Monday, August 10, 2015

5 comments Philip Hersh Is Upset He Lost a Hall of Fame Vote for a Sport He Doesn't Cover

The baseball Hall of Fame has always done something very silly with their voting process. They allowed members of the 650 person voting committee who had not covered the sport of baseball for decades to continue to vote for the baseball Hall of Fame. Recently the Hall of Fame decided they were not allowing any voters who haven't actively covered the sport over the last 10 years to continue to have a Hall of Fame vote. I know it makes many members sad, but it's necessary. 650 voters is too many anyway, plus no matter how much the electorate states otherwise, it does not make sense for voters who don't actively cover the sport of baseball to get a Hall of Fame vote. Philip Hersh, who previously wanted a PED home run record to be erased so another PED-aided home run record could stand, is one of those voters who had their voting privilege revoked. Sure, Hersh covers the Olympics/International sports mostly and that's been his focus since 1987 (yes, 1987), but he misses his Hall of Fame vote. Now this means he can't use his own personal vendetta against PED users to keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Quite a sad day for him.

It seems that my time is up.

What? Philip Hersh is writing this column from the grave? Unbelievable. No wonder he lost his Hall of Fame vote. I don't think a deceased person should have a Hall of Fame vote, though I'm sure many like Hersh would disagree. 

As a Hall of Fame voter, that is.

Oh, nevermind. It appears Philip Hersh is in fact not dead. That's wonderful to know. Still, taking away the Hall of Fame vote from Hersh shouldn't be a big deal since the last time he actively covered the sport of baseball there was no Wild Card and several MLB teams didn't exist. Contrary to his wishes, things have changed since that time. 

Hall officials, who have ultimate authority over the selection rules, announced last week that anyone who has not covered the game actively for the last 10 years no longer would be eligible to vote.

What a crazy rule. Why would the Hall of Fame require writers who follow the sport of baseball closely to be those responsible for voting for the Hall of Fame? It's the Hall of Fame. The decisions are made easy once PED speculation, anecdotal evidence and long-held grudges are factored into the decision on which players receive votes and which don't vote. In fact, these writers probably don't even need to watch a baseball game to vote. I mean, Hersh watches AT LEAST 10 baseball games per year. Plus, he talks to a guy a lot who knows a ton about baseball. What else is there to know?

Of those members, 20 percent, or 130, no longer will be eligible, O'Connell said.

It's not a bad thing. Now there are only a little over 500 voters. Quite a large sample still. 

That group includes me, a lifetime honorary member.

Being a lifetime member of the baseball Hall of Fame voting committee is like having tenure at a university. It means you have been around long enough to get this honor, but it doesn't mean you are currently fit to do the job that caused you to once receive the honor. Be a lifetime member, but it doesn't mean your lifetime membership causes you to know enough about the sport to where you can vote for the Hall of Fame. 

That move will delight the anonymous Twitter trolls who have hectored me every year to give up my vote because they apparently are upset that I roundly dismiss the candidacies of players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, whose use of PEDs was apparent, admitted or both.

I think the Twitter trolls are probably more upset that Philip Hersh takes such glee in not allowing these players to receive his vote AND he won't vote for a guy like Jeff Bagwell who hasn't admitted he used PED's and has never been suspected (with real evidence) to have used PED's. These "trolls" (which is a funny word since Hersh is the real "troll" for taking such glee in not voting for certain players) are probably upset that Hersh loves to be the judge, jury and executioner as it pertains to determining if a certain player used PED's, then withholds his vote accordingly. 

My only regret in losing the vote now is not having a further voice in shutting that crowd out of Cooperstown until their 15 years of eligibility is over.

See? Hersh calls those who heckle him for this attitude as being "trolls" while he believes himself to be fully correct in taking this position. He's the moral majority and can't be more proud of it. Anybody who opposes this point of view will be dismissed as a troll, while Hersh is offended at being dismissed as not having enough firsthand knowledge about baseball (due to not covering it on a full-time basis) to vote for the Hall of Fame. Of course, the fact he won't vote for Jeff Bagwell just proves his lack of firsthand knowledge about the sport, but that's just my opinion. 

One can only hope that 26 percent of the 520 or so remaining voters will continue to bar the door.

Or, you know, vote for these players based on their merits and not just rumors or speculation based on what these players are suspected of doing. Bagwell and Mike Piazza may have used steroids, but until there is evidence of this being the truth then it seems very presumptive and too "judge/jury/executioner"-like to deny them a vote based on speculation. 

Truth be told, excluding those who are not covering Major League Baseball on a regular basis seems a reasonable move, even if many of us in that category devoted considerable time and thought to the task.

"Truth be told, it makes a lot of sense to exclude me from voting because I have not devoted the time necessary to evaluate these players, but here is a vendetta I have against suspected PED users that is based entirely on speculation. Take me and my Hall of Fame votes from the past seriously."

That one can make a more knowledgeable decision while watching a player regularly affected my consideration of the late Mark Belanger, whom I covered for four years with the Baltimore Evening Sun.

Sportswriters who covered a certain player closely or often will naturally have a bias towards thinking that player is more qualified for the Hall of Fame. It's why I laugh at anecdotal evidence and other forms of nostalgia when advocating for a certain player to be in the Hall of Fame (coughs, Jack Morris). Of course I think Chipper Jones is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. I have watched him play over a thousand games as a Braves fan. It doesn't mean he is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. Of course a Cardinals beat writer will think much more highly of Yadier Molina, or think he is better than Johnny Bench. They watch him play everyday. This is why there are 500+ voters and those voters need to actually have covered the sport in the last decade. 

Yes, Belanger was a .228 career hitter. But he also was the best defensive shortstop I ever have seen (eight Gold Gloves, second all time in defensive wins above replacement), and he played during an era when teams valued shortstops for defense, not hitting.

Right, but that doesn't mean Belanger should be in the Hall of Fame. He never had an OPS+ of over 100 and his OPS never exceeded 0.696 over a full season. He wasn't just a bad hitter, he was a shockingly bad hitter to be considered for the Hall of Fame. The era he played in does not matter, because Belanger is not one of the greatest baseball players in the history of baseball. A little asterisk on his plaque with "*for his era because of defense and what-not" written should not apply.

Looking only at his numbers was uninformative but undoubtedly the reason Belanger got just 3.7 percent of the vote during his one year on the ballot.

Because he was a great defensive player, but a horrible offensive player. Much in the same way that Edgar Martinez does not get Philip Hersh's vote because he was a full-time DH and didn't play defense, Belanger barely played offense, so he should not be seriously considered for the Hall of Fame. If Belanger is considered by Hersh for the Hall of Fame then Martinez should absolutely be in the Hall of Fame and Martinez should absolutely receive Hersh's vote. To my knowledge, I can't find a time when Martinez did receive Hersh's vote. Apparently being a great defensive player and horrible offensive player is fine, but being a great offensive player and barely playing defense, is not okay with Hersh. 

That low total means even writers actively covering the game find it hard to assess players they see infrequently.

And in the end, those numbers speak for what kind of player Belanger was. Belanger's comparables on Baseball Reference are guys like Freddie Patek and Walt Weiss. It's easy to assess Belanger, no matter how great he was at defense, because he isn't one of the best baseball players of all-time based simply on defense. There are other facets that must be considered. Regardless of how much Hersh saw Belanger and was in awe of his ability, this doesn't mean he should be in the Hall of Fame. If so, Andruw Jones should be a shoo-in, right? He was a fantastic defensive center fielder and he could hit the baseball. This would go for any great defensive player who could hit the ball even at a below average clip.

To me, voting was a serious responsibility, 

Except for the whole "I refuse to vote for players that I independently choose to believe are PED users despite no evidence to support my contention" thing. 

often requiring double-digit hours of internal debate, statistical study and consultation with people whose knowledge of the game was peerless.

"Consultation with people whose knowledge of the game was peerless." If you have to consult with others often about which players should be in the Hall of Fame, then you should not have a vote. It's not a rule, but I think it should be one. And I really doubt Hersh's "statistical study" dealt with anything past batting average or wins.

And there is a delightful irony in my losing the chance to vote on who makes baseball's Valhalla.

The irony being everything you have written over the past few years about the Hall of Fame shows why you should not have a vote and you are a big reason the Hall probably decided to implement a rule stating a voter had to have covered the sport actively over the last 10 years? 

I am in the Hall, or at least something I wrote is, displayed for 20-odd years on the front wall of the "Scribes and Mikemen" exhibit. In a Tribune essay marking the resumption of play after a brief strike in 1985, I said, "Baseball is the only game you can see on the radio."

(Philip Hersh swings his dick around to show how important he is)

Yes, but did Hersh use caffeine or any other substance that helped him wake up or stay focused when writing this sentence? If so, he's a PED user. The caffeine affected his performance as a writer in a positive manner and this quote should be removed immediately from the Hall of Fame.

Every year, it seems, a friend visiting Cooperstown sends me a photo. Even if it is removed one day, having been included will always be, like the baseball of my essay, a dream that won't go away.

Well, good for you. Imagine if someone decided that your writing was too much like another sportswriter's writing and that you plagiarized many of the columns that you wrote. Imagine there is no evidence of this, but another writer at your paper was caught plagiarizing, and so you are lumped in with him/her, because it makes sense based on the fact you two were friends. Would that make you feel good or like your dream is being taken away simply out of spite based upon baseless accusations and non-evidentiary suspicions?   


HH said...

My only regret in losing the vote now is not having a further voice in shutting that crowd out of Cooperstown until their 15 years of eligibility is over.

Ben, this would be a good time to mention that in 2014 the rules were changed so that eligibility is limited to 10 years, not 15.

Chris said...

It's hilarious that Hersh can't see the irony in being sad about no longer having a hall vote when he admits that the one thing he really did with that vote was to simply exclude players from it.

Snarf said...

"I no longer wish to cover or be involved with baseball, but I demand to have the power to deny players the game's highest honor."
-Philip Hersh

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I totally missed that. Perhaps that's a good reason Hersh no longer has a vote? He doesn't even know how many years of eligibility players have.

Chris, that is true irony. Maybe Hersh can start a HoF committee solely dedicated to creating a list of players who should never be on the HoF ballot?

Snarf, "I want all the power, but to do none of the work."

Snarf said...


I think that would actually be perfect for Hersh. He wouldn't have a hall to put people in, so his dream of a hall with zero players can be fulfilled.

Also, I know this has been discussed before, but I think it's BS some of the guys who don't get 100%. I lean toward being a small hall guy across sports, but to not get some of these guys in unanimously is a joke. I know some people use the fact that Babe Ruth wasn't unanimous as reasoning, but that 1936 year was special in that there was a limited number of spots (only Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson were elected) and votes were split among guys like Nap Lajoi, Cy Young, Lou Gehrig, Roger Hornsby, etc. That is a logjam of all logjams, which has clearly been sorted out (albeit slightly repeated with the recent PED shenanigans). I want to know the voters who seriously thought (or think) that Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Greg Maddux and Ricky Henderson (to name some recent guys) weren't clear HoF'ers.