I have covered Murray Chass one time before and it was one of my favorite underrated posts on this blog...the one about Mike Piazza's bacne and how it related to steroids. Murray hates statistics, anyone older than 70 years old, and progress in general. I am sure if you get him ramped up he would talk for a couple hours about the haircuts kids today have and how things were better back when everyone in the neighborhood looked out for each other. Think of the Hollywood version of the 1950's...a white picket fence, a father driving a black car home from work while waving to his neighbors, kissing his wife on the front porch as he arrives careful not to get whatever food is on her white apron on his business suit, there are a couple of kids playing hopscotch in the driveway, and everyone is excited to watch the Yankees game that night together. THAT's what Murray Chass wants. I like to pick on Furman Bisher and I like to pick on Murray Chass because they hate progress, statistics, and pretty much anything that happened after 1980.
I read the columns that Murray posts on his web site. I would call it a blog, but even though it looks like a blog and reads like a blog, it is NOT a blog according to Murray:
This is a site for baseball columns, not for baseball blogs. The proprietor of the site is not a fan of blogs. He made that abundantly clear on a radio show with Charley Steiner when Steiner asked him what he thought of blogs and he replied, “I hate blogs.”
Otherwise, this site will most likely appeal primarily to older fans whose interest in good old baseball is largely ignored in this day of young bloggers who know it all, and new- fangled statistics (VORP, for one excuse-me example), which are drowning the game in numbers and making people forget that human beings, not numbers, play the games.
No wonder I searched and searched and couldn't draft the players "VORP" and "WHIP" in my Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league last year! They are statistics, not human beings! I am always getting that confused and mistaken new-age hippie statistics for actual human beings. Murray Chass thinks players should be judged not on statistics, but firsthand accounts of that player's exploits. Policemen know how reliable witnesses can be, firsthand accounts are usually the most (least) reliable way of determining a lot of things...so naturally Murray thinks the mind's recollection, not statistics are the best way to judge a player and his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
(Old Hall of Fame voter) "I remember one time Jack Morris struck out the side in 3 straight innings with a leg he broke in the 4th inning and then completed the game in pain the entire time. It was 1983. If he isn't a Hall of Fame player, then no one should be!"
(Person who likes statistics using a computer to search for this incident) "Actually in 1983 Morris didn't strike out the side in two straight innings, much less ---"
(Hall of Fame voter) "Don't tell me what I saw! I was there and remember it clear as day! Jack Morris is a Hall of Fame player because I remember him being good. I can't see the television, where I did I put my glasses?"
Murray Chass also has a massive ego:
During that period he reported three of his four all-time favorite quotes.
Chass made some other significant contributions to baseball writing. For one, he created the coverage of contracts. Salaries in sports had been largely guess work before he began reporting contracts of baseball’s free agents once free agency began in 1976.
So basically Murray Chass has a pretty good history of thinking whatever he has seen and heard are the best of all-time. You can see how Chass would give some opposition to the idea the way he has evaluated Hall of Fame players is wrong. If this were true it would reflect negatively on what he has done and wouldn't make him feel as accomplished as he wants to feel. Statistics are the path to making Murray Chass not the expert he wants to be on Major League Baseball, so he fights the use of them to evaluate players.
Well, today Murray has a few thoughts in three separate columns (blog postings) about the Hall of Fame and it's pretty interesting to hear what he has to say. It goes in three phases: His opinion on who should be voted in the Hall of Fame, his rebuttal to those who criticize him, and then him ranting against blogs semi-incoherently, while sort of making facts up. First, he gives his opinion on who should have been voted into the Hall of Fame this year (near the bottom) and who he voted for.
The ballot almost didn’t make it. I was talking on the telephone to a friend, also a baseball writer, about three hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve when I realized that I hadn’t submitted my Hall of Fame ballot. The deadline was upon me.
Who was Murray talking to? Joe Morgan.
(Murray) "Do you know who is a great player? Derek Jeter."
(Joe Morgan) "Yes, I like his consistency. He is always very consistent...him and Gary Sheffield. There aren't a lot of teams like that now. Some teams win 5 games and then lose 2 games and then win 4 games and then lose 2 games. When I played teams would win 24 straight games and then lose 1 and go back on another 20 game winning streak."
(Murray) "Except the Yankees. They were always good and I don't need statistics to prove that, I have my memory of how good they were. Oh crap-a-doodle, I forgot to submit my Hall of Fame ballot. I have to leave good friend."
(Joe Morgan screaming into the phone) "Don't forget to vote for Dave Concepcion for the Hall of Fame!"
It's good to see Murray takes the Hall of Fame voting so damn seriously that he almost forgets to submit his ballot completely. I am sure the general public and the Hall of Fame eligible players are happy to hear one of the greatest honors a baseball player can receive is so easily forgettable by those who vote.
Murray wouldn't like it if his wife forgot to feed him his oatmeal for lunch. How is almost forgetting to vote for the Hall of Fame any different? He says what he will about bloggers, but I guarantee no blogger would EVER forget to vote for the potential Hall of Fame inductees if given the chance. It wouldn't even come down to the deadline because that ballot would be probably the first one returned and would most likely be fairly well-researched (I may not agree with the ballot, but at least a blogger would have reasoning that makes sense for choosing players to make the Hall of Fame). So he needs to think about that when he is saying how stupid and unprofessional bloggers are.
I had already put an X next to Jack Morris’ name, but I still had to decide on five other players – two repeat candidates, Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven, and three first-timers, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martinez.
Here is probably Murray's train of thought when it comes to the 3 first timers:
(Murray) "Hmmmm....an African-American and two Mexicans? They probably weren't gritty and didn't hustle. Larkin is no Phil Rizzuto and I haven't even heard of these two guys from Mexico. They probably weren't good because I don't remember them being good."
I am sure a little bit less than 3 hours is sufficient to make this life changing decision for these players and submit it. Why not just give yourself 15 minutes to fill out your ballot if it is so unimportant? Seriously, this is a HUGE honor for a player, and something that needs to be taken seriously. Voting for the Hall of Fame shouldn't be something a voter remembers to submit at the last second and then takes 30 seconds to fill out. This isn't high school where we are voting for senior superlatives and you pick who you like best, it's the Hall of Fame and should be taken seriously.
I know Murray Chass and other older Hall of Fame voters hold on to their ballots and reasoning as tightly as they are holding onto their long term memories, but if the process was taken more seriously maybe everyone wouldn't second guess the ballots. I know it sounds revolutionary, but it seems like Murray Chass takes more time to choose whether he wants to go back for more green beans and a roll at the Golden Corral than he spends time on who should make the Hall of Fame. I am enraged right now at this, I need a 15 minute break...
(15 minutes later)
If he can't remember to vote, how can he remember how good the baseball players he is voting for were? He hates statistics and doesn't want to use them to evaluate players. So how does he know if a player deserves to make the Hall of Fame? HOW?????????? DOES HE JUST LIKE CERTAIN STATISTICS????
On Dawson, I came to the same conclusion as I had previously – outstanding player but a just-miss. I felt the same way about Blyleven, though with new ammunition for my decision.
If you are praying right now that his ammunition is actually revealing and convincing you are going to be incredibly wrong.
As good as Blyleven was in winning 287 games, he had some of his worst years when his team had good years.
I guess we can just feel lucky he didn't say his ammunition was that he never was personally impressed with the way Blyleven pitched or he didn't like how Blyleven dressed after games.
The best example of that dichotomy came in 1988 when the Twins finished second with a 91-71 record while Blyleven had a 10-17 record and a 5.43 e.r.a.
Great job! Ignore ALL the other years that Blyleven pitched well when his team stunk and focus on the one year Blyleven was bad and his team was good. That one year Blyleven pitched poorly when he was 37 FUCKING YEARS OLD proves that Blyleven was NOT a Hall of Fame pitcher. Who cares that he pitched incredibly well when his team stunk, ONE YEAR he didn't pitch well when his team was good. That's plenty of ammunition against Blyleven's candidacy in the mind of Murray Chass.
Fortunately because he wants to be in the Hall of Fame very, very badly, Bert wrote in to Murray and said:
“I think you are wrong,” Blyleven, who won 287 games in his career, wrote in an e-mail. “In 1988 the Twins did have a great year winning 91 games and I pitched with a sore shoulder all season long. I did suck that year but I fought though the season.”
“Don’t put me down for a few bad seasons!” he concluded.
I bet Murray didn't vote for Bert because he didn't find his beard to well-groomed enough or something inane like that. Good for Bert to respond to Murray. That's what I like about him. When he wants something, he writes a column talking about how great he was as a baseball player and responds to any voter personally who doesn't vote for him to be in the Hall of Fame.
I found Martinez the most difficult to decide.
(Murray Chass) "His name is Edgar but he doesn't look like a Mexican like all those Mexicans playing baseball look today. This is difficult to decide...is he a Mexican, Latino, Puerto Rican or just has an ethnic name? Either way it is a "no" for him, that's easy to decide, but this is tough to decide his actual ethnicity."
I voted for Larkin and Alomar, though not with the same enthusiasm as I voted or would have voted for some previous first-timers,
(Murray) "I guess I will vote for these guys to be bestowed the greatest honor among baseball players, induction to the Hall of Fame, but it doesn't mean I have to be happy about it."
such as Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999, had I been permitted to vote then.
Yes, because one of the greatest second basemen in the history of Major League Baseball shouldn't muster enough enthusiasm as these three guys who weren't the best at their position during their career.
Now we move onto the Rebuttal of Chass.
Given Bert Blyleven’s criticism of my assessment of his career for my Hall of Fame ballot, I want to be the first to congratulate him on his election a year from now. How do I know Blyleven will be elected in 2011 when the 2010 ballots have hardly been counted?
You know 6 people who plan on voting for him in 2011?
When a candidate’s vote total increases steadily and he gets close to election, he is virtually assured that he will be elected. It happened with Andre Dawson this week, and it happened with Jim Rice last year.
This is one of the many problems I have with the Hall of Fame voting process. It's like the players have to pay their dues to make it or the process where a player slowly gets more votes is better referred to as the "we have no one else we want to vote for and we want to attend the ceremony so let's just put someone in the Hall of Fame to say we did" principle.
Among the reasons, I cited some of the poor or mediocre seasons he had when his team had a good season, perhaps undermining the team’s ability to go even further than it did.
Murray specifically gave the example of one season where this happened and vaguely inferred there were other seasons like it. I wouldn't exactly call it "citing" anything. Of course what do I know, I have taken a journalism class in the last 50 years so maybe citing was a little more lenient when Murray went to school and just giving one example allows the writers to allude to multiple, unproven seasons without proof there were multiple unproven seasons.
Also, the idea of Blyleven having mediocre seasons that undermined his team's ability to go further has no evidential proof, besides the fact it is pure speculation. Here are Blyleven's bad seasons along with his team's record:
1981: 2-2, 4.87 ERA (Cleveland Indians 78-84)
1988: 10-17, 5.43 ERA (Minnesota Twins 91-71)
1990: 8-7, 5.24 ERA (California Angels 80-82)
1992: 8-12, 4.74 ERA (California Angels 72-90)
So other than 1988 there was really no other year when Blyleven had a bad year and dragged his team down. So Murray Chass essentially did not vote for Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame because ONE YEAR when he was 37 years old he didn't have a good season while his Twins team did. This is the very definition of "arbitrary reasoning" in not voting for Blyleven.
I, of course, continue to support Jack Morris’ candidacy,
Well of course, he doesn't deserve it nearly as much as Blyleven so this makes him an obvious candidate for Hall of Fame induction in the world of Murray Chass.
As far as I know, Morris did not win any more games in the past year nor did he lead another team to a World Series championship. So why did he receive 45 more votes? Those writers apparently woke up, reassessed Morris’ career, whacked themselves on the forehead and exclaimed, “Of course, Morris belongs in Cooperstown.”
I am sure that is exactly what happened and had nothing to do with the fact his was an overall weak Hall of Fame class and when the class is weaker the voters (those who actually give a shit and do research) focus more on the borderline candidates and some end up voting for said candidates because the more research they did, the more they became convinced of that player's qualifications. I think this is what happened, and hence, Jack Morris my personal nemesis (I am a Braves fan and he played for the 1991 Twins and 92-93 Blue Jays...I am not a fan of his), got more votes.
Despite Dawson’s great season – 49 home runs, 137 runs batted in – the Cubs finished last, but Dawson was named the National League most valuable player.
Andre Dawson played well one season and his team didn't finish 1st and win the World Series? How can he be considered a Hall of Fame player if one season he didn't help his team play well? Andre Dawson isn't clutch and doesn't make his teammates better, and in the world of Murray Chass this would be reasoning to not vote for a player in the Hall of Fame.
(Chass did not vote for Andre Dawson to make the Hall of Fame. Of course he didn't.)
Now we get to the rant of Murray Chass.
There is nothing in sports that creates the controversy and the debate provoked by voting for the Hall of Fame. More than a week after the results of the latest voting were announced, I was still getting e-mail about the results.
More than a week later Murray is still getting mail? You would think people would just immediately forget about something they were incredibly passionate about.
Everyone is an expert, fans and bloggers alike. They all know better than the people who actually vote in the election, and they eagerly tell us so.
How dare anyone have an opinion! How dare anyone have an INFORMED opinion either! No expert, fan or blogger knows better than the people who vote, they are just giving their opinion. It is possible that someone who waits less than 3 hours before the deadline to submit his Hall of Fame ballot may be incorrect about a choice or two. It may also be possible the 539 Hall of Fame voters are not the smartest and most well-informed people that cover or follow Major League Baseball. They are just given the chance to vote for the Hall of Fame, it doesn't also mean they are the smartest people when it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame.
A reader of this site told me in an e-mail that my ballot, which I disclosed before the results were announced, “contains votes for players I do not believe deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and you failed to vote for players who clearly deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”
“Clearly deserve” in whose judgment? His, of course.
Well naturally, I don't know why someone would write an email describing a third party's feelings about the Hall of Fame.
"Dear Murray, I was writing to let you know what my cousin said about the Hall of Fame. He thinks..."
Does that make him right and me wrong? Of course not. Am I right? Yes. Why? Because my opinion counts and his doesn’t.
I think Murray Chass is desperate old man who has had the game of baseball pass him by and he is too stubborn, old, and senile to admit it to himself and the world. Am I right? Yes. Why? Because this is my fucking blog where my opinion counts and I said so.
Using Murray's reasoning I am completely right. I would like to also add Adolf Hitler used the "my opinion counts only" argument in beginning World War II and trying to exterminate a certain group of people off the Earth. Maybe this is an extreme example, but more bad than good has ever come out of using the "I am right because my opinion is the only one that counts" argument.
My ballot was one of the 539 counted in the election. He did not have a vote. Therefore, his opinion is worthless as far as the election is concerned.
(Bengoodfella laughing at the last gasps of relevancy by a man who was a great newspaper guy but is sorely out of place in today's world. He's clutching that Hall of Fame voters ballot to his grave isn't he?)
That’s the real problem self-proclaimed experts have. They want to be the ones voting, but they don’t have that privilege. It’s their own fault. They chose the wrong profession.
So only the 539 people who vote for the Hall of Fame can be the only ones criticizing their own selections? What about the thousands of people who chose to be sportswriters but still can't vote for the Hall of Fame because they aren't with the BBWAA? Is it their fault they can't vote for the Hall of Fame because someone on the board hasn't died/retired/realized they are incompetent?
Actually, I don’t believe baseball writers should be voting for the Hall of Fame
though I don’t know of a more qualified group, which is why the Hall maintains its association with the Baseball Writers Association.
Monkeys, a blind man throwing at names on a dart board, or anyone who would be willing to at least acknowledge technology and advances in mathematical understanding as it relates to baseball and how certain player's candidacy looks more favorable when these math-baseball related issues are revealed? These are all potential more qualified people/animals to vote for the Hall of Fame. I don't care if someone I don't like gets in the Hall of Fame, I just think it is bullshit when a guy like Bert Blyleven is left out based on the reasoning one year in his 22 seasons his team performed well while he did not.
I am going to stereotype here, but I have always thought it was ironic that today's generation of youth gets beaten down by the elder generations for not knowing math and not caring enough about math as much as previous generations did (they always point to how Japan/China beats the United States in test scores), yet elder generations of baseball writers HATE new math that is used in baseball. Apparently they want this knowledge of math to stop when it impedes on their previously held ideas. It's not deeply ironic, just slightly ironic.
Lisa Olson feels the same way I did then. A former sports writer with the New York Daily News, Lisa attracted unwanted post-election attention when an item on deadspin.com about the Hall of Fame voting said she always submits a blank ballot, has every year she has voted.
But back to Lisa Olson. The report of her annual blank ballot made me curious enough to ask her why she does that. She doesn’t, she replied.
Lisa, who writes for fanhouse.com, explained that she doesn’t return any kind of ballot, blank or otherwise.
Oh that's nice. Lisa Olson who has the honor many other baseball sportswriters would love to have never turns her ballot in because of some currently unnamed reason (and honestly I don't give a shit what the reason is, it's her job to vote for the potential Hall of Fame members. Don't vote for someone if you don't want to, but don't have the honor of getting a ballot and using it as a chance to take a moral stand. You are denying someone else a chance to vote. I don't care if the ballot isn't even counted. If you don't want to vote, give up your seat). I would like to know exactly why Lisa Olson has the privilege of voting for the Hall of Fame inductees and abstains from it.
“I don’t participate,” she wrote in an e-mail, “because I believe journalists shouldn’t be voting on people they cover.
That's nice. Unfortunately that's the opinion of the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA and their opinion is the only one that counts (remember that argument by Murray Chass?) and they disagree. So either give up your ballot to someone else or start to vote. That's my position. There is no need to be a grandstanding baby about it. (Starts to talk down to Lisa Olson) We can't always avoid doing something we want to do. Sometimes when we are big people we have to do things we normally wouldn't want to do in the course of doing our job.
It tells me a lot about Lisa Olson that she is too selfish to give up her ballot to another writer who actually would like to vote for potential Hall of Fame members.
Gee, what a shock. A blog got it wrong. Barry Petchesky, who wrote the item, was good enough to explain his mistake in an e-mail.
A mistake and a retraction! Oh no, I bet a newspaper has never had to retract a statement they made! Blogs are evil!
“On Lisa’s site, FanHouse,” he wrote, “they published the ballots of each of their voting members, with a note saying that Lisa ‘abstained from taking part in the voting process as she has in every election since she became eligible.’”
Petchesky said he attempted to ask Olson about her ballot via e-mail but heard nothing before he posted his item.
I can't believe this evil blogger tried to do research and clear up something he saw that Lisa Olson's employer post on their site BEFORE he posted his column! How dare he not get Lisa Olson to answer his emails! This isn't Lisa Olson's fault at all for not answering a seemingly perfectly legitimate inquiry in regards to a topic about her and referring to an article she wrote that was posted on her employer's web site.
“I got an email from FanHouse editor Andrew Johnson pointing out that Lisa’s abstention didn’t count as a ‘no vote’ against any players. I then updated the post to reflect this. Six or so hours later I received an email from Lisa explaining her reasoning for abstaining from the vote, and I updated my post again, publishing her note. I sent her an email apologizing for the confusion.”
He corrected the mistake immediately? Blogs are evil!
But as usually happens with these things, Petchesky’s correction never caught up to his mistake, and Olson was branded as a blank-ballot voter.
This has never happened when a newspaper makes a mistake on Page 1 and then waits until the next day or next week to make a correction at the bottom of Page 7.
Worse, instead of eliminating the original erroneous report altogether, the blog left it on the site in with the updated information following.
I am sure the newspaper who makes the mistake goes around to all the houses and collects the newspapers they sent out with the erroneous report and burns them...right? Wait, not right?
I suppose that’s like having a report that a crazy man killed 27 people on a college campus, then finding out no such thing happened but leaving the report on the blog with a correction appended saying “never mind.”
Or it could be like a report that Lisa Olson fills out a blank ballot and sends it in that was immediately corrected and noted clearly so anyone who read the column could read the retraction.
That’s just one difference between a blog and a newspaper article. A newspaper would have deleted all mention of Olson and her ballot once the correct story was learned.
Except for the whole tricky little problem that the newspaper with the erroneous information has been disseminated to the public already...does the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline ring a bell?
In one of the severest posts, on baseballanalysts.com, Patrick Sullivan, a name unknown to me, ridiculed Dan Shaughnessy, a highly respected columnist for the Boston Globe, for writing that … well, just about anything.
Shaughnessy is highly respected among his easy-to-impress sportswriting brethen. This is an industry where Rick Reilly wins awards and gets paid millions while he is re-writing his old columns. So in essence, it's not hard to be highly respected. Write columns and don't die, then you will be highly respected in the sportswriting world...I feel like those are the only two rules.
But then I would probably take Shaughnessy’s view over Sullivan’s on any subject. Shaughnessy has a track record; Sullivan doesn’t, as far as I know.
Obviously if Murray Chass hasn't heard of Patrick Sullivan and makes no attempt to be familiar with Patrick Sullivan this is clearly Sullivan's own fault. I wish I was an old-time journalist like Murray Chass in my job and could just assume that anything I haven't heard of or haven't made an effort to hear about has no track record or credibility. He is using his own ignorance and lack of energy to do any research on Patrick Sullivan as an indictment against Sullivan. It's madness!
Like Sullivan in his case for Schilling, the reader used statistics to argue his case for Blyleven. Most of the Hall arguments today seem to be statistics-centered.
What the hell should be used if not statistics to get a player in the Hall of Fame? How did Ty Cobb make it, how did Walter Johnson make it, how did Babe Ruth make it? It was all statistics, though not many of the same statistics used today. To dismiss statistics in evaluating a player's candidacy is pretty ridiculous.
I get the idea that the stats zealots would draw up charts based on their new-fangled numbers and decide on the basis of the numbers who should be in the Hall of Fame. No thinking necessary.
What's there to think about if you don't have statistics to compare a player to other players of his era? I don't get it. If there were no statistics-centered approach used to compare players then how would we know the difference in Greg Maddux and Mike Maddux? Is Hall of Fame voting supposed to be a big game of "Memory" where the voters are supposed to recall how good they recall a player being? If so, well, that's just stupid.
John, however, was a sinkerball pitcher and got more outs on batted balls and fared just as well as Blyleven. John had a career 288-231 record with a 3.34 earned run average. Blyleven’s record was 287-250 and his e.r.a. 3.31. John retired 57 percent of the batters he faced, Blyleven, with all his strikeouts, 59 percent. Yet in the eyes of the stats zealots, the voters were justified for not electing John but not for rejecting Blyleven.
Now Murray Chass is just making things up. I googled "Tommy John shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame" and a couple other searches and mostly found articles describing why John should be in the Hall of Fame. Joe Posnanski makes a good case here, especially with how John compares better to Jack Morris. Of course Joe Posnanski actually does research about who should make the Hall of Fame, which is something Murray Chass seems to be against.
So the "stats zealots" don't seem to have a huge problem with John in the Hall of Fame. It appears Murray Chass sort of made this up.
You can forgive him though, he is probably bitter that he pushed out to sea on an iceberg at this point in regards to evaluating baseball players. The world has passed him by because he doesn't care to catch up, so he is just going to wave around his ability to vote for the Hall of Fame as a symbol of how his opinion is the only one that counts, when it only symbolizes the lack of in-depth thinking and open-mindness some Hall of Fame voters exhibit.