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Growing Old: a study in contrasts featuring Vin Scully and Murray Chass

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Murray Chass — who just the other day I lauded for a nice one-off back at the New York Times — is back over at his blog today and he writes up an interview with Vin Scully. A man, surprisingly enough, Chass had never met despite their long decades covering and announcing the game.

Most of it is your by now standard “Vin is amazing” stuff which, even if it’s 100% true, sort of goes without saying. But there’s a couple of bits near the end which tell you all you need to know about why one — Vin — is still vital and the other — Chass — has been put out to pasture and skews misanthropic.

Chass spends a great chunk of the article talking smack about modern announcers, with a decided disapproval of the modern baseball broadcast.  Here’s Scully, however, talking about the modern broadcast as compared to what he and Mel Allen were doing in the 1950s. Specifically when he and Mel Allen announced Don Larsen’s 1956 Perfect Game, which he watched in a rebroadcast on MLB Network a few years ago:

“I took over the second half of the perfect game. It was so boring. so dull. In those days writers said broadcasters talked too much. I followed Mel’s lead. He referred to consecutive outs – 10th in a row, 15th in a row. So when I took over that’s what I did. We never mentioned a perfect game. It was so dull … Today, given the perfect game, we would have had magnificent shots, what teammates were doing, what was going on in the dugout. In looking at what we do today, compared with what we’ve done, it’s so different.”

Scully is a throwback and an old timer in a lot of respects, but he sees the advances in his industry as positive things. Or, at the absolute very least says he does, and thus is magnanimous towards his colleagues in the industry in a way Chass never has been at all.

Here’s Chass, talking about sabermetrics:

Scully has lasted long enough in the business, as I have, to encounter other changes, such as the new era of what some people call sabermetric statistics but what I see as the new age of younger fans who resent their late arrival to the game and are trying to reinvent it.

Scully is no sabermetrician, but note how his eschewing advanced stats has nothing to do with judgment and everything to do with his own personal tastes and capabilities:

I asked Scully if he uses or pays attention to the new-fangled statistics.

“No,” he said. “It’s beyond me. I try to be as old-fashioned as possible – batting average, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases. I don’t disapprove of those who use them, but it’s beyond me. It’s too much for me.”

source:  One of these guys is accepting and approving of new ideas, even if he does’t adopt the new ways himself. One of them thinks everything new is bunk. One is of sunny public disposition, the other is an angry crank.  One has a job broadcasting one of the best, most popular and interesting teams in baseball.  The other has gone from being a feature columnist at the Paper of Record to being forced into writing a little-trafficked personal blog which, based on his own comments, he rather loathes.

This is no accident. It’s no accident even if you weight for their respective talents at their craft (Chass, after all, was no slouch as a writer and reporter). When you open yourself up to the new or, at the very least, are comfortable with who you are and aren’t threatened by those around you who do new things, you’re going to adapt to the future just fine. When you don’t — when you’re hostile and disapproving of everything — no one is really gonna want to have you around anymore.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!