“I am a proponent of a fairly inclusive Hall of Fame,” wrote Bay Area Stats Guy in his post from earlier today which included his hypothetical ballot. The vast majority of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America disagrees. While Joe Posnanski named the same 10 players on his ballot that Stats Guy did, several writers named four players or less, with five writers submitting ballots that were completely blank. (Four fewer than last year – progress!)
As a result, no player garnered the 75% of the vote necessary for induction.
That’s right, in a year that was considered by many to be stacked with qualified candidates, with more great players following next year and in years after, the writers chose no one. The voting is to the right, led by Craig Biggio. Aaron Sele received a vote, which proves that the BBWAA isn’t entirely humorless.
I watched the “Election” show on MLB Network, and everyone seemed to be in agreement that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas (all becoming eligible in 2014, along with Jeff Kent) were all clearly first ballot Hall of Famers. Why? Because all three put up Hall of Fame numbers, sure. But also because of what they look like.
Maddux looked like a regular guy. Glavine was slender and mind-numbingly consistent both in terms of weight and MPH. Thomas has always been huge, and he was the right kind of huge.
How did Craig Biggio get more votes than Jeff Bagwell, even though Bagwell’s career compares favorably with Thomas and he has almost the exact same WAR as Tom Glavine according to Baseball Reference? In large part because Bagwell’s arms featured bigger muscles than Biggio’s and Glavine’s, and more prominent veins than Thomas’. And because Bagwell’s body changed.
There are so many ridiculous things about today’s voting results that it’s impossible to mention them all. They include:
— Roger Clemens getting eight more votes than Barry Bonds. Some voters have chosen to make their ballots public, no one yet has outed himself or herself as a person who only voted for Clemens. Perhaps because there is no rational reason to exclude one but not the other.
— Jack Morris finishing second in the voting, even though he is clearly not the second best player on this list. Afterward, Ken Rosenthal had this to say on the MLB Network aftershow:
“I will say this about Morris. I don’t vote for him, but the level of discourse against him by certain segments of the sabermetric community right now is over the top. It’s almost a crusade and it’s ridiculous. One thing that has bothered me, at times, not among many of us but some of us, is the almost polarized view now that has come to pass. And it’s as if the Tea Party is taking over one part of baseball discussion and that’s not right.”
I’m going to go ahead and stereotype sabermetricians, if you don’t mind. By and large, this is a group that is very liberal. In order to combat the polarization of modern discourse, Rosenthal compared a specific group of baseball fans and analysts to a specific group many of them abhor. Seems counterintuitive, no?
— When it comes to the most sanctimonious tweet of 2013, ESPN’s Dan Rafael may have already locked things up:
If he was on Sulia (maybe he is, but I really don’t feel like checking), he’d probably add something like this:
“When you sit in your room, remember you are on TIME OUT. You must think about what you have done, feel remorse, and remember who had the final say. The writers. The men and women who watch you get dressed and know all your dirty little secrets. We might not find out your secrets until years later, and we might not fully understand why we are so appalled, but the important thing is we are very upset with you. And disappointed. Let that sink in while daddy enjoys a nice scotch and soda in the living room.”
Also, Rafael is a boxing writer. But we all know that the integrity and body chemistry of the participants in that sports is as pure as mountain spring water poured through through 500 Brita filters. Say, when’s that next Pacquiao/Marquez fight going off?
In the end, guys like Rafael acting like parental figures and other writers deciding that a perfectly Hall of Fame-worthy player doesn’t deserve to get in on the first ballot (but does on his second, third or fourth try, or even later than that) shows this is above and beyond simply taking the responsibility of voting for the Hall of Fame seriously. This is about the writers rewarding what they like and punishing what they don’t. And this will surely change as the world does, but for right now they’re fighting for the physical embodiment of the everyman. Amphetamines have been illegal for decades, but they don’t change one’s muscularity or cranium size. They didn’t visually widen the gulf between writers and athletes, a divide that grows with as the players’ salaries rise.
Whenever people are incredibly strident about what is morally right or wrong, I often wonder if they’re dealing with guilt or hiding something. In the writers’ cases, it’s more about being duped back in the 1980s and ’90s (and before, probably) by steroid abusers. The players embarrassed the journalists who are supposed to shine the light on problems and injustices, and the writers got a little revenge today.