Friday, January 8, 2010

Hall of Fame Voting: Bring on the Stupid

As the two of you who care about baseball already know, the Hall of Fame results were announced this week. Congratulations to Andre Dawson, the sole inductee. I wouldn't have voted for him, but his inclusion is hardly some kind of horrible miscarriage of baseball-specific justice. Now, Hall of Fame voting, beyond meaning imminent elections, also signals another venerable tradition: The sportswriter's column detailing his/her (Usually his) reasoning for the players voted for. Many voter take this process very seriously, and submit ballots which, while they may be disagreed with, are well-considered and rationally explained. Then there are the morons who probably submitted ballots marked with drool stains. These are more fun to mock. So here come the dumbest HoF articles I have been able to find so far this year (We may have a special post on this within the next week, as Bill Plaschke has not yet written a HoF column, and I'm sure when he does that it will be riddled with idiocy). Let us begin.

First up, blowhard Jay Mariotti, who submitted a blank ballot, and then justified his voting thusly on the excruciatingly terrible TV show Around the Horn:
I didn’t vote for anybody in the baseball hall of fame this year. Ya know why? To me…the first ballot is sacred. I think Roberto Alomar is an eventual Hall of Famer, not the first time. [snip] As far as Blyleven and Dawson…if they haven’t gotten in for years and years I cannot vote them in now. Ripken, Rickey Henderson and Gwynn. They are true first ballot Hall of Famers, but I didn’t vote for anybody, throw me out of the Baseball Writers. I don’t care.

Now, let it be noted that, in addition to this line of thinking being moronic, the BBWAA rules makes no distinction between first-ballot years and the other 14 years players are on the ballot. But more importantly, he has voted for Blyleven and Dawson in the past. Apparently their numbers in 2009 were bad enough to drop them off his ballot. Or is it a moral stand? Well, last year Mariotti voted for Jim Rice in his 15th year on that ballot. So maybe it's just that Mariotti is an attention whore whose moral stands change based on how many cameras are pointed at him at any given moment. I think they should take him up on the offer he closes that quote with.

Next up, the 973-year-old Murray Chass, who states that he did not vote for Blyleven because
As good as Blyleven was in winning 287 games, he had some of his worst years when his team had good years. The best example of that dichotomy came in 1988 when the Twins finished second with a 91-71 record while Blyleven had a 10-17 record and a 5.43 e.r.a.

That's right, Murray voted against Blyleven because he had a bad year in his 19th big league season, one in which he reportedly pitched through shoulder soreness all year. The next season Blyleven finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. The fun bit? People like Murray Chass who clearly lie with statistics are the ones who like to throw out accusations that statistics lie. Anyway, this is dumb. Even Murray should be able to recognize that.

Moving on to Jon Heyman, whose HoF article has so many odd twists and turns in the methodology that it almost feels like he has some sort of multiple personality disorder:

I don't put quite the same emphasis as some on career statistics, especially in cases where I've had the chance to follow a player's entire career as it was unfolding, as was the case with this year's entire ballot. (That happens when you get old.)

I consider impact more than stats. I like dominance over durability. I prefer players who were great at some point to the ones who were merely very good for a very long time. [snip] Some will say that Blyleven's career was equal to Hall of Famer Don Sutton's but I say it is just short of Sutton's. They both had big totals in other categories but Sutton wound up with 37 more victories, going over the magic 300 mark by 24.

So if Bert had won 13 more games, you'd vote for him? Jon, you do realize you're allowed to proofread these things before you hand them in to remove contradictory statements, right? No? Alright then.

And now for everyone's favorite whipping boy, Dan Shaughnessy. Picking apart Dan is really like shooting fish in a barrel, so we'll be quick here. Dan's HoF voting process:

Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to define what was pornographic, "but I know it when I see it.''

For me, it's the same with Hall of Famers. Some guys just strike you as Cooperstown-worthy and others do not.

Dan, Stewart was roundly mocked for saying that because, well, it's stupid. If you really want to use that as your standard, go right ahead. But you might be a bigger blowhard than Mariotti.

And finally, let's wrap up with Bill Conlin, who dropped this bit of genius on us:

I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock’s career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.

So, Bill, you're criticizing the electorate for not voting for Raines, who you believe is worthy of being enshrined in Cooperstown, and then state that YOU DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM THIS YEAR BECAUSE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THE ELECTORATE DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM IN THE PAST. In what dark recess of your tiny little addled mind does this make even a [Mount Kilimanjaro] bit of sense? Holy [Hummingbird], this takes the cake. You have out-dumbed Shaughnessy. Good God.

Okay, I think that's out of my system. Finally, let's close with a bit of intelligence from Ken Rosenthal, who yesterday wrote a column suggesting that the BBWAA needs to get rid of some of the voters who do not do the HoF voting process justice. Ken, preach on. I would like to submit the above five voters as fine choices to be the first kicked out.

Note - My apologies to the many fine candidates who did not make the final cut to five, especially Marty Noble, who withheld his vote from Alomar because Roberto had two bad years with the Mets, whom Noble covers. Keep on trying, Marty, and you just might make the cut next year.


your mom said...

Despite the fact that baseball posts make me yawn, this one was very well written!

UncleRick said...

Mike, everytime I read this post I like it more! This is undoubtedly one of your greatest blog posts ever!

HOLLA(R) said...

Really? If so, I claim to only be a medium for the sheer greatness that is irrational reasoning from presumably-senile sports columnists.