Hall voting is tough, but not as tough as Bill Conlin makes it

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You know how every few years you have to go to the DMV to renew your driver’s license? They check your vision and take a new photo and make sure your stats are up to date?

I’ve always thought that at a certain age – much older than my own, of course – you should also have to re-take the driver’s test to make sure you are still fit to operate a motor vehicle. After reading this story, I think the same idea should be employed for Hall of Fame voters. (Jay Mariotti might flunk the test on purpose, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

Take it away, Bill Conlin:

I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock’s career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.

I agree that it’s a bizarre process and could probably use an overhaul. Thank you, Bill, for making everything clear and sensible. You vote for Raines, then stop when not enough other people do. Now you’re back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) Way to stick to your guns.

Speaking of being on the wagon, I, like many of our readers, like beer. If I’m out with some people and no one is drinking beer, I might have one anyway. The fact that the people around me don’t like beer doesn’t change my feeling about beer at all, and I am still going to vote to induct said alcohol into my belly. But maybe that’s just me.

In an earlier column, Conlin wrote that he voted for Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez and Andre Dawson. That’s six players. Remember that voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players, and Conlin likes Tim Raines. So why not make Raines No. 7 on your ballot?

You can only vote for a maximum of 10 players. I checked six names on my ballot and have never voted for more than six.

*Author momentarily blacks out.*

OK, so you can’t vote for Raines until you have an opening amongst your self-imposed limit of six choices, even though the rules say you can pick 10. Furthermore, you don’t think Raines can crack a top six that includes Jack Morris and Fred McGriff. I guess thinking Raines isn’t more deserving than Morris and McGriff is your opinion, and that’s fine. But remember, you like Raines and you can pick seven.

Let’s revisit the beer analogy. Remember that I like beer? I usually buy a six-pack when I’m at the store. But let’s say the store has a deal: Buy one six-pack, get a second free. Am I going to buy one six-pack, then just leave the second on the shelf? Am I going to take the second six-pack and pour it down the sink? No, because I like beer – even more than I like Tim Raines – and the store’s rules say I can have the second one for free. I am going to vote for more beer, because I can.

Voting for the Hall of Fame is a difficult process, I’m sure, but don’t make it tougher than it has to be. If you like Raines, vote for him. If you don’t like him, leave the box unchecked. And while you’re at it, you might think about not answering your phone. The DMV might call, asking for your license back.

(Huge thanks to UmpBump)

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.