Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 3

Finally, we step inside the pyramid of stupid.  (Note: the commentary I provide about certain players here is far from comprehensive, when it comes to addressing how much of a dope Bill is.  I'm sure that as you read you'll notice dozens of problems in Bill's analysis that I didn't address--feel free to talk about them in the comments.  Trying to address all of the stupid here is a task too large for one dude.)

Level 1
Ground floor of The Pyramid ...

Thank you for clarifying. I figured it would be the 14th floor.

designated for marginal guys who were considered "Borderline Hall of Famers,"

Aside from how dumb an idea this whole pyramid thing is (and just as subjective as the stupid voting process we have now, obviously), this is also middle school essay level writing. "Let me tell you about the first level of my imaginary Hall of Fame that will be located on the first level of the building that has the Hall of Fame in it."

either because of the Rice Factor

The factor that gets unworthy candidates in?

(great career, not long enough)

Oh, you mean the Bill Terry factor. Got it.

or the Sutton Factor (very good for a long time, rarely great)

Really not fair to name it after a pitcher, no matter how bitter you are that a guy with 63 career WAR and five top five Cy finishes beat out Rice in the previous year's election. Due to health issues, it's much harder for pitchers to be "compilers" than it is for hitters. Let's call what you're referring to here the Dawson Factor.

... anyone voted in simply because they reached a benchmark (400 homers, 300 wins, etc.)

Yeah, if only Rice had gotten to... well, any meaningful counting stat benchmark, maybe he wouldn't have waited until the 15th ballot before being wrongfully elected.

would be thrown in here ... you could even include players who broke significant individual records (Don Larsen, Roger Maris, Johnny Vander Meer,

Yes, if you were completely fucking stupid, that's something you could do.

etc. -- though, personally, I say no).

A controversial stance!  Most people say Fernando Tatis belongs in for hitting two grand slams in the same inning from opposite sides of the plate, but a brave and vocal minority opposes them.

Modern "L1" examples: Carter, Sutton, Phil Niekro,

Funny thing about Niekro--sure, his counting totals are assisted by the fact that he pitched until he was like 60, but he had DOUBLE Jim Rice's rWAR, and the year Rice won the MVP, Niekro led MLB in rWAR. It took him 42 starts to do it, but even if you discount his starts back to the number most other top line pitchers had that year (about 35), he probably deserved the NL Cy. Naturally, because he won 19 games instead of 20 (and lost 18... thanks, Braves offense), he finished 6th in the Cy voting.

Gaylord Perry,

Another guy so much better than Rice that memorials to their careers shouldn't be in the same city, let alone same building. Mind you, I don't want to take the anti-Rice thing too far--the point of this post is to dump on Simmons's writing and analytical abilities, not Rice, but the two are pretty closely linked in this case. I can't help myself.

Gossage, Rice, Morris,


Catfish Hunter, Wade Boggs,

Another guy, this time a hitter, who was abundantly better than Jim Rice. In no way are Wade Boggs and his 79 rWAR and .328/.415/.443 triple slash a fringe HOFer. The only reason he barely cleared 3000 hits was because he was so fucking good at walking--26th all time. If he wanted to swing at everything and eschew BBs, he probably could have had 3500 hits. With the incredible contact skills and eye but lack of HR power, he was basically a better version of Tony Gwynn. Now just wait until you see where Gwynn ends up.

Tony Perez, Lee Smith,


Rollie Fingers, Tom Glavine (if he keeps going strong). You get the idea.

Glavine is by no means a fringe guy, he should get in pretty quickly after joining the ballot, but I can't blame Bill for thinking that's where he would end up at the time this article was written. Glavine had 224 W and 51.5 rWAR through his age 35 season. He picked up 81 more W and almost 19 more WAR from that point on. Dude had longevity.

Level 2
Second floor of The Pyramid ... not quite as cluttered, not as much space ...

Is it above level 1? Thank you for continuing to explain how multistory buildings work.

reserved for guys who were definitely Hall of Famers, but didn't quite possess a Level 3 résumé for one or more of the following reasons:

Their team never won a World Series.
Something was missing from their career totals.
They never enjoyed an outrageously good single season.
Somebody else played their position during their time who was better.
Their career was shortened by injury and/or rapidly declining skills.

These criteria get a lot funnier when you see who made the cut for level 3. Also, I feel like "something was missing from their career totals" is a little too specific (hyper-specific, if you ask Gregggggg). Can we maybe dull that down, make it a little more generalized?  Something like "they wasn't always teh best."

Modern "L2" examples: Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk, Dave Winfield, Willie Stargell, Rod Carew, Jim Palmer, Ryne Sandberg, Kirby Puckett, Carl Yastrzemski, Paul Molitor.

There are a dozen snarky comments I could make here, including the fact that each and every one of those guys exceeds all of the above criteria (except in some cases the WS win, which is a fucking idiotic thing to consider when voting for the HOF), but I want to finish this post in under four hours, so I just want to dial in on one name on that list. Which one? Well, I'll give you a hint: Bill really is defying the stereotype of the homerific Bostonian here. Because FACKIN' YAZ is one of the 25 or so best hitters of all time. To put him on the second level of this asinine HOF reboot is idiotic. 90 career rWAR, 3400+ hits, 450+ HR, good defense. You can count the number of outfielders better than him to ever play the game on your two hands. He ruled. But yeah, he didn't win a WS (neither did Ted Williams, but he isn't stuck on this level for some reason), so apparently Bill can't possibly elevate him to match the likes of this next group of players, which includes many guys who never won a WS who were vastly inferior to Yastrzemski.

Level 3
Reserved for the "No-Doubt-About-It" Hall of Famers ...

Wait, is it on the third floor of the pyramid?

these guys were undoubtedly the best at their position for years and years, with all the requisite "résumé" stats to match ... unfortunately, there's a distinct, crucial difference between Level 3 and Level 4 (explanation coming).

Let's recap Bill's explanations for his stratification plan. Level 1: fringe HOFers (also--located on the first floor of the HOF). Level 2: better than level 1, but not as good as level 3. Level 3: these guys were awesome, but not as good as level 4 guys for reasons that will soon be apparent. How fucking far forward is he going to push the fucking buck?  You know an idea is terrible when the person who came up with it can't even make a coherent pitch regarding its most important specifics.

Modern "L3" examples: Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith (more on him later), George Brett,

Brett and Yastrzemski are actually pretty comparable to one another, except that Yastrzemski was better.

Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson, Rickey Henderson,

Henderson is one of the 20 best players ever.  He does not belong on this level.

Tony Gwynn,

No.  Not on this level, anyways.

Robbie Alomar, Eddie Murray,

Murray was good and all, one of only (I think) five guys with 3000 hits and 500 HR, but his rate stats and career WAR (63.4 rWAR) are so-so.

Greg Maddux (assuming he keeps cruising along), Randy Johnson (ditto),

These two were so fucking good. I wish I appreciated them more when they were still playing. Totally uninteresting story: Johnson recorded his 300th career win in a game against the Nationals during 2009 that was a makeup of a game that got rained out the night before. I was at the night game that got rained out. I was this close to seeing history! Like I said, completely uninteresting to the rest of you.

Dennis Eckersley (a unique case, but definitely).

That's the worst parenthetical I've ever seen. Evidently Bill's documented refusal to let his work be edited goes back to before he became a big swinging dick.

Level 4
These are basically "L3" guys, only there's something just inherently "greater" about them.

Jesus Jumproping Christ.  Fucking worthless.

Some possible indications:

Do you have to consider them in any "best of all-time" discussions?

Henderson, Maddux, Yastrzemski, Morgan...

Did they have transcendent games or memorable moments?

Yeah, none of those kinds of games/moments for the guys on levels 1-3.  

Did they hit 500 homers, get 3,000 hits or win 300 games?

Almost every single one of those level 3 guys did one of those things.

Were they just dominant at times?

Always good for your credibility when you explain excellence in the same way Tedy Bruschi or Trent Dilfer or some other mouthbreathing former player turned talking head does.  THE THING I LIKE ABOUT FOOTBALL PLAYER J.J. WATT IS THAT HE IS JUST DOMINANT OUT THERE ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD.

Will you always remember watching them play, even when you're 80 years old and peeing on yourself?

As you can see, there is a very distinct line drawn between the third level guys and the fourth level guys.

Modern "L4" examples: Reggie Jackson,

I know that because this was written before the 2004 Red Sox title, Bill probably harbored a pretty nasty inferiority complex with regard to the Yankees, but Jackson really wasn't that great.  He's a lot like Eddie Murray, and not in the same area code as the rest of these level 4 guys, with one hilarious exception.

Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan (a great argument here -- some don't even consider him a Hall of Famer),

Those people are fucking idiots. I'm surprised Bill isn't one of them.

Mark McGwire,

Hahahahahahahahahah--like I said, Jackson isn't as good as these guys with one hilarious exception.  Yes, Big Mac and his 58 career rWAR definitely belong in the company of guys like Seaver.

Barry Bonds (maybe even a little low for him, as scary as that sounds),

You'll notice I haven't had the opportunity to make any Boston racist jokes in this post. Bill won't let me.  He's shilling for Rice while claiming Yaz wasn't as good as Tony Gwynn, and now he acknowledges Bonds's greatness.

Roger Clemens (it hurts, but it's true).


(Note: Pete Rose should be an "L4 guy,"

No. Even with his insane longevity and kajillion hits, he didn't crack 80 WAR. Also: how fucking dumb is Rose? Guy is just a moron.  I want him to get into the HOF, but every time he opens his mouth, something mind-bogglingly stupid tumbles out.

Dwight Gooden should have been an "L4 guy," and Darryl Strawberry could have been an "L4 guy." None of them make it ... although Rose should be here eventually because Ty Cobb's in here, and Rose couldn't have been more of a jerk then Cobb. Also, other than Clemens and Bonds, out of the veterans playing right now, Junior Griffey, Maddux and maybe Randy Johnson have the best shots at Level Four. It's too early to tell about anyone else.)

I get why he's using "It's too early to tell" here, and it makes sense, but it also sounds like something Joe Morgan would say to avoid giving an answer in a chat.  "Who do I think will win the World Series this year?  It's too early to tell, and I haven't seen anyone play any games, so I really can't say."

Level 5
Take a deep breath. Level 5 is the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively. 


You can rattle the L5 guys off the top of your head: 

EVERYONE AGREES ON THIS!  NO ONE DENIES THIS!  That's the best part about this whole article--he's operating under the premise that the current way election to the HOF goes is all fucked up and needs to be revamped to make sure the hall more accurately reflects reality.  Given how oblivious he is to, well, pretty much everything, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he doesn't see how much subjectivity is involved here.  If you asked 100 very seriously baseball fans to choose their top sixteen players of all time, how many lists would be completely identical?

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Grover Alexander, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, 

Obviously a very important figure in MLB (and American) history, and no doubt a HOF-caliber player, but he really doesn't belong with these other guys.

Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner.

Sixteen in all. That's it. That's Level 5. The best of the best. The Pantheon.


Hey, maybe it wouldn't work. 

It wouldn't.  It's a horrible idea.

Maybe it's too complicated. 

Yes, that's part of the reason it's horrible.  

Maybe it's too far-fetched. 

I mean, it's simpler and more accurate to say it's just a super shitty idea.

But you have to admit, it makes the process infinitely more interesting.

Real life HOF process: voters choose whether players get in or not.  Bill's process: voters choose whether players get in or not AND what level they go on (note: the delineations between the levels will be very unclear).  SO INTERESTING.  WATCH YOUR BACK, NFL.  YOUR STRANGLEHOLD ON THE AMERICAN POPULACE'S ATTENTION IS AS GOOD AS FINISHED.

Part 4 later this week.


Chris W said...

Brooks Robinson on level 3. That is all.

Chris W said...

Oh no. That isn't all. Maddux is one of the 5 best pitchers ever to play. Johnson might be one of the 10 or 15 best. Level 3!!!!!!

Chris W said...

Also who is Grover Alexander? If you're going to call Grover Cleveland Alexander by a single name, call him Pete. Bill Simmons: pretty much the opposite of a student of baseball. What should we call him? A GED guy of baseball? UHOH!

SOB in TO said...

There's a Part 4???
I think you've done enough community service.

Larry B said...

I'm almost done!

waffleboy said...

Jackson and McGuire are better then Rickey Henderson? Did he let his mom write this column?

Tim N said...

Not to cross post, but do you realize if those greedy rooftop owners had only been willing to share in take that the Cubs could have held on to a potential level 3 HOFer like Greg Maddux?

I mean, in '92 that could have been an extra $60k to throw at him.

ivn said...

Bill probably doesn't know how good Gwynn or Maddux really are because they played in the National League, and we all know that Bill can't afford to waste his precious, precious time watching NL baseball.

Adam said...

I know Billll didn't intend to make this an all encompasing list of HOFers but he misses a assload of important players who belong on L4 or L5 (Mel Ott, Tris Speaker(128 rWAR!), Mike Schmidt, Jimmie Foxx... among others)

So basically when he says "modern" examples it means he knows nothing about baseball history.