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.

Report: The Yankee Stadium charity is a secretive, self-dealing boondoggle

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The New York Times has a blistering report on the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund. The Fund is the charity the Yankees created in 2006 as a means of making up for the negative impact the construction New Yankee Stadium had on the surrounding community, primarily via its taking over 25 acres of parkland.

The idea of the Fund was a good one: to distribute $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, and 600,000 free baseball tickets to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. And it has been distributing funds and tickets. As the Times reports, however, the manner in which it has done so raises some red flags. Such as:

  • Charitable donations have, in an amazing coincidence, often gone to other charities which share common board members with the New Yankee Stadium Fund;
  • Funds have gone to many wealthy groups in affluent parts of the Bronx far away from the Stadium while the area around the stadium remains one of the most impoverished in the nation. For example, a private school in a wealthy part of the borough and a rec center in a gated community have gotten a lot money that, one would think anyway, could be and should be devoted to organizations closer to the ballpark that are in greater need; and
  • There has been almost no transparency or oversight of the Fund. Reports which were supposed to have been submitted have not been. And no one, apart from the Times anyway, seems to care. The Yankees certainly don’t seem to. Indeed, as the article notes, the team has worked hard to keep the Fund’s operations out of its hands. They just got their new ballpark and write the checks and hand out the tickets. Everything else is someone else’s problem.

Cronyism in private philanthropy is not uncommon. As is a lack of oversight. Often it’s the best connected people who receive the benefit of such funds, not the people most in need. This is especially true in charities whose creation was not born of a philanthropic impulse as much as it was born of a need to put a good face on some not-so-good business dealings.

If the Times’ report is correct — and the lack of anyone coming forward to dispute it on the record despite the Times’ requests that they do suggests it is — it appears as if the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund is one of those sorts of charities.

Who is the fastest sprinter in baseball?

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We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.

StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.

Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.

That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.