Monday, January 12, 2009

Cooperstown: T minus one hour

The Baseball Hall of Fame voting will be announced in about a hour. In the meantime, some good background on the voters comes from King Kaufman at Salon wrote a pretty inspired rebuttal to Seamheads' interview with Dave Kindred. Kindred, as you'll recall, sniffed at the fandangled new stats, "when I grow up, I hope to have my elders explain them to me." Kaufman shot back:
"Sabermetric analysis is used not just by a wide swath of baseball fans and chroniclers, but also in baseball front offices. It's relied heavily upon by, among others, the Boston Red Sox, who have been one of the most successful franchises in baseball this century, winning two of the last five World Series, and by the (Tampa Bay) Rays, who beat the Sox on the way to the Series last year.

"It's what's going on in the world we're covering. In what other profession do practitioners brag about their ignorance regarding current events and developments? In what other area of journalism is lack of awareness a mark of distinction?"
One of the commenters on Kaufman's article likened it to political reporters persisting in referring to Russia as the Soviet Union. It's only sports, not geopolitics or even the Golden Globes, but there is a responsibility to keep up. No one who covers baseball has to become a babbling fount of BABIP (batting average on balls in play), DIPs (defence-independent pitching statistics) and VORP (value over replacement player) and such, but it's a professional obligation to at least understand how it helps puts players' performances in context. It's good background before you yammer on about home runs, RBI, ERA and win-loss records.

That's the end of the rant. Chances are, Jim Rice will squeak in along with Rickey Henderson today and no one else will. (Update, 2:02 p.m.: Yep, nailed it.)

Not to sound like a busted iPod, but hopefully Tim Raines, as his former Expos teammate Steve Rogers said on MLB Home Plate (XM channel 175) today, continues to "build a following," hopefully in the 40% range, but more likely in the mid-30s.

The best bet seems to 2010 will be Andre Dawson's year.

It's regrettable that this site didn't get around to doing a Keltner test on Rik Aalbert Blyleven, he of the 3.31 career ERA, 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts (fifth all-time) and 60 shutouts (most of any post-1950 pitcher not named Ryan or Seaver).

Bert Blyleven, who is in his 12th go-round, should have gone in long ago. Speaking personally, it's never taken on the quality of a crusade the way it has with Dawson, Raines and Robbie Alomar, but it would be brutal if he's excluded. That being said, the BBWAA election is very much a poll and the Hall of Fame is very much a wonderful museum in a bucolic tourist trap. They're not electing the president or the pope.

That's one way of rationalizing it away, but ask again in a hour.

(Thanks to Pete Toms for the link.)

Ignorance is not a sportswriting skill (King Kaufman, Salon)

No comments: