Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 2

When we last left Bill, he was lecturing us about how Jim Rice was the best power hitter of the 20th century, and possibly the best point guard and free safety as well.  Don Sutton was just some nobody who just happened to pitch at a very high level for 20+ seasons, and really, why the hell should that qualify him for the Hall of Fame?  Are you ready for the worst argument anyone ever makes when discussing a player's HOF worthiness?  Here it comes.

There's a reason I take this so personally: I was there.


Carter, Rice, Morris and Gossage were the best players at their respective positions


(or at least among the best) when I was growing up.

Maybe, but not everyone who fits into your flimsy "among the best" definition deserves to be the Hall. This should be brutally obvious, but I do like the implication in that parenthetical that he's willing to walk back his absurd claim that Rice was the best power hitter in the game for a 12 year stretch.

Shouldn't that be what the Hall of Fame represents?

You think that's rhetorical, but it's not. The Hall of Fame should represent the very best baseball players of all time, and by very best, I mean players who were really good and they stayed really good for a long time. I almost hesitate to include that clarification--it should be obvious that being the best of all time doesn't mean being really awesome for a short period of time. It means being really awesome for a long period of time.  Lots of players have been really awesome for a short or medium period of time.  They don't belong in the hall, because there are a pretty good number of other players who have been really awesome for a long period of time.  Holy shit, why do I even think I have to explain that to any of you people?  Embarrassing.  Suffice it to say, if you're not a fucking idiot, you know generally what the HOF "should represent."

Excellence over a reasonably long period of time?

Yes, but "while Billy was growing up" is clearly not a long enough window if you think that Rice belongs in. Having four 5+ WAR seasons (and another one at 4.9), and then having seven or eight other seasons in which you had around 25 HR and 2 WAR (because he didn't get on base enough and couldn't play decent defense or run the bases) is not excellence over a reasonably long period of time. Reverse the number of seasons Rice fell into each of those two categories--seven or eight awesome 5+ WAR seasons, and then four or five "eh he hit home runs but generally wasn't that good" and he's probably in the Hall, or at least a much better candidate.

The problems don't end there. Remember how your grandparents refused to use the TV remote control and insisted on getting up and changing the channels manually?

No. My grandparents loved the piss out of using the remote.

If there were a sports equivalent of that phenomenon, it would be the Baseball Hall of Fame, where the prevailing theme is, "That's the way they did it back then, so that's the way we'll do it now."

Oh brother. The HOF sure as shit needs to make some changes, but letting in more Jim Rices, or doing what he's about to propose, aren't any of them.

Not to turn into Chandler Bing here,

And in case you weren't already aware, there's your evidence that this column is from 2002.

but could the entire process be more dumb?

That Matthew Perry--he is just too much!  Anyways, the process definitely could be dumber. As bad as the BWAA is, they could hand the vote over to current members of the HOF, or to current players. That would be really, really dumb.

Could it be less fan-friendly?

How are you going to make it more fan friendly? By letting fans themselves vote for the players? Jesus H. Christ, what a disaster that would be. These last two rhetorical questions have really deepened my appreciation for the BWAA.

Could it be any less thought-provoking?

It's very thought provoking. See: the insane number of articles written and amount of debate that takes place every single year regarding who should get in and who should not. But I like that you wanted to add a third thing to your list of Chandler Bing rhetorical question complaints, even if you came up with something that is completely out of place.

Ask yourself this question: Did you argue about the Hall of Fame selections with anyone this week?

Yes, I either directly argue about them or read articles/comments in which people argue about them every single January.

Of course not ... you probably don't care.

You can see where he's going. This is not an article written for baseball fans, but an article written for people who say DURR HURR BASEBALL IS BORRRRING BUT I WOULD WATCH IF THE HALL OF FAME ADMISSION PROCESS WAS BASED ON 40 TIMES AND BENCH REPS.  Or something.  What baseball fan doesn't care about the HOF?

And why should you?

Because I like baseball?

It's like arguing about the Grammy Awards: You know they don't accurately reflect excellence in music.

Wow, that is mean. Comparing the HOF to the Grammys--I didn't realize he had anything that dark in him. But really, that's a wholly inaccurate comparison made by a person who has no fucking idea what he's talking about. (I mean with regard to the HOF. He obviously knows that the Grammys are a joke, because everyone knows that the Grammys are a joke.)

If they did, Toto wouldn't have won four Grammys in 1982.


And that's why none of us really care about the Baseball Hall of Fame,

Every baseball fan cares about the HOF. Some non-baseball fans do too. I'm not sure if things were way different eleven years ago, or if Bill just has his head in his ass again. I am leaning towards the latter.

and the only people who do care -- ancient baseball writers -- will be dead soon, anyway.

If we're lucky. I'd still rather they be voting than fans, HOF inductees or current players though.

It's almost a lost cause. Almost. Of course, I still think the whole thing can be salvaged.

Wait! Tell us, Mr. Genius! Tell us how to save this thing that does not need to be saved! I'm sure your idea, like the rest of your ideas, is not horrid at all. THE HALL OF FAME NEEDS A VP OF CAWMON SENSE!

While driving to Shea Stadium five summers ago with my buddy Gus and his father, Wally, we came up with a brainstorm to save the Hall of Fame.

If only Billy Joel could have been driving on that same Queens highway at that same time.

We were inadvertently borrowing Bill James' plan to redefine Hall of Famers and "weigh them" for importance depending on their qualifications, a process James explained in his "Historical Abstract" (none of us were aware of this at the time).

I know I said last post that the next article any of us reads about reorganizing the HOF that didn't suck would be the first. My dismissal of such ideas does not apply to Bill James. I have not read "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?" and I don't know the specifics of his weighing plan, but he's Bill James, so I'm sure it's very unterrible. In contrast, Bill Simmons is about to offer us a reorganization plan that deserves all the careful consideration given to someone who asks you to pull their finger.

Regardless, I'm positive that Wally invented the "Pyramid Concept."

As you'll see in my next post about this article, this is not something anyone should willingly take credit for. This is like saying "Wally invented parking tickets."

Here's the premise: In an ideal world, the Hall of Fame should be a place where someone could stroll in, spend weeks walking around, absorb everything about the game ...

I've never been, but I'm pretty sure that's more or less what the HOF is already.

by the time they departed, they would know everything there is to know about professional baseball.

And now you've taken it too far. That should not be the purpose of the HOF. That is what books and the internet are for. The HOF is for preserving all of the very very best and most interesting things about baseball. Much as Jonah Keri and Jeff Pearlman would like it to have an entire wing dedicated to utility infielders from the 80s, that kind of thing does not belong in Cooperstown.

Well, the way the place is presently constructed, all the Hall of Famers are sort of lumped together.

Right, the plaques are, but there's lots of other shit too. I've seen pictures. It's a big building.

It's like having a Hall of Fame for models and putting Cindy Crawford's plaque next to the girl who modeled as the "Before" picture in the original "Weight Watchers" ad.

I've never claimed to be some masterful writer with a deft touch when it comes to analogies, but I'm sure as hell better than Bill.  What an asshole.

So why couldn't we transform it into a five-level pyramid


-- seriously, an actual pyramid, like a replica of the Luxor casino in Las Vegas --

This is a terrible idea and whoever thought of it should be kicked squarely in the balls.

where elected players are assigned to different levels?


More over the weekend. Just wait until you see which players he wants to put on various levels of his awesome pyramid-shaped HOF. Hooooo doggy.


Jeff Porcaro said...

The endless recycling of Simmons' ideas is on display here with the hall as a pyramid motif. It appears in the Big Book of Basketball IIRC without credit to Wally.

Anonymous said...

Good Job on Simmons here, but Please Please Please Please do a post on Rick Riley's awful piece on the cubs and wrigley. The poor cubs don't get enough money?

Arvind said...

I think the Pyramid idea sounds a LOT better on paper than in reality. I know he's likely being facetious to an extent, but imagine the shitstorm that would ensue if the BBWAA not only had to decide if a player was worth of getting in, but if they were worthy of a L1, or a L3 or whatever. It's a nightmare. Joe Posnanski would get a heart attack writing 35 columns on it. Murray Chass would say that no one belongs in L5 except for Fay Vincent. Jon Heyman would continue to be an idiot. I don't see the upside.

hoover said...

It should be an inverted pyramid so when the top floor fills up up with too many players that Simmons doesn't like it will topple over.

Adam said...

The whole pyramid HOF scheme sounds like a justification to let in more lame candidates.