FIRE JOE MORGAN: Ladies And Gentlemen, This Man Has A Hall Of Fame Vote


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Monday, July 02, 2007


Ladies And Gentlemen, This Man Has A Hall Of Fame Vote

His name is Mark Kreidler. He's been a sportswriter for twenty years. He just wrote this article. Ladies and gentlemen, this man has a Hall of Fame vote.

Impact, not numbers, should define a player's HOF status

Team spirit, not numbers, should determine who wins the World Series

Feelings, not data, should tell us whether to release this new cancer drug

Aura, not page views, should determine what I, Mark Kreidler, get paid for these articles

Ladies and gentlemen, this man has a Hall of Fame vote.

This just in from the other side of the wall: It's time to reconsider the whole proposition.

The Hall of Fame benchmark labyrinth, that is. The numerical ladder to the pantheon just doesn't work anymore, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Sure. Benchmarks -- that is to say, fixed, round numbers of counting stats like wins or hits or doubles or sac flies -- should not be used on their own to determine Hall-worthiness. They have to be taken into context. The rates of these counting stats fluctuate over the history of the game. We can use more sophisticated numbers to see how a player compares to his peers.

That's what you're saying, right?

It is, in fact, going to force a general reconsideration of how to view players by those Hall of Fame voters who've traditionally taken the easy way out and looked for a statistical validation of their choices from year to year.

Oh boy. Stats are not the easy way out. The easy way out is throwing up your hands and saying "I like this guy. Great guy. Famous. Hall of Fame. Impact. Impactuous guy. This guy is better because he had more impact. I am making up what impact is as I go along."

Ladies and gentlemen, this man has a Hall of Fame vote.

And I should certainly know: I'm one such lunkhead. Been voting for years, and there are still times when I check the numbers -- at the last minute, sometimes -- to see if they bear out what I'm thinking.

Let me get this straight. You, Mark Kreidler, are saying that sometimes you take one last minute, perfunctory glance at the numbers before you cast your Hall of Fame vote? Even worse -- you're saying that at other times, you don't look at any numbers at all?

This is akin to Clarence Thomas freely admitting, Hey, sure, sometimes I read the case files if I've got some time to kill on the crapper or whatever. Other times, boom, straight in the garbage. Also, guess what I wear underneath this judge robe -- a bathrobe! Because hey, two kinds of robes! Did I just blow your mind?

Ladies and gentlemen, this man has a Hall of Fame vote.

The Hall voting always has been like that. It's an odd little procedure, very personal, very subjective,

Trust me, Mark, it's made very much more subjective when you refuse to look at numbers for more than five seconds.

and many of us have argued over the years that it is, in fact, a Hall of Fame and not of numbers.

This is my least favorite "argument" about anything ever. First of all, the words in the name of something do not determine the tools you use to make that thing. No one's saying "It's a House of Representatives, so let's all meet in a fucking house, okay?" (Sorry for all of the political references. I have no idea what's gotten into my brain.) Second, even if you wanted to nomenclature-parse the Hall of Fame, you would find the third word in the title to be the word "fame," which, taken literally, is a piss-poor criterion for entry into said institution.

So no, it's not called the Hall of Numbers, a foyer which presumably would include e and pi and Planck's constant, it's called the Hall of Fame. Thank you for that clarification. It helps us zero.

Ladies and gentlemen, this man has a Hall of Fame vote.

But as Rob Neyer explains elsewhere on this site, 500 homers ain't what they used to be. We have witnessed a dramatic devaluation of that figure over the past two decades, with greater accomplishment suddenly skewing upward into previously unimaginable territory -- 600 and beyond.

That is why we have numbers that help us compare between eras. This has been an issue throughout the history of the Hall, not one that just came up because Frank Thomas reached 500 home runs. I can't believe you're not aware of that.

Ladies and gentlemen, you know the end of this sentence.

And I'd add that there are important numbers -- wins,


hits --

And no, not really.

that seem to be sliding the other way, gradually farther from the view of today's player. Biggio's achievement, that is, may well stand taller as the years go by. Three thousand hits and 300 victories aren't merely difficult to attain; they're becoming endangered species as statistics.

Well, of the 27 players with 3,000 hits, 11 played in the nineties.

You're going to see fewer Greg Madduxes or Tom Glavines, players who just stay and stay and stay. With five-man rotations and a normal season's worth of work, even a great pitcher is going to average maybe 15, 16 wins a year. At that rate, you've got to stick in the bigs for two decades to get to 300. Maddux is in his 22nd year, Glavine his 21st. How many more such players figure to come down the pike?

Pitchers are also playing at unprecedented levels of greatness well into their forties.

I wonder if, over time, 200 wins might become accepted as a career benchmark for pitchers -- the benchmark, maybe. You already see stories that celebrate a pitcher's 200th win, and rightfully so: every one of those victories was tough to get. Shoot, Mark Buehrle has 102 wins at age 28, and he's pretty good. Assuming 15 wins a year, he'll be about 35 by the time he gets to 200. Getting to 300 just looks out of the question.

There you have it. Because Mark Buehrle, a guy who looked totally lost and posted a 4.99(!) ERA as recently as last year, probably won't make 300 wins, we have to rethink this whole numbers thing.

And I think that's where the voters will have to go, too. Increasingly, we'll have to subtract some of our old notions from the Hall of Fame rubric. What if, over time, there just aren't any more 300-game winners? After Glavine (297) on the active list, there is Randy Johnson at 284. What if Johnson comes up, I don't know, seven shy? He was still, for years, the most feared and arguably most effective pitcher in baseball. That's worthy of a Hall conversation.

For God's sake, Mark Kreidler, no one who's not a total idiot is arguing that you can't make it into the Hall if you don't have 300 wins. The majority of guys already in the Hall don't have 300-win resumes.

And of course Randy Johnson makes it in. Stop talking about "most feared" -- what the hell does that even mean? Johnson has a career 137 ERA+ (Sandy Koufax's was 131), finished first or second in ERA seven times, led the league in strikeouts per nine innings for nine consecutive years, and is closing in on 4000 IP. It's not a conversation, it's a motherfucking 360-degree slam dunk with two balls in each hand.

Then again, does a Hall voter really need to see Jeter reach 3,000 hits to know he's deserving of a vote? Certainly not -- and good thing. The old benchmarks are coming down, in some cases literally. We're going to be voting in the years to come on impact as much as anything -- and that, to me, goes hand in glove with the concept of a Hall of Fame, not a hall of numbers.

Impact, which Mark Kreidler will measure in terms of the number of fragrances a player has named after him. Get cracking, Craig, there's still time for Biggieau (TM) to hit the market in time for your Hall of Fame case.

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posted by Junior  # 2:18 PM
Triple check-plus on "Biggieau." Might be the best joke on this site.

For Frank Thomas, may I submit: "The Big Smell."

And for Randy Johnson: "Eaugly."
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