FIRE JOE MORGAN: Why Do They Let Skip Bayless Write About Baseball?


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Sunday, July 17, 2005


Why Do They Let Skip Bayless Write About Baseball?

Skip Bayless, formerly known as the guy who actually made Cold Pizza worse, chooses the occasion of Rafael Palmeiro's 3,000th hit to make the case that he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame.

This is a topic much loved among idiots, and the reasons they continue to provide in support of Raffy's exclusion are always wonderfully dumb.

Bayless begins his argument in an interesting way. By pointing out the fact that he is now one of four players to amass 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, two numbers which individually are usually seen as automatic Hall entrance coupons. Then, as if to erase any doubt of his hatred of statistics, he argues that Eddie Murray (one of the other three 3,000/500 guys) shouldn't be in the Hall either.

He then repeats every classic argument in the idiot arsenal:

1. Thinking is bad!
"Most baseball writers will also tell you he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But is he? If you had to stop and think about it for even a moment, he isn't."

Is this how the Hall of Fame elections go? "Duke Snider! In or out?! Three seconds! Go! No time to think!" Take your time, Skip. Take a look at Palmeiro's numbers. Take a look at that career 132 OPS+. Or if those nerdy statistics are too much for you, take a look at those 566 home runs. You know how many people have hit more than 566 home runs? Eight. You know where he ranks on the all time RBI list? 16th. Above such "no-brainers" as Honus Wagner, Reggie Jackson and Cal Ripken.

2. He Plays Baseball
Too many seam-headed voters are too imprisoned by milestone numbers. For them, 3,000 plus 500 equals first ballot. I realize I'm thinking way too right-brain for a baseball argument, but just listen to your instinct when I ask: "Is Rafael Palmeiro a game-changing player?"

Change the game to what? Stan Musial was a great player because sometimes just out of nowhere he would start playing lawn darts in the outfield. Totally changed the game to lawn darts. I'm not looking at all the individual game results right now, but I have a feeling those 566 home runs and 1700+ RsBI may have changed a few of the outcomes of those games. But then again, I'm not ingnoring half of my brain.

3. He Doesn't Have The Ability To Change How Others Play Or Vote On Their All-Star Ballots
Palmeiro has made only four All-Star teams -- half of Murray's. Not once has Palmeiro been voted a starter. His highest MVP finish is fifth. Not once has he led the league in home runs, RBI or batting average.

Fine. He never led his league in the triple crown categories. He just had terrible years like 1999, when he hit 47 homers and knocked in 148 runs. And also, if All-Star game selections are going to be a criterion of election, better get Scott Cooper's plaque ready.

4. Arguments Are Easy When You Don't Do The Requisite Research!
Palmeiro is nothing more than a very good player who has benefited from being a left-handed hitter in bandbox ballparks, Camden Yards and Ameriquest Field in Arlington, featuring right-field jet streams. Not counting the strike year of 1994, Palmeiro played five seasons in Baltimore and five in Arlington during 1995-2004. He averaged a little more than 36 homers a year in Baltimore, counting last season's 23, and almost 45 a year in Arlington.

This sounds pretty damning, until you realize that it's not really true. From 1994-2004, Palmeiro hit 234 homeruns at home and 188 on the road. An average difference of about 5 a year. Not a crazy difference, I would say.

5. Small Sample Sizes Make Dumb Arguments Fun!
Reggie Jackson made 14 All-Star teams and won two World Series MVPs, as well as the 1973 regular-season MVP. In 27 World Series games, Reggie batted .357 with 24 RBI and 10 homers -- including, of course, three in 1977's deciding Game 6 against the Dodgers. Palmeiro hasn't played in a World Series. In 22 postseason games, he has only four homers and eight RBI, with a .244 average.

So Palmeiro should suffer because he was on teams that didn't make it to the World Series? You know who sucks? Ernie Banks. That guy never did shit in the postseason either.

6. Use Unsubstantiated Rumors To Impugn The Guy's Character
Though Jose Canseco goes into detail in his book about how he educated Palmeiro about (and injected him with) steroids, Palmeiro heatedly denied ever using steroids when he testified before Congress. Canseco joined Palmeiro in Texas for the final two months of the '92 season. That season, Palmeiro hit 22 homers. The next, he hit 37 and turned into a legitimate 40-homer threat.

Did Palmeiro screw Skip Bayless's wife or something? Why does he have it out for the guy? I mean, you say Mark McGwire should be in with or without steroids, and his overall numbers are mostly similar to Palmeiro's. Oh, that's right. You're using the vaunted All-Star Selection/World Series defense. Bulletproof.

So who should be in the Hall? According to Skip Bayless...

Wade Boggs (OPS+ lower than Palmeiro's, 400 fewer homeruns)
Andre Dawson (lower OPS+, 100 fewer home runs, lower AVG, SLG, and OBP [.323!])
Dale Murphy (lower OPS+, 150 fewer home runs, lower AVG, SLG, and OBP [.346!])
Curt Schilling! (unremarkable 184-123 record, 131 ERA+, two notable postseason appearances, nine losing seasons)

He concludes with a list of players who are also no brainers:

Give me Aaron, Banks, Bench, Brock, Carew, Carlton, Clemente, Cobb, Dizzy Dean, DiMaggio, Drysdale, Eckersley, Feller, Whitey Ford, Gehrig, Gibson, Grove, Hornsby, Hubbell, Walter Johnson, Kaline, Killebrew, Koufax, Mantle, Marichal, Mathewson, Mays, McCovey …

Mize, Morgan, Musial, Ott, Paige, Palmer, Reese, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Schmidt, Seaver, Sisler, Ozzie Smith, Snider, Spahn, Speaker, Stargell, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, Yastrzemski, Cy Young and Robin Yount.

I don't have the energy to go through all of these, but there are a few suspect choices. I'm looking at you, Pee Wee Reese and your un-Palmeiro-like career batting line. (.269, .366, .377, .743 128 HR, 2,170 hits).

In closing, I can't wait to watch Bayless on Cold Pizza tomorrow. Do you think he'll do "Old School-Nu-Skool with Stephen A. Smith? God, I hope so.

posted by Murbles  # 9:41 PM
I was going to write a much less thorough analysis of the Palmeiro article entitled "Does anyone like Skip Bayless? Anyone? No. No one likes Skip Bayless."
I like Palmeiro for the Hall because he was consistently excellent and durability should count for something. But it's interesting that seemingly for his entire career there were always a couple of first basemen who were more valuable players. Among them: Jeff Bagwell (who is great), Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Carlos Delgado, and for a couple seasons, Jason Giambi.
I think he meant Pokey Reese, who is, you have to admit, a total no-brainer for the HOF.
I don't think Pokey Reese should make the Hall, but he did screw my wife, so I'm pretty biased.
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