What They're Saying About Trey Hillman Getting Fired

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Trey Hillman closeup.jpgContrary to popular belief, people still do pay attention to the Royals. Here’s what the blogosphere, allied media and one Royals player is saying about Trey Hillman’s firing:

Zack
Greinke
:
It’s the players’ fault. If we win (more
games),
this doesn’t happen.

Joe Posnanski: Why didn’t Hillman have more success as manager? There are numerous
reasons, none more significant than the lack of Major League talent the
Royals have put on the field day after day. As the old line goes, Casey
Stengel, Earl Weaver and Joe McCarthy combined weren’t winning with this
team . . . make no mistake, the big reason they have lost the last three years is
not because of Trey Hillman, it is because they are a bad baseball team.*

Sam Mellinger: This is a good thing, because Hillman was a problem, but only in the
sense that a broken arm is a problem for a patient in ICU.


Rany Jazyerli:
Wow. I thought it was coming – I didn’t think it
was coming today . . .
And for the record, I take no great pleasure in this. Hillman
earned this, but he was dealt a losing hand. I really do wish him the
best of luck.

Matt Klaassen: Trey Hillman needed to go, if for no other reason
than showing that there is some level of “accountability” within the
organization.

Jeff Sullivan: I’m not entirely sure why the Royals allowed Hillman to stick around
for one last game, fully aware of his inevitable fate, but in my head, I
like to think they were just giving him a chance to go out on a high
note . . . That, of course, is giving the Royals the benefit of the doubt, and
ignores any ulterior and/or incompetent motives. I don’t know that they
deserve that, but at least as far as Hillman’s concerned, anything’s
better than going out on a 4-0 shutout loss to Fausto Carmona.

Michael Engel: it’s not his fault entirely. Hillman may wear the uniform, but he
doesn’t step up to bat or toe the rubber. But he’s also made enough odd
decisions that worked to the detriment of the team and their chances to
win ballgames . . . that he had to go.

Can’t say I disagree with any of that.

*A substantial portion of Posnanski’s
post
is devoted to the idea that Hillman’s biggest problem was that
he simply had never been in a Major League clubhouse and that his lack
of experiencing led him to all sorts of mistakes.  It’s definitely worth
reading. Most writers would simply assert Hillman’s lack of big league
experience as a problem and expect us to believe it because they said
it. But Posnanski provides multiple examples of how the lack of
experience worked to Hillman’s detriment, transforming what often sounds
like a cliche into strong analysis.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.

Hall of Fame voters are making news, not exercising democratic rights

Cooperstown
Associated Press
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Last month the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class. In the past 24 hours or so, as this year’s Hall of Fame voting period comes to a close, a lot of folks have been talking about that. Most notably in Jayson Stark’s piece over at ESPN regarding next year’s brave new public world.

Stark is pro-transparency on the ballots, as are the vast majority of BBWAA members who voted on the public ballot measure (it passed 80-9). Not everyone Stark quotes in his article is on board with it, though:

“I’ve already seen a lot of people change their votes from one year to the next,” said one of the strongest dissenters to this decision, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “People have changed their votes based on public opinion.”

Two other sources in the story, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report and a voter who asked to remain anonymous equated their Hall of Fame vote with democracy and invoked the sanctity of the secret ballot. “The No. 1 reason I was against this rule is that in this country, it’s a democracy, and everyone has a vote on different things. And I hate to see a blanket rule that forces everyone to go in one direction,” Miller said. Here’s what the anonymous guy said:

“To me, a secret ballot is a fundamental of democracy. You should be able to vote your conscience without having to explain your vote. But once it’s public, you’re open to public pressure. And that’s not what we want in a democracy. We’re not elected representatives. We’re chosen to be part of a voting group.”

This is ridiculous of course. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not exercising democratic rights. It is making news and making history. Hall of Fame voters are making decisions which will fundamentally alter baseball history and which matter greatly to a large number of baseball fans. They are not advancing their own or society’s interests at the ballot box the way citizens do on election day. Despite the fact that the form of their action here is, technically speaking, a ballot, they are making news in the same way a GM makes a news with a trade, the commissioner makes news with a rule change or a team makes news by winning a World Series.

Would any of these voters — who are credentialed members of the media, by the way, and like to style themselves as truth-seeking members of the Fourth Estate — accept silence from the people who make the news on the beat they cover? Would they be content if the newsmakers whose acts they chronicle demanded anonymity the way they themselves do now? Of course they wouldn’t. And if they got the same silent treatment they’d prefer to give, they’d write one of those petulant little columns they love about players who “duck the press” after a game.

Suck it up, journalists. Act the way you expect the newsmakers you cover to act and own your decisions. Don’t pretend for a moment that you’re not the subject of, and not the reporter of, the story when Hall of Fame season comes around.