Baseball Hall of Fame president is wrong about how ‘very selective’ Cooperstown voting has been

1 02 2016

Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson is in denial about the history of the Hall and the players it has honored.

In an interview last month with Graham Womack for Sporting News, Idelson said:

A lot of fans, I believe, don’t realize that only one percent of those that played the game have a plaque in Cooperstown. So it’s very selective and very difficult to earn election.

Note that 1 percent figure; we’re going to come back to it. In the same interview, Idelson defended the Hall of Fame’s use of a Pre-Integration Era Committee that every three years schedules consideration of “major league” (which means white) players from before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Consideration of Negro League players from the same era stopped in 2006. The Hall of Fame includes 29 Negro League players and more than 120 white players whose careers were all or mostly played before 1947.

That 1 percent figure is bogus, even if it’s accurate. “Of those who have played the game” includes everyone active in the past five years, when baseball has 30 teams, and none of those players is yet eligible for Hall of Fame voting. I don’t know the history of roster size in baseball, either for most of the season or when rosters can expand in September. But more than 50 players appeared for the Yankees in 2015 and 2005, compared with 40 each in 1965 and 1955, so the recent years, because of roster size and league expansion, have more players than seasons in the distant past, when all the players have been retired long enough to be eligible for Cooperstown consideration.

And the measure of how “selective” the Hall of Fame is or how difficult it is to “earn” election is not Ken Griffey Jr., this year’s first-ballot Hall of Famer, or Mike Piazza, elected this year on his fourth year on the writers’ ballot. The players who wait decades for their Cooperstown moments are the true measure of how “selective” the Hall is: Veterans Committee choices like Deacon White, a 19th-Century player elected in 2013; Ron Santo, elected in 2012; Joe Gordon in 2009.

No player who played in 1990 has yet been eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee. So “those that played the game” includes thousands (a quarter-century’s worth of players) not eligible yet for that second-chance consideration that determines how selective the Hall of Fame truly is. That makes the 1-percent figure grossly misleading. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kevin Youkilis joins a long line of Red Sox heroes who’ve become Yankees

12 02 2013

Youk!

Yes, if pitchers and catchers have reported, it won’t be long before we’ll see Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes and Yankee fans will be cheering (again) this year for an old Red Sox fan favorite. Youk signed a one-year deal to play for the Yankees, probably playing third base while Alex Rodriguez rehabs from surgery (and longer, if the Yankees can unload A-Rod or get out of his contract).

It will be difficult for Red Sox fans to see Youkilis in pinstripes, and no doubt the cheers at Fenway will really be “Booo!” and not “Youk!” now. But Red Sox fans have become used to seeing old favorites playing for the Yankees (and vice versa).

In baseball’s most storied rivalry, lots of players, including some all-time greats, have gone over to the Dark Side, whichever side you consider to be dark. You probably could find similar connections between any pair of longtime teams, but the players who have played on both sides of this rivalry stand out somehow.

You could put together a pretty good team of players who’ve worked both sides of the rivalry, so I have. Read the rest of this entry »