The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

This Year’s Hall of Fame Arguments

I’ve been reading a sampling of the vast body of opinion regarding the 2014 baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which includes many of the most famous (and infamous) names in baseball history:  Bonds, Maddux, Clemens, Sosa, Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza, Schilling, Glavine, Mussina, Morris, Raines, etc.  Predictably, there is not only little consensus on which players belong in The HOF (with the probable exception of Greg Maddux), but there also seems to be a great deal of disagreement about what standards we should even use to judge these players.

What follows is a random sampling of the often contradictory (occasionally hallucinatory) opinions that fans and writers have expressed online regarding the players, and the Hall of Fame voting procedure itself.  The player being commented upon appears in parentheses.

1)  “He was a compiler.  He needs to get used to the fact that he was a good, but not a great player, and only got to 3,000 hits because he hung around for a long time.”  (Craig Biggio)

2)  “He didn’t play long enough.  His career was too short.  He never got anywhere near 3,000 hits.”  (Larry Walker)

3)  “He didn’t hit 500 homers, which is the gold standard for first basemen.  Also, he just looks like a ‘roid user.”  (Jeff Bagwell)

4)  “Although he hit over 500 home runs, and was mostly a first baseman, he was just too much of a one-dimensional player.  He probably didn’t use steroids, but that’s not enough of a reason to vote for him.”  (Frank Thomas)

5)  “If he’s not in the Hall of Fame because of the mistakes he made, which he’s paid for long enough, then no one should be.  Betting on baseball is not any worse than steroid use.  In fact, steroids are far worse.”  (Pete Rose)

6)  “He should be in the Hall of Fame because he was one of the greatest players who ever lived.  Period.  It’s not like he bet on baseball, which is much more serious.”  (Barry Bonds)

7)  “Mostly, he got to 300 wins because he played for great teams.  Put him on a more average team, and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation today.”  (Tom Glavine)

8)  “I can’t see him getting elected to the Hall of Fame because he didn’t reach 300 wins, which would have made him an automatic Hall of Famer.”  (Mike Mussina)

9)  “If he and the other ‘roid users get in, then the Hall of Fame will have lost all respectability.”  (Roger Clemens)

10) “If the BBWAA doesn’t vote him into the Hall, then the Hall will no longer have any credibility.” (Roger Clemens)

11) “That’s what I hate about stats.  You can make an argument for lots of guys.”  (Tim Raines)

12) “He wasn’t any better than Ray Durham.  He just ended up with more numbers.”  (Craig Biggio)

13)  “He wasn’t any better than Lew (sic) Whitaker.  So why should be get in?”  (Craig Biggio)

14)  “A loudmouth phony and a shameless self-promoter.  Had a couple of great seasons, but so did a lot of other guys.”  (Curt Schilling)

15)  “This shouldn’t be a popularity contest.  There are lots of scumbags in the Hall of Fame.”  (Barry Bonds)

16)  “The Hall has been so watered down over the past few years, he’d just water it down further.”  (Argument against Jack Morris)

17)  “Winningest pitcher of the ’80’s, and always pitched to the score.  That’s why his ERA shouldn’t matter.”  (Argument in favor of Jack Morris.)

18)  “They all used steroids, so if everyone is cheating, then no one is cheating.”  (Clemens, Bonds, etc.)

19)  “All the steroid users should be in jail.”  (Clemens, Bonds, etc.)

20)  “I know stats wise he is better, but he also quit while he was ahead.  So people saying Glavine is just getting in over him due to 300 wins also need to look at the downturn that getting to 300 caused to the rest of his stats.”  (Argument apparently favoring (?) Tom Glavine over Mike Mussina.)

21)  “Not denying {he} was a pretty good pitcher, but he could throw the ball anywhere near the plate and the umps would call it a strike.”  (Greg Maddux)

22)  “No one ever had better command and control.”  (Greg Maddux)

23)  “Bloody sock, my ass.  One great World Series moment does not a career make.”  (Curt Schilling)

24)  “His Game 7, 10-inning shutout in the World Series was one of the greatest moments in baseball history.  That’s why he should be in the Hall.”  (Jack Morris)

25)  “Greatest right-handed pitcher ever.”  (Roger Clemens)

26)  “Greatest right-handed pitcher of all time.”  (Greg Maddux)

27)  “The Hall of Fame is just a museum of baseball, so you have to take the good with the bad.”  (Regarding the alleged steroid users.)

28)  “It’s a special honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.   It would send a terrible message if we put {them} in.”  (Regarding the steroid users.)

29) “Mantle’s stats were great… now think how better they’d have been if he hadn’t tried to paint every town red across the country. Heck, Babe Ruth’s off-the-field escapades were legendary. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, how many players were on the field after a night of uppers or downers? Few people speak ill of those guys.  Which affects a MLB game more? A home run that IS hit or a home run that IS NOT hit? A base hit or a strike out due to a hangover? (So, therefore, Mantle and Ruth should be EVEN MORE in the Hall of Fame?)

30)  “As long as he’s not in the Hall, it’s all a complete joke.”  (Argument for Shoeless Joe Jackson)

31)  “No one who played before Jackie Robinson came along and broke the color line should be considered as great as today’s players.”  (Argument against Shoeless Joe Jackson)

32)  “He shouldn’t be in there if Gil Hodges isn’t.”  (Jeff Bagwell)

33)  “To argue that he should be in the Hall when Tommy John and Jim Kaat are not is ridiculous.”   (Mike Mussina)

34)  “He was a good hitter, but as a day-to-day catcher, I’d take Brian McCann over him.”  (Mike Piazza)

35)  “Saves are a junk stat.”  (Lee Smith)

36)  “One of the two or three best closers of all time.”  (Lee Smith)

37)  “Largely a product of his home ballpark.”  (Larry Walker)

38)  “New how to use the short porch in right-field at Yankee Stadium to his advantage.”  (Roger Maris)

39) “All those who broke the rules should all be banned from baseball forever!”

40) Otter’s Defense of the rule-breakers:  (Animal House)

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29 thoughts on “This Year’s Hall of Fame Arguments

  1. Loved the Mantle, Ruth comment. Ya know, if they’d had different personalities I’m not sure they’d have been as good (Just as Cobb wouldn’t have been as good if he’d been a nice guy.). And where would we be without Ruth?
    Nice selection of comments. I agree with them all (see, I can be bought easily).

  2. Mike Cornelius on said:

    Reblogged this on On Sports and Life and commented:
    A great post from Bill Miller’s always excellent On Deck Circle. Fans of the Great Game may not always be logical, but they are passionate! More to follow.

  3. Hi Bill,…I agree with 7) Glavine was also fortunate to avoid serious injury. His contribution dos not merit a HOF selection. Also 25) yes, Roger Clemens was the best starting pitcher all time! 16) Jack Morris had some wonderfull moments. how ever his record is no where near HOF caliber,…it would serve as an injustice to elect him over much more deserving candidates 33) seriously! Kaat and John ahead of Mussina?? my word Bill! 🙂

    • Hello,
      I guess, by definition, all of them were fortunate to avoid serious injury, or they wouldn’t have made it this far. Just curious what Glavine didn’t accomplish that you think he should have to merit HOF induction? As for Kaat and John, they have decent cases for The Hall, but Mussina was better than both of them.
      Thanks for reading, and for the comment,

      • Glavine was an above average pitcher for a long time,…and that’s the point,…above average. If longevity and counting stats are by themselves valid criteria, than we are no longer electing the very best to the Hall. IMHO the following starters have better credentials, and therefore must be considered ahead of Tom Glavine for potential election. Some are obvious and some are less so, at least to the casual fan. In no particular order:

        Roger Clemens,
        Randy Johnson
        Greg Maddux
        Pedro Martinez
        Roy Halladay
        Mike Mussina
        Curt Schilling (bloody sock and all)
        Kevin Brown

        David Cone had a more valuable career than Tom Galvine. In summary, not all are yet eligible, and all listed here, ahead of Glavine, might not get in themselves. As far as the election process is concerned it is a crowded field. With such a deep pool to draw from, Glavine has not done enough to merit distinction, other than a vote of nostalgia from some form of the veterans committee in the distant future.

        It’s not a knock against Glavine its a vote for more deserving candidates,

        Thanks for listening!

      • Hello, and thanks for writing back. I enjoy these discussions. As for Glavine, when you say he was “just above average,” do you mean that he just above average for a typical pitcher, or just above average for a typical pitcher already in the Hall of Fame? Because if you mean the second one, you are exactly right. Glavine is actually a little above average for a typical pitcher already in the Hall of Fame. Baseball-Reference has him rated among the top 30 pitchers who ever lived, and above a number of pitchers already in the Hall of Fame. Adding Glavine to those already in The Hall doesn’t lower the standard. If anything, it raises it a bit higher than where it’s been for the past 60 years.
        “If longevity and counting stats are by themselves valid criteria, than we are no longer electing the very best to the Hall.” Since when have longevity and counting stats NOT been a key criteria for getting into the HOF? Do Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray, Don Sutton, Early Wynn, Al Kaline or Tony Perez get into the HOF without counting stats? If we now say that 300 wins is simply not enough to merit HOF inclusion, then we are not maintaining a high standard, we are setting a new, higher standard than we’ve ever seen before.
        Whether you choose to use the older, counting stats (305 wins, .600 win-loss percentage, two Cy Young awards and six top-five finishes overall, five 20-win seasons), or the newer stats such as WAR (74, good for 28th best among pitchers), or ERA+ (118, higher than HOF’ers Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton and Fergie Jenkins, Glavine’s case for the HOF is very solid.
        That there are even better pitchers on the current ballot isn’t the same as saying Glavine is not a HOF-worthy candidate. What you are, in effect, advocating for is a new standard that is historically higher than the standard that has been recognized for many decades. That’s fine, but we shouldn’t deceive ourselves that Greg Maddux has been the typical standard for HOF inclusion. We’re witnessing one of the deepest ballots in decades. That all the retired pitchers you name belong in the HOF does not weaken the argument for Glavine. It just goes to show how lucky we baseball fans have been over the past couple of decades.
        Again, thanks so much for the interesting comments,

  4. These quotes show why no player’s ever going to be a unanimous Hall of Famer with so many writers voting. Someone will say of Maddux, “He was no good in the playoffs,” or “He stood me up one day in 1996.” Just as someone said of Ripken, “His image is too clean; he must be a phony” and left this or that player off the ballot.

    • The problem with the process is the human element, which is also the part of the process that makes all this so much fun. I doubt there’ll ever be an efficient process that will also remain interesting enough to be worth talking about.
      Thanks, Arne, and Happy New Year,

  5. Great sampling of the always multiplying biodiverse baseball opinions. One of my favorite pastimes is scanning the names of players who appear on the ballot simply because they qualify in terms of years out of baseball.

    Maybe this year’s recipient of the how in the hell are you on this ballot award should go to Jacque Jones, Mike Timlin or Armado Benitez.

    And the how in the hell were you not on the ballot award should maybe go to Rudy Seanez for enduring 30 days in Mike Marshall’s pitching academy extreme. Apparently Rudy’s fastball rose from 94 to 103.

    • I think Benitez’s name was on there to make both Orioles and Mets fans shudder. He did, though, have an ungodly 2004 with the Marlins. Just 36 hits given up in 69 innings is sick.
      Thanks for reading,

      • Bill, you got me scanning the Armando b-ref stat page for the first time in my life. He was maybe even better in 2000 with the Mets, way more strikeouts (106 k’s in 76 IP) and only 39 hits allowed. Ok, I’m convinced. Jacque Jones is more deserving than Armando

      • Yeah, but as a Mets fan, all we can remember are the meltdowns in key situations.

      • I counted 7 blown saves for Armando during the 2000 regular season. I guess a perfect Armando would have translated into an NL East crown, but it all turned out for the better…wild card, NL championship with just one small little neighborly problem in the way; the Yankees threepeat.

      • I’m sure Benitez suffered from too high expectations, but that’s New York for ya. To be honest, the Mets were lucky to even be in the World Series that year. They’ve had better teams that didn’t get there. Take Piazza off that team, and they win maybe 83-85 games.

      • oh yeh, that sabermetric stat that trumps em all; luck. Anyway you slice it, the Mets got there and many great teams don’t. Let me cry in my after dinner tea for a second. Oh those 1981 and 1994 Expos.

      • No team in baseball history was ever screwed over as bad as the Expos. Long live Steve Rogers!

      • The talk about a team returning or one expanding into Montreal has become more serious in the past few months with the exhibition game between Mets and Blue Jays slated for March, 2014 taking on more than an mlb showcase opportunity.

        Apparently, local corporations have put together a little blue print ledger filled with telecommunication profits, new downtown stadium proposal and proof of sell outs to both spring training games

        It’s still a long shot, but the day dream is delicious. It would take me all of 15 seconds to get behind whatever team expanded or moved here, even the Marlins

        It wouldn’t be the first time a city had a second tour of duty with the MLB….Milwaukee, New York, Kansas City, Seatttle

      • I was completely unaware that there was any “buzz” to that effect up in the Great White North. Will you be attending that exhibition game?

      • hell yeh. i got tickets to the saturday march 30th game way up in the Big O boonies 15 dollar seats. Warren Cromartie has been a huge force in organizing the renewed interest.
        Now we gotta do a march on New York to the MLB headquarters.

    • To quote the old Supertramp song “Rudy’s on a train to nowhere.”

  6. Kevin Graham on said:

    I agree with every one of those statements!!!
    As a Yankee fan I find #23 to be completely relevant. I may have to get a tattoo with the words, “Bloody sock, My ass.”

  7. This was a very entertaining compendium of quotes. Thanks for that.

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