Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The proper way to vote for the Hall of Fame
The sports editor at a paper I used to work at had the great honor of being able to vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Each year he’d let be fondle the ballot, which was not especially impressive -- and neither was the ballot.
It was just a mundane list of names with little boxes next to them. I guess I expected parchment or gold leaf, something that indicated the gloriousness of the Hall of Fame.
I appreciated the gesture, and also appreciated that the editor took his vote very seriously. He had a system and did his research, which I’m certain is better than a majority of the people casting ballots. I didn’t always agree with his selections, but at least I could understand why he was voting for certain playes – as opposed to the doofs who say they vote only for guys who “feel like a Hall of Famer.”
Naturally, I have my own system and create a ballot, even though my vote doesn’t count.
This year we can consider: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Dante Bichette, ,Bert Blyleven, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner , Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Dave Concepcion, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, Tony Fernandez, Steve Garvey, Rich Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Wally Joyner, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Paul O'Neill, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken, Bret Saberhagen, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Devon White, Bobby Witt.
We can only vote for 10, so we must find ways to eliminate the unworthy. The first thing to do is eliminate any Yankees, because goodness knows there are already too many undeserving Yankees in the hall.
So cross off Brosius, Buhner, Canseco, Fernandez, Gossage, John, Mattingly, O’Neill and Smith.
Look, someone has to balance out Tom Verducci’s ballot, and you just know he’s pounding out a column to talk about O’Neill’s “intangibles” make him worthy.
I’m a little unsure about purging Gossage that quickly, but that leaves us with Baines, Belle, Bichette, Blyleven, Bonilla, Caminiti, Concepcion, Davis, Dawson, Garvey, Gwynn, Hershiser, Joyner, McGwire, Morris, Murphy, Parker, Rice, Ripken, Saberhagen, Trammell, White and Witt.
Next, we have to determine if any player crosses “The Rizzuto Line.” In other words, is the player worse than the very worst player in the Hall, whose very presence taints the other plaques and allows patrons to make an argument that their admission price should be lowered by a buck because the once-great Hall has been stained, which of course is what happened when the Veterans Committee voted in Yankee mascot/shortstop Phil Rizzuto.
This is a better year than most, and the Rizzuto rule only allows us to eliminate Dante Bichette and Bobby Witt. It’s tough to be worse than Rizzuto and last 10 years in the majors, the standard for being on the ballot.
Next, has a player ever tried to run over trick-or-treaters with his car? Oops, goodbye Albert Belle.
Did the candidate ever play for the Mets? Extra points for Bonilla, Saberhagen, and Hershisher. Tony Fernandez would have gotten a point for his 48 games with the Mets in 1993, but that’s not enough to overcome his 108 games with the Yankees.
But we’re not homers here. We have to consider the following rules: Did the player’s Mets tenure end in shame and banishment to the Rockies? Sorry, Sabes.
Then, did the player do anything prior to his Met tenure to keep the Mets from ever advancing to the World Series? Sorry, Orel, but we’re still upset about 1988.
Did the player ever confront Yankee hack Bob Klapischand threaten to “show him the Bronx?” Extra points for Bonilla!
But, did the player not follow through on his threat, and proceed to bring great shame to the team, especially by playing cards in the clubhouse during the closing moments of the infamous 1999 NLCS? That rule’s not going to come up a lot, but it does this year, eliminating Bobby Bo.
Now we’re down to: Baines, Blyleven, Caminiti, Concepcion, Davis, Dawson, Garvey, Gwynn, Joyner, McGwire, Morris, Murphy, Parker, Rice, Ripken, Trammell and White.
That’s 17, still too many. Now we move to the advanced criteria. Did a player ever receive an MVP award later proven to be undeserving because of steroid use? That eliminates Caminiti, but not McGwire, who never won an MVP.
Is a player better than Rizzuto, but not as good as Tony Perez, who many consider a borderline member of the Hall? That’s tough, forcing us to eliminate Concepcion and Eric Davis – with regrets – Garvey (with the obligatory “once thought to be a lock for the Hall” line), Joyner and Devon White.
Baines’ numbers are very similar to those of Perez, and his baseball-reference.com comparables are all either in the Hall – Al Kaline, Billy Williams – or fall just shy, like Rusty Staub.
Now we have: Baines, Blyleven, Dawson, Gwynn, McGwire, Morris, Murphy, Parker, Rice, Ripken, Trammell.
That’s 11. Someone has to go, and I’m starting to feel guilty about tossing Gossage. I’ll pick Morris, who had some nice moments but falls just shy.
There you go!
Writers who don’t look at stats tend not to vote for Blyleven, Parker and Trammell, and Dale Murphy and Rice and some monster seasons but fell apart early, which seems to get held against them.
And I know there’s talk about sending a statement of sorts by not voting for McGwire in his first year. But the truth is that the only thing McGwire’s been proven guilty of is a horrible performance before Congress.
The only real concern is that Gwynn or Ripken could surpass Tom Seaver’s record for highest percentage, which was close to 99 percent!
Luckily, some Verducci-type will say “If they were any good, they would have been Yankees” and not vote for them, keeping Tom’s record safe.