Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rehashing the Hall of Fame vote

Literally, at the end of the day yesterday, we were left with this thought on the Hall of Fame voting shenanigans: We all want it both ways.

As a baseball fan, we still appreciate the fact that the our sport's Hall of Fame is the most discerning of all the major North American sports. But then it drives us nuts when players who are probably deserving get hung out to dry for a year or ten as their candidacy gets wrung through thoroughly.

We like the fact that players' careers get a thorough review, although it drives us batty when a minority of the voters bypass the tangible evidence and choose to focus on intangibles like "heart" and the ability the invoke "fear". And with Jim Rice last year and Andre Dawson this year, we've had two consecutive marginal Hall of Famers get in based on those ephemeral, immeasurable qualities which seem only to be known and understood in the addled minds of aging sportswriters.

(And it seems to us as though some of these guys are working hard to get their generation of ballplayers into the Hall while they can, which is a shame.)

As for the writers, it seems like they want to have the authority to elect whoever the hell they want, and they don't want to discuss it with all of you pissants who are too focused on your empirical evidence to understand what imposing physical specimens Dawson or Rice were. At the same time, they'd like for you to please read their column in the Upper Schenectady Community Observer and Bugle as they tell you why they'll never vote for a baseball player who spits, because spitting is abhorrent.

(We don't know how to break it to those guys, but every Major League Baseball playing surface and dugout for the past century has been covered in a layer of salival expactorations. So, you know...maybe we shouldn't get up on our hind legs quite so much about a single moment in time.)

As frustrating as yesterday's result was for Blue Jays fans, we have to acknowledge that the significant majority of voters understood Roberto Alomar's excellence, and recognized that he was a deserving candidate. If we're honest about it, we figured he glean about 80% of the vote, so he came up about 20 votes shy of what we imagined. We imagine that he'll make it in next year, although after yesterday's result, we're not about to bet our house on the whims of a bunch of geriatric jerkwads and grandstanders who comprise 27-odd percent of the voting pool.

At some point yesterday the Globe's Jeff Blair, likely regretting the day that he decided to follow so many Jays fans on Twitter, implored those of us who were losing our shit to "relax", and noted that "we're not curing cancer here". There may be a fair point in there somewhere amongst the disingenuous, clichéed "cancer" argument, although that kinda feels like those moments when Jon Stewart gets cornered on a serious issue and suddenly plays the "Hey! I'm just a comedian!" card.

And beyond that, we figure the reason why there are 400-plus men and women who are rightly or wrongly employed as baseball writers across the continent is because so many of us have placed an outsized importance on the sport.

Yeah, sure. Ultimately, baseball's not important. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Should we all be piling into laboratories in the tens of thousands to observe the Polymerase Chain Reaction assays undertaken by scientists? Rooting for them to defeat cancer? (We're more partial to ELISAs, to tell the truth. Much more viscerally exciting to observe.)

So the Hall of Fame matters, and it doesn't matter. Rant on either way.


dave said...

What's maddening is they make it almost impossible to understand the proccess. Phrases like "his numbers aren't good enough" often get thrown around. Then you have someone like Robbie who's numbers in the BBWAA classic sense (AVG, Gold Gloves etc...) is more than good enough, he's dominate! But he get's held back a year because of some made up rule by Mariotti and crew about another standard; the first ballot hall of famer. And the way you get into this club is even more vague than the "you had to really watch him" argument that Heyman makes for Morris.

It was fun see Mariotti go off on twitter telling people if they want a vote they need to work hard. Pretty confident no matter how hard I work at my job I'll never get a vote. It's not that I want a vote, I want to understand the process of how players get in! And they make it impossible which in turn makes it a frustrating thing to watch.

Anonymous said...

You're right about Jon Stewart.

Random D-bag said...

"The BBWAA was founded in 1908 to improve working conditions for sportswriters in the early part of the 20th century."

Maybe they should stop voting and get back to their original mandate. The barbarians are at the gate! Some of the barbarians (Keith Law) are on the palace lawn. They're taking [our] jobs!

Having said that, if I'm ever in Cooperstown, I will be sure to drop by and check it out.

eyebleaf said...

Reading Mariotti's Twitter feed was a joke. "It's my vote and I'll do what I want!!!!1"

What a jackass.

Fucking democracy.

Ian H. said...

I guess after letting this sink in for the past 24 hours, I am starting to understand that the first-ballot HoF is really not all that important.

Aside from Alomar being left out, the greater injustice is that clowns like Jay Mariotti are allowed to have a ballot.

He left Rickey Henderson off his ballot last year, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Tao, take a deep breath and exhale. Alomar will get in next year. The only real crime that was committed yesterday was that Ellis Burks only received two votes!

brainiac said...

What this vote came down to was that a small percentage of these voters felt that Alomar should be punished for his spitting tirade. Without that he would have easily made the cut - its not possible that that many voters agreed he was first ballot worthy but not 75% of them did...and yes I agree its all the old farts that didn't vote for Alomar

Darren Priest said...

I wonder what it would be like if Jay Mariotti's (or any sportswriter's) most passionate or angry moments were caught on tape and available for eternity to anyone with an internet connection. Bet it would make the spitting incident look tame.

On the other hand, would I trade public shame for millions of dollars? Hell, yeah! I'm trading it for free right now.

Oh well, let them have their little bullshit "first ballot" bully pulpit. The Hall is clearly pretty arbitrary. If it wasn't for segregation, many of the most hallowed members probably wouldn't be there.

KP said...

First ballot nonsense be damned, he'll get in next year.

I'm pretty much fed up with all baseball-related accolades (Silver Slugger awards excluded.)

Between Cy Youngs (Doc), Gold Gloves (Hill), and the Hall of Fame (Alomar) it's all a bunch of phoney baloney.

Hmmm... using only Blue Jays probably undermines my argument... I don't care. Down with the man!

Stedron said...

Hey, you guys have your own Hall Of Fame up there. Keep yer dirty mitts off of mine!!!

>I kid, I kid<

The Ack said...

This is what happens when I skip town for a few days. 26% (or whatever) of the BBWAA shafts Alomar. Pricks!

bkblades said...

Should we all be piling into laboratories in the tens of thousands to observe the Polymerase Chain Reaction assays undertaken by scientists? Rooting for them to defeat cancer?

I hope you know that your mere questioning of this is the reason why cancer isn't being cured. You're a monster.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy for Dawson, but if you can make a rational argument for him getting in ahead of Raines I'd like to hear it.

Culprits: Alomar's spit and Raines' blow, I guess.

Robby is a little cocky I think. A lot of similarly great players didn't treat induction on the first ballot like a given. Maybe the lesson is worth learning for him. He was one fucking awesome ballplayer though.

Is there any Jay, other than Delgado, who seems like a sure bet hall of famer?

Fernandez and McGriff are marginal maybes. Ollie didn't play long enough...

And the Pete Rose thing is appalling, do we all agree yet? After all the steroid shit we're blackballing the all-time hits leader for a gambling addiction? I do not get it.