28 July 2003

I Wanna Comb-Over! To Hell With the Consequence!!

The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place yesterday afternoon, in Cooperstown, NY. Catcher Gary Carter and 1B/DH Eddie Murray were inducted as players, and your hero and mine, Bob Uecker, was inducted as a broadcaster, getting the Ford C. Frick Award, and generally making people laugh, like he always does.

I only saw a few highlights of the ceremonies, but I understand that Carter was concerned about crying onstage during his speech, and so he mad a point not to dwell on the especially emotional aspectsof his story, as outlined in the 23-minute speech he delivered. Of course, he got kinda choked up anyway, but overall it wasn't really embarassing, and even if he had cried, it would not have been especially embarassing. Heck, Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly was practically a fountain of tears in Akron last year, as he gave his acceptance speech to the football Hall of Fame, all the while facing his disabled son, and everyone thought it was very touching, and it was. Not embarassing at all.

No, what Carter should have been worried about was his hair. I mean, did you see this guy? They call him "The Kid"? OK, so he's no spring chicken, but he's not fooling anybody with an 8-inch combover either, y'know? Gary used to have hair, see?

But not now:

And of course, the speeches are filmed from the worst possible angle for a guy with this problem, one to which I can relate, given my relative abundance of forehead these days as compared to my youth. They shoot you straight on, just a little above level, so that every time "The Kid" looks down at his speech notes, all you see is the combover. Bad news, man. Bad news.

And what's worse is that the plaques they make for these guys always look like the sculptor finished the bust perfectly and then took a sledge hammer to to the face.

He looks like the title character from Mask. All told, not a very flattering weekend for The Kid.

On a related note: F#

ESPN has Rob Neyer's take on which current players would make the Hall of Fame if their careers ended tomorrow, and he picks a dozen guys who are essentially locks: Rocket, Big Unit, Mad Dog, Glavine, Piazza, Pudge, Alomar, Biggio, Bonds, Rickey, Sammy and Junior. Not a bad group.

Just missing the cut, in Neyer's opinion are Palmiero, McGriff, Bagwell, Pedro, Big Hurt, Barry Larkin, and A-Rod.

Now as I understand it, Neyer's not saying who deserves to get into the Hall, but who would get into the Hall, as I know that he has advocated for Palmiero, McGriff and Thomas under separate auspices, if not others in that group. And surely, if four Cy Young Awards will get Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson (5) and Roger Clemens (6) into the Hall, certainly these should do the trick for Pedro Martinez as well, despite his "frailty".

The really interesting stuff comes up in the opinion polls. Readers were asked who they would vote for, and then the results are tallied, with anyone who gets the requisite 75% vote (the minimum BBWAA percentage for induction) highlighted. And who's highlighted? Only, Clemens, Maddux, Randy, A-Rod, Bonds, Henderson and Sammy.

Pedro Martinez doesn't make 75%, but he gets 10% more votes than Glavine, which is interesting considering that he has about hundred fewer career wins. I'm not saying that either of them isn't deserving. I just don't understand the thought processes involved in not voting for a guy with 250 career wins, five 20-win seasons and two Cy Young Awards.

None of the four relief pitchers (Hoffman, Rivera, Smoltz or John Franco) got enough votes, but John Smoltz, who has been a relief pitcher for... -what, about half an hour? ...got more votes than anyone else. Go figure.

Neither Mike Piazza nor Ivan Rodriguez received 75% of the vote, which is amazing considering that Piazza is easily the greatest hitting catcher EVER, and that Rodriguez is one of only ten catchers ever to win an MVP award. Most of those are either in the Hall already (Campanella and Berra with three each, Bench with two, and Ernie Lombardi, Mickey Cochrane, and Gabby Hartnett with one each), on their way (Joe Torre) or died too young to cap off what would likely have been a Hall-meriting career (Thurman Munson). Only Elston Howard was never a serious candidate for enshrinement.

Among the 1B/DH types, nobody got particularly close to 75%, with Palmiero coming in the highest, with less than 65%, and Frank Thomas bringing up the rear, around 30%. This is sad. How in the world a guy with 500+ career homers doesn't get 3 out of 4 internet users to vote for him is beyond me. And how Frank Thomas ends up with fewer votes than Edgar Martinez completely escapes my comprehensive capacity.

Neither Roberto Alomar nor Craig Biggio got enough votes, not even 60% for Alomar and not even 35% for Biggio. What a shame.

It's hard to argue with Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Rickey Henderson, who all have "First Ballot" written all over their careers. But Ken Griffey not only doesn't get 75% of the vote, doesn't get 60%, doesn't even get 50% of the votes??? The guy's got 2000+ hits and 480-something homers, and he's only 33! He's been among the top ten vote getters in the MVP race seven times in 14 seasons! He even won once! Ten Gold Gloves! Seven 100-RBI seasons! Six 100-run seasons! Seven .300 BA seasons! FOUR HOME RUN TITLES!!! Do you know how many players have led their leagues in home runs at least four times (Since 1920, the end of the dead ball era, when homers really became significant) and aren't in the Hall of Fame?


There are seventeen guys on that list, and they're all in the Hall, except Griffey, who's not elligible. Yet.
But when he is, he'll get in. You better, you better you bet. Anybody who's that good, for that long, eventually gets enshrined. Even if he does get hurt or lose a step when he gets older.

The trouble with these internet polls is that you can't tell who's voting. Don't get me wrong, the BBWAA has made more than its share of mistakes over the years (how do you not elect Joe DiMaggio on the first ballot?), but by and large, they do OK, because most of them kinda know their stuff. With the Internet, you never know who's out there clicking those mouses. Meeses. Mice. Buttons. Or do you?

It seems from the results of this poll, that the average baseball fan is about eight or ten years old, and can only rember back about as far as 1999 or so. Maybe 1998. This would explain why Pedro Martinez (one CYA and two 20-win seasons in that span) gets more votes than Tom Glavine (none and one). It would also explain why Edgar Martinez gets more votes than Frank Thomas, who was basically the best hitter in the AL for seven straight years, but seven years that ended in 1997. It also explains Griffey's lack of support, as his trade to Cincinnati before the 2000 season coincided with his plummet from super-stardom.

And, of course, it explains why none of the voters seems to have any idea how good Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio and Barry Larkin were for most of their careers, before they got kinda old, and why they have no sense of history when it comes to rating two of the best players ever to strap on the Tools of Ignorance. Also, it explains why they think that Alex Rodriguez's nine seasons in the major leagues merit his enshrinement now, even though you need ten years just to be considered: They haven't learned to count yet.

So to sum up...

Bad News: The average fan of Major League Baseball is either ten years old, really stupid, or both.

Good News: The average fan of MLB is probably about ten years old, which means that the sport is doing a better job of marketing itself to youngsters than we thought!

Bud Selig, Bob DuPuy and their comb-overs will be so relieved.

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