Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Hall of Fame Ballot

The Hall of Fame Season is upon us.  It is a glorious time when columnists, beat writers and bloggers come together with the mutual love of having an easy topic to write about.  I love the Hall of Fame because of the debates.  I've never been to the Museum, I don't intend to visit and I really don't care who gets in and who doesn't.  However, I love a good argument!  My major beef this year is that the ballot is too small for my fake votes.  I count 17 players I would vote for, but the maximum ballot holds just ten.  That's silly.

Of course, we wouldn't be in this fake mess if the writers who had real votes would just be cool and vote in the best players.  That would be too simple, and certainly less provocative.  Therefore, guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are still on the ballot because the morality police put them on probation.  Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza are just too muscular to be in the Hall of Fame.  Tim Raines and Alan Trammell don't pass the "eye test" even though I'm certain most writers wear corrective lenses.  Even Craig Biggio, or "Clean-as-a-Whistle Craig," didn't get in last year because it was his first ballot and he's not a "first-ballot HOFer."  If those six were in, I could cast my fake ballot of ten and go take a nice nap, knowing that I only left one millionaire out. 

Narratives aside, the ballot is also packed because a slew of talented players all retired around the same time.  As such, we fake voters just get 10 votes because we are hamstrung by rules, narratives and talent.  It's all very sad. 

Again, I would vote for 17, but I'm going to discuss 26 players because I REFUSE TO BE CONCISE!  You can't hold me down, BBWAA. 

They are in tiers though; I care about the children.

Write-in vote - Kenny Lofton

How does a player as talented, with a career as impressive as Lofton's drop off after just one year?  I blame all the blank-ballot idiots.  Lofton had an 80 flattop and was basically always on base (at least according to my memory).  He deserved to be included in pointless discussions for at least a few more years.  Tragic stuff.

Personal Heroes - Jacque Jones, Moises Alou, and Hideo Nomo

I use the word "hero" very loosely.  Jones was a Twin and this is a Twins blog, so I have obligations.  Alou kept his hands soft using a very unique technique.  I use Vaseline Men's lotion.  However, I would be interested in the response I would get from my co-workers if I chose Alou's method while in my office.  I get odd looks using lotion, so who knows.  Nomo had a really cool windup. 

Just can't do it, man - Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Lee Smith and Rafael Palmeiro

By my count, Morris is somewhere between the 20th and 25th best player on this ballot.  With only ten to choose from, how can you pick him?  Also, if he wasn't a Hall of Famer the past 14 years, why is he now?  Flawed arguments!  Mattingly's nickname was The Hit Man, which is just fantastic.  That nickname, his mustache, and his ridiculous peak deserve to be in Cooperstown.  I'm not even sure I spelled Palmeiro's name correctly and I would hate to be scolded by him.  If Lee Smith gets in, Joe Nathan deserves it too.  Just saying.  Fred McGriff - Hall of Fame nickname, Hall of Very, Very Good player.  If you can explain to me how he and Luis Gonzalez were that different as players, I'll possibly change my tune. 

'roids? - Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa

These guys saved baseball in 1998, or so the story goes.  Each has a good to great Hall of Fame case.  I think McGwire is just slightly better than Sosa because he had much better plate discipline and played in bigger ballparks.  I would probably vote for both if there was enough room.  I don't get too hung up on the steroid issue.  Both appeared to wear a size 9 cap.  However, it was the era, man.  Steroids were everywhere.  It was the thing to do.  Needles/butts, it's just how it was.  However, with so many deserving choices, I choose to use steroids to keep these two off my ballot for at least this year.  If my ballot could runneth over, I'd vote for both guys. 

THERE'S NO ROOM BLAME THE WRITERS - Jeff Kent, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Larry Walker

I love all of these players like they're my children.  In fact, I'm pitching that very premise to ABC Family as we speak.  However, Full Clubhouse will have to wait and so will these fine players.  Each player deserves my vote, but my ballot is just so stuffed!  While they are all great, they just don't match the ten guys who I will vote for.  Hopefully, I'll get the chance to cast a fake vote for them in the future. 
For the record, Full Clubhouse would work:

Did you know it is actually illegal to photoshop over John Stamos?

Executive Decision choice - Alan Trammell

In the cinematic classic Executive Decision, the entry tunnel from the fighter jet (or whatever, I don't know planes) to the hijacked plane is about to tear away.  As we in the audience can clearly see the little tunnel destructing, Kurt Russell (from inside the hijacked plane) says to Steven Seagal, "we're not going to make it."  Seagal (still in the tunnel) says, "you are!" and shuts the hatch, saving the hijacked plane, saving the Kurt Russell, and effectively killing himself.  It was more surprising than heroic.  I mean, have you ever watched a Seagal movie?  When has that guy even taken damage, much less died?  Typically he takes one punch to the ribs and then severely beats up every person in the state.  

What's the point?  Alan Trammell:  you are!  That's clumsy and I apologize.  The five guys in the previous category are Hall of Famers in my book.  I'll vote for each when I have room and when I actually have a ballot.  However, Trammell is the closest to falling off the ballot, so he gets my tenth vote.  His excellent defense at shortstop and his underrated offense provided 70.3 rWAR for the Tigers over his 20-year career.  He's a very underrated player and much more excellent than he gets lamestream credit for.

'roids Part II - Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens

These guys were all about steroids!  They cheated* and that makes it hard to vote for them.  I get it.  However, these are two of the best players in MLB history.  Clemens is arguably one of the best pitchers of all time and no one has more career home runs than Bonds.  I fully support the plan to put a giant asterisk on their bust.  Why not just use an asterisk instead of their face?  It would be a lot less work.  You walk up to Clemens' plaque and there's just a giant star-shaped icon and some words about him.  It's an insult and it's practical.  Who loses in that scenario?

*They didn't actually cheat.  They broke the law.  It's a cute point, but true.    

BUT HOW DO WE EXPLAIN IT TO THE CHILDREN?  Easy, here's a script:  "They cheated, that's why their faces look weird.  We're in a museum and museums document stuff that happened.  These guys happened, they were good, they cheated and now their faces have been taken from them like in Face/Off.  Do you want Nicolas Cage to take your face? (pause for affirmation) Good, neither do I; don't cheat.  Now, let's get some nachos."  If your kids don't like nachos, then you're on your own. 

You want my vote?  You want my vote?  You got my vote!  You got my vote, buddy! - Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza

Can we lump the three pitchers together for a minute?  I think all three deserve this honor.  I also think Glavine will have the easiest path to enshrinement, although Mussina and Schilling were better pitchers.  Glavine has that shiny 300 win total and Mussina and Schilling do not.  Schilling likely has a better chance than Mussina due to his massive playoff success. 

If you told me that I could have one of these three for their career, I'd take Mussina.  I'd also be very curious about where you got your powers, how you found me and what you were up to.  That's another story though.  People seem to remember Yankees Mussina.  Yankees Mussina was great, but Orioles Mussina was even better.

Bagwell should be in already.  Larry Walker should not be in my Full Clubhouse pitch and it's your fault for not voting Bagwell in sooner!  Well, not your fault, the royal your.  Society.  Bagwell was really good at not making outs, one of the hallmarks of good baseball.  He also had massive power and a very unique stance.  Stance is the third factor I look at for hitters, just after OBP and SLG. 

Frank Thomas scared the bejeesus out of me as a kid.  If you asked 12-year-old Brad how many home runs Thomas had, he'd probably answer with "a million."  I was in remedial math.  Thomas wasn't just an awesome power hitter, he was an awesome hitter.  It sucks that he was a DH, but last I checked, he didn't invent the position.  If he had, then he should still be in for his innovation and vision. 

I always call Mike Piazza "Mike Pizza."  It's just one of those adorable things I do.  Piazza is one of the best, if not the best, offensive catchers of all-time.  While he wasn't a good defender, he was decent enough to play 1630 games there, giving his teams a consistent offensive weapon that most teams did not have.  He also has a horrible swing and it's kind of shocking that he was able to produce as much offense as he produced.    

The Lock - Greg Maddux

I refuse to think that anyone could look at Greg Maddux's career and come to any other conclusion than "he's a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame."  355 wins.  3.16 ERA in a crazy offensive era.  4 straight Cy Youngs.  His lips always looked chapped.  These things matter!  I think Maddux is a lock for enshrinement next summer, but I know he won't get more than 80ish% of the vote.  Some dorks will say that no one should get in on the first ballot.  Other dorks will refuse to vote for anyone from the "steroid era."  A few dorks will leave their ballot blank so they can write a really kickin' story about it.  Those dorks will all be wrong because Greg Maddux is a surefire Hall of Fame player.  Bunch of dorks...

Who will get in?

Ugh, probably just Maddux.  Jack Morris?  Maybe Bagwell or Piazza, but probably not both.  This sets the stage for December of 2014 where you'll have to endure another 2000-word ballot from me.  Come on guys, let's get some of these easy guys in.  It just gets harder next year, as Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Randy Johnson join the crowded ballot party.  Just think of the real party we could have if 6-8 of these dudes get in this year and 6-8 more next year! 

As you can clearly see, I'm BIG HALL 4 LIFE!  In fact, I'd construct a second Hall of Fame on top of the existing Hall of Fame.  I would rig it so that you would have to climb outside of the existing structure to get into the second structure.  Is it dangerous?  Would a lot of people get hurt?  Sure, but that's how you properly keep the Hall small.  Make it logistically difficult to get in.  You could put the steroid and cheater guys in the new "on top of" Hall and then only the diehards will risk their safety to visit.  I don't care how you do it, just get it done, HOF!  As you can clearly see, I'm not a big architecture guy. 

As you can clearly see, I'm out of stuff to say about the Hall of Fame.  Who makes your ballot?  


  1. Piazza was on PEDs ... it's not proven, but the case is obvious and the suspicion fairly rampant.

    1. Unless I see proof, I don't really care. Even with proof, I still would vote for him.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. You're entitled to your criteria, but how do you define "proof"? Do you possess "proof" of Barry Bonds' steroids use? "Proof" is a useless standard and a convenient alibi for players who spent the bulk of their careers in the pre-testing era.

      Ask Reggie Jefferson, or ask writer Murray Chass about Piazza'a back acne. The fact that a sixty-second round draft pick with a slightly slow bat became the best-hitting catcher in major league history and enjoyed a level of perennial greatness unmatched by any other catcher (including Johnny Bench and Roy Campanella) should tell you something.

  2. Why Fred McGriff and not Luis Gonzalez? Start with the fact that McGriff crushed 139 more career home runs; then move to McGriff's career OPS+ of 134 to Gonzalez's 119. Gonzalez's career marks of a .367 on-base percentage and a .483 slugging average proved very good; McGriff's career marks of a .377 on-base percentage and a .509 slugging average proved great.

    Gonzalez may well have closed most of the gap on defense, as Baseball-Reference.com's WAR figures suggest. They indicate that Gonzalez constituted an above-average defensive left fielder, whereas McGriff was about average defensively at first base. But McGriff's offensive advantage seems large enough to grant his career candidacy an edge over Gonzalez's. Remember, McGriff led both leagues in home runs in the era before Interleague Play, once led the American League in both OPS and OPS+, and batted .303 with a .385 on-base percentage and a .532 slugging average in 50 career postseason games, including 4 homers and 9 RBIs in 12 World Series contests.

  3. You've given me a lot more to consider regarding McGriff. Offensively, there is simply no way to argue that Gonzalez was as good as McGriff, as you pointed out. McGriff was also the more accomplished postseason player. The defense does matter a lot to me. Gonzalez being above-average in left helps bring him into the conversation with McGriff, so to speak. I'd still probably leave both off of my ballot, but you've given me more to think about regarding McGriff. He was consistently great and that matters to me.

    The steroid stuff just doesn't matter that much to me. I hate to say that because it sounds like I don't care about the issue, but the reality is that unless we know who used and who didn't use, it's all just conjecture. The two pieces of evidence you provide regarding Piazza are compelling, but they aren't enough for me. I would also vote for Bonds, not only because of the lack of hard evidence, but because he was just an extremely excellent player. I lumped he and Clemens into that category more because of the mainstream focus that is placed on steroid use when discussing their careers. I don't think Piazza gets lumped in with Clemens and Bonds, he gets discussed with the other circumstantial cases like Bagwell's.

    1. The other more circumstantial cases, I should have written. Obviously a lot of the evidence against Bonds is circumstantial too.