Archive for January, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Hall of Fame Vote

January 10, 2012

In no particular order, a few comments on the recently concluded Hall of Fame voting.

1. Congratulations to both Barry Larkin and Ron Santo. I have no problem with either making it to Cooperstown. I just wish Santo had still been alive to appreciate the moment.

2. It seems conventional wisdom was right. Of the new guys on the list, only Bernie Williams managed to hang on until next year with a whopping 10% of the vote. That doesn’t bode well for him next year when a bunch of heavy hitters show up on the ballot.

3. Doomsday for Jack Morris. I know he has 2 years left on the ballot, but next year is the first of the big guns from the late 1990s and early 2000s and he’s going to get lost in the shuffle. And in 2014 Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are on the ballot. Morris has no chance of getting in over them and the writers almost never elect 3 or more candidates.

4. No love for Edgar Martinez again. I don’t think the DH is the best idea since canned beer or the worst since Disco either, so we have to live with the fact it exists. The idea that a one-dimensional player has no place in the Hall of Fame begs the question what are Ted Williams, Ozzie Smith, Bill Mazeroski, and almost every pitcher who ever made it doing there? They all did one thing really well. If Maz doesn’t turn the double play better than anyone ever, does he get it? If Smith isn’t a great fielder is he getting in on his hitting? If Williams doesn’t hit a ton, is he getting in?  Martinez also did one thing well.

5. As more and more relievers pile up more and more saves, Lee Smith’s chances for the Hall dim.

6. I still wonder what will happen to Don Mattingly’s chances if the Dodgers start doing well. Will a successful stint as a manager help his chances for Cooperstown? I think failure in the dugout has hurt Alan Trammel.

7. Saw that Juan Gonzalez fell off the ballot. That does not bode well for big hitters with steroid allegations. Although Gonzalez was the weakest of the crew in question, once you start dropping one of the off, it becomes easier to drop the others. It will be interesting to see how that translates to the next few years.

And now a couple of questions about the next couple of years.

1. Will the revulsion about steroids lead to a backlash that puts in non-steroid users (or at least people who have no current taint of use) who might otherwise have to wait a while before election? I’m wondering here about Curt Shilling specifically.

2. Will Nomo be afforded Jackie Robinson-like status in 2014?  He didn’t have nearly the career Robinson had, but his impact for Asian players is as great.

3. Will Mike Stanton survive the 2013 ballot? Set up men get no glory and little press. Stanton is one of the best ever. How will that translate to votes for the Hall? Frankly, I don’t think he’ll do very well.

Are These Guys Willfully Stupid?

January 8, 2012

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days in the baseball calendar. Tomorrow at 2pm Eastern Time they’ll announce who is elected to the Hall of Fame for 2012. The writer’s vote will be announced and we’ll see who the writers, some of them will less brains than a peanut (a very small peanut), have determined is worthy of a trip to Cooperstown. They’ll interview the guy, his mom, his Uncle Charlie, and God knows who else. It will show up on the front webpage of ESPN, of Fox News, of MSNBC and there will be rejoicing throughout the free world. And by 4pm Eastern Time I’ll all be a footnote, relegated to the “In Other Sports News” section of the web because tomorrow night Alabama  and Louisiana State will play a game to determine who is the best team in college football.

Can baseball’s leadership really be that stupid? What a stupid question to ask. Of course they can be that stupid. It’s one of the high points of the baseball year and some idiot has put in on the same day with the college football championship. What? They couldn’t have done it a week earlier or maybe a week later? Give the new guys their day, a full day, to bask in the glory and publicity they deserve. Give the losers a day, a full day, to say good things about the guys who got in (or at least to complain loudly enough for someone to notice).  But to announce who’s enshrined in hallowed halls and then watch everyone go “That’s nice. Who ya got in the ‘Bama, LSU matchup?” is downright disrespectful to the guys who made it to Cooperstown.

I’ve been critical of the voting process (what makes anyone think the baseball writers know what they’re talking about). Now I have to be critical of the timing? Will somebody in charge start getting this right? Yuck!

Hot Stove League 1912 (AL)

January 5, 2012

Duffy Lewis, Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper about 1912

Today we baseball junkies get our November-February fix by engaging in what’s called “The Hot Stove League”. It was no different 100 years ago. Here’s a few things the 1912 American League fan had to be discussing in January 100 years ago.

Could the Athletics repeat? The Philadelphia Athletics were two-time defending champions. Could they make it three in a row? No one ever had in the American League. We know the answer is “no.” Chief Bender had a down year, rookies Herb Pennock and Stan Coveleski (future Hall of Famers) didn’t do much (Coveleski only pitched 21 innings).

If not, who could take them? Boston had finished fifth in 1911, but  Jake Stahl took over as manager (and had a good year at first base), the outfield of Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker, and Duffy Lewis became arguably the finest Deadball Era outfield, third baseman Larry Gardner had a good season (better than Hooper’s), and Smokey Joe Wood won 30 games.

 Was Walter Johnson a fluke? After three so-so seasons, Johnson put together two 20 win seasons in 1910 and 1911. Fans had to wonder if he could continue. Short answer? Yes.

After hitting .400 in 1911, could Ty Cobb do it again? Again the answer turned out to be yes.

After hitting .400 in 1911 and losing the batting title to Cobb, could new guy Joe Jackson hit .400 in 1912 and win the batting title? Jackson slipped to .395, but led the AL in triples.

Would the team in New York, which had finished second in 1910 and slipped back to sixth in 1911 under now ousted manager Hal Chase recover or continue to slide. They dropped all the way to last place in 1912 with Chase still at first and sulking (among other things). He did lead the team in RBIs with 58.

And finally would Chicago pitcher Ed Walsh’s arm fall off? Walsh led the AL in games pitched in 1907, 1908, 1910, and 1911. Could he do it again? He could. He pitched in 62 games, starting 41, completing 32, and pitching 393 innings (read that last number closely).  Apparently the arm stayed attached, but the toll finally got to him. He developed a sore arm in 1913 and his career was effectively over.

Part of the joy of baseball is actually the offseason. The speculation, the anticipation, the questioning all make for a lot of fun. I love it, I hope you love it, and I’m sure fans 100 years ago loved it too.