Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 1

So last week I checked the blog email account.  I do this every few months just in case we have any non-spam email.  This time, we did!  We had one lonely little message from a person who really wanted to talk to us about bad sportswriting, as opposed to all our other messages, written by people who wanted to congratulate us on winning a lottery in the UK or offer us penis pills.  This dude (sorry dude, forgot your name, I'll log back into the account and post it in part 2 of this series) provided a link to a Simmons column from 2002 and requested that we write about it.  Well, I'm here to help.  This column is horrifyingly stupid.  And part of that is the subject matter:

Before we get to my plan to save the Baseball Hall of Fame --

The next article any of us reads about saving/restructuring the HOF that isn't a total pile of dog shit will be the first.

a plan that includes a replica of an Egyptian pyramid, no less -- 

/wanking motion

allow me to explain why I'm writing this column in the first place:

You know what's coming from when a Boston fan starts down this road.  IT'S NAWT FAY-UH!!!  Say what you will about assholes who write "restructuring the HOF" columns, but at least most of them tend not to be doing it simply because a player from their favorite team was rightfully excluded for a number of years.  It's usually because they hate the fact that guys like Jim Rice are in.

The Baseball Hall of Fame officially "jumped the shark" 

I'd rip on him for that reference, but... my last post... so...  Hmmm.  This is humbling.

for me in 1998, the year Don Sutton and Jim Rice headed the ballot. 

Just to get it out of the way now: Sutton had a 23 year career (and managed to be a 207 IP pitcher with a 110 ERA+ at age 41) during which he racked up 324 wins and 63 rWAR.  He had a 7 year peak during which he top 5 in Cy Young voting 5 times, averaged about 18 wins a season, and pulled down 28 WAR.  He had a 6 WAR season at age 35, a year during which he won the ERA title and probably deserved the Cy, but he only had 13 wins so he was disqualified from being able to do so.  He had a very productive very long career, but also a very respectable peak.  He was undoubtedly one of the best pitchers of his pitcher-friendly era, and deserves to be in the HOF.

Jim Rice was a very good hitter who burned out early.  At the end of his age 30 season, he had 276 HR and had racked up 35 rWAR.  He looked like a great bet to be a legitimate HOFer.  Just 6 seasons later he'd be retired, having hit only 106 more HR and piled up just 9 more rWAR.  He could certainly mash, but his .352 OBP is pretty low for a corner OF/DH.  He couldn't run the bases well and he was a butcher on defense.  He did not play long enough to accumulate HOF worthy counting stats, and while his peak was impressive, it serves as his entire resume.  That's not good enough.  He does not belong in the HOF and his inclusion is a blight upon it.  He's also a hypocritical piece of whining trash.  Baseball would be better off if he would just shut his mouth and go away.

Had the Dodgers offered to trade Sutton straight-up for Rice during their respective athletic primes, Red Sox management would have giggled and hung up on them.

It begins.  The stupidity begins in earnest now.  Putting aside that the Red Sox certainly would have at least pondered swapping 25 year old Rice (7.4 WAR, MVP that he did not deserve, 46 HR) for 28 year old Sutton (back to back seasons of 250+ IP, 200+ Ks, WHIP under 1.00, two 5th place Cy finishes that should have been a 3rd and a 2nd), holy leaping fuckballs, let's try to keep in mind that a player's absolute athletic peak constitutes a small portion of their overall HOF resume.

So who was voted in that year? You guessed it ... 

Frank Stallone!

Don Sutton.


It didn't matter that Rice was the finest power hitter in baseball for an entire decade, averaging .305 with 33 home runs and 106 RBI from 1975 to 1986 (gaudy numbers for that era). 

Mike Schmidt was a better power hitter during that entire era, Bill.  Other guys like Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, Dave Parker, Pedro Guerrero and George Foster were better power hitters during parts of it.  Guys like George Brett and Joe Morgan weren't "power hitters" like Rice was, but they were hitters with power who were way better than he was.  

Nope. Voters were much more impressed by the ageless Sutton, who hung around for 23 years and finished with 324 wins. Who cared if Sutton only finished with one 20-win season, 

That's amazing, read it again.

the ageless Sutton, who hung around for 23 years and finished with 324 wins. Who cared if Sutton only finished with one 20-win season, 


or that he only topped 15 wins once over his final 12 years? 

(Wins are a stupid stat blah blah blah)  It would have been way better for Sutton's resume if he just got fat and ineffective and retired at 36, like Rice did!  THAT'S how you make the Hall!  Let's compare.  Sutton at age 36: 11-9, 2.61 ERA, only 2.6 WAR but that was because he got hurt a strike shortened that season [holy smokes Larry, wake the fuck up] (only season prior to age 40 in his whole career during which he didn't get to 30 starts or 200 IP).  Rice at age 36: .234/.276/.344, 3 HR in 228 PA, -0.8 WAR, most likely relentlessly booed by Boston fans every time he came to bat.  Sutton at age 37: 17-9, 3.06 ERA, 3.3 WAR, traded at the deadline to Milwaukee and helped get them to their only WS berth in franchise history.  Rice at age 37: sitting on a couch somewhere, 0 WAR, actually making the Red Sox one game better off than they were the season before.  BUT HE WAS THE BEST POWER HITTER IN BASEBALL FOR A DECADE!  Oh wait a tick, no, no he wasn't.

If you're very good -- not great, very good -- for an extended period of time, that's enough to make the Baseball Hall of Fame. So Sutton made the cut.

If we define "great" by seasons with 6+ WAR, Sutton and Rice were equally great.  If we define it by seasons with 7+ WAR, Rice leads Sutton 1-0.  If we define it by whether the guy played for the Red Sox when Bill was a kid, Rice also leads 1-0.  All of these measures are pretty arbitrary and stupid, really, and the important thing is that when you look at their entire careers, Don Sutton deserves to be in the HOF and Jim Rice doesn't.

As for Rice, he excelled for a shorter period of time -- just 12 seasons -- 

He excelled for like six seasons.  He spent another six during his prime hitting middling numbers of HRs and doing nothing else to help his team win (and plenty else to hurt it).

failing to notch 2,500 hits and 400 home runs for his career. 

I don't have time to look it up, but he's got to either have the fewest total bases of any corner/DH guy elected to the HOF in the last 50 years, or be close to having that distinction.  It's pathetic.

And since he was renowned for being unfriendly to reporters during his career, the choice was easy.  

It would have been (or should have been, if we're talking in 2009 terms) easy even if he had Stan Musial's personality.

Jim Rice was out. 

There's definitely a spot for him in the proverbial "Hall of Very Good," for what that's worth.

That's baseball. They even have a screwed-up Hall of Fame.

This means nothing.  You're spitting into the wind.  Shut up, get your head out of your colon, and do some fucking research.

And it's not just Rice. Gary Carter's stats are nearly identical to Johnny Bench's stats, save for the fact that Bench hit about 60 more homers and was considered a better defensive catcher (although Carter was no slouch). 

Chris W went on a great rant about this part when I sent him this.  Look, Gary Carter was a great player and I'm glad he's in the HOF.  But saying "Bench ONLY had 60 more HR" is fucking silly.  That's a shitload of HR.  Do you have 60 MLB HR?  No?  Neither do I.  Especially for a catcher, and especially for a guy who had 500 fewer PA than the guy with 60 fewer HR, that's a big deal.  Second, Bench was a way better hitter than Carter in a lot of ways other than his piddling little extra 60 bombs.  Beyond all that, how is whining about Rice from the "he was ZOMG SO FEARED for a shorter period of time, and Sutton was just a compiler!" angle supported by saying Johnny Bench is in but Gary Carter (at the time of this writing) is not?  Zuh?

Jack Morris was the dominant pitcher of the '80s 

LOLOLOLOL I'm not going into that tonight.  Simply not going to touch it.  Maybe next post.

and served as the ace for three championship teams. 


Goose Gossage was the most unhittable reliever of my childhood, ending up with two rings, 310 saves


and a memorable three-inning save in the transcendent '78 playoff game between the Red Sox and Yankees. 


And yet those guys are still sitting on the Hall of Fame ballot.

The voters correctly voted in Carter a year after this was published.  They (probably) incorrectly voted in Gossage in 2008, and (definitely) incorrectly voted in Rice the following year.  Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, may they not make the same mistake with Jack "14 opening day starts and the most wins in MLB during seasons that happened when the tens place of the year on the calendar was an 8" Morris next year.  

As you can probably guess, this has been exhausting.  More later in the week.


Larry B said...

Spam guy, you have been BLOCKED BLOCKED

Dr. Hippocrates said...

Awesome takedown of the tool, Larry. I think he has amassed sufficient dinero and status to no longer carry the torch for Boston teams quite as much as he once did. He seems to have moved on to the "I'm GM material" phase. His recent bloviating, rambling articles about NBA contracts were unreadable. He seems to have an overarching craving to be recognized as not only knowlegdeable but hip. I hope he gets shingles.

HDR said...

Don Sutton certainly did not deserve the Cy Young award in 1980 and not just because Steve Carlton had eleven more wins. carlton dusted Sutton in every category except ERA including a 3.9 edge in WAR. Sutton should have received more than the zero votes he got though. Also, Sutton didn't miss 200 IP and 30 starts in 1981 because he was injured. He couldn't make all of his starts because a baseball strike wiped out a third of the season. But, yeah, Bill Simmons was and is an asshat.

Larry B said...

Super embarrassing that I forgot about the strike. That's bad enough to warrant a correction with an explanation, something I've maybe done once before in this blog's history. As for the 1980 Cy claim, yeah, that was dumb, I took it too far. He was awesome that year though.

Chris W said...

larry b needs a copy of "navigating bb-r for dummies." otoh billina needs a copy of "understanding what baseball is for really dumb dummies"

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese said...

Goose Gossage got two rings? Let's see, 1978 and...?