turned out to be the wrong focus.

Imagine that for nearly 70 years, the standard evaluation for kickers in the NFL is their number of field goals made, regardless of their number of misses and how many yards they were out.  And if the team won the game, the kicker received a point and those total points amassed were used as analysis.  That’s what baseball had for many, many years, only even worse.

Along with hundreds of blogs, Major League Baseball’s content — broadcast by its own network — produces a tsunami of thought that at worst can intimidate and at the very least can influence voters.

Moments after typing this, Howard’s sister-in-law had Howard committed, claiming the numbers people were coming to get him.

Yes, Edgar Martinez joins Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Stan Musial as the only players to have a .300 batting average, 500 doubles and a .400 on-base percentage, but would anyone in his or her right mind actually choose to start a team with Martinez over any of those players?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  Maybe the funniest part of this all is that our friend here, Howard K. Bryant,  did vote for Jim Rice last year. So I guess Martinez wasn’t good enough for the Hall because he couldn’t play with Ruth or Gehrig, but Rice was?

Milestones that never before provided a free pass — Harmon Killebrew hit 573 home runs and Early Wynn won 300 games, but both were inducted on their fourth tries — now are viewed as cause for automatic election.

Just a little side note, Early Wynn is, like, one of three Hall of Fame pitchers that even big Hall guys should agree doesn’t belong in there.

Howard does make a good point eventually that the Hall rarely inducts anybody on the first ballot and that Bob Feller in 1962 was the first first-ballot Hall of Famer after the 1936 group (though he doesn’t mention that the Hall of Fame was backlogged for years because of all of the possible inductees) and that it’s never been an act of disrespect, but rather a late understanding of the players.

Well, it kind of is disrespect if you’re not informing yourself on who to vote for before you vote–and then later allow yourself to be swayed by immaterial appeals. I believe voters should know immediately who they should vote for and have reasoning to go with it.  No aura.  No “I saw him play and he looked like a Hall of Famer.”  No  “he’s not a first-ballot guy.” The only voters worse than that are the voters who change their mind because of public opinion.  If you think the guy should be in the Hall, you put him on the ballot.  Enough with superlatives that boost a potential Hall of Famer’s candidacy without the information to back it up.  Enough with the passive aggressive power mongering.

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Filed under Baseball Hall of Fame, fire joe morgan, MLB

Moving on …

You’ve already heard enough on why the BBWAA is idiots, I don’t think you need another article on it.  The voting was very close, anyway.  It’s just a shame a few guys turned in blank ballots and a few more had empty vote spaces that didn’t go to Alomar or Blyleven.

Andre Dawson was a fantastic player.  I believe the Hall of Fame should have a base standard for on-base percentage, which is the most important offensive stat, but Dawson did a lot of things very well.  Hit for power, play defense and steal bases.  You can argue he wasn’t elite at these things, but in his best years, between 22-37, he had 399 home runs, 93 triples (!) and 309 stolen bases (to 104 caught stealing, which is a decent percentage) in 9,566 plate appearances.

He had a 118 OPS+ in center and right field.  He also did this in 10,769 plate appearances, which is 27th all time in the Hall.  He fits in well with other Hall of Famers

Congratulations to Andre Dawson.  This is his time.  He should go in as the second (and last) Expo.

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How do you vote Morris into the Hall and not Blyleven?

It seems Bert Blyleven is on the verge of finally getting into Cooperstown, and the one thing that’s stopping him is nobody really knew about him. There’s no folklore. He was traded regularly to smaller market teams that had hard times competing (MIN, TEX, CLE and PIT), but he pitched at an elite level that entire time.

So why is anyone voting for Jack Morris ahead of him?

This is a general problem when you have people whose job it is to cover breaking news working as analysts–both are valuable to society, but they’re two separate jobs.  In the ’50s and ’60s, it was necessary to have the beat reporters vote for the HOF inductees because there was no database of refined statistics and they were the only people who got to see the players play on a regular basis.

Modern day is different, though.  Through the spread of television, the creation of the Baseball Almanac and the advancing of statistics, citing one-game examples as reasons for election into the Hall of Fame is draconian.  Blyleven is, without a doubt, better statistically and was probably better to watch in person.  But Morris had the benefit of pitching really well in game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Let’s get something straight here: Bert Blyleven had a great career–and also a great post-season record.  He pitched four games in two different World Series’; both were games 2 and 5 (1979 Pirates and 1987 Twins).  Overall, he had a 2.47 ERA in the post-season and a 1.077 WHIP.  A little better than.  Morris, on the other hand, had a 3.80 ERA in 92 IP in the post-season.  This is why small sample size stuff is wrong for analysis–Morris, outside of his 1991 game 7 appearance, was decidedly mediocre in the playoffs.

Let’s not get completely off base, though.  Morris’ game 7, I believe, has its place in Cooperstown as well, but Hall of Fame enshrinement is about the player’s entire work of body.

Morris was a better than average pitcher over his career.  He had a 105 ERA+ in 3,824 innings pitched over 18 seasons.  He had a 1.78 strikeout to walk ratio, which isn’t particularly great and made worse because his BB/9 was 3.3.  There are a few pitchers with worse BB/9 than that already in the Hall, but most of them were terrific strikeout pitchers: Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller and Bob Lemon. The others were either seemingly helped by defense and got into the Hall on ERA (Hal Newhouser) or were likewise elected on questionable merit (Early Wynn, although Wynn had a 107 ERA+ and pitched about 7,000 more innings).

So basically if Morris becomes a Hall of Famer, he would be setting the low bar.

You can use whatever metric you want–even career wins, as fluky as that is; the stats show Blyleven was a better pitcher, and did it in 1,000 more innings than Morris–a career ERA+ of 118 in 4,970 innings. Seriously, look at Blyleven’s and Morris’ pages that I linked to at the top.  It’s not really fair to compare them because Blyleven was so much better.

An acquaintance created this list of the voters who have published their ballot. Pretty cool stuff.

As you can see, a number of votes have been cast for Alomar, Dawson and Blyleven, though Blyleven is favored largely in the stats community and a lot of those dudes post their material online, so who knows. Sixteen votes for Morris out of 36, 25 for Blyleven.  The :-/ emoticon seems appropriate.

Jon Heyman and Bruce Jenkins were the gunmen on the grassy knoll–both voted for Morris and not Blyleven.  You might think they’re doing this just to aggrevate stat fans, but both have made worse analysis and they both have the power to vote.  Their arguments are tenuous at best: Morris pitched on opening day and was considered an ace (regardless of stats), Blyleven is close, but he was a “compiler of stats” (whatever that means).

Whether those two deserve to vote or not, well … that’s something else.

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