The BBWAA’s Idiotic Moralistic Posturing

Obviously, the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame vote this year is pretty much the equivalent of Brent Musburger’s fapping during the BCS title game. You have arguably the greatest player and greatest pitcher of all time not coming close to election, based on accusations of “cheating” that require definitions of law and due process rarely seen outside the Bush justice department. You have clearly Hall of Fame caliber players, like Bagwell and Piazza, denied entry although there’s no evidence whatsoever that they “cheated” by using PEDs at all. And all this despite the fact that the Hall of Fame already has members who actually did cheat.

About the only thing you can say in defense of this pointless exercise in misplaced moral wankery and nostalgia is that it didn’t result in Jack Morris being elected either. (And by the way, how do we know that Morris didn’t use steroids?)

Update: [PC] See also.

303 comments on this post.
  1. Sherm:

    I understand not voting for Bonds and Clemens (I don’t agree, but I understand). But how do you not vote for the greatest hitting catcher ever where there is zero evidence linking him to steroids? Do these stupid old men intend to broad brush an entire generation out of the HOF on account of guilt by association?

  2. JMG:

    My fellow BBWAA members, many of whom are my friends, stand revealed as a group not merely as moralizing hypocrites, but as cowards. I apologize on behalf of them and my former profession. We will soon (but not soon enough) have the Hall vote stripped from us.

  3. david mizner:

    Who’s the alleged “greatest pitcher of all time” who didn’t get in? You can’t mean Clemens.

  4. JKTHs:

    Looks like we’re gonna to have ignore Hall voting for the next 15 years.

  5. John:

    Apparently? And what about Biggio, who doesn’t even have the “well, he was a slugger in the steroid era” problem?

  6. david mizner:

    I say that as a Sox fan who once considered him my favorite player, several years before my favorite player became the far superior Pedro Martinez.

  7. mark f:

    (And by the way, how do we know that Morris didn’t use steroids?)

    I am suspicious of that World Series game when he looked really great even though most of his career was just pretty good. He probably juiced that day.

    Maybe Biggio and Piazza just aren’t FIRST BALLOTERS?

    Kenny Lofton will not appear on the BBWAA’s ballot again.

  8. Sherm:

    Biggio actually did surprisingly well under the circumstances for his first time on the ballot when you consider that he was not a dominant player.

  9. mark f:

    I suppose there’s a case rooted in Clemens’s longevity, but I agree that Pedro had the better peak.

  10. Sherm:

    Maybe Biggio and Piazza just aren’t FIRST BALLOTERS?

    That kind of “thinking” might apply to Biggio, but not to Piazza. Clear-cut first balloter by any measure.

  11. JKTHs:

    Yep.

  12. spencer:

    Kenny Lofton will not appear on the BBWAA’s ballot again.

    Well, at least we can take some solace in that.

  13. Anonymous:

    Other than Bonds and Clemens, there were no automatic first time entrants. Not electing Biggio first time out is understandable. He’ll make it next year or so.

    Piazza had very bad back acne which is often a side effect of steroid use. That’s the “evidence” that most likely kept him out.

    Clearly, Bonds, Clemens, Biggio and Piazza belong

    Somewhat OT, now listening to Jimmy Collin’s Wake, song from the new Dropkick Murphys album. Best song ever about the 1903 Red Sox.

  14. Richard:

    Anonymous was me

  15. mark f:

    Lofton is worthy of consideration, certainly a lot more than Jack Morris or a few recent OF inductees.

  16. Anon21:

    Had this spat over at Fangraphs too, but so long as we’re on the subject: I don’t think Bonds really has an argument as greatest hitter of all time, because that argument starts and ends with Ruth.

  17. Sherm:

    Richard, I disagree with you on Piazza. He’s an automatic first time entrant. He’s the best offensive catcher ever, by far. You’re a Dodgers fan; you know what a dominant hitter he was. The backne crap comes from that old fool Murray Chass, who has had a bug up his ass about Piazza forever, and whom the NY Times deemed too unworthy of belief to allow publication of his accusations. And there are plenty of adult men with back acne who never used steroids.

  18. JKTHs:

    Not the “If Andre Dawson can get in…” argument!

  19. John F:

    Well 1 year to go, 67.7, 7.3 short, Jack Morris may not get in,
    and Glavine Maddux and Mussina on the ballot, of course the numbskulls who don’t know that Shilling was a better pitcher than Morris won’t know that Mussina was as well- but there cannot be any functioning adult who doesn’t know that Glavine and Maddux were better.

    It’ll be like how the BBWAA didn’t elect Bunning because a bunch of 300 game winners came on the ballot his 15th year.

  20. Craig Burley:

    These idiots being unable to elect anyone from the deepest ballot ever (except the first one). There are ten-plus names on that ballot desperately overqualified for the Hall. Madness.

  21. John:

    You don’t think there’s even an argument?

  22. mark f:

    Sherm, please stop paying such close attention to me in the locker room.

  23. John:

    The whole “first ballot” thing is ridiculous, though. If everyone agrees (as they more or less seem to) that Biggio should get into the Hall of Fame, what’s the argument for not voting for him?

  24. snarkout:

    It’s nice to see Raines’ vote percentage tick up, at least.

    (This should do it for Morris, because next year there’s the holdover from this year’s candidates, people having hopefully made their point about the shamefulness of being a HoF-caliber slugger in the Steroid Era, as well as the arrival of Glavine, Maddux, and Mussina.)

  25. Richard:

    I may be willing to concede. I’m not saying there is any evidence of steroid use (and used “evidence” in quotes for that reason in my prior post). I have no idea of whether or not he really had back acne and the degree of correlation between back acne, even if he had it, and steroid use. As a Dodgers fan, I loved Piazza.

    Looking again at his stats, I would tend to agree he should have gotten in on the first ballot. I think he will still make it in other years (unlike the situation with Bonds and Clemens)

  26. Sherm:

    I think we’re all in agreement here on that point.

  27. mark f:

    I agree with John, but also with Sherm that Piazza has the better case by the BBWAA’s dumb norms.

  28. Joshua:

    I admit I am puzzled by the whole “first ballot” thing. These guys aren’t playing anymore – either they are worthy of the Hall or not.

    If I had a vote, I would either vote for a guy the first time and always, or never.

  29. EliHawk:

    Maddux had the better natural longevity AND the better peak than Clemens.

  30. mark f:

    I don’t think it’s a great standard, but as baseline for taking more than one year to dump a guy? It’s not like Dawson was elected by a significantly different group of writers, or way back before we knew about some new information.

  31. Sherm:

    Good points. And excellent work on your comment this morning in the prior thread btw.

    Yeah, I’m not a big Mussina fan, and even I recognize that he was a much better pitcher than Morris. Morris’ percentage could start trending back down.

  32. Murc:

    If having awful backne means you were juicing, then apparently I was doing a shit-ton of steroids in the years from 1995 to 2005. You’d think I’d have more to show for it.

  33. Sherm:

    Better not shower with Murray Chass.

  34. Murc:

    I read the article Scott linked, and it literally (not figuratively, literally) put me off my lunch. Especially the quote from Selig.

  35. djw:

    Absolutely. Let’s not excuse moronic behavior of the voters by pretending this extra honor they think they invented is a real thing.

  36. Scott de B.:

    I don’t get the “what rule” argument. Any attempt to gain a secret advantage not available to other competitors is cheating, in any field. That’s how I define cheating in my syllabus. I don’t try to anticipate every possible means a student might devise.

    By the same logic, there is no rule against spiking one’s opponent’s Gatorade with horse laxative, so if a team tried that, it would not be cheating.

  37. Anon21:

    Well, not a good one, anyway. I know they played in very different eras and that the quality of competition was much weaker in Ruth’s day, but since we can’t even get players competing in the same year to compete under standard conditions (like a standard-sized field), and since I’m not willing to abandon the enterprise of comparing players altogether, I take the era adjustments we’ve come up with and throw in a hefty margin of error for cross-era comparisons. Even with the margin of error, I think Ruth towers over all credible competitors. That’s not at all to say that Bonds wasn’t a historically great hitter, but I don’t think you can fairly say he was the best of all time.

  38. Anon21:

    Yeah, but it wasn’t even against the norms. MLB and many writers knew about it for years, but didn’t turn on the roiders until it became clear that they were going to break all the records and maybe piss the fans off. If it’s not against the rules and it doesn’t violate any norms, what’s the argument that it was wrong in any meaningful sense?

  39. Sherm:

    Bonds was “Ruthian” for several years. But that doesn’t put him in Ruth’s class. Ruth stands alone, above all others.

  40. Timb:

    And, of course, we remember how many articles Murray wrote at the time — brave writing in opposition to his editors and the baseball powers that be — decrying steroid abuse.

    Oh, no! He didn’t do that. He just cashed a check

  41. mark f:

    Right, and lots of guys openly used Creatine or other GNC-type of stuff.

  42. Pinko Punko:

    That the drugs in question were obtained illegally, most likely? The steroids era is what it is, it happened, it doesn’t need to be excused, it simply exists now as part of the history of baseball. No need for validation other than the records are in the books or they aren’t and the players should be considered for the Hall with the least cobaggery from the dumb writers.

  43. Richard Hershberger:

    Note that three people are being inducted: Hank O’Day, Jacob
    Ruppert, and Deacon White. So we’ll still have something to talk about, even if it is “Who are those guys?” In all seriousness, that is a good discussion to have, if you are interested in baseball history. The Hall of Fame shouldn’t just be people you already know about. It should also be for people you might not know about, but who are worthy of you attention.

  44. CaptBackslap:

    The voters really, really want there to be a special Inner Circle of the HOF, where only True Baseball Legends go, and where the player’s spirit will feast with Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth forever (NOTE: The feast is gin). But there’s no such thing, so they have to settle for creating an artificial distinction by making some guys wait.

  45. JKTHs:

    Agreed.

  46. Timb:

    So, sign stealers are out too? And dudes who had surgery and took cortisone?

  47. snarkout:

    Mussina seems like a guy whom you vote for if you liked him (or a team he played for, although honestly I always kind of resented him for leaving the O’s) or if you want a biggish Hall of Fame. He’d be right about the median for a starting pitcher in the Hall, similar to (sigh) Schilling.

    While I was goggling at the vote, I shot a Facebook message to a friend who works at Baseball Reference. Identify the Hall of Famer!

    PLAYER A: 165-87, 3 Cy Youngs, 5 ERA titles, 50 WAR
    PLAYER B: 192-111, 3 Cy Youngs, 4 ERA titles, 77 WAR

  48. Sherm:

    Richard, some light reading on back acne and steroids from someone other than Murray Chass.

    http://nybaseballdigest.com/2011/01/26/three-out-of-three-doctors-agree/

  49. John:

    But Piazza, unlike Biggio, was a big guy who was a slugger.

  50. Sherm:

    Player A is Koufax. Player B is Drysdale?

  51. mark f:

    Jacob Ruppert

    He founded those rascals, ragamuffins and rapscallians who defeated Communism, right?

  52. snarkout:

    Oops, left out player C.

    Player C:
    162-73, 4 Cy Youngs, 3 ERA titles, 55 WAR

  53. Murc:

    I take it, then, you’re in favor of stripping Willie Mays and everyone else who was on amphetamines out of the HoF?

    Because that’s what’s at issue. I have no particular love of the juicers myself, it is in fact a form of cheating. But if you’re going to bar them from the Hall because of it you have to bar everyone else who cheated in the same way.

  54. Josh G.:

    If the writers want to indefinitely exclude McGwire and Palmeiro as scapegoats for the Steroid Era, they can probably get away with that. And they can probably get away with delaying Bonds and Clemens by a year, maybe two, as a protest.

    But the Hall of Fame is not going to allow a whole generation of ballplayers to be indefinitely excluded by the BBWAA. Having an empty podium at induction time is not good for business, and the usual flow of nasty letters about Hall snubs is probably going to increase a good five times or so after this disgraceful election. Keep in mind that while baseball fans are of all ages and ethnic groups, the BBWAA is disproportionately made up of aging white men. They aren’t representative of the sport now, if they ever were.

    The original Old Timer’s Committee was a response to the BBWAA’s continued inability to elect anyone during the early 1940s. And I expect to see something similar this go-around if the BBWAA members insist on being moral scolds. There will be a special commission set up for a year or so to elect players the BBWAA refuses to. Oh, they won’t call it the PED commission or anything like that, but that’s what it will amount to.

    A good start in voting reform would be to open up voting to broadcasters and members of SABR. Also, stop including blank ballots in the denominator when calculating totals; if you don’t vote for anyone, your vote doesn’t count. A more far-reaching reform would be to create a standardized test – a baseball equivalent of the GED – and let anyone take the test for a fee. If you pass, you get Hall of Fame voting privileges. This would allow pretty much any serious, knowledgeable baseball fan to have a say, while hopefully keeping out the mindless fanboys that make All-Star voting such a farce. The 75% threshold might need to be reconsidered, though.

  55. Sherm:

    Catfish Hunter?

  56. Popeye:

    Koufax and Clemens in Boston.

  57. rea:

    The Hall of Fame shouldn’t just be people you already know about. It should also be for people you might not know about, but who are worthy of you attention.

    That’s not the Hall of Fame–that’s the Hall of the Worthy Obscure (two doors down the street).

  58. Popeye:

    and after Boston

  59. snarkout:

    Good eye on Koufax, Shem. I’ll let you puzzle over player B and player C for a bit before posting the answer. (It’s relevant to the discussion today.)

  60. Josh G.:

    There goes Sandy Koufax…

    Seriously, though, I don’t see why it is considered so evil for baseball players to take modest amounts of steroids and/or HGH to help recover from injuries or to extend their careers. Roger Clemens wasn’t blowing away batters with 100+ MPH fastballs near the end of his career; he was just keeping up his stamina so he could more effectively use his accuracy and experience. From an aesthetic point of view I can understand why many baseball fans don’t want to see over-muscled steroid-pumped sluggers bashing tons of home runs and excluding other aspects of the game. But that *is* an aesthetic argument, not a moral one. And it has nothing to do with the more modest, longevity-oriented steroid use that guys like Clemens and Palmeiro seem to have partaken of. Is there even convincing evidence that modest use of steroids in this fashion is bad for health? Would these players have been healthier if they had never used steroids, retired 5 years sooner, and sat on their butts all day long?

  61. Richard:

    More than I ever wanted to know about back acne. But I agree with you – even if Piazza had back acne, thats nowhere near enough to create even a plausible claim of steroid use and there is nothing in his stat history to indicate steroid use (unlike Bonds who had seasons after the age of 35 that no one in the history of baseball has ever had)

  62. rea:

    He was the man who owned Knickerbocker beer, of course.

  63. snarkout:

    That’s it. (And good eye.)

  64. Craig Burley:

    And none of O’Day, Ruppert or White are worthy Hall of Famers anyway.

  65. EliHawk:

    Except you won’t have an entire generation excluded and a whole bunch of empty podiums. Look at the coming years:

    2014: Maddux and Glavine get in 1st ballot, maybe Frank Thomas, maybe Biggio/Bagwell/Morris

    2015: Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro on the ballot. At least 1 of them (probably Johnson) gets in, plus any potential leftovers from previous years.

    2016: Griffey, barring intervening scandal, will be 1st ballot. If Smoltz didn’t get in then, he probably gets in here to protect that ‘first ballot’ mystique.

    That’s just the next 3 years. And it’s not including the Veterans Committee, which will move to the ‘Golden Era’ (1947-72) and ‘Expansion Era’ (1973-Now) in 2014 and 2015 balloting, therefore potentially installing people who are alive and can show up to the ceremony. Also, in even years like 2014, 2016, etc. they can elect managers, so you’ll get surefire inductees like Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, etc. Everyone assumes with the Steroid Era there’s going to be year after year of no inductees. That’s just not going to happen, even if Clemens and Bonds never get in.

  66. Auguste:

    I doubt Glavine will get in 1st ballot. I wouldn’t be surprised if Maddux doesn’t, either, or Griffey.

  67. gocart mozart:

    I don’t think Bonds really has an argument as greatest hitter of all time, because that argument starts and ends with Ruth Ted Williams. fixxored

  68. Sherm:

    So, Clemens had two hall of fame careers. One without steroids, and one with steroids. I despise that prick, but I would have voted for him anyway. Good question btw.

  69. gocart mozart:

    Just think what Williams’ numbers would be if he hadn’t served 4 years in WWII during his prime.

  70. Sherm:

    gocart mozart — You better stop checking out the weather charts, and start checking out baseball reference instead. Ruth is the best.

  71. wengler:

    Here’s hopin’.

  72. Richard:

    Maddux has to be first ballot.

  73. Sherm:

    I think three years in WWII, and then another year or two in Korea (training pilots). Second best hitter of all time.

  74. wengler:

    I would be fine with all HoFers who are former Yankees being segregated in their own ignored(by me) corner of the hall.

  75. Sherm:

    Griffey too.

  76. snarkout:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Glavine has to wait a couple years with the glut of colorable players coming in and the voters apparently on tilt, but really, you don’t think Maddux will go on the first ballot? He’s arguably one of the five best pitchers in the history of baseball and certainly one of the top twenty.

  77. gocart mozart:

    Gary Rupert’s grand-daddy?

  78. mark f:

    I’m with Sherm; even if you grant Williams four missing 10 WAR season he falls one short of Ruth’s career 7. Williams’s best OPS was beaten by Ruth three times.

    Williams did miss his age 24-26 seasons, though, and he was great enough in multiple years on the bookends to leave the possibility within the realm of the debatable.

  79. actor212:

    All due respect, but Piazza had been dogged by steroid charges from the early 1990s until at least 2002.

    I say that as a Mets fan who loved and admired him, but kept my eyes open.

  80. gocart mozart:

    So, the HoF won’t have the all time hit leader AND the all time home run leader (season and career). Some “Hall of Fame” ya got there.

    Pete Rose should be in also, too.

  81. gocart mozart:

    Anyone have any thoughts on Shoeless Joe Jackson?

  82. Monday Night Frotteur:

    Frank Tanana was a better pitcher than Jack Morris and deserves to be in the hall of fame every bit as much as Morris.

  83. wengler:

    I’ve decided that being full of steroids is far better than being full of shit like the BBWAA. This was easily the best introductory class in decades and not a single one, not a single fucking one, is deemed to be good enough. What a joke.

    And those 5 guys who submitted empty ballots should be banned for life. This isn’t Soviet Russia. The only statement you are making is that you are everything wrong with your organization.

  84. actor212:

    B = Clemens?

  85. rea:

    Other way around–he was kept in the US training pilots in WWII, but saw combat in Korea (John Glenn was his wingman). By all acccounts, he was about as good a fighter pilot as he was a ballplayer.

  86. actor212:

    ADDENDUM: His stats leaving the SOX just after he started doping.

  87. actor212:

    Um, he could have been juicing in Boston too. Steroids have been around longer than I have, since 1954. I wouldn’t put it past such a morally inept creature as Clemens to have cheated out of the box.

  88. Sherm:

    Seems that it would make sense the other way around. I guess there was more of a pilot shortage in Korea.

  89. actor212:

    But the Hall of Fame is not going to allow a whole generation of ballplayers to be indefinitely excluded by the BBWAA.

    Well, that would explain how Shoeless Joe was eventually admitted, wouldn’t it?

    Of course they can, and they will. Biggio might, *might*, pass muster, even if his team was filled to capacity with steroid abusers who actually introduced them to the game full throttle. There are an awful lot of writers who are thinking “He could have and should have stepped forward and narced.”

    Bonds? Clemens? Not in your great-grandkids lifetimes.

  90. actor212:

    Both rely on eye-hand coordination. It was said Williams could see the stitching on a ball hurtling towards him at 90mph. That would be epic in a fighter pilot.

  91. Richard:

    Other than back acne, what were the rumours based on? I’m not saying he didn’t juice but the only facts I’ve seen were the back acne story (since the stat record doesn’t seem to support a claim of steroid use)

  92. actor212:

    But McGwire did it before it became a banned substance.

  93. Dilan Esper:

    That’s the weird thing. Likely, almost everyone in the steroids era was doping. But what is going to end up happening is only the inferior players get in on the questionable assumption that their stats aren’t strong enough to give rise to skepticism.

  94. actor212:

    Let’s not forget anyone who legally threw a spitball.

  95. Richard:

    Looking at his stats, he had a very normal timeline. Peaked in his late 20s and early 30s and then a serious drop off in productivity when he turned 35. Not at all the Bonds type of career.

  96. Dilan Esper:

    What are you talking about? EVERYONE was doping. Not just the people with ridiculous stats. Once you believe your opponents are doping, you have to do it.

  97. mark f:

    “Shoeless Joe” is not “a whole generation,” except perhaps in the Jackson family, depending on if he had any siblings. He was also officially banned by MLB, which makes him ineligible despite what the voters might’ve desired.

    Do you really think that Biggio should be excluded based on him being teammates with Ken Caminiti?

  98. EliHawk:

    Glavine has 300 wins, is likely the next to last guy with that number for a long time, which is why it’s one of those ‘magic numbers’ that’s actually becoming more impressive in recent years. And his 2 Cy Youngs make him clearly not a compiler in the voters’ eyes. Throw in a natural career progression, World Series MVP, longtime team success, the prospect of having 2 long time teammates go in together, and I don’t see how he isn’t an easy 1st ballot.

  99. Dilan Esper:

    How about the fact that he played in an era without effective drug testing where you had to dope to compete? That’s evidence too, you know.

    There are no good guys and bad guys here. Everyone doped.

  100. actor212:

    Griffey, maybe. Maddux probably second year. Pitchers have an even harder time than day-to-day players for first time ballots. In the last twenty years, 17 players have been first balloters, only 7 of those pitchers.

    Contrast that with the fact that pitchers make up the lion’s share of any single position in the hall (70, overall. The next closest is CF with 25)

  101. actor212:

    You assume his doping started after he entered MLB. The stories I heard predate that, and are why he was really drafted (not uncle Tommy throwing his nephew a bone)

  102. Sherm:

    I think its pretty odd that he got more votes than Bagwell due to steroids suspicions, although they were teammates and friends.

  103. Mark Field:

    Say it ain’t so?

    I’m going to give this question more respect than it deserves, since the implicit comparison between somebody who tried to lose and players who tried, perhaps too hard, to win is, well, poorly thought out.

    But let’s look at Shoeless Joe. He has 59.6 WAR, which puts him at exactly 100 among position players all time. It’s below, for example, Buddy Bell or Craig Biggio, just above Ken Boyer or Mark McGwire. He’s a possible case, but not a strong one.

    The strongest case for Jackson depends on an implicit assumption that he “should” have played out the rest of his career. But of course, that’s absurd. Trying to throw games is and should be disqualifying.

    So I don’t see a particularly good argument for Jackson, even putting aside the false equivalence.

  104. Richard:

    I dont think thats a reasonable assumption. Some did, some didn’t. Whether Piazza did or not, I have no idea. But he didn’t have the type of stats (unexpected production after the age of 35, significantly greater production after a certain time period when it can be assumed that he started taking steroids) to, by themselves, indicate doping. He was a great hitter starting in his second year in the majors and, when he hit the age of 35, had a huge dropoff in productivity.

  105. Bitter Scribe:

    Is that why Bunning turned out to be such a petty, nasty shit as a U.S. senator?

  106. actor212:

    Josh, I’m with you on one point: I think banning steroids is ludicrous and those restrictions ought to be tossed out. If you’re willing to go through the final fifty years of your life with a shriveled penis and sterile for the sake of possibly knocking in a few more runs, be my guest.

    I have a similar stance on gambling: bet for your own team, you’re OK.

    But so long as the rules are on the books…

  107. Dilan Esper:

    The reality is in sports, any rule not rigorously enforced gets intentionally broken, and indeed you are forced to in order to compete. Should Jordan be kicked out of the basketball HoF because he routinely intentionally traveled?

  108. Sherm:

    This is an excellent point. And skinny pitchers can get in too. See Maddux, Glavine, Pedro.

  109. actor212:

    He was a 43rd round draft pick. That alone is suspicious enough.

  110. Sherm:

    Sorry, but that is not evidence.

  111. JKTHs:

    The stats says otherwise. He clearly had a decline in his later years in Boston, then picked up with the B Jays

  112. mark f:

    Yeah, but can you count 90 years of subsequent baseball against him? Where did he rank in career WAR at the time of his retirement? He had a career OPS+ of 170, after all, and was forced out at a still-effective age 32 (1.033 OPS).

    I do agree on the gambling point, if he was actually guilty.

  113. gratuitous:

    Is it true the BBWAA meets at the Star Wars cantina in Mos Eisley (a wretched hive of scum and villainy)?

    Actually, the fact that folks are so exercised about the exclusion of Bonds but indifferent to the failure to induct Dale Murphy should tell the casual observer all he or she needs to know about the Baseball Hall of Fame™. Murphy’s career embodied so much of what’s right about baseball – sportsmanship, hard work, loyalty and dedication – whereas Bonds, not so much.

  114. actor212:

    Yea, I think the Braves run as division champs will be a powerful sway in getting him, Smoltz and Maddux in.

    I just don’t think any of them are first time balloters. Of the three, Maddux with four consecutive Cy Youngs, is the most likely.

  115. rea:

    Well, there is a certain irony that you get in if you’re an owner for buying Babe Ruth, but not if you’re a player who bought Babe Ruth’s body . . .

  116. Richard Hershberger:

    Most visitors already know who George Wright or Henry Chadwick were? Or, for that matter, lots of other guys with plaques? I doubt it.

    One could, I suppose, argue that the Hall of Fame *should* only include guys that everyone already knows about, but that is not the Hall of Fame that actually exists. It also would require removing plaques, as older guys are forgotten. As a practical matter, most baseball fans don’t know anything about anyone before Ruth except if there is some special reason to: Cobb had a movie made about him, with a vivid portrayal; Merkle committed a boner, even if most people don’t understand exactly what the issue was; Shoeless Joe got expelled from baseball, along with some other guys with less colorful nicknames; Tinkers and Evers and Chance got their names in a poem we vaguely recall. There are probably a few others, but that is about it.

  117. Richard:

    As I said above, I don’t know whether he did or not. But he wasn’t a high draft pick – 62nd round, 1382th person picked (which is fully consistent with the story that he was picked as a favor to Lasorda since Mike’s dad was one of Lasorda’s best friends). Its hard to believe that he was drafted that “high” because scouts knew he was using steroids. Since he was really a very low draft pick, the only plausible claim is that he started using roids after he was picked and before he was called up to the bigs. Again, I dont know if that happened or not.

  118. actor212:

    It’s clear that if the Hall wants to hold a grudge, they’ll hold a grudge. That was my point.

    He moved from second to center, a harder position on his knees, and saw a dramatic uptick in production. Yes. He juiced.

  119. Richard:

    My mistake. 43rd round draft pick. Still remarkably low

  120. Bill Altreuter:

    Lost in the shuffle is Tim Raines, again. When Rickey Henderson was the best player in baseball, Raines was the player that most closely resembled Henderson. He was the real deal, and it is bizarre that he keeps getting shortchanged.

    Also, the first ballot distinction is idiotic.

  121. rea:

    Trying to throw games is and should be disqualifying

    He was acquitted in a criminal trial, and Landis banned him anyway.

  122. Dilan Esper:

    Nothing wrong with keeping Jackson out on the merits.

    Keeping him (or Rose) out for violating the rules relating to gambling is just moral preening, though.

  123. Richard:

    I dont think that follows at all. Are you claiming that low draft picks who make it to the majors can be assumed to be using steroids?

  124. Richard Hershberger:

    I generally avoid Hall of Fame discussions. It strikes me as impressive that White led the league in batting while playing as an everyday catcher, in an era before any protective equipment beyond a mouthpiece. But perhaps his numbers really don’t merit it. What about O’Day? He is in as an umpire, not as a player or a manager (though he was those, too). What should the criteria be for umpires? He was around a really long time and was well thought of, in an era was umpiring was a pretty rough job. If we grant that it is possible to get in as an umpire, then what more do you want?

    For what it is worth, the person who should be in, and indeed I am startled every time I recall that he is not, is James Creighton. His absence condemns the whole process as historically unaware–not that this should surprise anyone who reads the plaques of the early guys and compares them with the actual history.

  125. Richard:

    Moreover, he hit .375 in the 1919 Series. Most historians who have looked at the story have concluded he agreed to take money to fix games but then didn’t do that and played as hard and as well as he could. I dont think there is any evidence that he tried to fix games or ever admitted to doing so.

  126. Bill Murray:

    that usually makes it more difficult, not easier. the fewer good choices there are, the more likely that a sufficient number will focus on the same few people and elect them

  127. Steve S.:

    the Hall of Fame already has members who actually did cheat. About the only thing you can say in defense of this pointless exercise in misplaced moral wankery and nostalgia

    Which is kind of why I don’t get why statheads get so exercised about this. A “Hall of Fame” is kind of a dopey concept to begin with, isn’t it? Not like there’s an entirely rational basis for who gets famous and who doesn’t. And why would you want Bonds and Clemens in the same club as the cheaters, racists, and overrated?

    Why don’t statheads raise some money, buy some cheap land in Tennessee and build a Hall of Stats. Hell, I’d visit it (if I ever found myself in Tennessee).

  128. SatanicPanic:

    If they were gambling on sports they weren’t playing I would agree.

  129. rea:

    Bunning having to wait for the veteran’s committee is another example of the BBWAA’s longstanding anti-Tiger prejudice . . .

  130. L2P:

    You don’t think a guy who set the home run record and destroyed the record for walks, against both black and white players, has an argument? I’m not saying I’d agree he’s the best hitter, but he doesn’t have an argument?

    I’d think that if Bonds, Ruth, and Williams were all sitting in a bar bullshitting, Ruth wouldn’t have a slam dunk with, “Yeah, OK. So you set the record for HRs and destroyed the walk record. So I didn’t hit against any black players. Or have those Dominicans playing defense. And who the hell knew Asians could play ball? Look at my WAR is all I’m saying.”

    I dunno, that looks like . . . an argument to me.

  131. Murc:

    If you’re willing to go through the final fifty years of your life with a shriveled penis and sterile for the sake of possibly knocking in a few more runs, be my guest.

    The problem with this is that given the nature of professional sports, anything that is allowed isn’t just allowed; it’s required. Every single athlete would have to be juicing, all the time, to the absolute limits of what their body would allow, or they’d be replaced with an athlete who would.

    This is a state of affairs I would prefer to avoid.

  132. Richard:

    Jackson didn’t gamble. It appears he took money to fix games but didn’t fix games (and didn’t inform on his fellow players who most likely did fix games). Should that keep him out (assuming he deserved being in on the merits)? Probably.

    Rose bet on games which he knew was absolutely prohibited and then lied about it for years. And although he always bet on his team to win, he did it in such a way that could have divulged confidential information to bettors and to opponents and which could have influenced his management decisions. I have no problem with keeping him out.

  133. Sherm:

    I just don’t think any of them are first time balloters

    What’s the case against Maddux?

  134. rea:

    bet for your own team, you’re OK.

    Gosh, our manager blew through the whole bullpen in the first game of the series, and we lost the series 2 games to 1, and it turns out the manager had a bet on the first game in the series. But that’s okay–he bet on our team!

  135. L2P:

    You keep using that phrase, “Hall of Fame.” I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    I’m pretty sure “Hall of Fame” means something besides a collection of people a bunch of extremely knowledgeable baseball fans have never heard of.

  136. JRoth:

    Since most guys that we know to have doped (per the Mitchell Report) derived no apparent benefit from it, your argument is simply incoherent.

  137. mark f:

    I do like the notion though that the Dodgers knew this guy was going to use his magic potion to put up HOF numbers, so they only left the other teams about 1,300 chances to get him.

  138. gorillagogo:

    That’s because Bonds put up Hall-worthy numbers. Murphy, not so much. Duane Kuiper might have been a hard worker and great sportsman too but nobody wants to see him enshrined in Cooperstown.

  139. JRoth:

    And yet people talk about percentages of votes. I think you’re fooling yourself that it’s moronic or invented (because fans who care about the HoF seem to, as a whole, care about this). Fans want to distinguish among HoFers, and your protestations don’t change that one whit.

  140. JRoth:

    But actual, smart, statistically-minded BBWAA voters like Joe Posnanski admit that there are guys they didn’t vote for at first, and then come around on. You’re supposing a black and white world that simply doesn’t exist.

    I might add that statistical analysis is advancing all the time, and that Win Shares were state of the art just 10 years ago, but have been largely eclipsed by WAR (which itself is changing as defensive measurements improve). It’s foolish to think that the book is closed foreve by the time a guy’s 5 years’ retired.

    Hell, Mazeroski was ignored by voters who didn’t/couldn’t appreciate just how important his defense was, but, once people came around in his historically great fielding, plus the fact that fielding is just as important as hitting (a run’s a run), he finally, and justly, got in. But it took 40 years to build the case, because no one understood fielding in 1977 when he hit the ballot.

  141. JRoth:

    Lemme think: 10 slots, 75% requirement… does that mean that, if there were 13 equally-qualified candidates, none would (statistically) gain admission? Unclear on the math, but it’s something like that.

    Obviously, the guys on the ballot weren’t, by any stretch, equally qualified, but you do get competition between guys running out of eligibility and newer, more marginal candidates.

  142. mpowell:

    That may be a defensible position to hold, but then you either decide you don’t care and people get elected to the hall on their stats or you don’t vote for anyone for another 10 years minimum.

    Anyway, that’s not what the voters who care about steroids are thinking certainly. They are punishing players they suspect used steroids and some of their reasons are incredibly asinine.

  143. JRoth:

    I was checking that earlier today – his last 4 years in Boston, his best B-R comp was Dwight Gooden, which I think kind of says it all. Pre-juice Bonds was a no-doubt HoFer, pre-juice Clemens more marginal (still in, but nowhere near Bonds’ neighborhood).

    The 8 people who voted for Clemens but not Bonds are idiots.

  144. L2P:

    IMO it’s a little deceptive to compare WAR from such completely different eras.

  145. JRoth:

    2Bs age (much) worse than CFs. Your “evidence” isn’t.

  146. Njorl:

    Impressive numbers by Bonds:
    HR’s
    1: Barry Bonds (73)
    2: Sammy Sosa (64)
    3: Luis Gonzalez (57)
    4: Alex Rodriguez (52)
    5: Shawn Green (49)
    6: Todd Helton (49)
    7: Jim Thome (49)
    8: Rafael Palmeiro (47)
    9: Richie Sexson (45)
    10: Phil Nevin (41)

    Impressive numbers by Ruth:
    HRs
    1:Babe Ruth (60)
    2:PHA (56)
    3:SLB (55)
    4:DET (51)
    5:Yankees not named Ruth or Gehrig (51)
    6:Lou Gehrig (47)
    7:CHW (36)
    8:WSH (29)
    9:BOS (28)
    10:CLE (26)

    Ruth out-homered every other American league team. Bonds didn’t come close to doing anything like that.

  147. JRoth:

    So a fraud, not a cheat.

    Just repurposing an old Dave Barry joke.

  148. Scott Lemieux:

    had been dogged by steroid charges from the early 1990s until at least 2002.

    The same standards of evidence that can be used to convict Bill Clinton of running a drug running operation and murdering VInce Foster. Hey, it’s out there!

  149. Glenn:

    Seems like solid advice generally.

  150. djw:

    It may be a good point, but it doesn’t apply to Biggio, who was one of the very best players of his era.

  151. JRoth:

    First they checked, though. They had an agent provocateur offer him magic beans, and he took them, so they knew they could trust him to dope.

  152. Manju:

    Who says alcohol isn’t performance enhancing?

  153. Scott Lemieux:

    I love Pedro Martinez and hate Clemens, but Clemens’s peak was almost as good as Pedro’s, and he had many more great years.

  154. JRoth:

    Not to mention, shot down in Korea and banged up pretty bad. Guy was quite beat up his last 7 seasons.

  155. Scott Lemieux:

    I would probably say Ruth too. But the quality of competition in Bonds’s era is so much better that you can argue that Bonds was more valuable.

  156. rea:

    who the hell knew Asians could play ball?

    “A bat is about as big as a Jap, and the fact is, the itty-bittys can’t hit.”–Babe Ruth

  157. gratuitous:

    My point being that good numbers and superior sportsmanship are insufficient for Hall of Fame consideration. Big, flashy numbers and deportment that would shame a drunken hooker? Here’s your plaque, sir.

  158. Scott Lemieux:

    There’s a big difference between changing your mind based on changing evidence and arbitrarily refusing to vote for someone you consider HoF worthy.

  159. Njorl:

    It depends on what’s wrong with your knees, I’d bet.

  160. mpowell:

    It entirely depends on how you want to do cross-era comparisons. Any metric depends on, to a certain extent, your value system.

    If you go with the standard metric, normalized against stats from players in his own era, or just absolute stats, Ruth is clearly superior. He has a career OPS that is 100 points better and OPS+ that is 24 points better. The only reason Bonds blows him away on walks is because of total plate appearances (walk rate is still higher but only slightly). And Ruth’s home run rate per PA is, of course, higher. And Bonds edge in PA is not just because he played at a high level until he was 42. Ruth lost about 1000 PA because he did not become a full time hitter until he was 24. I’m not going to hold that against him. And even if we did Ruth’s all time oWAR of 151 beats Bonds’ 139. So Bonds clearly loses on career offensive production and efficiency.

    But using this standard is totally unlike simply correcting for park effects. Ruth was competing against a much smaller talent base (which is true whether you account for segregation or not), faced heavily overused pitchers (there is no equivalent benefit for modern hitters) and faced pitchers with much poorer training and technique. Maybe Ruth would be a better player if he played today since he would have access to better training knowledge himself, but he would still be facing much tougher pitching and defense and would likely have produced much lower OPS+ than he actually did. If that’s your standard, I don’t know how you ever accurately correct across eras except to say that it is actually very unlikely that anyone in baseball history has actually been as talented as Barry Bonds.

  161. Manju:

    how do you not vote for the greatest hitting catcher ever where there is zero evidence linking him to steroids?

    Defense?

    I understand the baseball DW-Nominate guys say defense isn’t important. But does this hold for catcher? They’re the most important everyday defensive player b/c the pitcher is the most important player for any single game.

  162. djw:

    To be clear, I don’t think anyone is objecting to voters changing their minds from year to year. It’s the practice of not voting for clear, unambiguous HoFers on the first ballot in an attempt to create an award that does not, in fact, exist that I find silly, and unworthy of validation from right-thinking fans.

  163. MattT:

    Would it be irresponsible to not vote for Piazza? It would be irresponsible to not not vote for Piazza.

    It’s too bad that Dolphins isn’t the name of Miami’s baseball team too, or we could really get some insight on this.

  164. Scott Lemieux:

    pre-juice Clemens more marginal (still in, but nowhere near Bonds’ neighborhood).

    This is really silly. Clemens had 86.3 WAR as of 1996 — that’s no-brainer Hall of Fame performance. And even the most hardcore anti-steroids crank couldn’t think that he would have had no value from 1997 on had he not used PEDs.

  165. JRoth:

    One thing I think it’s important to note: it was a smaller (and narrower) player pool, but it was also one in which talented athletes were far more likely to play baseball than today’s game. The most obvious evidence is the huge decline in African-American players over the past 40 years – Bonds, as a Giant, faced only a handful more African-American pitchers than Ruth did.

    Point being that modern MLB shares its talent pool with football, basketball, and (for Latin American players) soccer, so you need to discount just how big the difference is. It’s clearly a more talented pool, but I’m not certain that the 750th best MLBer in 2012 is better than the 400th best in 1927.

  166. Auguste:

    If you think they’re shoe-ins, you should have listened to the Douchebag Round Table hosted by Bob Costas on ESPN last night.

  167. MattT:

    Is a “big and flashy” a snarky way of saying “better”? To restate then, your complaint is that it is somehow unfair that better numbers make it more likely for a player to get in the Hall of Fame? That is certainly a novel take.

  168. John:

    But Biggio is a second baseman, so his case rests less on his overall offensive achievements than in other cases.

  169. Scott Lemieux:

    I wouldn’t vote for anyone who threw games.

  170. JRoth:

    I hear you, I just think Joshua’s completely overstating that position.

    Personally, if I had a vote, I’d work from the top and then from oldest – IOW, make sure the no-doubters are on, then look at guys who are running out of time to get in (this includes guys like Lofton at risk of not reaching 5%). Schilling may be a HoFer, but I’m more worried about Raines getting my vote in 2013. With an unlimited ballot, I’d be tempted to go long, but for now I don’t see a problem with distinguishing (I should note that, insofar as I do distinguish, “first ballot” isn’t hyper-exclusive; it’s more like the distinction between guys who raise the bar and guys who merely clear it).

  171. JRoth:

    You’re right, Scott, I was misreading snarkout’s numbers and seeing too few wins pre-decline. I also put too much faith in B-R’s comparison tool – Gooden is a terrible comparison for 30-y.o. Clemens, let alone 33-y.o. Clemens.

  172. Jim Lynch:

    MLB owners are laughing at ALL the fans who care enough to engage in this HOF Great Debate. They turned a blind eye to steroids because it put money in their pockets. Their hypocrisy extended to ex-owner GW Bush having castigated THE PLAYERS ONLY for steroid abuse (and that during a State of the Union Address while the country was at war). I love the game. But for Chrissakes, the owners arrogance as they watch this sorry ass story unfold is nearly enough for me to write it off altogether.

  173. JRoth:

    No matter what’s wrong with your knees, having players barrel into them can’t realistically help. I think non-players really underestimate how much collision there is at 2B.

  174. Darkrose:

    First they have to pull him out of the ivy.

  175. John:

    The most important aspects of a catcher’s position play are completely unquantifiable. And, as I understand it, Piazza’s bad defense largely comes down to not being good at throwing guys out. It seems rather absurd to keep out the best offensive catcher of all time because he wasn’t very good at throwing out base stealers.

  176. Mark Field:

    I don’t see much doubt that today’s players are far superior. The population of the US in 1920 was 106 million. Today it’s triple that (315 million or so). In 1920, 10% or more of the population was ruled out of playing entirely. Today, we draw players from the Caribbean area, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Australia (plus others). Players today are bigger and stronger than they were on average in 1920 (not bigger than Ruth; he was a big guy, but not all of his competitors were).

    It ain’t close.

    That’s not to say Bonds was a better hitter than Ruth. He probably wasn’t, though he was certainly a better fielder and baserunner.

  177. John:

    What exactly was so awful about Bonds besides the fact that he wasn’t friendly to reporters? I understand why reporters would be upset about that, but not why the rest of us should be.

  178. mpowell:

    Most writers put down fewer than 10 names. That’s what got this result.

  179. Richard:

    My understanding is that he wasn’t just unfriendly to sportswriters. He was pretty horrid to most other human beings, including the hired help that worked for the Giants. But being a SOB shouldn’t keep you out of the Hall.

  180. c u n d gulag:

    Oh goody!
    And now, all of the ten’s of thousands of decendents of Deacon White can descend upon Cooperstown to beef-up that town’s economy on Induction Day, with the inclusion of their great, great, great, great, something or other!

    If the stat’s fit, you must acquit!

    At the very least, Bonds and Clemen’s, even if they did do PED’s, were first ballot HOFer’s before the first time they took them.

    OY!

  181. Mark Field:

    This is just wrong. The evidence is that Jackson used unimportant ABs to make his stats look good, but failed when it was important. That’s perfectly consistent with trying to throw the games.

  182. John:

    This. The issue with Biggio isn’t that people are going to change their minds. It’s that (most likely) a bunch of writers have already decided that he’s not first ballot material, but that they’re going to vote for him later.

  183. John:

    Don’t the vast majority of voters not use all ten of their choices?

  184. Mark Field:

    Yes, Jackson would have looked much better in 1936 than he does today. But that’s all water under the bridge, and it’s his own fault.

    If we were really judging him today, we might very well start asking how much lower he should rate given the era he played in. I didn’t do that, but it’s a legit question and there’s good reason to knock him down to a level where only the advocates for a pretty big Hall would support him.

  185. Timb:

    And, at least against the Pacers, went from the bench directly to the free throw line every time he re-entered the game*

    *And, yes, I am aware that I am — still — griping about the terrible phantom fouls Jordan benefitted from while rooting for a team who employed the king of flopping, the king of whiners (Reggie Miller). Still, that 7th game of the Eastern Conference Finals really hurts

  186. Richard:

    I dont buy the quality of competition argument. Granted, Ruth didn’t play against black players and thats a big deal. But in Ruth’s era, if you were an athlete and wanted to play sports for a living (and werent upper class and exposed to tennis or golf) there were only two options – baseball and boxing. No pro basketball and no pro football to speak of. None of the other sports that in Bonds’ era and today draw talented athletes. I think the cream of American athletes played baseball while today its not at all clear that is the case.

  187. JRoth:

    Correct.

    I honestly don’t remember who was on the ballot 10 and 15 years ago; it certainly didn’t ever seem like it was this loaded at the time. IOW, I wonder if at least some of these people simply got into the habit of only voting for a few guys at a time, and mistook a habit for a principle.

    I’d be curious what you’d get, if you cleared out all the obvious unworthies (all those terrible Veterans’ Committee handouts), and counted up HoFers per season. I’d be surprised if even a semi-Big Hall gets you more than one or two deserving guys on a given ballot. Of course, most voters vote for at least a couple non-worthies, if only to give a shout-out to some onetime favorite, but my point is that I suspect that 4-7 votes on a typical ballot doesn’t represent some hideous snobbery, but a decent view of what the Hall is, on average.

  188. spencer:

    But being a SOB shouldn’t keep you out of the Hall.

    Being one to reporters will do exactly that, though. Their fee-fees are soooooooooo much more important, you know.

  189. JRoth:

    Oh, I know that. I’m just wondering about the underlying math. And as I note below (I think), in most years I don’t think there are 10 legit candidates. Certainly not 10 new, legit candidates.

  190. Ed:

    Every single athlete would have to be juicing, all the time, to the absolute limits of what their body would allow, or they’d be replaced with an athlete who would.

    Which seems to have been pretty much happened in cycling (it was a sword Lance Armstrong liked to hold over the heads of young riders, apparently – you juice as I tell you to juice, or I’ll get somebody else who will, also destroy your career if you blab). Baseball seems to have pulled back from the brink.

  191. Timb:

    I hate him so much, I think summary execution is still warranted. Afterwards, you can let him in the HOF

  192. John:

    7 out of 17 seems about right, given that relief pitchers very rarely get in at all.

    But it’s not actually 7/17 – 1994-2013 gives you only Eckersley, Ryan, and Carlton. But surely Maddux was better than Eckersley, and his WAR is better than either Ryan or Carlton – 8th all time. Of course, Clemens is 3rd all time in WAR (I’m using Baseball Reference WAR here, rather than Fangraphs) and got denied, but that’s obviously steroid based, which doesn’t apply to Maddux.

  193. Richard:

    That contention is highly disputed. He batted .375. How much higher could he have hit in the Series? Are you saying that if he was really trying, he would have hit over .500 in the Series. The guy was good but very few people in the history of baseball have been that good. Its, of course, possible that he flubbed on important at bats and feasted on less important at bats but a .375 average is pretty impressive and he had more hits than anyone else on the Sox. And there was a claim that he missed some fly balls in the outfield but when historians have compared his fielding to other players on the team who weren’t part of the Rothstein conspiracy, it appears his fielding wasn’t any worse.

  194. John:

    He was certainly a much better pitcher than first balloter Dennis Eckersley.

  195. spencer:

    Not denying that, just not accepting it as a reason in and of itself to let him in.

  196. Richard:

    How about Rose? No contention ever that he threw games. But by betting on his own teams and by not betting the same amount on every game (I believe the evidence showed that he bet when his first three starters pitched but didn’t bet when his fourth starter took the mound), he put himself in a position to make strategic decisions which would increase his own pocketbook but which might not have been in the long term interest of the club. For example, if he had concluded that he shouldn’t pitch his stopper four days in a row, he might not use him on the day when he didn’t have money riding on the game even if that wasn’t the smartest decision if his only concern was winning games and getting him team to the playoffs.

  197. Thlayli:

    He signed a confession.

    Which disappeared during the trial, then reappeared when he sued for reinstatement. Chicago in the ’20s….

  198. Richard:

    I agree(and made the same point above).

  199. Richard:

    I dont have a problem if you bet the same amount on your own team on every game. But anything else (as I explain below) gives you an incentive to change strategy or performance so as to maximize your profit to the possible detriment of the team’s success. Thats why any anti-gambling rules HAVE to preclude betting on your own team.

  200. gratuitous:

    That’s part of my point as well: the Hall of Fame is a wholly-owned entity of the BBWAA. Yes, “big and flashy” does mean “better.” Does it matter how those statistics are achieved? I’m arguing that it does, but since the Baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t belong in any way, shape or form to the game’s followers who finance and sustain it, the point is moot.

    If sportsmanship doesn’t count at all – and apparently it doesn’t – then the Hall should be open to anyone who can pile up numbers, no matter how they are achieved, regardless of what kind of poor behavior (including cheating or gambling on games) the inductee indulged. Murphy is just one example, but one that some of today’s fans might remember.

    I could use a little guidance here: What makes Pete Rose or Joe Jackson so objectionable, but baseball’s followers are rending their garments and gnashing their teeth over Bonds’ delay in getting his plaque?

  201. Richard:

    From Wikipedia:

    “In testimony before the grand jury on September 28, 1920, news accounts from the era claim that Jackson admitted under oath that he agreed to participate in the fix:[15]
    “ When a Cincinnati player would bat a ball out in my territory I’d muff it if I could—that is, fail to catch it. But if it would look too much like crooked work to do that I’d be slow and make a throw to the infield that would be short. My work netted the Cincinnati team several runs that they never would have had if we had been playing on the square. ”

    However, no such direct quote or testimony to this effect appears in the actual stenographic record of Jackson’s grand jury appearance, casting doubt on their veracity.[16] Legend has it that as Jackson was leaving the courthouse during the trial, a young boy begged of him, “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” and that Jackson did not respond. In an interview in SPORT nearly three decades later, Jackson contended that this story was a myth.[17]”

    I’m not holding myself out as a baseball historian but the accounts I’ve read by such historians have indicated that he never confessed and that there is little, if any, objective evidence to indicate that he altered his performance during the Series.

  202. rea:

    He signed a confession

    He was illiterate.

  203. Richard:

    Plus he made no errors in the field and threw out a runner at the plate.

  204. rea:

    Oh, and the missing “confession” was eventually found in the hands of Commisky’s lawyer–which rather points in the other direction than Jackson

  205. rea:

    Tanana’s 1-0 complete game victory against the Jays in the deciding game of the ’87 division championship was almost as epic as the famous World series win by Moris.

  206. rea:

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=198710040DET

  207. spencer:

    Acquitted in a criminal trial, WS stats that for a lot of players could only be the result of actually playing hard to win … I’ve never seen a convincing and unambiguous case that Jackson’s punishment was for anything other than not snitching.

  208. Richard:

    According to a NY Times article by Ira Berkow, the confession was actually a grand jury transcript (which contradicts the Wikipedia article). But here’s that transcript which actually has Jackson denying that he did anything to throw games:

    Q. (by assistant state’s attorney Hartley L. Replogle): Did anybody pay you any money to help throw that Series in favor of Cincinnati?

    A. They did.

    Q. How much did they pay you?

    A. They promised me $20,000 and paid me 5.

    Q. (Did Mrs. Jackson) know that you got $5,000 for helping throw these games?

    A. She did . . . yes.

    Q. What did she say about it?

    A. She said she thought it was an awful thing to do.

    Q. That was after the fourth game?

    A. I believe it was, yes.

    (Jackson said that Lefty Williams, the Chicago pitcher, was the intermediary between him and the gamblers.)

    Q. When did he promise the $20,000?

    A. It was to be paid after each game.

    (But Jackson got only $5,000, thrown onto his hotel bed by Williams after the fourth game. Jackson was asked what he said to Williams.)

    A. I asked him what the hell had come off here.

    Q. What did he say?

    A. He said (Chick) Gandil (the Chicago first baseman, and player ringleader) said we all got a screw . . . that we got double-crossed. I don’t think Gandil was crossed as much as he crossed us.

    Q. At the end of the first game you didn’t get any money, did you?

    A. No, I did not, no, sir.

    Q. What did you do then?

    A. I asked Gandil what is the trouble? He says, ”Everything is all right.” He had it.

    Q. Then you went ahead and threw the second game, thinking you would get it then, is that right?

    A. We went ahead and threw the second game.

    After the third game I says, ”Somebody is getting a nice little jazz, everybody is crossed.” He said, ”Well, Abe Attel and Bill Burns had crossed him.” Attel and Burns were gamblers in the conspiracy.

    (Then Jackson was asked about the fourth game of the Series.)

    Q. Did you see any fake plays?

    A. Only the wildness of (Eddie) Cicotte (Chicago pitcher).

    Q. Did you make any intentional errors yourself that day?

    A. No sir, not during the whole series.

    Q. Did you bat to win?

    A. Yes.

    Q. And run the bases to win?

    A. Yes, sir.

    Q. And field the balls at the outfield to win?

    A. I did. . . . I tried to win all the games.

    Q. Weren’t you very much peeved that you only got $5,000 and you expected to get 20?

    A. No, I was ashamed of myself.

    Q. Where did you put the $5,000 (that Williams gave him)?

    A. I put it in my pocket.

    Q. What did Mrs. Jackson say about it?

    A. She felt awful bad about it, cried about it a while.

    Q. Had you ever played crooked baseball before this?

    A. No, sir, I never had.

    Q. You think now Williams may have crossed you, too?

    A. Well, dealing with crooks, you know, you get crooked every way. This is my first experience and last.

  209. Richard:

    If not for the steroids, Bonds would have been admitted to the HOF despite treating reporters like shit. He’s not the first to act like that to reporters but the writers have been able to put aside their animosity if the career merits it. McGwire and Sosa were reporter favorites but they’re not getting in either. I can’t think of any player who hasn’t made it to the Hall just because he’s a dick.

  210. Swordsmith:

    There were those triples hit to left field during the series. When was the last time you saw a triple hit to left field?

  211. Thlayli:

    He was 30, and had been in the majors for 10 years. He had plenty of time to hire someone to teach him to read. It’s his own damn fault he didn’t, so he doesn’t get to use that as an excuse.

  212. MattT:

    I don’t want to speak for anyone else here, but I think in general that most of the people who think Bonds should be in would not be terribly upset with Jackson or Rose getting in either, and the selective moral outrage is not coming from people supporting the insane proposition that the Baseball Hall of Fame should include the best baseball players.

  213. Rob:

    Yep he was no Tony Gwynn or Fred McGriff having huge season in their late 30s!

  214. Richard:

    In the “confession” (which was actually grand jury testimony), he admitted that he took money but denied that he did anything to throw a game and only admitted that some of the other players threw games.

  215. Richard:

    Back then, triples were common. There was only one home run in the 1919 World Series. Jackson hit it. I dont know enough about the two parks in that Series but triples were common back then and the only study I’ve seen of his fielding, taken from an analysis of the newspaper reports, indicates that his fielding was the same as that of the right fielder for the Sox who was not part of the group who took money from Rothstein.

  216. Rob:

    1) You’re ignoring how huge boxing was

    2) You’re ignoring how big college football was

    3) You’re ignoring the huge population increase, the fact people not white can now play, and the fact that modern baseball draws from an international talent pool.

  217. Mark Field:

    I’m not terribly impressed when someone admits taking money to throw the games and then says he didn’t really throw them.

    Jackson hit .250 with one run scored and no RBI in the four thrown games, while batting .500 with four runs and six RBI in the other four. In each of the first two games, both of which were thrown, Jackson allowed a two-out, two-run triple to left field.

  218. Richard:

    I included boxing and the fact that blacks couldn’t play. And I know college football was huge but pro football wasn’t. So if you were going to make a living at sports, football wasn’t an option

    Baseball draws from an international pool sort of (a half dozen or so other countries) but basketball draws from an even bigger pool

    Back in Ruth’s day, the top athletes who wanted to make a living at sports could choose baseball or boxing. Now they can choose among two dozen sports

  219. djw:

    This comment nicely illustrates exactly why I think it’s none of my business. Let the players figure out what rules they want, along with the owners, who are a secondary stakeholder. Are the privacy invasions and possibility of false positives of a meaningful ban-and-testing regime worth the benefits reduced pressure to risk health? I don’t know, and it’s not a choice that I face. The people directly impacted are the relevant stakeholders, and as a fan I’m not one of them.

  220. Mike Schilling:

    And Walter Johnson bears both of them.

  221. Mike Schilling:

    Some people had very lucrative 20-year careers in college football. They just had to be careful not to graduate.

  222. LosGatosCA:

    Pick Pedro’s top 7 consecutive years and Clemen’s top 7 consecutive years.

    Clemens had more starts, more innings, more decisions, more complete games, more shutouts.

    In fact if you take these specific 7 years for each – Martinez (1997-2003) Clemens (1986-1992).

    Clemens had more innings every year in the comparison, 50 more decisions, just under 400 more innings.

    Showing up counts for a lot.

  223. Mike Schilling:

    Willie Mays got 94.7% of the vote. Cal Ripken got 98.5%. Ids there anyone dumb enough to say that Ripken was better than Mays?

  224. Mike Schilling:

    Deacon White is the guy who said “No man is going to sell my carcass unless I get half.”

  225. LosGatosCA:

    In fact, make that more than 2X as many complete games and about 3X as many shutouts.

    Clemens about 20% more starts and goes well over 1/3 more of an inning on average in all of them.

    For those years.

  226. LosGatosCA:

    These poseurs have always been poseurs.

    In fact, they are the keeper of the poseur flame.

  227. LosGatosCA:

    You are aware that he wasn’t a player at that time.

  228. LosGatosCA:

    +1

  229. LosGatosCA:

    Ruth is the greatest player ever because he was also a very good, maybe great pitcher as well.

    That separates him from every other position player.

  230. LosGatosCA:

    Those extra innings the Clemens pitches in those 7 years are almost the equivalent of 2 more seasons of Pedro pitching.

  231. LosGatosCA:

    What’s a good bench WHIP for a pitcher?

  232. Richard:

    I’m aware of that. But his betting practices very possibly could have affected his management decisions. Keep him out

  233. Richard:

    His denial isn’t dispositive but the point is that there was no confession. And I remember reading that the Sox right fielder, who wasn’t part of the plot, gave up an equal number of crucial triples

  234. LosGatosCA:

    Reflexes with vision.

    Both for flying and hitting.

    Williams himself said that those, combined with the Green Monster, meant he could wait longer without fear of the ball getting by him or that his swinging late if it almost did would be an automatic out.

  235. John:

    “Just because he’s a dick” is perhaps too strong, but certainly there are players where being a dick hurt them considerably.

    Compare Kirby Puckett to Albert Belle, for instance – two very good outfielders whose careers were cut short for physical reasons. Puckett had a longer career, and so does somewhat better in counting stats (including WAR), but Belle had a better prime and better career averages. Yet Puckett was a first ballot hall of famer, while Belle got eliminated from the voting after, what, two years?

    Maybe Belle’s shortish career meant that he wasn’t going to get into the Hall regardless, but certainly the differing fates of these two guys has a whole lot to do with the fact that sportswriters loved Puckett and hated Belle. Even if you think Puckett was more deserving than Belle, surely the difference isn’t first ballot vs. almost immediately eliminated from consideration (And Belle was certainly unjustly denied the MVP in 1995 because sportswriters didn’t like him – he was better than Mo Vaughn by basically every metric that year).

  236. John:

    I’ve got to say that I think we’re at the point where no more 19th century guys should get inducted. Nobody cares, all the actual outstanding 19th century guys have been inducted long ago, and the game at that point was so different that the whole enterprise is kind of absurd.

    Does it really make any sense that Deacon White is going to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Joe Torre (still alive!) will probably never get in (as a player)? Even if Deacon White was a better player than Torre (which he was not), wouldn’t it be a lot more meaningful to induct Torre?

  237. Linnaeus:

    It’s just a guess on my part, but I’d wager that the quick lateral movements that you often have to do as a middle infielder must take a toll on one’s knees as well.

  238. John:

    Is there any dispute that he took money?

  239. Linnaeus:

    That was a great division race. Too bad the Tigers got rocked by the Twins in the ALCS.

  240. LosGatosCA:

    And by routinely traveled you mean ‘carried the ball every single time he dribbled it.’

  241. Dilan Esper:

    The reality of sports that have doping problems (cycling, track and field, baseball) is that once you have even the perception that competitors are doping, everyone has to dope.

    The various reports and investigations are only about who got CAUGHT. But anyone who thinks ANY baseball player who performed well during the Steroids Era was clean is incredibly naive.

  242. Richard:

    No. Jackson testified he took $5000 and that he knew his teammates were throwing games and that he didn’t tell anyone. I think that keeps him out even though there is no evidence he personally did anything to throw games.

  243. Dilan Esper:

    “Some did, some didn’t”? Do you understand the first thing about competition and what ANY intense and skilled competitor in any competition will do if he or she perceives that his or her intense and skilled competitors are cheating?

    What people are arguing about isn’t who used, but who got CAUGHT using. But you HAD to use. If you didn’t use, you worried you wouldn’t be able to compete with those who did. That’s how this whole thing works.

    There are no White Knights in Shining Armor here. You can’t divide the world up into good guys and bad guys. Everyone did it. They all doped. Fans and writers and everyone else need to just get off their high horses.

  244. Anon21:

    You are way, way off in terms of assessing the consensus on Maddux. He’s one that sabermetric types and traditionalists agree on: one of the all-time greats. He will get in next year, and it won’t be at all close.

  245. EliHawk:

    I’ll still take Maddux’s peak over Clemens’ peak, and his natural longevity over Clemens’s. In 1994 and 95, Maddux had the 2nd and 3rd best ERA+ of the live ball era, only behind Pedro’s 2000 mark at the height of the Steroid Era. If we want to compare the 7 year peaks, Clemens 86-92 and Maddux 92-98, here’s what we get:

    Maddux has 9 fewer wins and 10 fewer losses,(M: 127-53, C: 136-63), no doubt in part due to losing games to the 94-95 strike. He still has a slightly higher winning percentage, 0.71 to 0.68. Despite playing in a more offensive era, Maddux has a much better ERA, 2.39 to 2.95. Clemens does have more innings, 1,797.7 to 1674.4, and while that’s colored by the strike, Clemens also has more complete games (81-56). Maddux gave up nearly half as many home runs as Clemens (66-110) and had nearly half as many walks (269-486). Clemens racked up more strikeouts, 1673-1286, nevertheless Maddux had by far the superior Strikeout to Walk ratio (4.78 to 3.44). In terms of WHIP, Maddux is more than a tenth lower, 0.97 to 1.09. I couldn’t calculate ERA+ over those years, but just taking a quick average, Maddux averaged an ERA+ of 200.7 over those 7 seasons, Clemens 163.714. If you want to go by awards, Maddux won 4 Cy Youngs and finished 2nd, 4th, and 5th in other years. He also finished 5th in MVP voting in 1994 and 3rd in 1995. Clemens won 3 Cy Youngs, finished 2nd, 3rd, and 6th in other years, and out of the running entirely in 1989. He won one MVP award, and finished 3rd in 1990.
    And of course, Maddux won the Gold Glove each season as the best fielder at his position, while Clemens never did so..

    Taking it all into consideration, even acknowledging the extra innings Clemens was able to give his team, Maddux’s peak value was superior.

  246. Breadbaker:

    You hit the nail on the head. The actual purpose of the Hall of Fame (located, of course, in a town that had as much to do with the creation of baseball as Beijing or Addis Ababa) is to draw tourists to Cooperstown, New York. And the great induction of Deacon White et al. will draw flies. So the likelihood that the BBWAA stranglehold on the voting will continue after this year is pretty small.

    And thank God for that.

  247. Scott Lemieux:

    cycling, track and field, baseball

    One of these things is very different than the others.

  248. Scott Lemieux:

    The big thing you’re ignoring is that MLB in Ruth’s era was much more inefficient in getting the best talent into the game, even leaving aside the color line. It was just a lot easier to dominate the game at that stage of development. (The fact that Ruth outhomered some teams, to me, in a sense works against him for me; it’s a clear sign of a game that was far from mature in its development.)

  249. Scott Lemieux:

    This is correct. 2B age almost as badly as catchers; it’s a very tough position.

  250. Scott Lemieux:

    That contention is highly disputed. He batted .375.

    Again, that’s meaningless, because the Black Sox weren’t throwing all the games. My understanding is that you look at Jackson’s performance in the games that we’re being thrown, he made no significant positive contribution. ANd while triples were more common in 1919 than they are now, there’s no way that 3 triples to left field in a short series isn’t a massive red flag.

    And, of course, at a minimum Jackson took money knowing that the fix was in and allowed the fix to proceed. Even if he decided to renege that’s still far worse than what Rose did.

  251. Scott Lemieux:

    And I remember reading that the Sox right fielder, who wasn’t part of the plot, gave up an equal number of crucial triples

    Uh, this is completely different. Far, far more triples are hit to right field than left field. Even if you didn’t have data this is pretty obvious if you watch the sport. The play is at third base! It’s like saying that if 5 runners went first-to-third on Jackson in 7 games, this doesn’t mean anything because 4 runners went first-to-third on singles to right.

  252. Scott Lemieux:

    I’m ambivalent about Rose. Worse than PEDs, not as bad as the Black Sox. Betting on baseball games you’re involved in clearly merits substantial punishment; I’m not sure that has to be a lifetime ban.

  253. Scott Lemieux:

    Still remember that game vividly. Cecil Fielder was thrown out trying to steal!

    Also, Tanana has a Hof case at least as good as Morris’s.

  254. Mike D.:

    What are some things you can do that should keep you out of the Baseball Hall of Fame if you have MLB stats/a profile of fame that would otherwise make you a first-year lock to be voted in?

  255. Thlayli:

    I find it interesting that some people perceive Jackson as some great cosmic victim, and try very hard to “prove” that he didn’t really take part in dumping the Series. He knew what was happening, he agreed to take part, he took the money. What he did on the field is irrelevant.

  256. c u n d gulag:

    Baseball needs to refigure how players get into the HOF.

    If Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, and Tom Seaver, didn’t get 100% of the vote in their first year of eligiblity, then the system is obviously fecked-up.

    You can’t defend the current system, if players like that aren’t unanimously voted in.

    Whe the feck would NOT vote for them their first year?
    Oh yeah, some sh*thead writer who doesn’t think anyone should go in their first year.
    I’m sorry, but anyone who uses that as an excuse for NOT voting for the truly greatest of the great the first time their names come up for consideration, shouldn’t be allowed to vote in the future, since they’re obviously too feckin’ stupid to be allowed to continue to do so.
    And they should thank their god, or evolution, that breathing is an involutary reflex.

  257. Rob:

    You are comparing 2 entirely different offense environments and including a year Martinez only made 18 starts.

  258. Timb:

    Was he one of the few guys who actually WAS paid? Most of them were not

  259. Timb:

    You are aware that makes no difference?

  260. BobS:

    Agree with you about Torre.

  261. Josh G.:

    Involvement with gamblers is the most obvious (see: Joe Jackson, Pete Rose).

  262. Richard Hershberger:

    “all the actual outstanding 19th century guys have been inducted long ago”

    The problem is that this assertion is simply untrue. See my previous reference to James Creighton.

    How has it missed someone like Creighton? Through its history, the Hall of Fame voters collectively haven’t known shit about baseball history prior to whenever they were old enough to pay attention. This is readily apparent from which early guys did or did not get in, and when. My personal favorite is George Wright, who got in many years before his brother Harry, who himself was much more important to baseball history. The thing is, the accomplishments listed on George’s plaque don’t really apply very well to him, but do to Harry. It very much looks like the HoF people confused the two.

    If you want to argue that 19th century guys shouldn’t be put in because nobody gives a shit about baseball history from before when they were twelve, go ahead. But the argument that the early period has already been adequately covered simply doesn’t hold up.

  263. Brien Jackson:

    ” Not electing Biggio first time out is understandable.”

    If by “understandable” you mean “he’s the first eligible member of the 3,000 hit club who didn’t fail a drug test to not be elected on the first ballot,” anyway.

  264. Brien Jackson:

    But below average defense (or, really, throwing in Piazza’s case) is still substantially more valuable than exceptional defense at, say, third base. For a player with Piazza’s offensive ability, the fact that he was merely passable as a catcher is more than sufficient.

  265. John:

    Ah, I hadn’t considered guys from the amateur era who pitched underhand to count as among the “actually outstanding.”

    And it’s not about people not caring about baseball history from before they were 12. I think there’s a lot of people who are at least somewhat interested in the dead ball era, for instance. But I think it’s reasonable to say that nobody cares about amateur baseball played with very different rules before their great-grandparents were born.

  266. John:

    Do you think that his stats make him a worse candidate than Deacon White? Because, fact is, we have a pretty big hall.

  267. Brien Jackson:

    If Maddux doesn’t clear 90%, the BBWAA will be burned to the ground.

  268. gorillagogo:

    Speaking of Belle, there is simply no way that Mo Vaughn legitimately won the 1995 AL MVP over Belle. The writers hated Belle and punished him for being an ass.

  269. mark f:

    We’re not really having that argument; most of us think Bonds et al deserve the HOF regardless of what they put into their bodies. But as long the BBWAA insists upon punishing people who used, its members ought to limit such punishment to those players for whom they have more evidence than, “Hey, everyone was doing it. And he’s got an icky back!”

  270. Joe:

    So there is ONE year of a message being sent. BFD. When Mike Piazza is kept out for all time, get back to me.

    BTW, this is the Hall of Fame. This isn’t putting a person in jail. The “due process” required to determine Bonds, Clemens and hell Piazza did something here to not make them worthy of entry is just not the same thing. “No evidence” here means “not close to enough to matter to [person talking]” btw.

    As to there being people there already, yeah, the standards have changed. This is something like not hiring someone because the guy is a racist pig and he says “hey! that guy is one too!” We don’t just fire everyone chosen wrongly when we make the standards tougher.

    I like the comment that said “everyone” did it too. “Everyone” here means “a lot” like “every married guy commits adultery.”

  271. mark f:

    evidence that can be used to convict Bill Clinton of running a drug running operation

    Bill Clinton
    Bill Clinto
    Ball Clinto
    Bal Clinto
    Balclinto
    Balcinto
    Balcino
    Balcio
    Balco

    It’s right in front of your eyes, people.

  272. mark f:

    My relationship with Clemens is the same as Mizner’s, and my opinion of Pedro is certainly colored by my high exposure to and my rooting interests in his Red Sox career. So I’ll admit that I’m not 100% objective here.

  273. mark f:

    I’m just saying that Lofton’s case is similar to Raines’s, who may yet get it, and Ichiro’s, who almost certainly will and may even be FIRST BALLOT. For him to fall off after one perfunctory look is disappointing.

  274. Sherm:

    Tanana was a fantastic pitcher before he hurt his arm, and a solid one thereafter. Morris was never fantastic. Just consistently good. If Morris ever gets in (and I don’t think he will), the door will be open for Andy Petitte to follow him in, 7 or 8 years down the road.

  275. mark f:

    To me the Shoeless Joe HOF 2013 question hinges first on whether he was unfairly excluded. Others below have made that argument more extensively than I could, but let’s say for the sake of argument that he’s fully exonerated. The next question, then, seems to me to be less “Does he match up to today’s HOF standards?” than “If his career ended in 1920 because a piano fell on his head while he was walking down Michigan Avenue, would he have been considered a Hall of Famer?”

  276. burnspbesq:

    As a lifelong Mets fan, I certainly appreciate what Piazza did for the club. That said, nobody with a career-average WAR of 2.2 should be in the Hall of Fame.

  277. Richard Hershberger:

    Creighton revolutionized the assumptions underlying pitching, creating the duel between the pitcher and the batter which underlies how we think about baseball. If you can’t imagine anyone being interested in him because gosh that was a long time ago, this merely reflects on you.

  278. Dilan Esper:

    I agree that the writers shouldn’t moralize. But the reason the writers shouldn’t moralize is that the “good guys” were also dopers; they just didn’t get caught and weren’t good enough to produce Barry Bonds-level performance.

  279. Dilan Esper:

    How about horse racing as well Scott? Baseball is not sui generis, it’s just a competition where people exploit the rules.

    I gave the example down below of Michael Jordan intentionally traveling. Indeed, EVERY NBA player who often tries to penetrate the lane intentionally travels and/or carries the ball. Why? Because the rule is not enforced. And when a rule is not enforced, you can’t afford to obey it while your competitors don’t.

    That’s how sports work. All sports. Even your precious, overrated, silly pasttime of baseball. And it seems like 85 percent of baseball fans, INCLUDING people who correctly reject the writers’ moralizing, don’t seem to understand that.

  280. JRoth:

    Less than every sport you mention – and less than football, where steroid use has been rampant for 30-40 years – baseball is not a strength/endurance sport. While the aging patterns of Bonds and Clemens point pretty clearly to potential benefits from a comprehensive doping program, there’s very little evidence that typical baseball player sees any performance boost from occasional usage. Indeed, every season you see some skinny middle infielder try to bulk up to develop more power and/or hold up better through the long season, and then the next year he drops the weight because it turns out that bigger muscles are not an unalloyed good for a baseball player.

    Perhaps your ignorance about the sport is why you keep making worthless assertions about it.

  281. JRoth:

    Yeah, no idea why we’re picking 7 years. Is this a Koufax thing?

  282. Mike Schilling:

    That level of dominance didn’t last. Once it became clear that there was value in trying to hit home runs, more people did it and became successful at it. It’s much like the 4-minute mile, which was deemed impossible until someone did it, whereupon it because commonplace. Ruth was a pioneer. (That is, I agree with Scott about the game’s lack of maturity, but not about the reason for it. The guys who became home-run hitters later in the 20s were largely the same guys who weren’t hitting the ball in the air earlier.)

  283. Mark Field:

    Sure, if Jackson was unfairly excluded then he should be admitted — giving him credit for the remainder of his career would make him an easy choice. What I’m saying here is that (1) Jackson was guilty; and (2) given that he was guilty, he gets not credit for any additional playing time and he’s a borderline case at best if we were to decide today to lift the ban on gamblers.

  284. Mark Field:

    Yes, Jackson admitted getting money.

  285. JRoth:

    Worse pitcher, though.

    Anyway, you’re not addressing the existence of other sports at all. There are 2500 pro athletes in the other 3 major sports; pretty much every one of those guys who was capable would have chosen baseball in 1920, because, low though the salaries were, they were far, far higher than in the (nonexistent) pro leagues for those sports.

    Put it this way: 1 in 97,000 modern Americans* plays a major league sport in 2013; in 1920, it was 1 in 239,000 (eligible) playing in MLB, less however many boxers (and the PCL was probably at least 20% guys who could have made an MLB roster given the chance). But it’s not even close. Even granting that not all NFL or NHL skillsets are MLB-friendly, I think it’s factually wrong to think that the current set of MLBers is more clearly the cream of the crop than it was when baseball was the only paying team sport in North America.

    * yes, the pool is larger than just the USA; I’m not counting pro soccer either, so roll with me

  286. JRoth:

    No, but people got awfully excited when Seaver came closer than anyone had before. People notice and care. Deal with it.

  287. JRoth:

    In cycling, you could spot a sea change in the cyclists’ attitudes between ’98 and (IIRC) ’08. In the ’98 Tour, when Festina blew up and there was a huge raid with mass DQs, the remaining riders protested the raid by sitting down before the next day’s race. In 2008, after a week or two of a clean-seeming race, a couple riders had a crazy day, completely off the charts, and the other riders protested that those guys weren’t being thrown out*. As a group, the pro riders seemed to have decided that the doping had to stop, that they no longer wanted to work in that environment.

    *over simplifying the details, but you get the gist

  288. mark f:

    Ahh, we don’t disagree at all then. I should’ve been clearer that my original comment was in response to this paragraph:

    But let’s look at Shoeless Joe. He has 59.6 WAR, which puts him at exactly 100 among position players all time. It’s below, for example, Buddy Bell or Craig Biggio, just above Ken Boyer or Mark McGwire. He’s a possible case, but not a strong one.

    and not the rest of that post.

  289. mark f:

    That’s silly. I’m sure there are more people than we know about or suspect, but there’s no basis to assume 100% participation.

  290. Richard:

    Fair enough. I’m not sure, though, what he would have to do to get a ban revoked. A life of penance? Rose certainly is not capable of that.

  291. Richard:

    I think it makes a lot of difference. He was fully aware of a no gambling rule which encompassed no betting on your own team. There is a good reason for that rule since betting on your own team undermines the integrity of the game. He violated a ban and did so in a way that could have led to managerial decisions which undermined the integrity of the game. This is far worse than taking PEDs

  292. Green Caboose:

    Yes, modern baseball has had talent diluted somewhat by other professional sports. But the talent available in Ruth’s era was severely limited by factors such as crippling diseases like polio, the lack of medical care to address “sore arm” and leg problems that used to end careers, the general poorer health and lower strength of the populace overall, and the fact that the relatively low wages paid to baseball players (remember that even most stars had off-season jobs like in gas stations) meant that quite a few middle-level talent players never joined the majors at all – especially those outside the geography of the original 16. The Pacific states had thriving independent leagues of their own with good talent, as many players opted just to play there.

    And then, yes, throw in the lack of black or latino players and you have a league with a lot less talent, even if they had only a bit more than half of the teams now.

    On top of that Ruth, Gehrig, and the other Yankees had one other HUGE advantage during their peak years. Unlike players on the other AL teams they never had to face their own pitching staff – usually the best in the league. In a league of 8 that means the other team’s batters had 1/7th of their games against the top pitching staff while the Yankees hitters did not.

    We know, objectively, that the talent level was lower by the fact that there were a lot more outliers statistically, both for batting and pitching.

  293. Richard:

    I think it matters not only whether the triples were hit to right or left but what the configurations of the park were and where the triples were hit. From the analysis I read (dont remember where I read it), it said that there was no commentary in the daily papers about suspect play by Jackson on the triples or any suspicion at all on them. If your’e just talking two crucial triples, thats really not enough of a database to make any conclusion unless you know more – did he dive for a blooper hoping to make an out and it went under his glove to the fence, was the center fielder backing up (and was the center fielder part of the conspiracy), etc.

  294. Mark Field:

    I think it’s wrong to assume that skills are readily transferable from one sport to another. See Michael Jordan and Jim Thorpe.

    Most basketball and football players have the wrong skill set for baseball (and vice versa — I don’t think we need to worry about Neifi Perez in the NFL). Even quarterbacks, for whom you can make the best argument, wouldn’t necessarily hit well enough to play a field position (they might throw hard enough to pitch, but there’s a lot more to pitching than that).

    What the expansion of professional sports did, in my view, was create new niches in which different skills could be rewarded. It may have cost MLB a few players here or there, but not many.

    Also, consider that today professional athletes get paid a lot more money than they did back in 1920. By simple economics, that makes MLB a more attractive proposition than it was 90 years ago.

    But yeah, if Bonds had to pitch to Ruth and vice versa, there’s no doubt who’d win.

  295. Mark Field:

    But we do know more: we know he took $5000 to throw the games. Given that knowledge, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

    FWIW, the left field line at Redland Field in 1919 was 352′. Not all that different from today’s standard dimensions. We have no way to know the details of the triples, but Jackson forfeited his right to quibble about that.

  296. Hogan:

    “Say it ain’t so, O.K.!”

    “It ain’t so, you little asshole.”

  297. Richard:

    More on Shoeless Joe and the fix:

    “The extent of Joe Jackson’s part in the conspiracy remains controversial. Jackson maintained that he was innocent. He had a Series-leading .375 batting average – including the Series’ only home run – threw out five baserunners, and handled 30 chances in the outfield with no errors. However, he batted far worse in the five games that the White Sox lost, with a batting average of .286 in those games (although this was still an above-average batting average; the National and American Leagues hit a combined .263 in the 1919 season[8]). Three of his six RBIs came in the losses, including the aforementioned home run, and a double in Game 8 when the Reds had a large lead and the series was all but over. Still, in that game a long foul ball was caught at the fence with runners on second and third, depriving Jackson of a chance to drive in the runners. Statistics also show that in the other games that the White Sox lost, only five of Jackson’s at-bats came with a man in scoring position, and he advanced the runners twice.

    One play in particular has been subjected to much scrutiny. In the fifth inning of Game 4, with a Cincinnati player on second, Jackson fielded a single hit to left field and threw home. Chick Gandil, another leader of the fix, later admitted to yelling at Cicotte to intercept the throw. The run scored and the White Sox lost the game 2–0.[9] Cicotte, whose guilt is undisputed, made two errors in that fifth inning alone.

    Another argument, presented in the book Eight Men Out, is that because Jackson was illiterate, he had little awareness of the seriousness of the plot, and thus he consented to it only when Swede Risberg threatened him and his family.

    Years later, all of the implicated players said that Jackson was never present at any of the meetings they had with the gamblers. Lefty Williams, Jackson’s roommate, later said that they only brought up Jackson in hopes of giving them more credibility with the gamblers.[7]

    Williams, one of the “Eight Men Out,” lost three games, a Series record. Dickie Kerr, who was not part of the fix, won both of his starts. Cicotte bore down and won Game 7 of the best-of-9 Series; he was angry that the gamblers were now reneging on their promises, as they claimed that all the money was in the hands of bookies. Sullivan then paid infamous gangster Harry F to threaten to hurt Williams and his family if he didn’t lose the last game

  298. Sherm:

    And what does that have to do with Mike Piazza?

  299. Scott Lemieux:

    This comparison is unfair to Petitte…

  300. LosGatosCA:

    Every single year in the comparison Clemens has more innings. Feel free to expand it to 9 years, 1 year for Pedro on each side.

    It doesn’t help him.

  301. Joe:

    The subject writers include those who talked about this on SNY Live (show on the Mets station) yesterday (or was it Wed?) who noted they needed more time & that eventually people like Mike Piazza will most likely get in. One writers also noted my point that standards are applied using current mores, just like I might add the constitutional rules are applied, so the fact people in 1965 were treated differently (what about greenies?!!!!) doesn’t mean what occurs now is necessarily wrong. I don’t see the idiocy myself. Nor is it just the BBWAA, since some people in the hall agree as do many fans. Others do not as many writers disagree (another writer was on Mike Francesa’s show noting he DID vote for Bonds and Clemens).

  302. EliHawk:

    Setting aside the two strike years where Maddux only started 25 and 28 games, he only averages 4 innings less per season than Clemens did over the seven, while statistically being a much better pitcher.

    At his peak Pedro he was unhittable, but he wasn’t a workhorse, didn’t have the longevity and wasn’t quite the same after the ’01 Rotator Cuff injury. His 7 yr averages are slightly better than Maddux with much more strikeouts and less control (better control than Clemens, though) (0.94 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 5.59 K/BB ratio 2.44 ERA) but still fewer innings. Taking out the ’01 Rotator Cuff and ’94-95 Strikes, Clemens averaged 256.8 innings, Maddux 252.6, Pedro 214.95 in the 7 yr periods under discussion. Even before the surgery, Pedro averaged 226 innings during his high peak from 1997-2000.

  303. St. Pasta Diving: Let the Embarrassment Commence - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money:

    [...] to be pretty much the most annoying thing ever.  One thing to say at the outset is that by the standards writers have used to convict Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza, I have no idea what the basis for the claim that Jeter is [...]

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