Monday, January 19, 2015

3 comments Gregg Doyel Thinks Gil Hodges Should Be in the Hall of Fame Because of Fond Memories, But Mostly Because He's Gil Hodges

There is nothing like using the reasoning of "because" to explain why something should or should not happen. Gregg Doyel, one of those rare sportswriters who goes from online media to print media, thinks that Gil Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame because Hodges is from Indiana, he was one of Gregg's favorite heroes growing up and because he's GIL FREAKING HODGES! It's him, Gil Hodges, that should be enough to get Hodges into the Hall of Fame, right? Much to Gregg's dismay, apparently not. That should change though, because Hodges is from Indiana. That's right, he's a Hoosier AND he was popular in Gregg Doyel's world. I never knew "As a child, did you idolize him?" was Hall of Fame criteria that should be used by voters. Maybe the Veterans Committee doesn't know that Gil Hodges is GIL HODGES!

Gil Hodges won't make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not in 2014. Not ever. That's the takeaway from the Golden Era Committee voting announced Monday, something bigger and more disappointing than the reality that Hodges won't make the Hall of Fame this year.

Yep, Hodges probably isn't making it into the Hall of Fame. He will be relegated to the Hall of Very Good for the rest of eternity with other MLB players who are good enough to be stars in their own time but also weren't one of the best players in MLB history.

The awful truth is this: He won't make it any year.

You just wrote that and then wrote it again. 

I'm banging the drum for Gil Hodges for two reasons, the first being that he's an Indiana native, a Hoosier.

Which, for the record, is an absolutely terrible reason to bang the drum for Gil Hodges. Hall of Fame votes are supposed to be based upon reasoning and non-emotional factors. My favorite player growing up was Dale Murphy, but simply because I loved him as a player doesn't mean he should be in the Hall of Fame. Emotion should be divorced from the process. That's the whole idea behind making sure a player is retired for five years before he is even up for Hall of Fame consideration. So the fact Hodges is from Indiana, and voting for him because of this, goes against what the Hall of Fame wants to stand for.

Born in Princeton and raised in Petersburg in the southwest corner of the state, then educated at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer in the northwest. He's one of ours, and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,

Because he's from Indiana, Gil Hodges deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Andy and Alan Benes are from Evansville, Indiana. Why aren't they in the Hall of Fame also? They are one of "us" and therefore deserve induction. By the way, when hearing Doyel say Hodges is one of "us" remember Doyel was born in Hawaii and grew up in the South and attended the University of Florida. He works for a newspaper in Indianapolis, which is his only tie to Indiana and being one of "us." Food for thought.

Baseball writers around the country have taken up for Gil Hodges, and so am I.

If by "around the country" Gregg Doyel means "in New York where Hodges played," then yes, Tom Verducci and Mike Vaccaro represent all writers from around the country.

So should we. He's one of ours. The baseball Hall of Fame just rejected us. You mad? I am.

But hey, at least Doyel isn't taking it personally. The Hall of Fame is all about emotions and taking up for players who are from your area, even though Doyel isn't really from Indiana (see how he's trying to get in good with the people of the fine Hoosier state?), the Hall of Fame is not about statistics and numbers that determine a player's candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Give Gregg Doyel emotion, not facts, even though the Hall of Fame specifically takes measures to make sure emotion is taken out of the voting by instituting a five year wait period before a player can be inducted.

Another sportswriter from New York thinks Gil Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame. Writers from Atlanta think Dale Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame. It's a bias, not news or proof Murphy should be in the Hall.

The second reason I'm taking up for Hodges is that he's special for more reasons than geography. If you were a baseball-loving kid in Mississippi, a sports fan before ESPN was all that, you played the game and you read about it. You had a small, wooden souvenir bat and a small orange Nerf basketball, and you tossed the ball into the air and hit it against a wall and tracked how far it ricocheted the other way. Hit it past the chair, that's a double. Hit it off the book shelf, it's a home run. Hit it off the second shelf? Upper decker. That was me in the late 1970s.

What an ironclad case for Gil Hodges that Gregg Doyel is making. First off, Hodges is from Indiana. If that's not enough, there is nostalgia. If nostalgia and geography can't get in Hodges in the Hall of Fame then what else would it take?

Me and Gil Hodges.

Down by the schoolyard?

Yeah man. He was my guy, or one of them. George Foster was another. Why those two? Don't ask me now. Who knows what makes a 9-year-old fall in love with a current Red and a former Brooklyn Dodger?

Yeah, who knows what makes a 9-year-old fall in love with Gil Ho---

But I did, falling for Hodges after reading Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer. Of all the great Brooklyn Dodgers highlighted in that book – Campanella, Erskine, Robinson, Snider, more – why Hodges? Probably because he played first base. So did I. When you're 9, that's a bond.

That certainly seems to be the reason that Gregg Doyel fell in love with Gil Hodges. It seems like Gregg knows the reason he fell in love with Hodges so I'm not sure why he asks "Who knows?" how it happened.

"I don't know why I liked Gil Hodges as a child. Who knows why these things happen? It's a mystery to everyone. Here is exactly why this happened..."

But that's not why Hodges deserves to be in Cooperstown. Nor is his Indiana background the reason.

Well great, because those two reasons are probably two of the shittiest reasons to vote Gil Hodges into the Hall of Fame. They make "Game 7 of the World Series and he had a lot of complete games" as the reason Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame look like solid and very persuasive reasoning. At least Gregg has come to his senses. Get ready for the analysis on why Hodges deserves to be in the Hall of Fame based on his career statistics and impact on th---

The reason he deserves to be in Cooperstown is because he deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Oh my. What a tragedy. Gregg Doyel has done something amazing. He has found three really bad reasons, perhaps the worst three reasons that could be thought of, on why Gil Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame. They are:

1. Hodges is from Indiana.
2. He was Gregg Doyel's hero as a child.
3. Because he should be in the Hall of Fame.

So Gil Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame because he should be in the Hall of Fame. Brilliant writing and brilliant reasoning. Now I can see why Gregg Doyel tends to stick to non-analytical lack of thought pieces. Opinions are his thing, persuasive writing is not.

He was a special player in a special era, so special that when he retired in 1963 he was No. 2 in the National League in career home runs by a right-handed batter: 370. That's not an enormous number today, what with the steroid era completely devaluing so many of the statistics a kid in Mississippi once held dear.

Reason #4 Gil Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame. The Steroid Era happened. Sure, it had nothing to do with Hodges, but he didn't play in the Steroid Era so he should be rewarded for that. Hodges is now 75th all-time in home runs and 43rd among right-handed hitters. To blame the Steroid Era for this is misplaced. Of the right-handed hitters who passed Hodges only 18 of them played during the Steroid Era. This includes those guys who played during the Steroid Era but were never linked to steroids. The Steroid Era isn't what devalued Hodges' home run numbers. That happened when players from his own era and the era after that exceeded his accomplishments.

But in 1963, it was more than any right-handed batter in the National League -- save Willie May -- had ever hit.

Right, but it's not anymore. Compared to Hodges' own peer group he still doesn't stand out in terms of hitting home runs. His home run record was devalued because others surpassed it, not because of the Steroid Era.

Case closed, honestly, but there's more to Gil Hodges' candidacy.

What more could there be? Hodges likes burritos and Gregg Doyel likes burritos, so that's why Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame?

He received MVP consideration in nine seasons. Eight All-Star Games, back when an All-Star invite wasn't the watered-down, trophies-for-everyone honor it is now. Three Gold Gloves. All those home runs. And 1,274 RBI.

So Gregg Doyel wants Gil Hodges to be considered for the Hall of Fame, not based upon Hodges' own records as they stand now versus other Hall of Fame members, but based entirely against Hodges' peers from when he played 50 years ago. Doyel talks about "trophies for everyone" but he wants Hodges to get a trophy on statistics from 50 years ago at the very point Hodges retired. Doyel doesn't want Hodges' statistics compared to statistics from players who have played since Hodges retired. So Doyel hates trophies for everyone until he doesn't anymore.

And again, he was Gil Hodges.

And again, his existence as Gil Hodges isn't a reason to induct him into the Hall of Fame.

First baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, one of a handful of players from that era whose combination of name and fame and game reverberates a half-century later because he helped baseball rocket through the 1940s and '50s as America's pastime, holding off its eventual loss in line to football.

Hyperbole isn't going to help Hodges' case or make up for the fact the reasoning Doyel is using here to make a Hall of Fame case for Hodges is absolutely terrible. 

He wasn't singlehandedly responsible for baseball's popularity, obviously, but he was a key figure. Want to tell the story of baseball? You can't tell it correctly without some prominent mentions of Gil Hodges.

(Bengoodfella tells the story of baseball to someone without mentioning Gil Hodges)

Plus some other stuff. He interrupted his baseball career – and surrendered two years of it – for World War II, joining the Marines and fighting at Okinawa and receiving a Bronze Star Medal for courage under fire as an anti-aircraft gunner. What would his lifetime statistics be were it not for those two missing seasons he spent in an airplane near Japan, risking his life for our country?

 The statistics certainly would be higher than his current career statistics. Of course, so would other baseball players who played during Hodges' era and fought in World War II. The idea that Hodges isn't the only baseball player who served in the military during World War II isn't something Gregg Doyel wants to consider. He only wants to increase Hodges' career statistics to make up for the two years he missed while in the service, but not increase any other player's statistics correspondingly. He's dead-set on making a case for Hodges to be in the Hall of Fame, consistency be damned.

How do you quantify – how do you not quantify – that?

If you are able to do basic math, which apparently Gregg Doyel is not, you take Hodges average statistics during a season and multiply two. Fine, quantify this. Be sure to quantify this for other players who played during Hodges' era as well.

But hold on! Gregg is following up his use of four bad reasons to induct Hodges into the Hall of Fame with misleading information. Hodges served in the military during his baseball career, but he served when he was 20 and 21 years old, not during the peak of his career. Then at the age of 22, after he returned from the war, Hodges played a season in the minors. So how does his two years of service get quantified? It doesn't. There's no guarantee Hodges would have played in the majors during his two seasons in the military. He had two at-bats in the majors before he went away to join the service. Gregg Doyel appears to have a slight honesty issue. If not honesty, he's intentionally misleading the audience in order to further his agenda for Hodges to make the Hall of Fame. Hodges served in the military during the time in his career when he would have probably posted statistics much lower than his career averages. So Hodges time in the military does not get quantified because he didn't serve in the military when he was actively playing in the major leagues nor during the peak of his career.

Hodges also managed the 1969 Mets.

A shockingly irrelevant fact.

Read that again. Gil Hodges, once the National League record-holder for home runs by a right-hander, legend of Brooklyn, war hero, managed the Miracle Mets of 1969.

Read this. Hodges had a 321-444 record as a manager. I'm not sure he should be inducted into the Hall of Fame based on one good season as a manager.

All that, and he's not in Cooperstown. Never will be, based on the results announced Monday. Understand the background: Players from baseball's so-called Golden Era of 1947-72 are considered every three years by the 16-person committee, meaning Hodges was last on the ballot in 2011.

While Oliva and Allen received 11 votes apiece, Kaat received 10 and a handful of other candidates had their specific vote tally announced, Hodges was in a group (along with Ken Boyer, Bob Howsam, Billy Pierce and Luis Tiant) whose tally was announced merely as having received three votes – or fewer.

I bet none of these players are from Indiana, are Gil Hodges, or were Gregg Doyel's hero growing up. How dare they receive any votes from the Veterans Committee!

Hall of Fame voting is all about momentum. Watch the results long enough, and you'll see. Tony Perez gets 50 percent of the vote his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, and slowly climbs – 55 percent, 57 percent, 65 percent, then finally induction at 77 percent – until he makes it. Momentum works the other way too. Fred McGriff and his 493 home runs peaked at 23.9 percent of the voting in 2012. He dropped to 20.7 percent in 2013, and to 11.7 percent in 2014. He'll be off the ballot soon. Momentum. It's everything.

It sounds like McGriff would have had a better shot at being inducted into the Hall of Fame if he were from Indiana, played first base in New York or managed the 1969 New York Mets.

So there's Gil Hodges, who once received 63.4 percent of the regular Hall of Fame vote – before being dropped from the ballot after 15 years – now going from nine votes from the 16-person Golden Era Committee to three votes. Maybe fewer.

I'm sure Hodges was a great player, but compared to players even from his own era and the era after his, Hodges' baseball resume just doesn't seem to hold up.

He's done. It's not going to happen for Gil Hodges. Nine Indiana-born ballplayers are in Cooperstown, according to this book, but Hodges won't be the 10th.

And Gregg Doyel, adopted Indianan (Indianaite? Indian?) for a couple of months now, thinks this is a travesty. Trophies for everyone is dumb, but a trophy should go to Indiana-born ballplayers because they are from Indiana, and especially if they are Gil Hodges. I mean, HE'S GIL HODGES!

There is company in our misery, however. Indiana isn't the only loser in this story – Cooperstown lost, too.

I think the only people who would go to see Hodges' plaque in the Hall of Fame are those who lived in New York during the era Hodges played and people who treasure Hall of Famers from Indiana. I'm sure there is a convincing case to be made for Gil Hodges being in the Hall of Fame. Stating "because he should be in the Hall of Fame" and "because he's from Indiana" isn't that convincing case though.


Snarf said...

Baseball writers around the country have taken up for Gil Hodges, and so am I.

This isn't really a compelling point in the slightest. Anyone who is being considered for enshrinement will obviously have some contingency supporting their candidacy, otherwise they wouldn't be in the "considered" bucket. Someone doesn't get the requisite 75%, one can't then point to like 60% of voters supporting him as a reason he SHOULD be in. That's the opposite of a good point he's making here.

Snarf said...

The Steroid Era isn't what devalued Hodges' home run numbers. That happened when players from his own era and the era after that exceeded his accomplishments.

Another reason why the 5-year rule is in place. It gives us a chance to better contextualize a player's accomplishments. If someone retires with really impressive stats, especially if they are accumulated later in his career, it allows a chance to see what contemporaries do, possibly better.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, but 60% of people want Hodges in! That means he should be in because the majority want it to happen. Screw the rules, plus he was Gregg Doyel's hero growing up, which is obviously the most important point.

It's why there is a five year waiting period. To see how that player ends up stacking up and not making a decision based on emotion.