Monday, January 5, 2015

0 comments Murray Chass Thinks No Golden Era Candidates Should Ever Be Elected Into the Hall of Fame, Presumably Will Change His Mind When Jack Morris Is On the Golden Era Ballot

Murray Chass thinks only elite (or the elite of the elite) baseball players should be elected into the baseball Hall of Fame. This means he thinks that Jack Morris was an elite pitcher. I think even the most fervent Jack Morris supporter wouldn't say he was ever an elite pitcher. Very good? Yes. Elite? Not at all. Murray writes on his non-blog (because it's NOT a blog...Murray hates blogs) that he doesn't think Golden Era candidates should be elected into the Hall of Fame. None were elected this year, but presumably Murray believes there shouldn't even be a Golden Era committee. He thinks these players had their chance to be inducted and they failed. The odds are really, really high that Murray changes his opinion once Jack Morris is on the Golden Era ballot. It will happen.

The Hall of Fame season got off to a good start earlier this week when the Hall’s 16-man Golden Era committee elected none of the 10 candidates on the ballot. Only a day later, though, the Baseball Writers Association of America spoiled that strong start by voting to recommend to the Hall’s board of directors that it raise from 10 to 12 the limit on the number of players a voter can mark on the ballot.

Notice the BBWAA didn't raise the limit on the number of players a voter can mark on the ballot. The notoriously slow to change BBWAA made a "recommendation" to raise the limit from 10 to 12. I won't hold my breath that the number of players is increased. Even if it is, so what? It just means voters can vote for 12 players and those who vote for fewer players can carry on with their lives. As we will learn, it's a HUGE difference, because that's not how Murray Chass would do it. He's been around for a long time and that's NOT how things have always been done and so he doesn't understand why things have to change. Change makes Murray sad.

In case it’s not clear, I oppose

any idea that didn't originate 30 years ago?

the election of players by any of the Hall’s various veterans’ committees, and I see no reason to allow writers to vote for more than 10 candidates. If anything, I would favor lowering the limit.

I think lowering the limit is a bad option given the current players on the ballot. Of course Murray doesn't explain why he would lower the limit and how it would benefit the Hall of Fame, instead choosing to write this and leave it out there as one of life's little mysteries for others to try and figure out. Maybe I should get Robert Stack on the case to do an entire "Unsolved Mysteries" episode on why Murray thinks lowering the limit is a good idea.

Nine players appeared on the Golden Era ballot:

Allen and Oliva each fell one vote short of the 12 votes needed for election. Kaat missed by two votes.
Nothing against any of them or any of the six other players on the ballot, but they had 15 years of eligibility on the writers’ ballot beginning five years after retirement and didn’t make it. Why do they get yet another chance?

Because they were put on the Golden Era ballot as candidates who could possibly get enough votes in order to enter the Hall of Fame once their candidacy was given more time to be pondered.

Could the writers have made a mistake?

Never. How could writers, some of whom haven't actively covered the sport of baseball in a decade or so, make a mistake? Impossible. These are infallible people like Murray Chass. Mistakes don't exist in their world.

Allen began by getting 3.7 percent of the writers’ vote and didn’t reach 10 percent until his fourth year on the ballot and never reached 20 percent.
Oliva attained 40 percent of the vote only three times, reached his high mark of 47.3 percent in his seventh try and finished his candidacy at 36.2 percent.
Kaat didn’t reach 20 percent until his fourth year on the ballot, slipped under 20 percent in his eighth year and concluded his candidacy at 26.2 percent.

These were the most attractive candidates considered by the Historical Overview committee, which the BBWAA appoints.

These are all guys who probably don't deserve Hall of Fame induction. Murray and I can agree on that. They are all Jack Morris to me. Really good, but not great.

Chances were slim that any of the players would be elected, but two nearly were. Do Allen and Oliva belong in an induction ceremony in July with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez, who are expected to be elected by the writers in their first year on the ballot?

Probably not. I am not trying to create a strawman argument, but we all know that Murray is going to change his mind about Golden Era candidates not deserving induction once Jack Morris is on the Golden Era ballot. I'm sure Murray will use reasoning such as "Morris is different because he came close to induction the first time he was on the ballot" or some other bullshit reason that will attempt to distract from his basic belief that these players had 15 years to be on the ballot and couldn't make it then, so they don't deserve induction now? Make no mistake, Murray Chass will support Jack Morris when/if he is on the Golden Era ballot.

Bill Mazeroski is one of the typical players who got to the Hall of Fame via a veterans committee. The former Pittsburgh second baseman was elected in 2001 even though his 15-year run of percentages on the writers’ ballot read 6.1, 8.3, 8.6, 9.5, 6.7, 12.8, 18.4, 22.0, 23.5, 30.3, 33.5, 30.0, 29.5, 32.1 and 42.3.

He should not be in the Hall of Fame. No doubt.

The increase in Mazeroski’s percentages, from the first five years to the last six, was interesting, but he exceeded half of the necessary 75 percent only in his final year on the ballot.

I do agree Mazeroski should not be in the Hall of Fame, but his percentage of votes seemed to go up almost every year he was eligible. Sure, it may have taken him another 15 years to get in with 75% of the vote, but it seems the voters were considering him a Hall of Famer more and more as the years went on. This is the only reason I can see Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame.

Mazeroski was the best defensive second baseman of his time, one of the best in major league history. He was an excellent clutch hitter.

(Bengoodfella makes wanking motion with his hand)

He became a Hall of Famer, the story goes, because Joe L. Brown, the former long-time Pirates’ general manager, was chairman of the veterans committee, and in the way the committee worked in those days, it was his turn, if he chose, to select a candidate.

Remember this story the next time you read sportswriters (like Murray Chass) screaming about the importance of integrity and the morality clause in an effort to keep PED users out of the Hall of Fame. The whole requirement of having integrity and the morality clause being quoted over the last decade is fairly new to baseball Hall of Fame voting. It's a new reason using an old solution to the problem of PED users being on the Hall of Fame ballot. Prior to the Steroid Era, any time baseball Hall of Fame voters cared about integrity and morality would be the first time they cared about this.

At the other end of the spectrum, no deserving player has ever been deprived of entry into the Hall of Fame because of a limit of 10 imposed on voters. Yet, some writers have pushed for elimination of the limit or an increase in the number.

I think there is an understanding of statistically-qualified baseball players on the ballot now who won't be voted in due to suspected or proven PED use. I know these are words Murray hates hearing, but times have changed and players who performed at a level to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (without proven/suspected PED use) will now just sit on the ballot. I think the increase is so Hall of Fame voters can vote for PED users and the other players on the ballot who they feel deserve induction. Look at the ballot. I count 12-15 players who have a shot at being elected into the Hall of Fame (this includes PED users), so at a 10 person limit a potentially deserving candidate like Tim Raines or John Smoltz wouldn't receive a vote. I realize that Murray thinks PED users should not be elected into the Hall of Fame, and that's his right as a voter, but those who vote for PED users are going to keep voting for these PED users and the names will start accumulating on the ballot. It's not a huge issue, but I think recognition of the Steroid Era's effect on the ballot must be paid by the BBWAA.

Jack O’Connell, BBWAA secretary-treasurer, told me that 50 percent of the voters last year used all 10 of their ballot spots compared with a previous high of 22 percent

Like I say, it's not a huge issue, but I also don't see the problem with allowing voters to select 12 players instead of 10.

I suspect that last year’s stuffed ballots were intended to enhance the argument to change or eliminate the limit of 10.

Yes Murray, it's always a conspiracy designed to go against your wishes. That's exactly what happened. It's not that 50% of the voters wanted to vote for 10 candidates, but 50% of the voters colluded to put 10 candidates on the ballot in order to achieve an increase (a RECOMMENDED increase, that's all) in the number of candidates that can receive a vote from a single voter. For what purpose other than to annoy Murray? Who knows, but Murray does know it was a conspiracy designed by 50% of Hall of Fame voters. And why should 50% of the Hall of Fame voters have their say on an idea when Murray Chass doesn't like that idea?

At a national writers’ meeting last Tuesday the writers voted 59 to 21 to recommend that the limit be raised from 10 to 12.

They recommended it.

I don’t understand the desire or the need to raise the limit. In my first year of eligibility to vote, I checked off the maximum of 10 names, apparently flush with having the vote for the first time.

Only Murray Chass would not understand why voters need to check off 10 names when he has done this himself in the past.

Before my next vote a year later, I realized that by voting for 10 I was saying I wanted 10 players to be elected at once, creating an induction ceremony with 10 players on the Cooperstown stage all taking turns speaking into the Hall of Fame microphone.

And of course that tyranny can not stand. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony isn't about baseball players who have spent their lives dedicated to perfecting a craft and then being honored for their achievement, the induction ceremony is about Murray Chass and how long he feels like sitting in a chair listening to speeches. Look no further than this to find out the mindset of Hall of Fame voters when filling out their ballot. It's about them, not the candidates.

Not only would that make for an awfully long afternoon, 

I mean, really, it's about Murray and how long he has to sit and listen to speeches. Decades of hard work down the drain because Murray wants to get home before the news starts. 

but it would also dilute from the experience of each player.

I think if Murray asked Hall of Fame candidates if they would rather be inducted with 9 other people or not receive induction because their experience at the microphone will be diluted, then I know which option they would choose. I think I would be honored about being elected into the Hall of Fame rather than be concerned about having to spend a long day hearing speeches and feeling like my experience was diluted. But Murray doesn't care about the inductees, he just wants to avoid a long day. As expected, the Hall of Fame ballot is about Murray Chass, not the players.

Even more critical, it would speak to the standards of the voters.

Murray Chass has voted for 10 candidates before, but he thinks voters who will vote for 10 candidates have low standards. Of course.

In a column last week in The New York Times, Tyler Kepner wrote that the primary problem with the limit of 10 is the presence on the ballot of players involved in or suspected of being involved in performance-enhancing drugs, particularly Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

They are not likely to be elected, Kepner wrote, but their presence clogs the ballot. That, frankly, is a silly notion.

I don't think it's silly, because those players are on the ballot and will force voters who think Clemens/Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame to not give a vote to another seemingly qualified candidate. Still, only 50% of voters even vote for 10 candidates, so it's not a huge problem. BUT since it's not a huge problem, then I don't see the harm in increasing the limit to 12.

If a writer wants ignore PEDs and to vote for Bonds and Clemens, which is the writer’s prerogative, he still has eight spots on his ballot. Those should be more than enough to give the voter enough boxes to vote for whom he wants.

Incorrect. These are the following players on the ballot who I think would receive induction based on their statistics if they weren't tied to PED's.

Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Sammy Sosa
Mark McGwire
Mike Piazza

If I were a voter who voted for candidates that performed well enough to be in the Hall of Fame while ignoring their potential/proven PED use, that leaves four spots for Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, and John Smoltz. And those six players above who are tied to PED's aren't leaving the ballot. They all got 7% or more of the vote last year and only Sammy Sosa got less than 11% of the vote.

If he wants to vote for more than eight others, he should re-examine the players he plans to vote for. Under my way of viewing players, I couldn’t possibly find even eight players worthy of election.

Right, but Murray also won't vote for players who are suspected of using PED's or are proven to have used PED's. That complicates the discussion a lot. If a voter will not vote for PED users than finding 10 qualified candidates isn't easy, but 10 worthy candidates isn't hard to find if PED users are included on a voter's ballot.

The Hall of Fame is for the elite, maybe the elite of the elite. It is not for good players or even very good players. 

You mean players like Jack Morris? He was a really good pitcher, but despite Murray's attempts to get Morris in the Hall of Fame, he wasn't elite.

It’s up to the voter to decide who belongs,

But just don't decide that more than 10 players belong. That's unacceptable and means you have low standards.

and if he thinks more belong than he is allowed to vote for, he should think again.

I do agree tough decisions should be made, but the presence of PED users on the ballot does throw the voting process off a bit and it's only going to get worse. These are a group of players who are going to be on the ballot for the next decade and it's not their performance that prevents them from getting a vote, but their use or suspected use of PED's. The Steroid Era does bring a semi-different type of question to the 10 person limit on the Hall of Fame ballot and whether this limit should be increased.

In lamenting the clogged ballot, Kepner cites the case of Fred McGriff, who has good career statistics but whose percentage of votes has dropped to 11.7. Contrary to what Kepner might think, McGriff is not endangered because of a clogged ballot but because nearly 90 percent of the voters don’t think he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Very true, but there is a group of voters who will have to eliminate what they consider to be worthy players from receiving a vote if they vote for PED users to receive induction. The issue isn't those players who come in at 11.7% of ballots, but players who come in at 50-74% of ballots. How many lost a vote due to the 10 person limit? That would be the question.

Writing about the people who want to change or eliminate the maximum, Kepner said, “Some of our most thoughtful members make up the committee, and whatever they decide will come from a good place. They cared deeply about this.”

I'm a Hall of Fame snob. I probably would rarely have 10 players on my ballot. I just think the Hall of Fame needs to readjust the 10 person limit in recognition of the Steroid Era and it's divisive impact on ballots. Just do it for a decade or so. I don't know.

For Kepner’s information, writers who have been doing this job a lot longer than he and some of those other people have cared deeply for many more years about a lot of issues involving the BBWAA.

Your feelings are getting hurt Murray? Oh, poor guy. Murray has cared longer than Tyler Kepner has cared so that means what Murray wants he should get.

The fact that Murray has had the opportunity to care longer doesn't mean that what he says should have more impact or should be weighed more heavily. There are also members of the committee who are currently actively covering baseball, while the same can't be said of those Murray is talking about who have cared deeply for many more years.