“Most writers have a little bit of drama queen inside of them”

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David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News pens a nice column about the silliness and self-importance of Hall of Fame voters who seek to use their vote as though it were being cast in some referendum about the Steroid Era. His key point:

The reality of the situation is that baseball has already decided what voters should do, and any writer who attempts to argue otherwise is simply attempting to add a level of power to his vote that does not exist (and, frankly, that should not exist for anybody who considers themselves a journalist). The fact that baseball has deemed players like Bonds, Palmeiro, Sosa and Mark McGwire eligible of being on the Hall of Fame ballot means that they have deemed said players eligible for the Hall of Fame. It’s that simple.

And Murphy hits the nail on the head when it comes to the hand-wringers, who he says “have a little bit of drama queen inside of them”:

Writers who view this election as some sort of existential dilemma, many of whom I respect greatly, do so only because they want to experience such a dilemma.

I roll my eyes every time I see a Hall of Fame column in which the author talks about how difficult it is to vote.  About how dreadful the task has become. How he or she has had to wrestle with their conscience and how they feel the weight of blahdiblahdiblah, barf, barf, barf. In light of Murphy’s comments about writers-as-drama-queens, I’m less inclined to see these as legitimate complaints than I am to see them as baseball writers’ version of a humblebrag. “Hey, everyone, I have a Hall of Fame ballot. Now watch me grapple with the history I necessarily make!”

Pick the players you think should be in. Do what you want, but note that baseball thinks these folks are just fine, eligibility-wise. If that’s not enough for you and you think the character clause merits their exclusion, fine, exclude them. But don’t pretend that’s too hard for you. If you’re inclined to vote with your morals on this matter, do so with the conviction you would have about any moral stand and stop pretending it’s so damn agonizing.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉