Thursday, January 09, 2014

9 FACTS ABOUT THE 2014 HALL OF FAME VOTING THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT BELIEVE

BBWAA!!!!

1-The Fact that Greg Maddux Did Not Get Elected Unanimously Does Not Matter

Greg Maddux is, by any definition of the word that does not include the phrase "anyone but Greg Maddux", a Hall of Famer. That he was going to be elected to the HoF in this, his first year of eligibility, was a foregone conclusion. That shifted the conversation to "WILL MADDUX GET IN UNANIMOUSLY?", which was ridiculous, because we all knew he wouldn't. Going in, we all knew that there would be some self-described martyr nailing himself up on the Calvary of Cooperstown who would submit a blank ballot. It happens every goddamn year, and it happens in multiples now that PEDs are in the mix. So all the shock and disbelief and geshrying over the fact that Maddux - like literally every player before him - didn't get a unanimous call is just drama llama-ing.


And you know what? It doesn't matter. In is in. You're a Hall of Famer or you're not, and as of today, Maddux is. And weighed against the fact that his name did not appear on 20 ballots - 6 of which were blank or nearly so, and the rest of which were probably split between "nobody goes in unanimously" diehards and clever rascals trying to game the system by giving their Maddux vote to a guy in danger of falling off the bottom of the overstuffed ballot - he's got a pile of wins and Cy Youngs and Gold Gloves and a World Series ring and gobs and gobs of money and, oh yes, a date for induction.
Which is what really matters.

2-Craig Biggio Missed By 2 Votes

5 ballots had zero names on them. One had Jack Morris and that was all. I anticipate at some point he's going to sue Atog-lookalike blogger Murray Chass for spreading unsubstantiated rumors that he was a PED user, based apparently on one witness Chass really trusts and the proximity-to-Caminiti's-backne factor.

Look, Murray, if you have proof, spill it. If you don't, shut the hell up, for your own good. Hall of Famers can command lucrative signing fees. If your campaign is A)groundless and B)keeping Biggio out of the Hall, he's losing out all sorts of signing money. And he can trace that loss back to you, and your thus-far baseless accusation.

I know. It's probably nothing to a Hall of Fame caliber player. But it's probably a lot of money to a blogger like Chass.

3-There Was A Pete Rose Write-In. Again.

Because what the Hall of Fame process really needs at a time when the electorate is divided down partisan lines over both PED use and advanced statistics, and just about everyone agrees the ballot is overstuffed with worth candidates, is some misguided joker waving a banner for the unrepentant cave troll in the corner. If your idea of taking a moral stand on the Hall of Fame is to bravely write in the name of a guy who would use his induction as a chance to start selling autographed replicas of his plaque for $299.99 on QVC, then you need to beat yourself senseless with a copy of the Dowd Report.

Maybe if someone highlighted the fact that Rose hung around with a known steroid dealer, the moralistic scolds would finally give up. Then again, he didn't play for the Astros.

4-Jack Morris Is Still Going To Go In To the Hall

He may not have been voted in by the BBWAA (Sounds like a noise a Rabbid makes if you say it fast) but the Veterans' Committee (or whatever they're calling it these days) will surely do something about that as soon as they get the chance, if for no other reason than to put a dull stick of the collective eye of the stat geeks. Start buying your Morris collectibles now, while they're cheap. He's going in.

5-In The Grand Scheme Of Things, It Doesn't Matter Whether Morris Got In

In my opinion, he's not worthy. That being said, if he had gotten in, it is highly unlikely that his election would have summoned Gozer from Ghostbusters to lay waste to the greater Cooperstown region. Yes, he's below average for a HoF pitcher. Other, worse guys have been inducted without the place bursting into flames, and so long as it doesn't happen all the time, it's fine. Narrative guys like Morris and Rice don't stack up in terms of pure value, but there's something to be said for the "Fame" part of "Hall of Fame". A guy whose part of baseball legend and a long, productive career maybe has enough of that "Fame" stuff to be worth considering.

6-Some of the Arguments In Favor of Jack Morris' Candidacy Were So Stupid They Killed Brain Cells In People Who Haven't Been Conceived Yet

And I'm not talking about "he pitched to the score" (which he didn't) or "he had the most wins in the 80s" (which is a way of fudging numbers by grabbing endpoints that made him look good). No, I'm talking about "he wore an American flag t-shirt under his uniform every game". This may be patriotic, and it might be unhygienic, but it has absolutely no bearing on whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. (Besides, he pitched for the Blue Jays, and they're in Canada. CANADA!) Or "every time his manager came to take him out, he slammed the ball down in his manager's hand that it caused bruises." This does not sound like the behavior of one of the greatest in the history of the game. It sounds like the action of someone who has anger management issues. Or "Every time I saw Morris pitch, he was the best pitcher out there." If that's the case, he's got a lot of explaining to do for those 186 losses, when he clearly must have been mailing it in.
You get the idea. The real motor behind Morris' candidacy is that he, like Jim Rice, stands in for a time in memory yet green, when the older voters for the Hall of Fame were lords of creation and could still fit into their sports coats after a run at the team-provided buffet. Thanks to one particular performance, he has been imbued with an aura that would be embarrassing on a Disney princess, because he's carrying the weight of a whole generation of voters into perceived battle with the basement nerds.

Look, if Jack Morris were pitching today, he'd last until the twelfth round in every fantasy draft. Guys with career ERAs nearly 4 and career WHIPs nearly 1.30 get that sort of treatment, unless someone sprinkles pixie dust on them. Thankfully, this year the pixie dust ran out, at least for a while.

7-Two Votes For J.T. Snow? Really?

Under normal circumstances, I don't mind the odd vote or two going to a down ballot guy as a final parting gift on his career. It's a nice nod of recognition, and you're more likely to see Barry Bonds admit to snorting powdered Smurf than you are to see an accidental induction because everyone simultaneously threw a joke vote over to Joe Boever.

But, when there's an overstuffed ballot and worthy candidates are going to be fighting to avoid being bumped off the bottom of the list, don't spout hoo-hah about the sacred trust of voting of the HoF on one hand and give away a vote as a lovely parting gift. If you're going to make noise like these votes are precious, then treat them like they are. Or admit that the sacred duty of picking the Hall of Fame ballot is actually largely about fun, and lavish your psychic tongue bath on the Armando Benitezes of the world with a clear conscience. But you can't have it both ways, or else you're a jerkface.

8-Dan Le Batard's Loaning His Vote To Deadspin Is A Great Story, But...

In hindsight, it had to be a guy like Le Batard who did it, because he's got sufficient critical mass professionally to get away with that. A guy from the Paducah Nosebleed-Picayune who did it would get clobbered. An aging scold wouldn't even consider it. Only a respected pro at the top of his game would have the juice to do it and stay standing afterwards.

As ballots go, the one he loaned to Deadspin readers was a good one. No obvious clunkers, a full ballot, and if it had been submitted by Jayson Stark, nobody would have blinked.

Right now, everyone's claiming that A)Le Batard shouldn't have done it because it made the story about him and B)this is a game changer. I think both are false. The focus remains on the fact that someone gave his vote to a  bunch of fans and they treated it respectfully. This is not what's going to force the BBWAA to change. A ballot coming in full of Benitezes and Timlins would have caused a genuine uproar. This? This is just quiet evidence that having had Buzz Capra spit tobacco juice on your socks in 1974 is not the only qualification for drafting a Hall of Fame Ballot.

9-Hall of Fame Voters Are Annoying Scolds, Or At Least the Loud Ones Are


The most important thing about today's vote is that 3 guys are going into the Hall. That's it. That's something that should be celebrated, if you're a fan of the game.
It should not be about announcing you're hanging onto a vote you have no use for just to annoy your professional peers. It should not be about "moral stands" with the moral strength of a pot of overdone spaetzle, because if you're going to slam Big Mac, then you don't dare celebrate the manger who rode him to a ring in two cities. It should not be about one player's inclusion rendering the entire Hall unfit for human life, or "tell the nerds to go back to their mommys' basements" or "would the old guys just shut up because they don't know fWAR and clearly only individuals who know fWAR should be allowed out of the house unaccompanied.

Yes, I know most of the folks on both sides of the stats vs. eyeball test debate are actually quite reasonable. But it's the annoying glory-hounds like Chass who say the dumbest things, which get the most clicks, which then drive the debate, which is why there have been more mentions of Murray Chass in this post than there have been of Hall of Famers Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine. Which is unacceptable.

The day belongs to the inductees. Period. There will be plenty of time for chestbeating over Mike Piazza's candidacy later. Right now, let's just cheer on the guys who got in.


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