Nationals Baseball: Nothing is sacred

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Nothing is sacred

There are certain times during the baseball calendar when I feel like a member of a third party (GO AHEAD. THROW YOUR VOTE AWAY). All-Star voting time, award voting time, and most definitely Hall of Fame voting time.

On one side you have the modern voters. These guys believe that the advances in analysis over the past two decades now allow us to accurately determine the production of a player and therefore, his worth in comparison to his peers. While they do believe there is some level of variability that allows for discussion on the fringes of these debates, they also believe that in most scenarios the stories that the numbers tell are cut and dried.

On the other side you have the traditionalist voters. These guys believe in impressions as much as numbers. Who do I remember as being a fearsome hitter? Who do I remember making big plays in big spots? They aren't going to let in a guy who is certainly a bad choice, but they may favor one guy over another not because they are sure he was the better player but because they have more favorable memories of him. The numbers don't decide, "people" do.

Off to the side is me. What do I believe? I believe that I don't care. Whatever happened to the Hall of Fame? Who the hell cares what "happened" to the Hall of Fame?!? Voting is a "sacred responsibility"? HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA!!!!

If it makes you happy to see your role in all this, either as voter or crusader, as super important, by all means don't let me ruin your fun. But why? WHY!? What is making you tick like that, man? Your mother sure did a number on you, didn't she?

This is supposed to be fun. We are asking a small group of people "What do you think?" It's nothing more than a laughably "official" version of arguing with your friends who was the better 3rd baseman over a couple beers. Remember the ESPYs? How we think that these are so incredibly stupid? These votes are the ESPYs on a singular sports level.

I find it hard to make an argument for my position because I feel like I'm arguing about the sky being blue or water being wet.  I'm Tommy Lee Jones yelling at Harrison Ford in The Fugitive. Who deserves be an All-Star ...the most valuable player in baseball the hall of fame?  I DON'T REALLY CARE. I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU DO. AND WORSE, YOU WON'T SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

Here's my message to everyone who votes. Vote for who you want, vote for why you want, and hell, change your mind if you feel like it. Vote for Don Mattingly because he was great for 4 years, decimated by injury, and on your favorite team. GREAT! Don't vote for Don Mattingly because he was only a special player for maybe 6 years and had a relatively short career. GREAT! Explain it if you want. Don't explain it. Whatever.

Here's my message to everyone who crusades. Say why you think one guy should be in and another not and then move on with your lives. It doesn't matter. It's a nice gesture. A hearty handshake from history.

Argue between you two, sure, but have fun with it and if your guy doesn't make it because he didn't have the numbers or because he didn't make an impression on the voters, it's not a slap in the face of truth and justice. It's the way a silly vote, slightly better than an "send in your text" vote for the better dancer, Joey Lawrence or Mario Lopez, ended up. That's all.

Gah! GAH! This almost makes me yearn for Spring Training talk to start... almost.


NTPNate said...

Time perhaps to dial back the caffeine just a smidge. And everyone knows that Mike Mussina was every bit as good as Tom Glavine, dang it!

Anonymous said...

Would you prefer if no one was talking about baseball at all? That everything was just endless discussion of football? (The way it often seems to me to be anyway)

The Hall of Fame idea can certainly be criticised, but the one thing it does is make sure that baseball has a really great quality (and well-funded) museum - easily the best sports museum I've ever visited. That also functions as a reference library and a place to employ academics purely to research the history of baseball.

In an society which seems to little value its history, I'd say that may be the highest purpose of the HoF.

Harper said...

NTP - but I got all this great tea for Christmas!!!! GREAT TEA!@!!!!

Anon - vs having stupid arguments? Maybe. I've got no problem with saying "Hey! This guy should be in!" talk. Love it. Do it twice on Sundays. I've got a small problem with "Hey! This guy shouldn't be in!" talk because it's usually gets too off topic, but I can live with it because it can be fun when done right. I've got a big problem with "Hey! You voted for this guy? You're stupid!" talk which feels like 50% of the talk these days.

I love the Hall of Fame but if 20 more guys were in or 20 more guys were out I'd still love it and wouldn't think the history of the game wasn't being served right. "Mostly right" is more than good enough when it comes to voting these guys in or out.

cass said...

I don't really think the Hall of Fame has anything to do with the museum. I've come to that realization recently. The museum (as I understand it - I haven't been since I was a kid) contains many exhibits about contemporary and old-time players. Then there's one room with a bunch of plaques. I don't really think all of the arguing about the HoF vote is about the museum or the room with the plaques.

I think it's about shared memory and community standards. It's about the consensus on who are the game's immortal players. It's a validation that the players you liked as a kid were some of the all-time greats. I think the All-Stars and MVP's and Cy Youngs are similar. It's about recognition of talent and performance. Kind of like the Oscars are about the movie industry recognizing great movies (ha ha) or the pencil sharpener manufacturers association's awards are about, well, you know.

Should everyone care what a very poorly picked group of people think, many of whom do not know baseball very well? No, not really. But we do. And because most of us do, it is our yardstick for measuring history. Even if we don't agree, we talk about who should be in the Hall that isn't or who isn't in the Hall that should be. It's our point of reference.

But none of this has to do with the museum. The Hall exists as a list of players and a history of how they were elected. It's not so important as a physical place. The plaques aren't really important. It's the communal recognition that's important.

Or not. It's not really important in the great scheme of things. But this, I think, is why people think it's important. I kinda wish I felt the same as you so I wouldn't be angry that one of my favorite players and arguably the best pitcher of all time were being held to a different standard than the greenie-poppers of previous generations.

Donald said...

I'm completely with you on this one. I don't really care strongly one way or the other on most of these decisions -- even for suspected PED users. I'm fine deciding to keep them out because the violated the integrity of the game and I'm fine with letting them in because they were still the best of the best of their era.

I think the one thing about HoF voting that does irk me, though, is the practice of some voters to vote against a guy just so the decision won't be unanimous, or just so he won't get in on the first round. That just seems remarkably petty and spiteful for no reason than to be petty and spiteful.

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side, at least we aren't talking about Lastings Milledge.

Harper said...

Anon - I believe you mean Blastings Milledge or perhaps Lastings Thrilledge. Fun fact - still not 30 until 2015 season!

Chas R said...

Hah! Welcome back, Harper!

Sirc said...


Yeah, except you write about baseball here, but not really. You don't write about baseball so much as you take a side of an argument and then support your position, mostly with numbers.

Pot meet kettle.

Matt said...

Personally, I was yearning for spring training long before this years' HOF discussions started...

Harper said...

cass - that's an interesting take separating the discussiong from the actual enshrinement - as if we could just walk into the HOF one day and find, not by vote but by magic, players there or not there that we'd all still be arguing about the same things.

I fine with talking... it's the caring so desparately that gets to me. I don't believe we NEED a shared point of reference. You can have yours, I can have mine. So the discussion is far less empassioned.

Donald - someone agrees! If you think 1st round matters - I'm ok with you not voting a guy in. I do have to question though what you think first round means if you don't vote in a guy like Maddux.

Chaz R - Thanks. Don't worry wiping my feet before entering.

Sirc - Hello kettle, my brother from another mother.

Look it's not the argument or how it's done it's the "sacred" part that gets me. When you start framing parts of the game as having biblical importance, I just think that's too far and I think the tone of a lot of articles these days do have that air about them.

Matt - Spring Training, yes. I think since early October. Spring Training talk, no.