Monday, December 08, 2008

Zen Dayley: Bats, balls and a pretty nice racket...

A tip of the cap goes to a former colleague who pointed this out years ago: The chances of a living player getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans' Committee are slim-to-none.

Why? His theory was that the living Hall of Famers don't want more competition on the lucrative autograph market. It certainly does make sense why long-dead Joe Gordon gets in among the "pre-1943" players and the Chicago Cubs third baseman from the 1960s, Ron Santo, was turned down again, along with Dick Allen.

It's a nice racket, huh? A retired ballplayer can hawk stuff on eBay and the home shopping channels, go sign autographs at card shows as Hall of Famer such-and-such. He also gets to choose if anyone else should get a piece of the pie, not that Ron Santo needs a Cooperstown plaque so his autograph is worth more (there are a lot of Cubs fans).

It's about the process (hey, stay awake!) whereby players who faced Allen, Santo or Tony Oliva --who would have been in years ago if it had been put to the fans, or maybe even the whole vox populi of the players they faced. It's too bad for Santo, obviously, especially since the scuttlebutt in the summer was that he should get in this time. (He'll wait two more seasons before the Vets vote again.)

For anyone who cares -- and frankly, I'm not sure anyone does -- Santo's case, speaking as someone who was born after his career ended, has one big flaw. As a career Cubbie in the days when Wrigley Field was the only park in the majors, he played much more daytime baseball than most of his peers.
Day: 6,508 PA, .875 OPS
Night: 2,889 PA, .717 OPS

Day: 2,548 PA, .957 OPS
Night: 4,767, .888 OPS

Day: 2,933 PA, .836 OPS
Night: 3,947 PA, .825 OPS
Santo played a ey defensive position, which probably pulls him even with Allen and puts him ahead of Oliva. However, it's fair to say he had a home-field advantage that the chattering classes in his day had not fully comprehended.

(Of course, if Santo had been a Red Sock, we'd be hearing how playing all those day games hurt his number, just like people try to say that Fenway Park hurt Jim Rice's stats because of all those line-drive singles he supposedly hit off the Green Monster.)

Hall of shamers keep Santo out of their club (RosenBlog)
Split over the Santo clause (June 25, 2008)

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