Something Doesn’t Make Sense

Earlier today, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe published his Hall of Fame ballot. I am one of those nutjobs that like reading the thought process that voters use, except when that process is tangled and contradictory as Shaughnessy’s.

I am voting for Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux.

In a year when the ballot is overloaded with qualified candidates, there is no acceptable explanation for voting for only five players. As Ken Rosenthal showed earlier this week, even if you want to exclude those strongly linked to PEDs, it is very easy to fill ten spots on a ballot. Writers that are excluding people on conjecture are doing a disservice to their craft.

I’ve been voting since 1986 and I truly miss the good old days when we argued about home runs, batting averages, ERAs, World Series performances, All-Star Games, and a player’s dominance at his position in his era. Things were so much simpler then. Saying yes to Ron Santo or no to Jim Kaat was a serious baseball debate. This was before PEDs and WAR and ALDS and Deadspin buying a Hall of Fame ballot. Now there is so much to consider, it makes one’s head explode.

I guess he would prefer to forego his computer, digital tape recorder, and cell phone and return to the days of journalism that involved type writers, thick notepads, and running off to a pay phone? The advancements in analyzing player performances are embraced by all 30 teams, so one would hope that the people charged with covering the game would want to learn more about them rather than continue to use tired jokes involving basements and pocket protectors.

The work is out there, and better yet, the people are out there that are willing to help walk voters through it. Jay Jaffe’s tireless work on his JAWS system and his willingness to go on radio, television, and social media to explain it has been embraced by some voters. Personally, a few voters have reached out to me to discuss questions they’ve had concerning some players on ballots. Sure, math is hard, but nobody is asking any voter to sink or swim in statistical analysis.

Rule 5 states: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.’’

Got that? Integrity, sportsmanship, and character.

What integrity and character is involved when a writer refuses to vote for two players that have never been linked to any failed PED test simply because he feels they don’t look right?


Morris is a holdover vote. This is his 15th and final year on the ballot. He got 67.7 percent of the vote last year. The sun-starved stat geeks hate him because — according to the new metrics — winning games and pitching well in clutch situations is wildly overrated. His ERA (3.90) is too high.

Actually, what Morris did in his career is wildly overstated. If we go back and look at a player’s dominance in his era at his position, Morris does not stack up well. The “winningest pitcher of the 80′s” ranks 28th in ERA+ during that decade. It is almost like pitching for a team that had a winning record in eight of the ten seasons in that decade and won 88 or more games in four of those seasons helped or something.

Schilling inspires good baseball debate. The second half of his career was much better than the first. His 216-win total is shy for Cooperstown, but he was one of the great strike machines of the modern era and his postseason dominance is beyond question. I consider a vote for Schill a demonstration that BBWAA members do not use the ballot to settle scores. Sometimes I think I vote for him because I can’t stand him.

If you can’t stand the guy, is that a reflection of his character, or yours?

Thomas, Glavine, and Maddux are on the ballot for the first time. All have Hall numbers. None was tainted by the steroid era.

What proof do you have of this?

Nobody thinks Glavine or Maddux cheated. That’s probably because of their body types. Glavine looked athletic, but nothing out of the ordinary. Maddux looked like he played slow-pitch softball. He should be unanimous. But, of course, he won’t be unanimous.

Thomas had a Popeye body, but was never suspected of being a ’roids guy. Lucky him.

That settles it, thanks.

Like Thomas, guys such as Piazza and Bagwell have Hall of Fame numbers and never tested positive for PEDs. But they look dirty. This is where it gets unfair and subjective. I don’t vote for the PED guys, so it’s easy to say no to Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, and Palmeiro. They have positive tests and/or admissions and/or multiple appearances in the Mitchell Report. Piazza and Bagwell have none of that. They just don’t look right.

And your perm looks awful. What is your point? This is intellectual dishonesty at its finest. Why not call Bagwell and Piazza pedophiles? You have as much proof of that as you do of them taking PED’s. If you want to exclude those proven to take PEDs, that’s your prerogative based on factual information. Excluding others on National Enquirer-like stories is simply junk journalism. A writer wouldn’t report a story on John Henry having an orgy in a luxury suite on hearsay, so why is it permissible to use an eye test over a medical test to slap a scarlet letter on someone?

The rest of the list of players I reject are good old-fashioned baseball arguments. Biggio got 68.2 percent of the vote last year, but I don’t think of him as Hall-worthy (only one 200-hit season). Same for Mussina and his 270 wins (he always pitched for good teams) and Smith and his 478 saves (saves are overrated and often artificial)

Biggio had the 3000 hits which has been an automatic benchmark for old-school voters. There are only three members of that club that aren’t in the Hall of Fame: one is active (Jeter), one has failed a PED test (Palmeiro) and one is banned from the sport (Rose). Mussina pitched for Baltimore for 10 years – and Baltimore had losing records in five of those ten seasons. Yet, Mussina had a .645 winning percentage and won 147 of his 270 starts with the Orioles. The Yankees never had a losing record when Mussina pitched there and he had a .631 winning percentage with them.

Mussina’s .645 winning percentage as an Oriole dwarfed the team’s .510 winning percentage in that same time. It doesn’t even take advanced sabermetrics to look up that information; just a spreadsheet and a few clicks in Baseball-Reference. Lastly, I agree that I do not think Lee Smith is a Hall of Famer, but how are wins any less overrated and artificial than saves?

Not voting for Raines and Martinez also feels totally unfair. I just never thought of them as Hall of Famers. They fail the “I know it when I see it” test.

Why, then, did Raines pass that same arbitrary test for you last year when you voted for him?

I have never before voted for Raines or Trammell, but I’m doing it this year as kind of a Roids Backlash. Raines was a switch-hitting speedster who won a batting title, stole 808 bases, and scored 100 runs in a season six times. He had a little pop (170 homers), too.

Last year, your ballot looked like this: Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, and Curt Schilling. This year, Raines and Trammell fell off your ballot, despite five empty spots on it because…..the darts you threw against your cubicle wall landed on different spots?

Dan, please put some effort into your ballot next year. The integrity, character, and the contribution of your industry should demand it.

16 thoughts on “Something Doesn’t Make Sense

  1. Pingback: Dan Shaughnessy clearly doesn’t give a crap about his Hall of Fame ballot | HardballTalk

  2. It’ll be fun watching him defend a vote for Big Sloppy, in spite of a failed PED test and subsequent OJ-like press conference pledging to “get to the bottom of it”.

  3. Where was Shank’s self-righteous indignation about PED use in the 90s? Did he turn a blind eye to it, or he was he not astute enough to notice? In either case, he failed as a journalist.

    I suppose it’s beyond Shank to have the integrity to own up to his own failures in promoting the PED era.

  4. I think you give Shaughnessy too much credit when you ask him to put some effort into his ballot next time. This would indicate that he has the ability to produce a thoughtful, well-reasoned ballot in the first place.

  5. You mean to tell me this complacent drunk (<- I thought I'd throw in some libel since that seems to be his thing) Shaughnessy gets to vote AGAIN next year?!?!

    [Note: Shaughnessy would be one of my favorite writers, but those two 'h's in his last name, they just don't 'look right' to me. 'know what I mean?!?]

  6. And another thing: What happened last year was a complete and utter travesty, and proof that the PED witch hunt has gone too far. Mike Piazza at the very minimum deserved to be a first-ballot hall of famer, and Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling also deserve to be in.

    If the BBWAA ever pulls that crap again, then the Baseball Hall of Fame should either figure out another way to select inductees, or close its doors.

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  12. Looks…is a stupidly arbitrary way to exclude people you don’t like– Dan looks like a plagarizer to me, does that mean he should be fired?

  13. Shaughnessy’s comments about Biggio and Mussina are lunacy. I appreciate that the ballot is crammed right now, but Mussina’s lack of support is criminal. If you look at Mussina’s career numbers compared to Glavine and Schilling you’ll find that he was at least as good as those two and possibly even the best of the three. It makes literally no sense that Glavine is waltzing in with almost 92% of the vote while Schilling and Mussina wallow at roughly 30% and 20% respectively. Hooray for the “narrative”.

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