Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jeff Jacobs: Getting the Treatment

I don't always bash baseball writers, but when I do, I prefer to use the FJM treatment....

It's been a while since I've come across an article worthy (kind of surprising) but the wait is over - Jeff Jacobs from the Hartford Courant has brought FJM back to Ben's Baseball Bias!

Here. We. Go.

The Agony Of Filling Out A Hall Of Fame Ballot

While leaving an empty box next to Jeff Bagwell's name …

Oy, so that's where this article is going...

Lots of folks have a bucket list, or at least that's the term they assign to it after the 2007 movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. And while it is probably best to keep most of the Before-I-Croak inventory private, I will share one checked off mine:

We all understood your use of "bucket list" without a need for you showing off your rather impressive knowledge of film history. And for what it's worth, while I'm not positive, I'm pretty darn sure the term bucket list wasn't coined by whatever schmuck wrote that money-grab movie for Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman like Catch-22 was by Joseph Heller. Look, I can make references that make me look cool too!!!

Cast a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fair enough. I would also like to cast a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame and since you have shown no evidence of being worthy of having a vote, I think I have just as good shot at this!

The first hint reality wouldn't be nearly as romantic as the dream arrived in the form of Michael Felger, Boston television and radio provocateur, in the Patriots locker room in 2008. 

I'm not sure if I even understand this sentence, but let me try: The first hint of reality that checking off casting a vote for the hall of fame off of your bucket list wasn't going to be as romantic as the dream that you had to check off of your bucket list that you cast a vote for the hall of fame arrived in the form of a human being in the Patriots locker room in the year 2008 named Michael Felger? I think I got it!

He pointed out I was the only new voter from the Boston chapter of the BBWAA that year and the Jim Rice ballot could come down to one vote either way. He offered two words of advice, "Be ready.

Wait, you actually have a vote!

The two words scared me so much sabermetric decimal points started running down my leg. 

Can we get confirmation that it wasn't diarrhea?

Didn't want to be wrong. 

Too late.

Didn't want to be labeled a homer. 

Too late.

Certainly didn't want to be the over-interviewed schlep known for holding Rice's fate in his hands.

So rather than simply voting for who was deserving, you took into consideration homers from Boston telling you to vote in line with their own biased opinion? And you still have a vote for the Hall of Fame?!?!?

I studied every statistical argument for a month, 

Did you make sure to study how much Rice was "feared"?

survived a near cerebral hemorrhage when it was forwarded to me that Roy White was better than Rice, 

Jim Rice: 41.5 career WAR
Roy White: 44.5 career WAR

The side effects from your near cerebral hemorrhage are beginning to show...

voted for Rice and added one line to my bucket list: Live long enough to see Rice elected by more than one vote.

Can someone please explain to me why someone who admits to being afraid to stand up to his opinion gets paid to write about them?

Rice got in by seven, with 412 votes among 539 ballots. Phew, dodged one bullet … only to be dragged into bottomless mire of performance-enhancing drugs. And, man, I have come to hate it.

Jacobs is scared of having Rice's fate in his hands, and now he's admitting he hates voting even more now? So, why does he have a vote?

Few things open you up more quickly to Internet ridicule than releasing your Hall of Fame ballot. 

I'd modify that to read "your unreasonable Hall of Fame ballot", but thanks for being open!

You've got your, "Hey, moron, it's not the Hall of Very Good. If you need to ask if a guy is a Hall of Famer, he's not." 

At least we can both agree that thinking process is silly.

You've got your, "The guy hasn't had one at-bat in five years, you're a hypocrite for changing your mind." Guilty on that count, I'm voting for Barry Larkin this year after not voting for him the previous two. 

Really? Are you sure you don't want to wait to see if anything comes out about Larkin using steroids, you know, just to be safe?

There's the, "You're an imbecile for voting for a compiler [Bert Blyleven]." There's the, "You're an imbecile for voting for a guy who only came up big in big games [Jack Morris]." Guilty on both counts.

Anyone who calls Bert Blyleven a 'compiler' is an imbecile, but so is anyone who votes for Jack Morris.

Jack Morris' Resume:
254 - 186, 3,824 IP, 2,478 Ks 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+
7-4 3.80 ERA in the postseason with the famous 10 inning shutout in game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

He's essentially Jamie Moyer (267 wins, 104 ERA+) with one outstanding playoff performance, which means to say that while he's a great pitcher he's not worthy of the Hall of Fame.

All around you've got numbers nerds who pick their guy, find every conceivable statistic to back their point while ignoring every statistic to the contrary. 

Since when are "numbers nerds" automatically considered completely biased pricks? I can't imagine a "numbers nerd" ignoring, well, the numbers. Dissecting all of the statistics and coming to the conclusion that you don't agree with doesn't mean they ignore "every statistic to the contrary".

And if your conclusion is different than theirs, you're not only identified as an imbecile, you're some kind of sicko. Small wonder many voters keep their ballots private.

You're not a sicko, you're just the one ignoring every statistic to the contrary and focusing on Jack Morris' singular playoff performance as reason for him being a Hall of Famer

Yet it wasn't until Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated wrote something last December that I began to wonder if voting for the Hall of Fame is worth the hassle. 

Wait, so you haven't answered my question yet, why do you have a vote if you are actively wondering if voting is even "worth the hassle"?

There are places on the Internet where you are called a man playing God if you don't vote immediately for Jeff Bagwell. 

There are places on the Internet that say there is no such thing as God!

You are called Joe McCarthy. Posnanski didn't use either term, but he came close.

Joe Posnanski didn't use the term, but in my arbitrary estimation he came close, so I'm going to not-so-subtly insinuate to my readers that Joe Posansnki called people like me Joe McCarthy!

Bagwell never tested positive for steroids. He was not named in the Mitchell Report.
Yet because Bagwell has become, in some voters' minds, a player who used PEDs, Posnanski wrote, "I can't even begin to describe my disgust … it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

Remind me again, how is it a bad thing for Posnanski or anyone for that matter, to feel disgusted that someone is being harmed without any actual evidence other than the fact that he played from 1991 to 2005 and was muscular?

"I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury …I'd rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out."

He wrote, "I would say to those people who would not vote for Jeff Bagwell because they simply believe he used steroids, based on how he looked or some whispers they heard, I have a better idea: Let's just burn him at the stake. If he survives, you will know you were right."

Woah, I really agree with Jacobs Posanski here.

Joe Posnanski is the best sports writer in 2011 America, but it doesn't mean he's 100 percent correct on this issue.

Joe Posanski very well could be the best sports writer in 2011 America, but his adjusted rankings, compared to the league average sports writer (Writing+) are looking even better right now because of writers like you!

Based on numbers alone, Bagwell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. That part is easy. He hit .297 with 449 homers, eight 100-RBI seasons and had a .948 OPS as well as a Gold Glove and an MVP Award.

Oh, sorry about all of that trash before, Mr. Jacobs, it looks like you and I both agree that Bagwell should be in the Hall of Fame.

Yet because of the sins of his baseball generation, fair or not, Bagwell finds himself in an uncomfortable position.

Oh, f*ck... It's certainly not fair and he's only "uncomfortable" because of people like you who continue to read into something that isn't there.

Bagwell grew up in Killingworth, went to the University of Hartford, so sure, I'm rooting for his eventual induction. Yet we also have heard tens of players like Bagwell deny steroid use over the years only for it to turn out otherwise. 

Your logic: 

Bagwell denied using steroids ∴ Bagwell may have used steroids.

That makes sense!

We have seen tens of players like Bagwell blow up from a skinny 20 to a cartoon 35. 

I don't know what this means.

We have seen tens of players like Bagwell break down physically in their late 30s. 

This is simply called aging, most humans do this.

I will never vote for Rafael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire, not in 15 lifetimes, but I also don't want to be part of any witch hunt. 

You can't partake in a witch hunt and then simply declare that you "don't want to be part of any with hunt", that's just not fair.

I only want to play the percentages. I want Bagwell's insistence he was clean to be true. I don't want his induction to backfire in an ugly way. 

You want to play the percentages, but you don't want to just look at the numbers, this is very consistent!

My view certainly is not foolproof, 

That's for sure.

but it's one I'm comfortable with given the uncomfortable parameters. Forget 100 juicers. I don't knowingly want to vote for one.

There is no evidence of Bagwell being a juicer (referring to PED not organge, grapefruit, etc.), therefore if you voted for Bagwell you wouldn't be knowingly voting for one. Is this not obvious to you?

I have wanted to wait a few years to see if anything surfaced. To watch ESPN, Yahoo!, New York Daily News, the Texas media — someone with the resources and vigor — put Bagwell in its headlights and see if he emerges clean. 

This is just getting ridiculous. If you simply didn't want to knowingly vote for a user, you would have voted for Bagwell already because there is no evidence to the contrary. And, if something did come out, you'd be safe because you still wouldn't have knowingly voted for a "juicer". But clearly that's not the case, you have your suspicions and are waiting until they are vindicated. I take it back, you are sicko. 

I have no intentions of making him wait forever. I will wait another year or two. If the worst thing I do is to make him enter the Hall of Fame with his teammate Craig Biggio, well, that's damning Bagwell with a great blessing.

Yes, I'm sure Jeff Bagwell will take it as a "blessing" that you made him wait X amount of years until you felt it was safe for your unfounded suspicions to subside

I believe in using the 15-year voting period. The years give perspective. They help us look at circumstances differently. There's strength in the process, not weakness.

You have a point. Kind of. The 15-year voting period is useful because people's minds can change, like you graciously admitted regarding your vote on Barry Larkin. It is not meant for people to wait to see if they can gather any dirt on a player.

As much as it infuriates me, I have to agree with BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell's assessment that the National League MVP vote on Ryan Braun stands even if his positive test holds up. Ken Caminiti and A-Rod kept their MVP trophies after it became known they did steroids in 1996 and 2003. And, yes, the 2011 voters voted on the information they had at the time with Braun. But that's not why Braun should keep his MVP. It is because the test he flunked was taken during the postseason. The MVP is a regular season award and unless it was scientifically proved he was using during the 162 games — even though the award announcement wasn't made until November — I'd argue Braun should keep the 2011 award on a technicality.

Now make new precedent. Immediately. In this case, the BBWAA should make a rule that if a player tests positive for PEDs at any time during the calendar year he wins an award, he loses that award. Set the rules in advance and live with them.

Whatever, that's not so bad.

PEDs have made for a complicated, agonizing world for BBWAA voters. And until someone steps forward with a firm set of Hall of Fame guidelines, it's not going to get any less agonizing. 

I have a better idea, remove voting rights from people like you, who chastise people for something that they've never done!

Brace yourself. Next year's incoming Hall of Fame class with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will bring arguments and name-calling like we've never seen.

Yes, but those players have used steroids- there are these little things called facts that tell us that. There is nothing like that implicating Jeff Bagwell.

In the meantime, peek over my shoulder at my 2012 ballot: Barry Larkin and Jack Morris. That's it. I only hope this doesn't make Joe Posnanski barf or for someone to call me Joe McCarthy.

Joe McCarthy, there I said it, I took your stupid bait!

1 comment:

  1. Writers who get paid and use the term "provocateur" are extremely suspect.