Bruce Sutter Hall of Fame

The most important thing about being a Hall of Fame voter

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Bill and The Common Man from The Platoon Advantage make so much sense in their Rights and Responsibilities in Hall of Fame Voting post from over the weekend that the thing should be sent via certified mail to every eligible voter. Of their four rules for voting, the key, I think, is something I touched on in my Jack Morris/Bert Blyleven post last week: intellectual consistency.

Contrary to what some reactionary types will be saying in the coming weeks, there is no one who matters who seriously advocates some strict orthodoxy of who should be and who shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer and disdains all others who do not follow suit. I will disagree with a Hall of Fame voter if he votes for Jack Morris or Don Mattingly, for example, but I will not say they are stupid or irresponsible or wrong or out-of-touch or demand that their vote be taken away simply because they have voted for Jack Morris. It is their opinion. Unless they admit to the contrary — which some have, sadly enough — I will assume that their choice was a considered one. That they looked at the data available, made an informed choice and voted their conscience. Hall of Fame standards are broad enough that reasonable people can have considerable disagreement over who is a Hall of Famer and who isn’t. You like Jim Rice, I don’t. I like Tim Raines, you don’t. Unless your reason for voting for a guy is just really nuts — like a protest vote or it’s based on some narrow, random reason with no precedent whatsoever — it’s all good.

All that I ask is that those who vote do so in a consistent manner. That the standards you cite for Player A are applied to Player B.  If — to use a current example — you excuse Jack Morris’ high ERA because of how you believe he pitched in blowout games, consider how Bert Blyleven pitched in blowout games and apply the same credit to his account.  If you voted for Bruce Sutter despite the fact that his performance came while filling a newly-created and limited role in baseball history) (one-inning closer) don’t withhold your vote from Edgar Martinez simply because he filled a newly-created and limited role as a DH.*  If you give Dale Murphy extra-credit because you believe he eschewed steroids when they were pervasive in the game, give the same credit to others for whom you have similar evidence regarding their drug use. Similarly, if you won’t vote for Tim Raines because of his admitted cocaine use, please, dear God, do not vote for Dave Parker.

Unless you’re going totally nuts and writing in Buddy Biancalana, there are no Right and Wrong Hall of Fame votes.  There are right and wrong approaches to voting however.  If you have the franchise, please, keep that in mind.

*Which is not to suggest that Bruce Sutter was a Wrong choice or Edgar Martinez a Right choice. It simply means that their role, in and of itself, should not be the basis for withholding a vote for one of them if you didn’t do so for the other. Rather, simply be sure that your choice is made by comparison to other who fill those roles. Is Bruce Sutter a Hall of Fame one-inning closer compared to others. Is Edgar Martinzez a Hall of Fame DH compared to others.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]