There were two hot tickets for central Virginians in the summer of 1992: the new rock band from Charlottesville that featured both a saxophone and a violin, and the AAA All-Star Game hosted by the Richmond Braves. Seventeen years later, Dave Matthews Band have established themselves as one of the biggest touring bands in the world, and three alumni from the AAA All-Star Game (Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Bernie Williams) look like strong candidates to make the Hall of Fame.
Wrapping up the JAWS rankings for this year's Hall of Fame eligibles.
Finally, we come to the pitchers on the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame, a mercifully short list this time around, featuring four holdovers and three newcomers. Among this group, Bert Blyleven is the standout, and while he's certainly no lock to gain election this time around, he jumped to nearly 62 percent in last year's vote, suggesting that the work done by statheads here and elsewhere to boost his candidacy is finally getting through to the voters.
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An exhibition game that counts is like a fish with a bicycle, but now you can do something about it.
In the wake of what some are calling the greatest All-Star Game ever, I realize it’s probably unpopular to criticize the Midsummer Classic. As of now, it seems the only aspect of the game subject to any admonishment is the fact that both teams almost ran out of pitchers. Even though you can take both managers to task for not asking some of their pitchers to throw an additional inning here or there, you can’t really blame the All-Star Game format for the shortage of arms, because as we learned with the Mariners’ recent Jamie Burke experiment, managing a bullpen in a 15-inning affair can be a tricky proposition.
Before I go any further, I’d like to make it clear that I found this year’s All-Star Game riveting. Unfortunately, it highlighted what makes this game so flawed, and it goes beyond the fact that David Wright and J.D. Drew were being considered as emergency pitchers. Fortunately for all of us, I have a solution for said flaws, and it lies in the hands of our democracy.
The disjointed selection process has produced odd assemblages on each league's roster, and overlooked some true stars.
The All-Star rosters were announced Sunday, accompanied by the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth. I'm as big a complainer about the picks as anyone, even though I know it's a controversy that lasts about half of a news cycle. No one will care, by Wednesday, that Jason Bay or Johan Santana or John Lackey got jobbed.
As is his wont, Joe filled out his ballot at the ballpark last week.
Last week I went to the Memorial Day Marlins/Mets game, during which I undertook one of my favorite tasks: filling out an All-Star ballot during the game. As I've written in this space many times, I think the All-Star Game is for the very best players in the league, and I think the way to vote for the All-Stars isn't by perusing the EqA lists from the comfort of your couch, but between innings while kibitzing with your friends, hot-dog breath filling the air. (This may come as a surprise to some, but I do not have a laptop open when watching a game from the stands.)
The answers to last week's Rookie of the Year voting trivia challenge are revealed, along with a breakdown of how the stubborn votes look in hindsight.
That collective groan you heard yesterday emanated from all the sportswriters in the land as they contemplated an early end to the bubbling hot stove spring that the Alex Rodriguez free agency represented. Seeing him get his situation situated by Thanksgiving is not what baseball wordsmiths had in mind when he parted ways with the Yankees prior to Game Four of the World Series. That he returned from whence he came makes it that much more anticlimactic. Now we'll all have to find something else to talk about.
If you want fame, acclamation, and All-Star recognition, maybe playing time--more playing time--is the best way to judge.
Welcome to the latest edition of Prospectus Toolbox. We're back to conceptual topics this week-we're not going to talk about a specific statistic or report, but rather the factor that effects how statistics and performance are perceived. That factor is time, specifically playing time.
Despite the All-Star game's lost luster, Joe still loves the age-old habit of punching his card in the stands.
I miss the All-Star Game. Not to sound like your grandfather, but in the span of my memory it's gone from a highlight of the summer to an afterthought. The slow and steady teardown of any delineation between the two leagues, with the final blow of interleague play, has turned the midsummer classic into the NBA All-Star Game with bigger rosters. There's just no thrill to it anymore, no special quality to it. I watch it, and I note its fun moments, but I have been known to tune out the last five innings or so while I work or eat or read.
The newly-constituted Veteran's Committee takes its third look at the Hall-of-Fame ballot, and if they don't elect Santo and Co. this time, says Jay, it should be "three strikes and you're out."
In 2002, the Hall of Fame revamped its Veterans Committee. Formerly, it was the freight-elevator entrance to the institution for those unable to enter via the red-carpeted front door of the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. Out went the old 15-member voting body, a group which included baseball executives, writers, and former players. That group annually conducted its dirty work behind closed doors, outside of which nobody knew who was up for election, and unless someone received 75 percent of the vote, nobody knew any results. With the process completely opaque and with accountability nil, cronyism and senility abounded, and errors that diluted the honor of election to the Hall were made. Legend has it that the Veterans Committee (or VC) elected the vastly inferior Waner brother, Lloyd, in a case of mistaken identity. For that among other reasons, I say good riddance to a flawed system.
In its place is the new VC, a body of 84 eligible voters: 61 living Hall of Famers, 14 Frick Award recipients (broadcasters), eight Spink Award recipients (writers), and one "old VC" member whose term hadn't expired. The new VC uses a voting process analogous to the BBWAA's: a pre-screened ballot made public before a decentralized vote conducted by mail, with the results made public afterwards, and 75 percent of the vote required for election. The vote is held in odd-numbered years for players, and in every other odd-numbered year for nonplayers (managers, umpires, executives). The pool of potential honorees is determined by a panel of 60 BBWAA writers (two for each major league city/team) plus a board of six Hall of Famers; my colleague Steven Goldman turned a jaundiced eye on the new process last fall.
One candidate is different from every other candidate, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the infielders on the ballot have no hope of induction. Jay uses his signature JAWS system to investigate who's worthy of Cooperstown.
This is the fourth year I've used the very self-consciously named Jaffe WARP
Score system (JAWS) to examine the Hall of Fame ballot. The goal of JAWS is
to identify candidates on the Hall ballot who are as good or better than the
average Hall of Famer at their position, a bar set so as to avoid further
diluting the quality of the institution's membership. Clay Davenport's Wins
Above Replacement Player (WARP) totals are the coin of the realm for this
endeavor because they normalize all performance records in major-league
history to the same scoring environment, adjusting for park effects, quality
of competition and length of schedule. Pitchers, hitters and fielders are
thus rated above or below one consistent replacement level, making cross-era
comparisons a breeze.
JAWS does not include non-statistical considerations--awards, championships,
postseason performance, rap sheet, urine test results--but that's not to say
they should be left by the wayside. They're just not the focus here. While
I'll discuss the 800-pound elephant in the room in the context of various
candidacies, I don't claim to have a solution as to how voters or fans
should handle the dawn of this new era. That's an emotional issue, and JAWS
isn't designed to handle emotions.