Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Tyranny of What We Already Know

It goes against everything I stand for to post this now. Giving the indignant gasbags who beat their chest with pride at their own willingness to look beyond stats to find the true Hall of Famers the attention they crave is a mistake on my part. The harder the internet intelligentsia pushes them, the more likely the more antiquated BBWAA members will dig in. The same people that crow over their integrity in keeping Roger Maris out of the Hall because it "takes a full body of work" while heaping votes on a guy that pitched one massive, memorable game once in a very big spot. Was Jack Morris's Game 7 performance exceptional? Of course. Does one game make him more worthy than better performers subjected to different circumstances? Of course not.

When you create or abide so-called mythical standards or numbers such as 300 wins, 300 saves or 500 home runs, guess what? You're a stats guy. Those are stats. Just because wins and saves are easy to count doesn't make them any less staty. Just because you already know how to allocate them doesn't make them any less esoteric.

Stop me if I sound crazy: pull an alien or Australian or veal-calf onto a baseball diamond and teach them the game. How to play it, that is. Then sit them at a desk. You teach them the rules that govern wins, losses, and saves. I'll teach them the value of strikeouts, the qualities of good pitchers. Which one will make sense first?

Votes cast for Jack Morris: 282. Votes cast for Lee Smith: 255. Votes cast for Edgar Martinez: 195. Votes cast for Tim Raines: 164. Votes cast for Bert Blyleven: 5 too few.

Of these guys, who would you pick first to help your team win baseball games? By WATCHING them, as some writers love to discuss, Tim Raines from 82-87 would have to be first. Bert Blyleven would have to be second, Lee Smith a distant eleventeenth. Who spent more time on the field helping his team win: a specialist like Smith or a specialist like Martinez? Whose contributions to the outcome of one game, one season, over one career carry the most weight?

The type of stats doesn't matter, especially if the difference are between "tried-and-true" and "the kind that make sense." As Rob at Walkoff Walk pointed out yesterday, looking at past Cy Young or MVP votes isn't research, it isn't weighting the impact of a player's career, it is repeating the same mistakes over and again. This does no justice to the players you're attempting to honor or the sanctity of the Hall you're so determined to protect.


  1. To me, the whole voting process is BS.

    How many years are players allowed to be on the ballot - 10? To me, if you don't get in after the first 5 years of being eligible, you should be dropped off the ballot.

    That way, players don't get sympathy votes or slowly gain momentum until the writers feel sorry, and vote players in.

  2. I'm pretty happy with the vote all in all. Blyleven looks like a lock. Alomar looks like a lock. Dawson is in.

    The only real dissappointment is Raines. And, granted, it's a big one. He'll have a similar fight to Blyleven, and hopefully a similar plight.

  3. The only stats that matter are RBI, Wins, and Saves.

    That wOBAJOBAHWABAH? and UZRwhatchamahoo stuff? They don't show anything. All that matters is the game was won, if the gave was saved, or if you drove in some god damn runs.

    You young kids and your new fangled mechanisms don't understand baseball.

  4. Your stretching things there anon @ 5:34. Whether you drive in runs or get saves is pointless if you don't win. Wins conquer all! The rest is pointless.

    Back in my day, we just looked at the score to see who won, chose the MVP from the team with the most wins, and Cy Young seemed a nice fellow so we gave him the Cy Young. No injustice there.

    Now it's just books about computers written by Billy Beane. No way I'd read that. And I don't want to read about your damned "saves" either.

  5. QJays you seem like my kinda guy. Damn Jamie Campbell made me start getting into RBI's and Saves. Hopefully Buck brings me back to the true feeling of baseball. Good players dive for balls five feet away from them, baseball is an art.

  6. I wish the ballots were public so I'd know which 282 writers to check off as too stupid to have me ever listen to them about anything else.

    Im all for Robbie, and all for Rock (to name the two guys I personally find most deserving) but I am much MORE offended that Morris got that many votes.

    Bunch a fuckin morons.

  7. I don't know that I especially care the individual who's and why's of the Hof vote, I get maddest at the moving target reasoning employed by some writers.

    While anon 5:34's tongue is firmly in his cheek, his/her (ha!) point "all that matters is the game was won" is a valid one. The game was won by the team, not the pitcher who pitched 5+ innings then disappeared.

    Giving Jack Morris credit for his win total (rather than his role in said wins) is doubly stupid because of all the time he spent with Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker behind him. Morris gets the wins and might sneak in, Al & Lou are on the outside looking in. So Bert is punished for playing in front of shitty players? Dumb.

  8. Well, said role for Jack Morris was usually 8 or 9 innings, which is.....ah don't make me defend Morris!

  9. "When you create or abide so-called mythical standards or numbers such as 300 wins, 300 saves or 500 home runs, guess what? You're a stats guy. Those are stats."

    So simple. So true. Too bad you've written it on the internet — the people who need to read that probably never will.


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