This Week in (Dumb) Baseball: Hall candidates deserve some thought – CBSSports.com
It’s Monday on CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball, which means it’s that time again. This Week in (Dumb) Baseball.
As regular readers already know, this feature has the title, sure, but it’s mostly for fun— a fact that eludes the masses but remains the case. For example, if you tell me to “quit whining,” you are missing the point. I’m mostly chuckling to myself as I write these things (with some exceptions, of course).
1. Stop dismissing worthy Hall of Fame candidates without thought
Here’s something that’s really dumb this time of year when it comes to baseball fans and media: Dismissing players on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot without thinking it through. It drives me crazy. Whether it’s someone I think should be in the Hall like Alan Trammell, a fringe candidate like Fred McGriff or someone who I don’t think should get into the Hall like Jason Kendall, we’re bound to hear some trite rhetoric like …
“If you have to think about it, he’s not a Hall of Famer.”
“If you have to spend an entire article convincing everyone, he’s not a Hall of Famer.”
We’ve all seen it. It’s very common and even more problematic.
The line of thinking is that a true Hall of Famer is someone who has the “you just know” quality. The problem is that this feeling is different in everyone and plenty of biases can be baked into those feelings. How much was the player in question on national television when he played? Did he play in major markets? Was he constantly buried on bad teams? Are we remembering a player more positively or negatively based upon his attitude or treatment of fans and/or media?
Take Kendall. Again, I don’t think he should be a Hall of Famer, but did you know that he’s in the top 10 all-time among catchers in hits, runs, doubles and steals? That’s pretty stellar, really, and a good number of baseball fans probably had no idea until we did his Hall of Fame case. He was mired in Pittsburgh while the Pirates were historically bad, thus getting very little national recognition compared to his excellent play. This is a good illustration of why we give each of the candidates their own day here on Eye On Baseball. Kendall still isn’t good enough to merit induction into the Hall, but he’s absolutely, 100 percent, worthy of getting his time in the discussion.
You know who many people might not “feel” like Hall of Famers but definitely have great cases? Players like Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Trammell and even Larry Walker. Even if one eventually decides that, no, these players don’t merit enshrinement, they have significantly better cases than to receive the lazy “if you have to study it … ” treatment.
Let’s all strive to be better than this. Have an open mind and examine the players’ careers without simply seeing a name, getting a gut feeling and shutting the discussion down — particularly with Mussina (we’ll have his case on Dec. 28) and Raines (Jan. 2). They are very strong candidates.
2. Revising history
“WHY NOT JUST LET EVERYONE IN!” he screams.
Good lord, this is so very dumb. The most watered down period of time in terms of Hall of Famers is the pre-integration era (pre-1947). The 1920s and 1930s are overwhelmingly represented among Hall of Famers. The Hall isn’t “becoming watered down.” Point of fact, it’s actually becoming more difficult to get in. Far more than half of the Hall of Famers now were born before 1925. Only 28 of the 310 members were born after 1950. That number will be going up by at least one this year and maybe a few more in the next several years, but the 1980s and 1990s elite players are under-represented in the Hall of Fame.
So when you inevitably see someone say the Hall of Fame is “becoming watered down,” please enlighten that person to the fact that it’s actually not. The established standards already in place are why Mussina and Raines should be in, not because I’m a Big Hall guy or the Hall is becoming watered down.
And now, let us wash away the dumb with fun!
Baseball card of the week
Ken Griffey, Jr. is going to be a Hall of Famer soon and Monday is Andy Van Slyke’s birthday, so this one works very well (via Amazon.com).
Throwback highlight of the week
Why not stick with Van Slyke? This is a fun one. Score it eight unassisted on the double play.
Stat of the week
Giancarlo Stanton, you are ridiculous.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) December 19, 2015
He only played in 74 games, getting 318 at-bats, too. That’s just absurd.
On that powerful note, let’s get outta here and enjoy Christmas week. Later, friends.
Suggestions (dumb stuff, random videos, baseball cards, pop culture rankings topics, etc.) or hate mail? Feel free to hit me up: firstname.lastname@example.org or you could always go to Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS).