Let’s delve a little deeper into baseball’s just-completed Hall of Fame voting with an all-Hall edition of the Antivirals.
Follow me into the fray, ladies and gentlemen.
Ever since the Dodgers fired Paul DePodesta, the Hall of Fame voting has become the biggest flashpoint in the hostilities between stat nerds and mainstream sports media. And the nerds won a key battle with this week’s election of Bert Blyleven. The ex-Minnesota Twin spent years compiling impressive peripheral statistics while putting up mediocre won-loss records, making him a perfect fulcrum in the ongoing Stat Wars.
Unfortunately, the wars are far from over (Look out for Stat Wars II: The Heyman Strikes Back). The Blyleven election doesn’t mean rational thinking prevailed; rather it confirmed an odd trend in Hall voting. Anytime a player begins to gain momentum and receive vote totals in the ballpark of the 75% needed for election, they inevitably get elected within a few years. Suddenly, all the writers who were convinced for years that a player’s career wasn’t Hall-worthy capitulate to peer pressure. This phenomenon can work for good, as it did with Blyleven, or for evil, as with Jim Rice.
So Blyleven and Roberto Alomar deservedly gain entry to Cooperstown, but other worthy stathead pets remain in limbo, including should-be slam-drunk cases Tim Raines and Barry Larkin. And as always, the battle continues in the form of interesting analyses from the statheads and poorly written screeds from the herd.
An ESPN news editor submitted a ballot that included votes for Tino Martinez and B.J. Surhoff. Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs appreciates the inanity.
The Los Angeles Times‘ Ross Newman anoints himself the morality police in a New York Times piece about Hall voters keeping suspected steroid users out.
As usual, Nate Silver takes an interesting perspective, arguing that the Hall of Fame has grown too small and inclusive.
Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse has declared that he will forevermore keep his Hall ballot secret, so that he doesn’t have to defend his decisions to exclude players based on his own personal steroid speculation.
The Hall of Fame’s president, Jeff Idleson, is delighted that voters are keeping the untamed performance enhancement junkies out.
Colin Barnicle at the Huff Post has a reasoned analysis of the Bagwell debacle.
So, to answer Twinkie Town’s question: yes, we still need the Internet now that Blyleven is in the Hall. Just as creationists don’t back off when new proof emerges that the world has been around for billions of years and not 5,000, neither will anti-stats sportswriters just because a little progress has been made.