What they’re saying about the Hall of Fame vote

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And with the exception of the first one, I’m steering clear of the obvious “hooray for Bert and Roberto” stuff, because I think that goes without saying:

Rich Lederer: “BERT BLYLEVEN IS A HALL OF FAMER!”

Rob Neyer: “when two deserving Hall of Famers like Blyleven and Alomar are elected, it’s easy to forgive the voters for missing on Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Alan Trammell, and Tim Raines. If nobody is elected next year, forgiving will be very difficult.”

Joe Posnanski: “If the Hall of Fame voters feel like they should punish McGwire for admitting he used steroids — even if he was evasive about the effects — then it seems to me that we are discouraging anyone from coming clean. It’s almost like the voters don’t really want to know the truth. Maybe we would rather think the worst.”

Nate Silver: “If you’re not willing to reserve a place for players who meet or exceed the statistical standards of the average Hall of Famers at their positions, however — players like a Larkin or a Bagwell — the discussion really ought to turn to which players we need to kick out. No Barry Larkin? No Travis Jackson. No Tim Raines? No Max Carey. No Jeff Bagwell? No High Pockets Kelly. No Trammell and Whitaker? That’s fine: let’s boot Tinker and Evers.”

Tim Marchman: “The waiting is finally over for Kevin Brown. Garnering 77% of the vote on his first try today, he is the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.”  [note: you probably need to read the whole thing to get what Tim is driving at].

Nick Cafardo: “You have to wonder whether Rice, Dawson, and Blyleven would have been elected if the Steroid Era never happened. That it took so long for Blyleven raises red flags, as it did with Rice and Dawson.”

Ted Berg: “None of Bonds, Clemens, Piazza and Bagwell were ever punished by Major League Baseball for doing whatever they did, if they did anything. It’s ridiculous to try to punish them now. The Hall of Fame should just eliminate the character clause from the voting criteria and focus on honoring the best players.”

Danny Knobler:  “Bert Blyleven is what’s great about the Hall of Fame. I say that even though he got in without ever getting my vote. In fact, I say that in part because he got in without my vote.”

Joe Lemire: “While some mock the concept that a player can grow more or less worthy of induction with each passing year — after all, everyone up for election has been retired for at least five years and so Blyleven hasn’t added to his 287 career wins since 1992 — new research and insight can shape how a player’s career is considered … Blyleven’s longevity — both in the macro sense of his 22-year career and the micro sense of his 242 complete games — is increasingly absent in today’s game, so with each year on the ballot appreciation grew for what he accomplished in the sport.”

I’m sure a lot more reactions will trickle in today. We’ll highlight the good ones, the bad ones and the simply perplexing ones as we see them.

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.