Most ballots for the Hall of Fame are meh. There are a lot of dumb decisions that are only mildly offensive such as voting for Jack Morris and not Bert Blyleven like Buster Olney, not voting for Bert Blyleven, etc. There are some writers who go with big ballots and vote for people they don’t necessarily believe should actually be in the Hall, but rather deserve consideration and this is a fine and not aggravating at all viewpoint. You get to pick ten players, after all. Even if you’re a “small hall” person who believes only the Mantles, Ruths and Koufaxes of the world should be in there it’s hard to get mad at this approach. However, each year there are just some really bad ballots. Here are the worst of the ~60 that I dug up:
Pedro Gomez – Jay Bell, Andre Dawson, Rickey Henderson, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Alan Trammell
Gomez gets a mention because he voted for Jay Bell, which is terrible. But Pedro Gomez is a pretty terrible sports reporter whether or not he’s stalking Barry Bonds so this isn’t surprising. Other than Trammell and Parker his ballot is just what the cool kids are doing in the BBWAA with Dawson and Rice.
Bruce Jenkins – Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Jim Rice
Sometimes I feel like I should just include everyone who votes for Jack Morris on terrible ballots list, because like Jenkins they always justify him like this:
Defined the type of toughness lacking in so many starting pitchers today. He would have laughed at pitch counts, had they existed. Big winner who finished games (133 times) and was especially good in the postseason. Yes. And I’d love to see a “no” voter try to look Morris in the eye.
You don’t vote a pitcher into the Hall of Fame because he’s “tough” and if you honestly think he’s tougher than the guys pitching on the mound today, you live in nostalgia land. He also ignores the fact that something similar to a pitchcount has pretty much always been utilized except in extreme crazy circumstances (Charlie Dressen with Ralph Branca for example, which led to disaster), but I guess keeping pitchers healthy is secondary to proving how tough they are.
I also love that he uses the number of complete games Morris threw as some super-plus while some other guy on the ballot named Bert threw a lot more. He also got the number wrong, but that’s ok because stats are stupid anyway in Jenkins-land.
Michael Knisley – Rickey Henderson, Lee Smith
Even if you are a small hall guy this ballot is ridiculous because the other guy on it is Lee Smith. This was posted in ESPN’s megaballot so I don’t know the reasoning but I’m going to assume it is as horrible as the ballot itself. It probably involves “saves” and “a lot of them”.
Corky Simpson – Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jim Rice, Alan Trammell, Matt Williams
I am not going to pick on Corky for leaving off Rickey Henderson because he is 88 and I really do believe him when he says that he missed his name on the ballot. He belongs here, however, for his rant against McGwire for steroids and subsequent vote for Matt Williams. Even without that, voting for Matt Williams is equivalent to voting for Jay Bell. Sorry, Corky.
Dave Van Dyck – Andre Dawson, Rickey Henderson, Tommy John, Lee Smith
This is another head-scratcher. At first glance it appears to be a guy who is on the small hall boat but then you notice that three of the four are borderline at best (don’t try to talk me into Dawson, it won’t work). He doesn’t even give the reasoning for leaving people off but his reasons for including them are:
Andre Dawson: The consummate pro, a rare six-tool player (counting clubhouse charisma) who could run and throw and hit for power, his 1987 MVP season with the Cubs was the decade’s best.
His 1987 season was actually pretty terrible in retrospect and he won on the Dingers Fallacy. I’m not sure what you could look at in that season (outside of home runs) and come away with “wow that was really the best season in all of the 1980s”. Is is the .328 OBP???
Tommy John: He won 288 games, despite spending parts of his careers (pre- and post-surgery) as a reliever. His guinea-pig historic elbow procedure is another reason for inclusion.
Wins. I hate wins. But if we’re going to talk about them that’s an average of 11 or so wins a season over his 26 years. Oh but yes he won 20 games three times, the most important thing a starting pitcher can do. Tommy John is a borderline guy who they should probably find some space for because of the surgery that bears his name but he is not a clear shot because of 288 wins.
Lee Smith: In his day, he was nearly as feared as Gossage when he sauntered — and Smitty never did anything quickly, except finish games — in from the bullpen. Those 478 saves speak for themselves.
Yes if wins weren’t enough there’s fear and saves. What can you do but shake your head.
The results are announced in 90 minutes or so, and then I’ll be done being angry for a while (maybe).