Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 4 (out of 4)

I said I was going to recognize the nice reader who sent us a link to this column several posts ago.  Well, now I'm following through.  Bill B., you rule.  Everyone else--please feel free to send us links and stuff!  I check the blog email every three or four months and it's always a nice surprise when we have non-spam messages.

Four of my favorite wrinkles about the Pyramid Model:

1. I came up with it!
2. Me me me me me me!
3. It's a PYRAMID.  How EXCITING is that
4. Puts fancy-pants Don Sutton in his place

1. People would argue endlessly about which players belong on which levels. 

Yes, this is true, they probably would.  This is not a good thing.  The amount of debate we already have about who is in and who is out and who should get in soon and who should never get in is perfectly adequate.

It would be the "Ginger vs. Mary Ann" of sports debates. 

Boo!  What happened to the Friends references?

Is Koufax an "L4" or an "L5"? Does Ryan even make it past "L1"? 

Jesus, are there really people out there pushing this?  Saying "Nolan Ryan was overrated" is fine.  Saying "The all time leader in strikeouts, with 320 wins and almost 80 WAR to his name, does not belong in the HOF" is grounds for being thrown in a Siberian prison.

Does Yaz crack the "L3"s? 

Still amazed he put Yaz where he did.  YAZ GOT A RAW DEAL.

Should Brooks Robinson, Clemens and Morgan be "L4"s? Should The Eck even be an "L1"? Is Ripken an "L5" because he broke Gehrig's record? 

Should we take a guy who's probably somewhere between the 50th and 75th best player of all time, and now say he's one of the fifteen best, because he had the good fortune to never get hurt? 

2. To institute the Pyramid scheme, a special selection committee would re-assign levels to every existing member. Let's say the committee features 50 members, made up of well-known players, 

And after reading that dollop of stupid, I'm sure you'll agree with me that you don't need to see the rest of that paragraph.

(I mean ... wouldn't that be an immense amount of fun?

What could possibly go wrong???????????

4. The Pyramid structure would look cool. 

You're a child.  A small child with an undeveloped brain.

Besides the aesthetic benefits of a five-story pyramid-shaped building that contains every single nugget of baseball history and resembles a pyramid, can you imagine walking around the Hall of Fame, climbing each level ... and finally reaching The Pantheon? Unbelievable. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

Holy shit.

Yup ... too bad it will never happen.

That's baseball for you. Instead of moving forward, our national pastime keeps moving backward and sideways. 


That's why the game is controlled by unions, TV money and luxury boxes. That's why big-market teams swallow small-market teams. That's why owners bitch about rising costs and then shell out gigantic, $50 million-plus deals to Darren Dreifort and Chan Ho Park. That's why World Series games start at 8:30 every night. 

All of those things are problematic.  Not one of them has anything to do with baseball "moving backward and sideways."  

That's why Don Sutton was elected to the Hall of Fame and Jim Rice wasn't ... 

Not one of them has anything to do with Jim Rice being rightfully denied admission to the Hall of Fame for 14 ballots.

and that's why few people care in the first place.

And every single one of them is born from a desire to get more fans to care about baseball, because those problems are all related to increasing revenue and more fans means more money. Go fuck yourself.

While we're here, since the Hall of Fame announcements happen today, I decided to fill out my own personal Hall of Fame ballot. 

Woo hoo!

In a perfect world, only players wielding considerable credentials (like Ozzie) would get elected at all. 

I have good news for Bill: with the exception of Jim Rice and a handful of other players, everyone in the current hall wields considerable credentials.

But since the committee has shown astounding leniency over the years, we have to "dumb down" our ballot because so many of these players have Level 1 qualifications. 

Here's my great idea for fixing the Hall of Fame!  Also, my idea lets in a shitload of people who shouldn't get in, so it still needs some tweaking.

That's one reason I love the Pyramid idea so much, because the shaky HOF guys get crammed together on the bottom level, where they belong.

That's one reason I love the pyramid idea so much: it's got huge problems.

Anyway ...

Ozzie Smith: Yes
He was an underrated offensive player during the second part of his career ('85 to '93), 

This is actually true.

as well as a clutch playoff guy for some accomplished Cardinals teams (three pennants, one title). 

Career triple slash: .262/.337/.328.  Career playoff triple slash: .236/.325/.292.  But he did hit that one home run against the Dodgers in the NLCS that one time, and that's all a blockhead like Bill remembers, so he is forever clutch.  Not to say he doesn't belong in the HOF or anything.  He does.  I just enjoy watching Bill stumble over himself even as he gets the ultimate question correct.

And he was durable as hell. You could actually make the case that, in retrospect, Ozzie was the most valuable everyday player of the '80s.

You could, but you'd be really wrong, because Rickey Henderson played during the 80s.

Jim Rice & Dale Murphy: Yes and no

This is great.

You can't vote in Puckett last January, then claim that Rice isn't a Hall of Famer because he lacked longevity. 

Sure you can, because the circumstances of their disappearance from the game were much different.  Puckett is a very fringe guy, and maybe he shouldn't be in, but at least (unlike Rice) he was forced out of the game for medical reasons rather than just because he started sucking at it.  But Bill probably doesn't know that.

Come on. Puckett's career was cut short because of glaucoma; Rice's career was cut short because he lost his bat speed in a mysterious "X-Files"-type accident (even Kathleen Turner didn't slip that fast). 

Oh!  Color me shocked!  He does know that!  I won't copy and paste that again, but you should read it again.  It's breathtaking.  "Not fair that Puckett is in and Rice isn't--Puckett developed a crippling disease that ended his career early, and Rice's career ended at age 35 because he got terrible at baseball.  QED."

What's the difference? Rice was definitely a Level 1 guy.

Which, as we learned last post, means he was a fringe HOFer, but not as good as a level 2 guy, who were not as good as level 3 guys, for various reasons like "they weren't as good as level 3 guys."

As for Murphy, his numbers were awesome during that eight-year run from '80 to '87, but I don't remember him ever reaching that vaunted "Holy Crap" level that Rice reached from '77 to '79. His numbers (398 homers, four seasons with an OPS above .900) make him intriguing, but I can't recall the last time I said to myself, "Man, I miss seeing Dale Murphy play baseball."

This is just too good.  Murphy's and Rice's resumes are astoundingly similar.  They're, like, within a single percent of each other. They are separated by a mere 17 PAs, 16 HR (advantage Murphy), and 1.7 WAR (advantage Rice).  Rice had about 300 more hits, but Murphy had about 300 more walks.  Rice wins handily in OPS+ (128 to 121), but Murphy stole 103 more bases and won 5 Gold Gloves at a premium defensive position.  It's a very close race--you can make a case for either being better than the other and not be wrong.  But Bill misses seeing Jim Rice play baseball and doesn't miss seeing Dale Murphy play baseball.  Wonder why?  Could it be related to the fact that, as someone pointed out in the comments to the last post, Murphy played in the boring and irrelevant National League?  I have an even nuttier theory--maybe it has something to do with the fact that Rice played for Bill's favorite team!  Anyways, maybe Bill can make a better case for Rice over Murphy.

I mean, Jim Rice broke his bat once on a checked swing. A checked swing!

Nope, he can't.

(Note: Don't underestimate the post-Murphy era bitterness on my part. With four of Murphy's rookie cards in my possession from the thousands and thousands of baseball cards I purchased in 1978, it was like holding four winning lottery tickets as Murphy's career bloomed in the mid-'80s. Now those cards are used as coasters in the Sports Guy Mansion. Damn it all.)

You're a fucking moron.

Don Mattingly, Steve Garvey and Keith Hernandez: No, no and no
[Mattingly]'s not even remotely close, and that's before we even mention the obvious Ewing Theory ramifications here -- the Yanks promptly rolled off four championships after he retired).

IT'S REAL!  THIS PROVES IT!  RENAME IT THE RONDO/MATTINGLY THEORY!  (Brief update on that: the Celtics are 17-12 since the injury, which is nice but not spectacular, and have lost 7 of their last 10.)

(Of course, every Yankees fan believes that Mattingly was a Level 4 Hall of Famer. You haven't really lived until you argued about the Hit Man's Hall of Fame credentials at a bar with a bunch of Yankees fans. It's like arguing about the existence of dinosaurs with Carl Everett -- relevant facts, statistics and evidence simply don't matter. 

Yes, but did Mattingly ever make you want to buy a ticket?  Do you miss seeing him play baseball?  Did he ever break a bat on a checked swing? 

As for Garvey, his credentials look pretty good, but I was alive during that time, and trust me ... we weren't hanging out on the playground flipping for Steve Garvey cards every day. 

Most likely because Garvey spent his whole career playing for teams 3,000 miles from Boston, but yeah, sure.

Hernandez almost gets my vote because of his defense and his watershed "Seinfeld" cameo ("I'm Keith Hernandez. ... I won the MVP in '79"), but his power numbers just weren't there in the mid-'80s. 

Hernandez was much better than Rice.  Shouldn't be in, but he was very good.

Does a first baseman who only cracked 100 RBI once and never seemed to get his OPS over the .800-to-.850 range 

Putting Bill's lack of knowledge of park factors aside, it's pretty great that Hernandez did get his OPS over .850 five times where as Rice did so six times.  Bringing Bill's lack of knowledge of park factors back into the discussion, it's pretty great that Hernandez and Rice finished with the same career OPS+, and Hernandez played great defense.

qualify as a Hall of Famer? I can't see it. How can you only average 89 RBI from '84 to '87 on those Mets teams when you're batting third?

Why should we penalize him for being told by his manager to bat third when he had the skillset of a great second hitter?  (I typed "#2 hole hitter" first but that looked awkward so I changed the wording lololololol)

Mike Henneman, Davey Concepcion, Jeff Russell, Scott Sanderson, Tim Wallach, Lenny Dykstra, Mike Greenwell, Robby Thompson: No, no, no, no, no, no, no and no
How did these guys even sneak on the ballot? 

You could always just look it up and learn that anyone who plays in at least part of ten seasons makes the ballot.  They had search engines in 2002, Bill.  I know they did.  I was there!  I saw Altavista break a bat with a checked swing once!

I love the fact that Mike Greenwell made the cut. High comedy. Apparently, Carlos Quintana was knocked off at the last minute.

Carlos Quintana only played in parts of five seasons.  Poor fella.

Bert Blyleven and Tommy John: No and no
Blyleven seems to be gaining steam because of the Sutton Factor (22 years, 287 wins, 3.34 ERA and a startling 3702 K's), 

"Blyleven seems to be gaining steam because he has an impressive resume, including a shitload of strikeouts"

his infamous Uncle Charlie, one of the memorable beards of the '80s, and one of Chris Berman's best nicknames (Bert "Be Home" Blyleven). I wouldn't be outraged if he made the cut. On the other hand, I can't remember coming home from school and having my father say to me, "Let's go to Fenway and scalp tickets -- Bert Blyleven's in town!" He's out.

You should be thrown off of a cruise ship.

John's résumé was pretty similar to Blyleven (26 seasons, 288 wins, 3.31 ERA, not nearly as many K's), and he was a Red Sox killer who personified the term "crafty southpaw." Frankly, I was terrified of him. But he wasn't quite a Hall of Famer -- like Blyleven, he was never a clear-cut "This guy's one of the best pitchers alive right now" guy. Plus, he played for the Yankees. He's out.

Both of these guys were way better than Jack Morris.  Blyleven was so much better it almost makes me feel bad for Morris when I explain the gap between their resumes.

Frank Viola, Jim Kaat, Ron Guidry: No, no and no

Viola and Guidry both fell short of 200 wins, but in terms of ERA+ and WAR, were better than Morris.  Kaat has basically the same resume as Morris.  BUT HOW MANY OPENING DAY STARTS DID HE MAKE????

Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter: Yes and no
If you needed six outs from 1977-1984, Gossage was The Guy. 

Canadians everywhere eagerly anticipate Eric Gagne's eventual inclusion.

Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker: No and no

Both of these guys should be in, especially Whitaker.  Also: Trammell had more WAR in the 80s that "arguably most valuable player of the 80s" Ozzie Smith.

Both of them made me at least say, "Hmmmmmmmm." Trammell anchored some nice Tigers teams in the mid-'80s and was a fantasy draft staple at short -- let the record show that he went ahead of Cal Ripken in my draft just about every year in the '80s and early-'90s (and he was just as good defensively). 

That's possible Level 5 of the Pyramid Inductee Cal Ripken to you, bub!

Dave Parker: No
And it's his own damned fault. If it's any consolation, he makes my All-Cocaine team, which is not to be confused with the '86 Mets.

Ah, the early 00s, a time when "people used coke a lot during the 80s" jokes were still (ostensibly) fresh.

Gary Carter: Yes
I loved Carlton Fisk as much as anyone, but for an entire decade (1977 to 1986), Gary Carter was the best catcher in baseball. It's not even up for discussion. And given that he anchored those Mets staffs in the mid-'80s and started the game-winning rally against Calvin Schiraldi in That Game (ugh), 

Good thing Carter did that one thing that one time in a game against the Most Important Team in Baseball!  Otherwise, he'd probably be out.

Andre Dawson: No
The Hawk! Sixteen quality seasons in a 20-year career, 438 homers, one Rookie of the Year, eight Gold Gloves, one MVP, consistently a .285/30/95 guy, one of the two best right fielders of his era (along with Dave Winfield), a guy who battled knee problems during the majority of his career and still produced every season, and he even had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox.

Good thing Dawson did that one thing that one time in a game against the Most Important Team in Baseball!  Unfortunately, he's still out, even though he was way better than Jim Rice.

But other than his '87 season with the Cubs, I can't remember ever thinking to myself, "Man, it doesn't get any better than Andre Dawson!" 


Jack Morris, Luis Tiant: Yes and yes

254 W
2500 Ks
ERA+ 105
40 WAR

287 W
3700 Ks
ERA+ 118

While Morris's ALL CAPS thingy was a great moment, I'm pretty sure Blyleven's ALL CAPS thingy beats it.  The only one of those two guys who belongs in the hall is the one who's already there.


Anonymous said...

Ozzie Smith was not an underrated hitter during his prime. You constantly heard comments about him like "he made himself a good hitter" or "he manufactures runs". He did become a decent hitter but could only be described as good when compared to other shortstops.

HDR said...

Tommy John, Red Sox killer: 12 wins, 17 losses, 4.02 ERA. John pitched against 25 different teams during his career and his ERA against the Red Sox was his highest against any single team.

SOB in TO said...

I'm thinking about the logistics for such a pyramid. Wouldn't more visitors want to be on the top level?
Thus, the building would have to be built as a square.

Richie Allen said...

Since you seem to care, who would the handful of others that are in the Hall of Fame but shouldn't be?

Chris W said...

here's a fun quiz!

PS: Dick Allen should be in the HOF and shame on Bill James for letting it get personal in his argument why he "shouldn't" be

JC said...

Jim Rice is a prime example. Ryne Sandberg is another good one. Tim Raines is the model of a deserving player ignored by the BBWAA (so were Blyleven and Dawson until a few years ago)

Chris W said...

Man I can't get on board with Ryne Sandberg not being a deserving HOFer. Dude was awesome.

Snarf said...

"a five-story pyramid-shaped building that...resembles a pyramid."

A pyramid-shaped building that resembles a pyramid? You don't say. This is the kind of bold, progressive thinking baseball, architecture and this country have been missing!

Snarf said...

"I mean, Jim Rice broke his bat once on a checked swing. A checked swing!

Isn't this more of a statement that Joe Bat Builder doesn't belong in the Louisville Bat-Making HOF?

Now broken-bat homers (a la Chris Davis), that's another story ;)

composerwise said...

Both of these guys should be in, especially Whitaker. Also: Trammell had more WAR in the 80s that "arguably most valuable player of the 80s" Ozzie Smith.

Thank you; I am an admitted Tigers homer who grew up watching the '80s teams, but I have never understood why so many seem to think Morris should be in over these two - they (with Gibson) are the Tigers I think of first from that era.

Larry B said...

Todd Frazier hit a broken bat HR last season too. Off Jamie Moyer, no less, meaning Frazier had to supply all the power. Pretty impressive.

As for the worst HOFers, the Sporcle quiz Chris linked to certainly isn't the end-all-be-all because it includes guys who split time between MLB and the Negro leagues, and guys like Dizzy Dean and Roy Campanella whose careers got derailed by serious injuries (or bad rehab practices in Dean's case). I'm also less inclined to pick on guys who played 80+ years ago like Roger Bresnahan or Ross Youngs because fuck it, baseball was different back then and I trust defensive WAR calculations from that era even less than I trust them from this era. That leaves a few different groups of players. You have relievers like Gossage, Sutter and Rollie Fingers who probably shouldn't be there (definitely shouldn't be there in Fingers's case) but at least had a big impact on a number of games. You have guys like Phil Rizzuto, Hack Wilson and Bill Mazeroski who got in because they were super famous for one reason or another but definitely shouldn't be in. And then you've got guys like Rice, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda and Nellie Fox who were simply "good not great" and shouldn't be in. However, the thing about all those hitters I just named, except Brock, is that they were put in not by the BBWAA but by the Veterans Committee. So that adds a new wrinkle to the issue. I don't think we should do away with the Veterans Committee, and I also don't think it's as egregious when a mediocre player like Rizzuto makes it in because of them as opposed to being elected by the writers, but I certainly wish the Committee would stop putting mediocre players in the HOF because I DARN WELL REMEMBER THAT NAME, HE WAS A BIG DEAL BACK IN MY DAY (because he played for the Yankees and won one cheap MVP award, or hit the most famous HR of all time).

So really, this is just one blogger's lazy opinion, and it's going to take a lot of narrowing down of categories, but if you ask me who the worst HOFer is, and you allow me to specific that the worst HOFer should be a writer-elected non-closer who played after 1940 and didn't have to split time in the Negro leagues and didn't suffer a crazy injury that ruined his career, it's either Rice, Brock, or Bob Lemon. Lemon has the excuse of starting his career late because of military service. Brock had one elite skill that he maintained for essentially his entire career (and still sits 2nd on the all time steals list, with no active player even remotely threatening to catch him--Jose Reyes would have to steal 50 a year for the next decade to do it). Hmmm. I guess that leaves the man spurned by Don Sutton, doesn't it?

But also, you could probably say Rollie Fingers, because the guy's resume is having a cool mustache (Bill would appreciate that) and being a really good closer for about 10 years. Do you think Jonathan Papelbon is HOF-bound? If not, then it's fine to say that Fingers, Sutter and possibly Gossage don't really belong either.

jacktotherack said...

I mean, Jim Rice broke his bat once on a checked swing. A checked swing!

Glenallen Hill hit one to the warning track at Wrigley on a half swing, and hit a homer onto the rooftops across the street. Put him in the fucking HOF too.

JC said...

If we can induct Fingers in the HOF for having a cool mustache, then Bill Simmons' dad should be a lock. Have you seen that man's facial hair?

jacktotherack said...

One other thing that is beyond aggravating, and I guess it's really just stating the obvious, but HOLY SHITBALLS is it annoying when he says stuff like "I don't remember Pops and I going down to scalp tickets when Blyleven was on the mound." I get that shit is part of his whole schtick, but what kind of asshole uses reasons like that to frame whether someone is a HOFer or not?? Why should I give a shit whether or not Bill's Dale Murphy cards ended up as coasters at his house?

Chris W said...

I think that Mazeroski and Brock should be in the HOF for sure, and next time I see you IRL I'm gonna give you a swirly because you don't, Larrina.

Anonymous said...

Larry B: How about Rollie's teammate, Catfish Hunter? Lemon was better than him.

Chris W said...

Hell, CHET Lemon might have been better than Catfish