By In Stuff

Hall of Fame Week

You know how crazy I am when it comes to writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame. Well, this is Hall of Fame week — the ballots are due by Dec. 31. And I have been writing … and writing … and writing. I really need to see a doctor or something. In any case, I have written so much about it, that I have decided it’s probably best to just split up the writing throughout the week.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Today: The Intro
Tuesday: The Easy Nos
Wednesday: The Close But Not Quites
Thursday: The Definitive Hall of Famers
Friday: The Borderlines Guys Who Keep Me Up At Night

I don’t imagine you will be rushing to the computer at 6 a.m. and constantly refreshing this blog in anticipation … but at least this way you know what is coming.


* * *

Bill James told me something a few years ago, and I have never been entirely sure if he was serious or not. That’s the thing about Bill: You can never been sure. He told me that if he was voting for the Hall of Fame he would always prefer to max out his vote every year … that is he would always at least try to vote for 10. Ten is the most you are a voter is allowed to choose.

Bill said this for the very sensible reason that if everybody votes for 10, only two or three will be elected (since election takes 75%) but if people leave spaces empty, the expectation goes down dramatically. Bill says he doesn’t like it years when nobody gets elected. He likes it when there’s a steady stream of new players coming into the Hall to keep it alive and current and vibrant.

Now, I should say that I have never voted for 10 players before. I have never come especially close to 10 before. I think this is because I have bit of an inner conflict about the Hall of Fame. What I mean is this: If you asked me if I am a Big Hall or Small Hall kind of person — am I more inclusive or exclusive when it comes to the Hall of Fame? — I would undoubtedly say “Big Hall.” I think the Hall of Fame (in some ways) has become too exclusive the last 40 or so years.

Here’s what I mean: Take a look at the percentage of every day players who got into the Hall of Fame (among those who got at least 5,000 plate appearances):

Players whose careers ended before 1920: 9 out of 44 (20.4%)
In the 1920s: 9 out of 49 (18.4%)
In the 1930s: 27 out of 54 (50%)
In the 1940s: 19 out of 66 (28.8%)
In the 1950s: 13 out of 40 (32.5%)
In the 1960s: 9 out of 64 (14.1%)
In the 1970s: 13 out of 72 (18.1%)
In the 1980s: 10 out of 116 (8.6%)
In the 1990s: 12 out of 93 (12.9%)

The stunning takeaway is that half of the sturdy everyday players who retired sometime in the 1930s are in the Hall of Fame. This, of course, is absolutely ridiculous. If you raise the bar to 8,000 plate appearances, an almost unbelievable 17 out of 20 are in the Hall of Fame. In the 1980s, only 10 out of the 40 players who retired with 8,000 or more plate appearances are in the Hall, and this leaves out some very good players who will likely never get any more consideration for the Hall of Fame, players like Ted Simmons, Dave Concepcion, Graig Nettles, Bobby Grich and, of course, Pete Rose.

Now, some of this is simply time. And some of this is because of the ever-changing Hall of Fame veteran’s committee. Truth is, there used to be a very active veteran’s committee that put 91 players in the Hall of Fame. The structure and standards of the committee changed so that in the last 10 or more years the Veteran’s Committee has turned into a grumpy bunch of scrooges who seemed to come out once a year for the expressed purpose of not voting for Ron Santo or Marvin Miller. They’ve only put in one player since 2001,* tough they did manage to get Bowie Kuhn in there. So that’s a big part of things.

*That was Joe Gordon, who retired in 1950.

But there’s something else. I also think that baseball fans, more than fans of any other American sport, worship history to the point of distraction. Babe Ruth will probably never be transcended as the greatest player of all time in the minds of most, no matter that he played ball in a dramatically different era, under vastly different circumstances, in an all white league. Maybe Ruth was the greatest ever. Maybe he wasn’t even the greatest of his time with Oscar Charleston and Josh Gibson being banned from the Major Leagues. Either way, there’s a tendency in baseball to believe that the best baseball was the stuff played years and years and years ago, and the Hall of Fame reflects that belief. I don’t know too many people who would want to argue that Pie Traynor was a better third baseman than Ron Santo or Ken Boyer or even Graig Nettles, but the writers voted Traynor into the Hall of Fame pretty quickly while Santo (topped out at 43.1%), Boyer (topped out at 25.5%) and Nettles (topped out at 8.3%) never even got close in the writer’s vote.

I’m not saying that the standards of the Hall should stay the same. Obviously when Pie Traynor was voted into the Hall of Fame, there were not many great third baseman to choose from. Some people actually argued in the 1940s and 1950s that Traynor was the best third baseman ever. Then Brooks Robinson came along, and Santo, and Boyer. And after that George Brett and Mike Schmidt completely redefined what a “great” third baseman even looked like. Standards change and grow as the game gets older, and that’s how it should be. I fully appreciate that Pie Traynor (and Freddie Lindstrom and George Kell and Jimmy Collins) are in the Hall of Fame as much for WHEN they played as HOW WELL they played. Timing, as we will discuss throughout this Hall of Fame series, plays a big role in things.

Still, I can’t help but think that we have lost some of our generosity through the years. I can’t help but think we have failed to appreciate just how good, historically, Lou Whitaker was as a second baseman, or Bert Blyleven was as a pitcher, or Dale Murphy was an outfielder. You will hear people say all the time that someone doesn’t FEEL like a Hall of Famer. But where does that feeling come from? Is it something lacking in the player? Is it the power of hype in today’s sports world? Or is it that we have grown more cynical and less open to wonder?

If Alan Trammell had played shortstop in the big leagues the 1920s and 1930s he would have gone into the Hall of Fame first ballot, almost unanimously, and would have been ranked just behind Honus Wagner as the greatest shortstop who ever lived. He could do it all. He hit. He fielded. He could run. He hit with some power. He played smart. He led.

But because he played in the 1980s and 1990s, and he didn’t field quite as well as Ozzie, didn’t hit with quite as much power as Ripken, didn’t run quite as well as Larkin, he has garnered stunningly little Hall of Fame support. He was in my mind a better player than more than half of the 19 shortstops in the Hall of Fame, but it seems he is destined to play out his 15 years on the ballot and then land on that list of players the veteran’s committee annually turns down.

All of which is to say that, by philosophy, I’m a big Hall guy. I think the Hall of Fame should be a living and breathing thing and it should celebrate the great players from every era, and I think there are quite a few great players from my era who are not in the Hall of Fame and are remembered wearily rather than being remembered as marvelous players.

But, I mentioned the inner conflict: I fully realize that my votes have not been consistent with my “Big Hall of Fame” belief. I have never maxed out my ballot, or anything even close. I also have found myself on the no side on three of the most celebrated borderline Hall of Fame cases of the last decade — Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice and Andre Dawson. So, I say I’m a Big Hall guy, but I suppose I vote more like a Small Hall guy.

Well, this year, I did max out my ballot. I didn’t do it to prove any point — I happen to think there are at least 10 guys on this year’s ballot who were Hall of Fame caliber players, and I think there are two or three or four more who have compelling Hall of Fame arguments. We’ll get to all that as the week progresses.

As far as predictions go, I’ll make those now. I think Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will get elected this year, I think Jeff Bagwell will have a strong first year showing, but will probably fall short for reasons that few people will want to say out loud. I think Barry Larkin will take a nice step forward and perhaps put himself on the brink of election in 2012. And I think that once Bert Blyleven gets in, Jack Morris will put himself in position to get elected in the next two years.

I don’t know what will happen with Tim Raines, but I’m hopeful that people will begin to see just how great a player he really was. If there had never been a Rickey Henderson, I think Tim Raines might be remembered as the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history.

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45 Responses to Hall of Fame Week

  1. Mac says:

    I find that I’m enough of a big Hall guy that I’m more concerned about the last few guys I left out than who I in. I had to find arguments to get it down to ten.

  2. seiya says:

    I’m sad to see more people voting in the poll for Kevin Brown than for Dave Parker. πŸ™

  3. Spud says:

    6 a.m. Central time? Not that I would set the alarm, but I might.

  4. LargeBill says:

    Joe,

    You mentioned timing referring to the era when a player was active. I think timing plays a part in another way. The timing of other players hitting the ballot or coming off of it. You correctly note that Blyleven’s election could lead to Morris moving up the next couple years. If some of the players hitting the ballot in 2 or 3 years had retired a little earlier Morris would not get that benefit. I don’t see Morris as a Hall of Famer. He’s basically a little better than Jamie Moyer and a little worse than Dennis Martinez with better publicity. Martinez fell off the ballot after one look & Moyer won’t get many votes when/if he ever retires. However, next year the “best” pitcher in first year of eligibility is either Brad Radke or Jose Lima. Morris will look almost good in comparison. The next year both Clemens and Schilling appear effectively killing Morris’ chances. Things is his past performance isn’t better in 2012 or worse in 2013 all that changes is the level of player he’s compared to.

  5. clashfan says:

    Regarding Joe’s table above, with the percentages of players (w/5K PA) from different eras elected to the HoF. I hate being one of those people who uses the phrase ‘Hall of the Very Good’, but please allow me to make my case.

    With today’s knowledge of training regimens–weights, conditioning, proper stretching, nutrition, even surgeries–it is possible for Hall of the Very Good players to stay in the game longer than in previous decades. Wonderful players, very productive, helped their teams, but never had the high peak that we expect from HoF players. So, we get more HotVG players staying in MLB for 5,000 plate appearances but NOT getting elected to the Hall of Fame.

    It’s only a theory. Please feel free to shoot holes in it.

  6. jquemere says:

    One of the big problems with the HOF is that there are two de-facto standards, one for pre 1961 players and another for post 1961 players. For Example, the pre ’61 standard for 3b is Jimmy Collins or Pie Traynor, the post ’61 standard for 3b is Mike Schmidt or George Brett.

    Another problem is there hasn’t really been and adjustment in the mindset that there are basically DOUBLE the amount of players in today’s game as there were in the pre ’61 version. Double the amount players also means double the amount of HOF caliber players. Yet strangely, LESS players are getting elected rather than MORE.

  7. “I think Jeff Bagwell will have a strong first year showing, but will probably fall short for reasons that few people will want to say out loud.”

    Wait – I missed the reference here. Is he a jerk or something? Can someone please say out loud what the problem with Bagwell is?

  8. JimCrikket says:

    I’m wondering when having an extended career… performing at or above “very good” levels for 20+ years, for example… began to be viewed as a “negative” instead of an accomplishment worthy of praise and recognition. Someone who puts together 20 or more “very good” years at the Major League level is every bit as worthy of HoF consideration as someone who managed to excel for a handful of years (in a major media market for a team loaded with superstarts, if he was REALLY lucky). In fact, if you want to weed guys out of consideration, I’d start with the overhyped major media darlings who sportswriters fawn over for a few years and then fall off the face of the earth.

  9. Jeff Parker says:

    Chip – whispers of steroid use.

  10. Jeff Parker says:

    I voted for 9 in the poll: Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, E. Martinez, Murphy, McGwire, Raines, and Trammell.

  11. Rational Fan says:

    jquemere: I think the twice-as-many-players argument actually hurts the HOF election process, especially when it comes to the Veteran’s Committee. This is a group that seems like it uses the back-in-my-day voting process. Would half of MLB dominate pre-1950 baseball? Maybe. But there is always the (incorrect) view that the league is watered down compared to the past.

  12. I find it totally baffling how, on your blog β€” of all places β€” Bert Blyleven is still currently getting less than 90% of the vote.

    Personally, I ran the numbers and picked ten guys, in descending order, in terms of number of DINGERS.

  13. clashfan says:

    Mr. Cricket, I see your point. But let’s take Player X. He plays at Very Good levels for, say, 12 years in the 50’s and 60’s. Posts good career stats but never has a 3-5 year period of dominance, a true HoF peak. Has maybe 4,000 PA’s. While there may have been some arguing, Player X is not a true Hall of Famer.
    Now move this player to the 80’s and 90’s. With modern knowledge of physiology, training, and nutrition, he may play 15-18 very good, productive years–never have those 3-5 peak years–and finish with very good career numbers. Exceed 5,000 PA’s (Joe’s cutoff). Player X has had a better career because he was able to play longer, and that’s a good thing, something to be celebrated. It’s still not worthy of the Hall of Fame.

    Please note that my Player X is hypothetical. Anyone who does any research may be able to either A) identify a real 50’s-60’s Player X and a real 80’s-90’s Player X or B) find data to completely blow my hypothesis out of the water.

  14. Ebessan says:

    Not to say something that I will immediately regret, but my first thought about the size of someone’s HoF ballot is always “The more players, the more they like baseball.”.

  15. Matt says:

    Even before the can of worms that Big Mac opened with his congressional testimony, I always considered that he was a borderline candidate, because of his one-dimensionality.

    My mythical ballot: Alomar, Blyleven, Bagwell, Larkin, Raines.

  16. Daniel says:

    Joe now you went and did it. You are making me set my alarm just like Spud! Of course the players of today would absolutely dominate the game of yesteryear! We have all become bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter. The amount of total knowledge on the planet doubles at some ungodly rate forcing us all to absorb information more quickly. Video games have had a significant effect on improving hand-eye coordination. A better understanding of the human body and its functions has improved training regimens and nutrition. The dreams of millions in salary float through the heads of expectant parents who push their children at increasingly younger ages to be the very best. Pitching machines, indoor batting cages, advanced scouting, advanced statistics, specialization, and on and on. It is an entirely different game altogether and to think that players today would not completely dominate the game of yesterday is unhealthy nostalgia.

  17. Man, poor Lou Whitaker can’t even get on your blog’s poll.

    Frankly, I think the reason the veteran’s committee doesn’t vote in as many players nowadays is that Frankie Frisch isn’t around to continue his mission to induct every above-average former teammate.

  18. G-Man says:

    Of course if you took away all the advantages of today’s players and transported them back to the conditions players in the 1930s faced, I doubt they would be as dominant as the previous comments suggest. While we do see an “unhealthy nostalgia” from some quarters, we also see what we might be called the arrogance of the modern from other folks.

  19. Re: Morris

    If Jack Morris is still on the ballot in 2014 (his final year of BBWAA eligibility), he’s not getting in — that same year will be the year that both Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine enter the ballot, and they’ll take the wind out of any other starting pitcher still eligible.

    If he’s on the ballot in 2013, he might not get in. Normally I’d say that Roger Clemens would blow past him, but with Roger’s increasingly bizarre steroid-related hijinx over the past few years, it might be a bit harder than I think to get 75% of the BBWAA to agree that he should go in right away. (After all, not even 75% of voters on this site are agreeing on Bagwell and Larkin as I write this.)

    There’s another wild card here on the 2013 ballot, and I’m curious if you’ll refer to it when discussing Morris later this week.

    Morris’s best shot at getting in may be in 2012 — I don’t know that people think of Kevin Brown as a ‘first ballot’ Hall of Famer, and he goes on the ballot next year, but I think that Brown has a pretty good overall case. Certainly Brown’s case is good enough that, again in comparison to Morris, Morris may suffer (as I feel he’s suffered in comparison to Blyleven, who was clearly better).

    Looking forward to this week!

  20. Ah, and forgot to add one of my favorite Bill James quotes re: the Hall — (paraphrased):

    “There are two classes of player about which there is no Hall of Fame argument. These can be broadly stated as the Willie Mays class and the John Marzano class.”

  21. nedarby says:

    Perhaps the next most interesting philosophical debate pertinent to your poll after performance-enhancing drugs (see Palmeiro, McGwire, etc.) may be the mile-high effect and its impact on Larry Walker’s (and other down-the-road long-time Rockies’) Hall chances.

    Here are Walker’s AVG/OBP/SLG slash lines + other offensive stats sorted a few ways:
    Career: .313/.400/.565 6907AB 2160H 383HR 1311RBI 230SB 76CS
    Denver: .380/.461/.709 2163AB 823H 155HR 528RBI 75SB 16CS
    Not Denver: .282/.372/.500 4744AB 1337H 228HR 783RBI 155SB 60CS

    And then to stir the pot more, throw in that Walker won 7 Gold Gloves, thrice led RFers in assists, etc.

    For what it’s worth, Walker didn’t make my hypothetical top 10 (which included Raines, Baines, and Parker as OF/DH selections but not Murphy or the others – sorry, Bobby Higginson).

  22. JimCrikket says:

    clashfan, I don’t buy the “what about the guy in the 1950s” argument. Those players competed directly against (and accumulated stats against) players with the same training, nutrition, etc. Likewise, Blyleven competed directly against players who had the same “advantages” he did… and that includes those he had to compete against for a rotation spot every year.

  23. Bleh, sorry about the doubling of the post there.

  24. Went down the list as fast as possible and came up with 8 guys I didn’t even have to think about:

    Alomar
    Bagwell
    Blyleven
    Larkin
    Edgar
    McGwire
    Raines
    Trammell

    Then I did another look. I’ve come around to the “vote for 10 because other voters are idiots” point of view, even tho I don’t favor a huge Hall – big, but not huge. In that sense, I’d never vote for a borderline candidate who I didn’t think deserved to make it (like Morris) but hopefully voting for the others would get them in.

    My 9th vote, on the second look, went to Raffy Palmeiro. He might be the pinnacle of the “Hall of Very Good”, but I think that milestones, even somewhat devalued, are still worthy cutoffs, and hitting both 3000 hits and 500 homers was enough for me.

    And #10 went to the Crime Dog. Realistically, he’s probably not good enough, but I’d rather have him in that Tony Perez, and he gets bonus points for the hat he wore in the Tom Emanski video.

  25. Tangotiger says:

    I agree with Bill that the way they set it up (in/out), you should vote for as many as you can. You’ll never have 10 that everyone agrees with. If you have 15 semi-viable, you’ll get at best 3 or 4 that form the 75% consensus, and the other 11 or 12 will get 25%-70%.

    My solution would be to ask the voters: “in for sure, out for sure, ask me next year”.

    This is my proposal

    http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/2011_hall_of_fame_ballot_mock_up/

  26. Tim says:

    My packed ballot has almost nothing to do with being a “big hall” guy. It’s a result of poor voting by the BBWAA. Depending on your personal taste, we shouldn’t *have* to vote for 2 or 3 or 6 of these guys this year. Also, for HOF voting purposes, I don’t care what drugs these guys ingested short of any extracted directly from a live animal.

    So, in no particular order of preference, I voted for: Blyleven, Raines, Trammell, Alomar, Palmeiro, Larkin, Bagwell, McGwire, Edgar, and K. Brown.

    I really want to vote for Murphy — his peak is so impressive and, despite my general disregard for drug use in this context, I do add weight to a player’s candidacy for being an all-around mensch. Still, I just can’t do it. Joe, perhaps you could convince me otherwise.

  27. Frankie B says:

    Joe, I already check at 6 am every day – Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, doesn’t matter – I just want to read what you have to say. My day is much better when I get to read one of your posts. I almost always have your blog page open, and I find myself hitting “refresh” several times a day as it is. Thank you.

  28. Frankie B says:

    Oh, and all of you who didn’t vote for Jeff Bagwell?

    1) Please read what Peter Gammons has to say: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101226&content_id=16368866&vkey=news_hou&c_id=hou&partnerId=rss_hou

    2) Shame on you.

  29. Mark says:

    How can a writer not vote for someone when that player comes on the ballot and then vote for the same player 10 years later?

    Since that is indeed the case, should we not have a separate Hall of Fame for “First Balloters”?

    For those of you who want a larger HOF, I would counsel a bit of patience. If HOF history is any guide, there will be a change in the Veterans Committee procedure. When that happens, they will elect 30 players in five years. Many of your favorites will make it then. Of course, some who are NOT your favorites will also make it. So be careful what you wish for.

  30. jquemere says:

    I”ve never understood the worn out “Hall of Very Good” cliche. It’s not the “Hall of Great” so I’ve never understood why the term “Very Good” was used as a pejorative comparison.

    And the Terms “Great” and “Very Good” are extremely subjective terms. Truth be told, there’s not a lot of difference between the 100th best position player and the 150th best position player in MLB history.

  31. KHAZAD says:

    I have never understood the whole “first ballot hall of famer” thinking. It seems as if many voters will not vote for someone the first year they are eligible, then vote for them 9 consecutive years and bitch because they are not in. This also hurts many bubble players who do not get enough votes to stay on the ballot because while they may deserve consideration, they are clearly not first ballot guys.

    That is also part of the reason that I think everyone who casts a ballot should be REQUIRED to vote for ten people. Besides the above reasoning for getting 3 people elected, it will also keep people on the ballot long enough to draw support.

    You can still play politics as a voter if you want. Someone likely to get elected that you feel should not be? (for you, Rice, Sutter & Dawson) Skip them and vote for a guy who you are afraid will be forced off the ballot, or who was one of your favorites, or just deserves it more.

    I voted for 10. It will be interesting to see of we had differences.

  32. clashfan says:

    Mr. Crikket, I’m not sure that’s so. I don’t know that the better conditioning we have now affects prospects and rookies as much as it does older players. Take, for example, Chipper Jones: I think that 50 years ago, his career would have been cut short by injury. With better surgical techniques and training strategies, he’s been able to put together a potential HoF career. His potential replacement (let’s say, Martin Prado) may be stronger and in better shape than his 1950’s counterpart, but is in *worse* position to get an everyday job now.

    Jquemere, I think the cliche came about because, well, what would you call the outer ring of worthy players? Hall of Not-so Famous? Hall of Almost-There? I think it’s moderately useful to have a descriptor of the group of players we’re talking about, even if it’s entirely subjective as to where we place those players. Hall of Very Good caught on as a phrase. While it may sound a little snarky, it really does refer to a player who was valuable, had a productive career, and is respected. Just maybe not *quite* HoF-worthy.

  33. Disco says:

    The majority of “good” ballots should use up all 10 votes:

    Bagwell
    Alomar
    Blyleven
    Larkin
    Raines
    McGwire
    Trammell
    Walker
    Brown
    Martinez

  34. mckingford says:

    @QuestionMark,

    I think the poll is limited to the actual HOF ballot. Sweet Lou isn’t on that ballot – perhaps because idiots who don’t vote for people the first time up, believing in different tiers of HOFers – end up causing guys like Whitaker to drop off the ballot…seriously, compare Whitaker to Sandberg and tell me how one guy is in the HoF and the other can’t even muster 5% the only year he’s on the ballot…

  35. Chad says:

    I’m refreshing my browser, Joe …

  36. Gil says:

    Daniel said…
    “We have all become bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter. The amount of total knowledge on the planet doubles at some ungodly rate forcing us all to absorb information more quickly. Video games have had a significant effect on improving hand-eye coordination. A better understanding of the human body and its functions has improved training regimens and nutrition. The dreams of millions in salary float through the heads of expectant parents who push their children at increasingly younger ages to be the very best. Pitching machines, indoor batting cages, advanced scouting, advanced statistics, specialization, and on and on. It is an entirely different game altogether and to think that players today would not completely dominate the game of yesterday is unhealthy nostalgia.”

    I’m guessing you’re, what, 22? Let’s go through those “improvements” one by one, bearing in mind the word “all” . . .

    Bigger β€” no disputing this at all; there’s an obesity epidemic affecting most of the western world.

    Faster β€” elite athletes are no doubt faster, but it’s not as if speeds have doubled. If you watched a mile race run at 4:00 pace then an hour later watched one run at 3:50 pace you’d be hard pressed to notice any difference. In baseball, there’s never been a call to lengthen the distances between bases because the modern players were all capable of beating out a throw from the infield. The fast players of today run the bases at pretty much the same speed as fast players of fifty years ago did.

    Stronger β€” this is one I’d doubt too, especially in relation to “we have all”. When I left school to become a builder’s labourer, a bag of cement was 93 1/3 pounds (24 to a British ton). I remember struggling with one and being told that they used to be 112 pounds (a British hundredweight; 20 to the ton). Now we’ve gone metric and the things are down to 20kg or something equally pathetic. That downward trend suggests something β€” and it ain’t that we’re all getting stronger. I would say that the average man up to the 1950s was considerably stronger than his counterpart of today. By the 1960s, machines had arrived to take over most of the heavy lifting and the general populace has become steadily weaker with each succeeding decade. My father was born in 1904, had one year of secondary schooling and from the age of 14 worked at a succession of manual jobs in the farming and building industries – eight, nine and ten hours a day of hard labour. He had a strength and hardness that no amount of gym work can provide.

    Smarter β€” well, a lot more is known about our physical world and how things work than was known in the past, even the recent past. There’s that quote that keeps appearing that says the amount of knowledge available in the world doubles every ten years. But simply knowing more stuff bears little relation to being clever . . . if it did then I would be considered more clever than Sir Isaac Newton, which patently I am not. Or George Bush (pick either) would be considered smarter than Eisenhower β€” again, very doubtful. It’s what you do with the extra knowledge that counts, not how much of it there is to choose from.

    So, unhealthy nostalgia eh?

    How about, respect for the past.

    β€” Graphite

  37. Daniel says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more G-Man. To put today’s players into yesterday’s circumstances you wouldn’t find a vast difference. To suggest otherwise would be to suggests that the human makeup has changed dramatically in the past 50 to 80 years. That would be ludicrous. I never suggested that.

  38. EdB says:

    it’s 8:12 am on Tuesday, and I have been sitting here refreshing every five minutes waiting to see Joe’s next HOF column. Maybe I need help…..

  39. Daniel says:

    Graphite, thanks for the snark, 35. I agree with all of your comments, when applied to the average citizen, but when applied to the highly skilled athlete we have a different story. I made a mistake in using the term “all”, feel free to substitute “elite athletes”. I have a good deal of respect for the past and also a firm grip on reality. The reality is that today’s athletes would annihilate their counterparts from the past (barring a few outliers).

  40. John Ling says:

    My ballot, for whatever it’s worth…

    Alomar
    Blyleven
    Larkin
    E. Martinez
    Murphy
    Parker
    Raines
    Trammell

    I’m very willing to give Larry Walker consideration, but I’d like to hear more about him from folks who know more about baseball than I do. I figure he’ll get the required percentage to stay on the ballot, so for now he’s a “no” on my ballot.

  41. John Ling says:

    Meant to add a “PS” — this is the poster formerly known as “John in Philly.” It seems anonymous/choose a name posting has been turned off.

  42. Gil says:

    OK Daniel, but do you continue to stand by “Video games have had a significant effect on improving hand-eye coordination”?

    In the first half of the 20th century, boxing was among the major choices for young men of athletic inclination. Pre WW2, I’d say 90% of fit young men pulled on gloves at some stage. Very few would have taken it too far but it was something everyone tried and knew a bit about. In the immediate post-war years boxing was still big and had an air of respectability about it. F’rinstance, for my eighth or ninth birthday I was given a pair of gloves even though I hadn’t expressly asked for them. From the 1960s on, boxing declined as a participatory sport.

    Now, one thing I do know: Boxing teaches hand-eye co-ordination as well as any activity on the planet and better than most. In my experience, it’s up there with snooker and table tennis. For hand-eye-foot co-ordination it’s unsurpassed, the intensifier being that if you get it wrong you get hurt. There’s nothing like physical pain to ram a message home.

    I’ve tried video games. I suppose they’re of some use to some people but to claim they’ve had a “significant effect” is a bit of a stretch. Let’s see, athletic young guy in the 1930s sparring with his friends vs athletic young guy in the 1990s playing video games against his friends β€” who gets the most benefit?

    If you’re really 35 Daniel, stop making a 15-year-old’s comments.

    β€” Graphite

  43. Surreality says:

    I would vote for: Blyleven, Alomar, Raines, Larkin, Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Trammell and McGriff

    If I had to vote for 10 I suppose I could hold my nose enough to vote for MacGwire and Palmiero but I wouldn’t like it.

  44. David in NYC says:

    @seiya —

    Would it make you feel better to know that Brown’s WAR is 64.0 and Parker’s is 37.8?

  45. […] Santo, inducted 2012: Joe Posnanski wrote shortly after Santo’s death in December 2010, “The structure and standards of the […]

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