Wednesday, January 30, 2013

9 comments That's It, Murray Chass Quits

Murray Chass is done. He's tired of the steroid talk, the nerds who insist on using numbers instead of recollections from two decades ago in Hall of Fame voting, and quit frankly he is just really tired. He needs a nap. These things happen as you get older. Murray is turning in his Hall of Fame ballot and he's at peace with it, just as long as some new-fangled, numbers-loving, basement-dwelling blogger doesn't get his spot. It's a risk Murray is willing to take because Hall of Fame voting is just too damn hard. If Murray knew voting for the best players in baseball history was so hard he never would have started voting for the Hall of Fame in the first place. It's supposed to be easy, dammit! Murray writes more about his being a quitter on his non-blog.

One and done.

I've defended the one-and-done rule so many times. It is not a college basketball rule, so the onus should not be on---wait, Murray is talking about baseball, not college basketball.

I placed an X next to Jack Morris on my Hall of Fame ballot, and I was finished voting.

So Murray didn't vote for any other Hall of Fame candidate? Not Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, or Jeff Bagwell? Jack Morris was his only Hall of Fame vote. It's a good thing he is quitting, because if this is all the thinking he does when it comes time to put in his Hall of Fame ballot then he doesn't need to be voting.

If Morris is elected, I will most likely be finished voting period. If Morris is not elected this time, I will vote for him next year in his final year of eligibility and then be done.

Dammit! Murray is voting for one more year. At least Murray isn't making Jack Morris' Hall of Fame induction personal or anything. Oh no, Murray is able to stay emotionally neutral when it comes to electing his favorite players into the Hall of Fame. Stats geeks hate Morris, which means Murray loves Morris.

Barring a change in my thinking, which I don’t expect, I believe the time has come to relinquish my right as a 10-year (actually 50-year) member of the Baseball Writers Association of America to vote in the Hall of Fame election.

(Fireworks shoot off, a marching band begins to play, and all immediately becomes right with the world)

I offer two reasons for my decision.

1.What's the weird feeling I have in my stomach?

2. Oops, I crapped my pants.

Though I don’t believe there is a more qualified set of electors, certainly not the new-age stats guys who are envious of the writers and believe they should determine Hall of Famers,

This is as opposed to old-age stats guys who are bitter towards the progress baseball has made towards embracing more complex and advanced statistics and believe they should determine Hall of Famers.

I don’t think reporters and columnists who cover and comment on baseball news should be making baseball news.

Naturally, Murray comes to this conclusion after years of voting for the Hall of Fame inductees while being a columnist who covers and comments on baseball news. This would be like me announcing I wasn't writing on this blog anymore because I don't think non-"professional" sportswriters know what good sportswriting is.

The steroids issue has made it impossible to conduct a rational vote and cast a reasonable ballot. No matter how a writer votes or on what he bases his decision whom to vote for or not to vote for, his reasoning has to be flawed and open to challenge.

There is a part of me that agrees with this statement. The steroid issue has really clouded the water when it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame. It's hard to know if players who used steroids should be considered, if players who were suspected of steroid use should be considered or even how to consider players who aren't suspected but people claim to "know" that player used. It's hard enough judging the steroid issue in regard to players who may or may not have used, but then the voters have to also decide what their position on the steroid issue means for other players on the ballot. If a person isn't voting for a suspected/proven steroid user, does Fred McGriff get in because he was seen as clean? Does Dale Murphy get in because he was a good guy and very moral? It's not easy to vote for the Hall of Fame.

That being said, it is not impossible to conduct a rational vote and cast a reasonable ballot. It's hard, but not impossible. Simply giving up isn't the right answer. Even if there is no set criteria for how to consider the steroid issue this doesn't mean a writer can't base his decision on his own logic and then defend his position if necessary. Hall of Fame voters use different criteria from each other every single year. The steroid issue just makes this different criteria being considered more obvious.

There are the writers who say they will not vote for anyone who cheated. There are writers who say they will vote for players who established Hall of Fame credentials before they became cheaters.

If I'm a Hall of Fame voter, which (spoiler alert) I'm not, I would probably lean towards voting for players who established Hall of Fame credentials before the documented time they were using steroids. Yes, this is arbitrary and probably very difficult to determine when a player started using steroids, but any decision about who to vote for or not vote for is going to be arbitrary. There are no guidelines. If I didn't try to do a good job of separating out a player's statistics from when he used/did not use steroids, then I would probably have to find another standard for voting. Either way, a voter can choose his own standard and that makes for interesting voting, but voters tend to have their own standard of voting anyway.

There are writers who say they will ignore steroids use, even in obvious cases, and vote as if the stuff didn’t exist because it’s impossible to know for sure who used and who didn’t use.

I say do or don't vote for players we know used steroids and don't use circumstantial evidence to prevent other Hall of Fame worthy players from receiving your vote. I could make a list of players I believe used steroids, but my beliefs weren't proven, so I won't use my own opinion as a way to keep these players out of the Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell is a great example. He needs to be in the Hall of Fame. Mike Piazza is another example. I think there is a chance Piazza used steroids, but I can't base my opinion on bacne or any other non-proven reason. If a voter thinks Piazza's statistics were good enough, he should get a Hall of Fame vote. 

It’s a perfectly good and fair question to ask, but it shouldn’t be answered by voting for known or suspected cheaters. The most logical answer is don’t vote. I have not made a study of the matter, but I noticed the other day a column on by T.J. Quinn, who declared an end to his voting. Good for him.

I am in no way upset Murray isn't voting anymore, but not voting because it has gotten a little too hard is a cop-out. I don't want voters who can't accept the Hall of Fame voting is difficult and want it to be easy. These people should not vote. Seeing the muddied waters, the complex issues that need to be considered, and then deciding it is all too hard seems like a cop-out to me. It's the equivalent of taking your ball and going home because the game is too hard for you.

Now, you might ask and reasonably so, if I plan to stop voting, why did I vote this year? I voted in the hope that my vote would contribute to Morris’ election.

It must have been Jack Morris' mustache that has some sportswriters in hysterics to vote him into the Hall of Fame. That's all I can guess. Morris was a very good pitcher, but not one of the greatest pitchers of all-time.

I didn’t vote for anyone else because anyone I might have considered was a known or suspected cheater, and I didn’t want to aid and abet a cheater.

What if Jack Morris was a cheater? How does Murray know he wasn't? The answer is Murray knows Morris didn't cheat the same way he knows Jeff Bagwell did cheat...because he is just guessing and making shit up. There is nothing but circumstantial evidence that says Jeff Bagwell cheated, but Murray "suspects" Bagwell of being a cheater and that's good enough for him. I "suspect" Murray Chass kidnaps young women and tortures them (by reading his columns to them) in his basement, so I may as well convey my suspicions to the authorities, right?

I think I am safe in concluding that Morris did not cheat.

I think if you are basing a Hall of Fame vote on what you "think" instead of facts then I am glad you aren't voting after Morris gets inducted or is no longer eligible on the ballot.

I know the stats zealots don’t think Morris is a Hall of Famer because his rankings in their new-fangled ratings fall below their standards. But they don‘t have a formula for intestinal fortitude or determination.

No, there is no formula for intestinal fortitude or determination which is why these factors are impossible to measure and should not be considered when deciding whether to vote or not vote for Morris in the Hall of Fame voting. The very fact we can't measure determination is why this shouldn't be used in any way to determine which players get a Hall of Fame vote and which don't.

Morris willed the Minnesota Twins to win Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, refusing to leave as long as the game was scoreless.

He "willed" the Twins to victory in that Lonnie Smith was stupid enough to fall for a fielding trick that caused him not to score the run which would have potentially won the game for the Braves in nine innings. 

The stats zealots are tired of hearing about that game, but it is symbolic of the fatal flaw in their way of viewing players. Numbers simply don’t tell the whole story.

Numbers don't tell the whole story, this is true. This one game is symbolic of the fatal flaw in Murray's way of viewing players. He uses a one game sample size and ignores any information to the contrary of that one sample size to vote Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame. Morris's career ERA in the playoffs was 3.80. In fact, this number is very misleading because three times in his career Morris was outstanding in a postseason series, three times Morris was absolutely terrible, and once he put up an ERA of 4.05. The fact Morris wasn't an excellent postseason pitcher overall doesn't faze Murray. He sticks to that one game where Morris was great as the only criteria needed to say Morris was a Hall of Famer full of determination and intestinal fortitude. He conveniently leaves out Morris's 0-2 record, 8.44 ERA, and 1.781 WHIP in the World Series the very next year against a very similar Braves team. Of course, Murray also leaves out Morris's career statistics which are impressive in showing how reliable and durable Morris was. Reliable and durable are great qualities in a pitcher. They aren't the top two qualities looked for in a Hall of Fame pitcher though.

Morris pitched all 10 innings. John Smoltz, the Atlanta starter, left in the eighth.

John Smoltz is a pussy who doesn't have the determination or intestinal fortitude that Jack Morris has.

Morris, Kelly added, “did that quite often through the ‘80s and ‘90s. He shut down the other team. If he had the split-finger thing going you felt sorry for the other team. Through the ‘80s and ‘90s if you had a pitcher you had to pick out whom you didn’t want to face Morris had to be in the conversation.

This is a great example of how rememberances and recollections should not be used as facts when determining a player's Hall of Fame candidacy. He posted an ERA under 4.00 one time in the 90's and his 21 wins in 1992 with a 4.04 ERA is a great example of how a pitcher can win games without being dominant, as long as he gets enough run support.

Lest anyone think Kelly was praising Morris because he managed him, I note that they were together only one year in Morris’ 18-year career.

Morris also helped Tom Kelly get a World Series ring, so I would imagine the one year they spent together is remembered fondly, which most likely affects Tom Kelly's opinion of Morris.

“I sure hope it goes his way,” Kelly said. “It seems absurd that he’s not in. How many rings does he have? Three? I wish those young guys would look at that.”

Scott Brosius has three World Series rings. Should he be in the Hall of Fame?

In case those “young guys” don’t know what Kelly is talking about, he was referring to the three World Series championship rings Morris won with three different teams.

Please do give a history lesson to "young guys" who use statistics and ideas that are too complicated for Murray to understand so he rejects them completely. Who is really the ignorant dumbass behind the times in this situation?

In 2010, Morris broke 50 percent with 52.3, then rose slightly to 53.5. Last year, in his 13th year on the ballot, he made a major breakthrough, receiving 66.7 percent and getting to an historically significant plateau.

During Morris’ first 13 years on the ballot, eight players gained more than 60 percent, some more than once, and all were subsequently elected.

I've accepted Jack Morris will be elected to the Hall of Fame next year. I think it happens in his last year on the ballot. I don't like it and it further dilutes the Hall of Fame, but that's the price we pay. I can't imagine a Hall of Fame without Jeff Bagwell or Mike Piazza that has Jack Morris in it, but Piazza and Bagwell are suspected cheaters so they should burn in Hell for what Murray Chass suspects (but can't prove) they did.

If Morris isn’t elected this time, he could face a problem next year because Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will be on the ballot for the first time.

Sure these two guys had fantastic career numbers, but what kind of intestinal fortitude did they display? How determined was Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux? More importantly, why do they only have one World Series ring? I have a feeling Murray Chass would vote for Jack Morris over Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux.

My motion easily lost so here we are today talking about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell among others.

Why are Piazza, Biggio and Bagwell lumped in with three proven steroid users? This is the problem with people like Murray Chass. He equates "accused" with "proven" and it is wrong. Yes, I think every single one of these players used steroids, but I have no proof to back up my suspicion for three of them.

When Bagwell was eligible initially a couple of years ago, I voted for him, then was told he was a steroids guy. Trusting the information, I haven’t voted for him since.

I'm very glad Murray Chass isn't voting anymore. He went his entire writing career believing Bagwell was clean, so he gave Bagwell a vote for the Hall of Fame. Then Murray gets some "information" and completely changes his mind, ignoring what he believed to be true for Bagwell's entire playing career and stopped voting for Bagwell. New-age statistics loving, new-age statistics hating, it doesn't matter. We need less voters like Murray.

For some reason, the news media have not talked about the former catcher and steroids the way they have talked about Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.

Possibly because there is some sense of proof that Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa used steroids while the proof surrounding Piazza deals with his body size and bacne.

When I worked for The New York Times, I tried more than once to write about Piazza and steroids, but the baseball editor said I couldn’t because his name hadn’t been linked to steroids.

I can link his name to steroids, I countered, but I had to wait until I started this Web site

Boy, Murray certainly showed this baseball editor. It's no wonder The New York Times wanted Murray to take a buyout. If Murray can't understand the seriousness of libel and looking like he is exacting a vendetta against Piazza then it is probably time to move on. But good news! Murray started a Web site, not a blog mind you, and now he can libel whoever he wants and talk about Fay Vincent to his heart's content. The Internet is a wonderful place to further your point of view...just as long as Murray agrees with your point of view of course. Otherwise, if you are using the Internet to argue against Murray then you are a new-age geek who lives in your mom's basement.

to talk about Piazza’s acne-covered back, a generally accepted telltale sign of steroids use.

Bacne can be seen most commonly in people ages 10 to 40 years of age. Bacne can be caused by clogged pores, excessive perspiration after a physical activity, fitting or tight clothes, and excessive eating oily foods. Of course Murray knows Mike Piazza so well he knows there is no possibility an athlete who wears a uniform or wears tight-fitting workout gear could ever get bacne for these reasons. He also knows what kind of meals Mike Piazza ate well enough to know how much oil was in these meals. There are other causes of bacne, outside of steroid use.

Piazza’s passionate fans ridiculed me for that assertion (and surely will again) and ignored the fact that Piazza’s back cleared up as soon as baseball began testing for steroids.

My question is how often and how long did Murray Chass stare at Mike Piazza? Did he leer for short periods of time or take short glances over long periods of time?

A book for which Simon & Schuster paid Piazza an advance of $800,000 or $750,000 had been scheduled for publication next month, but there’s talk about a delay because of a dispute between the publisher and Piazza over the subject of steroids and their presence in the book.

More empirical evidence Piazza used steroids! His publisher is arguing with him over the subject of steroids in his book, which obviously means Piazza used steroids.

The Hall of Fame wouldn’t look too good if Piazza were elected next week, and then his book came out with his admission that he used steroids.

But the Hall of Fame would look great if it had an above-average pitcher who was elected to the Hall of Fame based on one standout performance in the World Series. Now that Morris hasn't been elected to the Hall of Fame this year I hope he doesn't get elected next year because I don't believe he deserves it. Plus, with it being Murray's last year of voting and all I just want to see him sad. 


Joe Carter said...

Ben, lay off poor Murray, he saw the acne and could have been a doctor. He knows, he just knows. Personally, I thought Dave Stieb was a better pitcher than Morris. Same era and I think, in total, Morris played on more teams with better surrounding players.

"John Smoltz is a pussy who doesn't have the determination or intestinal fortitude that Jack Morris has." I think this may be the greatest sentence you have ever written and don't pretend you were going for sarcasm.
My high spirits were swiftly crushed when I saw Maddox' and Glavine's names in print. I was able to regain my equilibrium however when I remembered the Falcons.

Bengoodfella said...

Joe, Stieb was the same era. I don't know about playing on teams with better surrounding players, but he did have some quality teammates. Personally if I am a Tigers fan I would rather see Trammel in the HoF before Morris. Morris was great, but he wasn't one of the best pitchers of all-time. Murray needs to stop using Game 7 of the '91 World Series and anecdotal evidence as his only reasoning.

Smoltz is my favorite Brave of the modern era and I don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame either. So I don't know if that gives perspective on how I feel about Jack Morris, but we all know Morris had 100 times more guts than Smoltz.

There is another column I am posting with a direct comparison to Glavine/Maddux in regard to Morris. It's not good.

Tom Tiger said...

I glanced at the Baseball Reference pages of Glavine and Smoltz and was struck by two things. Firstly, Glavine was much better than I remembered and secondly, so was Smoltz. This is in spite of the fact that the Braves have always been my least favorite team.

As far as Morris' hall worthiness, doesn't it depend on your opinion of the hall to begin with. There are plenty of people enshrined who may not belong there. I recently read someone who was carping about the induction of boozing, philandering, cheating (spitter) Whitey Ford. Morris seems to have been a good to very good player who could have gotten in but hasn't. If he was selected would you feel compelled to quit watching baseball?

Bengoodfella said...

Tom, I would not feel compelled to quit watching baseball. I'm not one of those people who will throw a hissy-fit if someone gets in the Hall of Fame I don't think deserves it. If I were, I would have already quit watching baseball. I don't like how the pro-Morris crowd tends to focus on Morris' complete game records and record in only certain playoff games as the reason he should get in the HoF. Fine, if they want to use the playoffs, use Morris' entire playoff resume which looks suspiciously like his regular season resume. Good, but not HoF worthy.

You are right, it does depend on your opinion of the Hall to begin with. I'm a snob and only want the best of the best in there. I don't think Smoltz should be in and I wouldn't elect Morris either. I would elect Smoltz over Morris though.

Glavine was great, but looking at Maddux's B-R page is where you notice how great he was. Look at what he put up right in the middle of the Steroid Era. Ridiculous.

My problem is that good to very good players shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. I would agree with you that Morris is good to very good and that's why I wouldn't put him in. I won't quit watching baseball if he gets in, I will just try to forget the fact he is in.

JimA said...

but there’s talk about a delay because of a dispute between the publisher and Piazza over the subject of steroids and their presence in the book.

The talk is actually Murray Chass in an earlier post (covered by you, Ben) speculating about a delay based on the date of the HOF vote. What a sneaky fuck.

Bengoodfella said...

Jim, I bet Murray thinks the delay is intentional to allow Piazza to admit to using steroids in his book, but still get into the Hall of Fame. I'm going to look stupid if that is true, but I doubt that is how Piazza is having this work out.

Murray is obsessed with Piazza. I never liked Piazza but I almost want him to admit to get elected into the HoF and then admit to using steroids only to watch Murray's head explode.

Martin F. said...

One thing I find hilarious is Murray's whole idea about the bacne. As a young guy, I had regular acne, which pretty much cleared up by early 20's. I hit 40, and suddenly, bacne. I almost wish I'd started using steroids so I'd have an excuse.

What Chaz has no right to do is try and foist Morris off on me while not voting for Raines. Better player, more HoF worthy, hell, an elite player for his era. We know he didn't cheat, cause he too is from the 80's, right? Don't even get me started on his teammates, Trammell who isn't going to make it, and Whitaker who is already ineligible. By far there are worse players in the HoF than Morris, and it won't ruin the Hall, but in this day and age, with advanced stats available, bad choices nowadays irk me more than from in the past.

Last thought is that while Chaz and his McCarthy Inquisition like buddies are not voting for Bags, Piazza and others who are suspected, they are keeping guys like Murphy and McGriff who were wonderful people out because they have borderline credentials. Why does morality only count against a player and not for a player? Jim Rice was a jackass by all accounts, yet somehow they voted him in (I think as a reaction against stat guys and steroid users) with similar numbers. The writers are clothed in so much hypocrisy it's disgusting.

Martin F. said...

I forgot to mention that Joe Posnanski did a really good job of analyzing the HoF and guys in and out by position on his blog. Well worth a read.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, my roommate in college had bacne and he never used steroids. He was more of a clubbing-type and weighed probably 150 pounds, so I feel comfortable saying this. The "bacne" argument has always made me laugh. There is too much coincidence in there for me to believe it is true. Piazza spends most of his time in the heat wearing a tight-ish uniform and sweating. It's highly possible he could develop bacne from the perspiration and oil being trapped.

I love Dale Murphy and I don't think he should be in, but I do find some hypocrisy in not allowing a "clean" guy like Fred McGriff in the HoF even though he has borderline HoF stats, but was a great guy. It's like this morality clause is only being used to exclude guys from the HoF, but not being used to bring the "good guys" that these writers so desperately claim to want in the HoF.

Raines should be in and Murray has a column about him I am posting this week probably. It's ridiculous.

I have read a couple of the JoePo blog entries on the HoF. They are long so I tend to start skimming at a certain point...which is probably what people do to my posts as well.