Wherever you land on the Hall of Fame debate — be it a certain player or the whole process or anything in between — or wherever you are on the CBA negotiations, yesterday was simply a hilarious day for how people want players rewarded for what they do on the field, be it money or esteem.
The night capped off with the announcement that only David Ortiz would get enshrined this coming summer from the normal vote. There’s little question that Big Papi belongs, and no one’s really arguing that. Even though he was only a DH, he essentially defined the role.
It just looks odd when all of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa fell off the ballot even though they all have better numbers. And it’s not like Ortiz hasn’t been connected to PEDs in the past, though whatever the depth of those connections are is up to you to decide.
But what this election launched, yet again, is everyone’s vision of what the parameters should be for entry into Cooperstown, which generally is the biggest example of baseball scribes furiously stroking themselves as you can find. And there are no answers, just everyone thinking they’re right.
First there’s the “museum” argument, that baseball can’t ignore its history and everyone gets in. And while the actual building in Cooperstown is something of a museum, that doesn’t mean the honor of being named a Hall of Famer means entry into the museum. Sure the Dinosaur or King Tut’s corpse weren’t voted into museums. The museum and the honor are two different things.
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But then there’s the “Gatekeepers,” who have decided that Cooperstown must be squeaky clean without ever really outlining whatever the fuck that means. It means Ortiz gets in, but Bonds doesn’t, which probably has to do with Ortiz being a delightful person, especially to the media, and Bonds being a raging penis for most of his career. Except they won’t tell you that. Same goes for Clemens and Alex Rodriguez. But Jeff Bagwell is OK? These goalposts are more flexible and mobile than an Olympic gymnast, and all of them are in the dark.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all horseshit, you’re right. And it’s unclear if any fans care, and whether this is a debate that gets so much volume just because baseball and baseball writers assume that it has to be important to everyone. They mind the gates of Valhalla of our national pastime, don’t ya know? Which ignores the fact that more and more people don’t care about baseball at all.
Which makes for a curious, awkward, and downright bewildering connection to yesterday’s CBA negotiations, where the MLBPA and MLB seemed to agree to compensate pre-arbitration eligible players by…the opinions of all these dickheads who have fucked up the Hall of Fame voting. That’s right, a bonus pool doled out to first- and second-year players based on MVP or Rookie Of The Year voting, which is done by the writers. Or is based on WAR, which while a formula created by those trying to view baseball impartially as possible, is still flawed because it’s designed by people. And which WAR? FanGraphs’? Baseball Reference’s? Both have their problems.
Say you’re a relief pitcher who comes up and just mows everyone down like Josh Hader did a few years ago or Emmanuel Clase did this year. Well, WAR is never kind to relievers, because they throw so few innings. Where’s your money coming from? And will you get it before your team turns your elbow into dust?
Or a starter on an innings limit? Or even a first baseman, as defensive metrics always punish them, which affects their WAR (seriously, Derrek Lee never had a positive Defensive Runs Saved for a full season, and he was the best first baseman in the field I’ve ever seen. The metrics just don’t cover how they save their teammates’ errors). This is how you’re going to decide?
Or what if we want to evaluate and judge by StatCast numbers, which MLB controls. Boy, that’s not ripe for interference and corruption, is it?
And we know that some writers are in the bag for the owners. They rhyme with “Huster Stolney” or “Fon Jeyman.” What’s to keep a GM or owner from whispering to them to downplay a player’s MVP or ROY candidacy to save their team some dough? These are people describing the recent negotiations as progress or trying to place the blame for all this on the players. Meanwhile, those without connections are giving you the real story.
Maybe it’s just a sign of how much and how deeply the entire sport of baseball got its head wedged into its own ass. Here we have Cooperstown turned into a bad joke at best, an infuriating farce at worst. And then we’re going to turn around and determine people’s salary through much the same means and people.
So delicious it goes right to your thighs.