As new technology continues to change how we evaluate players, Jorge Posada's Hall of Fame case might hinge as heavily on what we don't know about him as what we do.
It’s good to be a baseball fan in the 21st century. Not only is it easy to keep up with the action-packed offseason (which for the Yankees, pre-Pineda/Kuroda, amounted to re-signing Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, and Rick Down) at sites like this one, but thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, we no longer have to wheel out a motorcycle or a piece of army ordnance every time we want to find out how hard a young pitcher throws. We also spend a lot less time arguing about things that aren’t subjective. In the 20th century, debates about velocity went something like this:
Yellow journalist 1: Who throws harder: Jack Pronto or Jack Celerity?
Yellow journalist 2: Pronto. Boy, but does he makes the glove pop.
Yellow journalist 1: That may be, but batsmen can’t catch up to Celerity’s speed ball.
Yellow journalist 2: Batsmen can’t even see the pill when Pronto pitches.
Yellow journalist 1: [Good hitter] said he’d never faced anyone faster than Celerity.
Yellow journalist 2: [Other good hitter] saw Pronto and said he hadn’t been as scared since San Juan Hill.
Yellow journalist 1: Well, Walter Johnson throws harder than either of them.
Yellow journalist 2: Pshaw. Walter Johnson throws slower than my mistress.
Walter Johnson: That’s slander!
Both yellow journalists: /yellow journalist fist-bump
The two Davids conduct a humorous dialogue on all the hot stove happenings.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
David Raposa writes about music for Pitchfork and other places. He used to write about baseball for the blog formerly known as Yard Work. He occasionally blogs for himself, and he also tweets way too much.
Jay Jaffe and JAWS examine the starting pitchers on this year's Hall of Fame BBWAA ballot, starting with the inevitable Jack Morris.
After delivering the JAWS piece on first basemen earlier this week, I had planned to tackle the outfielders—Tim Raines, Bernie Williams et al—next. The sad news of Greg Spira'suntimely passingon Wednesday presented me with a reason to change course, however. In the service of working on a chapter on Jack Morris’s Hall of Fame case for Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbersin November, I had called upon the Internet Wayback Machine to unearth Greg's seminal research piece questioning whether Morris "pitched to the score." a piece that was published in Baseball Prospectus 1997, predating Morris’s arrival on the BBWAA ballot by a three years and Joe Sheehan's own outstanding Morris research by five years. I suggested to Dave Pease that we republish it on our site to run alongside yesterday’s article in tribute to our fallen colleague and friend, a fine example of his intellectual curiosity and dogged research efforts, particularly as the work dated to a time when Retrosheet was in its infancy and the relevant data not easily compiled. This piece is dedicated to his memory.
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Jay recaps the careers of the soon-to-be-HOF-inducted Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.
The Hall of Fame induction weekend is upon us, and while I've taken issue with the way the institution is treating this year's recipients of the Frick, Spink, and O'Neil awards, I'm particularly excited to see this year’s class of BBWAA and Expansion Era Committee choices—Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick—honored. Having watched both Alomar and Blyleven excel with multiple teams over the years, it was both a privilege and a labor of love to advocate their election to Cooperstown.
The Hall of Fame has quietly removed the writers and broadcasters from the annual Sunday ceremonies.
Technically, they're not Hall of Famers. The broadcasters and writers honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame are recipients of the Ford C. Frick and J.G. Taylor Spink Awards, the highest honors in their respective fields. Voted upon on an annual basis by a committee of previous award winners, historians, and columnists in the case of the former, and by the Baseball Writers Association of America in the case of the latter, they are recognized at the Cooperstown mecca not with the bronze plaques that players, managers, executives, and pioneers receive, the ones that hang in the hallowed Hall of Fame Gallery. Rather, a portrait of each recipient is included in the "Scribes & Mikemen" exhibit in the Hall's library. As the Class of 2011 is inducted this weekend, those honorees are being pushed even further from the limelight.
What's in an All-Star game or a career that spans 60 novels and 35 films? It all depends on the fleeting retention of public memory.
Every now and again in my career as an editor, I have come across a writer who thinks that they are Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare, by which I mean that they operate under the delusion that the little baseball doodads that they write will be remembered for more than three seconds after they stop doing them. It must be a pleasing delusion to feel so self-important, but it’s a blinding one. Better to believe, as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,” and then have time prove you wrong than to assume the opposite and go through life under the misapprehension that there is a Hall of Fame for scribblers.
Yes, I am aware there is a so-called “writer’s wing” at Cooperstown. I will get back to that in a moment.
Several years ago, I saw a television editorial by Harlan Ellison, an excellent writer I would hope will be remembered. His theme was that a writer’s glory is fleeting (you can see the second half of it here, though the clip largely omits what I am about to discuss; I would also like to point out that the bowdlerizing of, believe it or not, Lassie he refers to in the video is also being done today with The Great Gatsby). In it, Ellison mourns the total obscurity of one Clarence Budington Kelland. He returned to Kelland in a 2008 interview with the Onion’s A.V. Club:
The BBWAA's secretary-treasurer discusses voting and what it's like to notify players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
In Part II, Jack O'Connell, the secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America, discusses annual awards and the Hall of Fame, including who votes for the MVP and Cy Young, who gets a Hall of Fame ballot, and why Rick Ferrell is enshrined in Cooperstown. You can read Part I here.
The secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA discusses the organization's purpose, its relationship with MLB, and membership eligibility.
The Baseball Writers Association of America is a big part of the game, and Jack O’Connell is a big part of the BBWAA. The organization’s secretary-treasurer since 1994, O’Connell is not only involved in the decision-making, he also serves as spokesperson and coordinates the annual awards and Hall of Fame balloting. A member of the BBWAA since 1975, he is a former beat writer for both the Mets and Yankees. O’Connell talked about the history and objectives of the BBWAA, along with a variety of the organization’s issues. Among them: their relationship with MLB, membership eligibility—including the inclusion of internet-only reporters—and the Hall of Fame voting process.
Two men finally get their due in Cooperstown, while several other qualified players are locked out.
Our long national nightmare is over. On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, two overwhelmingly qualified candidates who missed gaining entry from the BBWAA last year by a combined 13 votes. Both cleared the mandatory 75 percent threshold with room to spare, with Alomar drawing 90 percent of the record 581 votes cast during his second year on the ballot, and Blyleven garnering 79.7 percent in his 14th year of eligibility. They'll join Pat Gillick on the dais in Cooperstown, New York on July 24.
Bert Blyleven, in his final year of eligibility, makes his last stand for Cooperstown.
It's fair to say that in these quarters, the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot is the most hotly anticipated one in the eight seasons since I began covering the Cooperstown beat for Baseball Prospectus. That's because when the 2010 ballot results were announced back on January 6, Bert Blyleven fell just five votes short of enshrinement, receiving 74.2 percent of the necessary 75 percent. As disappointing as his close-but-no-cigar showing in his 13th year on the ballot might have been, Blyleven's tally represented a significant surge from the 62.7 percent he received the year before. After a long, hard climb from his having receiving less than 20 percent in each of his first three years on the ballot, his election is so close that the pitcher and all of those who have supported him over the years can practically taste it.
The Mariners' radio duo discuss their time in baseball, breaking into the business, and their most memorable moments.
Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs are more than just the radio voices of the Seattle Mariners, they are baseball icons in the Pacific Northwest. Niehaus, who received the Ford C. Frick award in 2008, has been in the booth since the franchise’s inaugural season, in 1977. Rizzs’ tenure is nearly as long, as he has been Niehaus’ broadcast partner since 1983, save for three tumultuous seasons spent with the Detroit Tigers. Niehaus and Rizzs talked about their storied careers, the art of broadcasting, and Mariners baseball during an August visit to Fenway Park.
Is this the year for Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris? And what of Lee Smith?
In a tradition as old as my Hall of Fame ballot analysis series itself predating even the JAWS acronym, we come to the pitchers on the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame mere hours ahead of the announcement of the voting results. As with last year, it's a short list, featuring three holdovers and four newcomers. Among this group, Bert Blyleven remains the standout. Now in his 13th year on the ballot, he's polled above 60 percent in each of the past two years. While the work done by statheads here and elsewhere to boost his candidacy has gotten through to the voters, he's running out of time.