There’s a Bob Dylan song called “Who Killed Davey Moore” about a boxer who died in the ring. It’s a true story, and the song seeks to find the person responsible for Moore’s death. The answer, after several verses, is that many contributed to it, even if no one person was culpable in a criminal sense. That blame is best laid at the feet of many who, however innocent themselves, worked in concert with others, however unwittingly, to allow a tragedy to occur.
Craig Biggio not making the Hall of Fame — missing by just two votes — is, by no stretch of the imagination, as serious as a boxer dying in the ring. But the blame dynamic is the same. You want to blame someone or point a finger but, in reality, many people’s mistakes and ignorance and the simple unfortunate arrangements of rules and incentives worked against him. If I were Llewyn Davis or someone I feel like I could write a similar, albeit far, far worse, song about it than Dylan did about Moore.
Who killed Craig Biggio’s chances at a Hall of Fame induction this year? A year in which he fell two votes short? Take your pick:
- The one voter, according to the BBWAA website, who submitted a blank ballot has some responsibility. Not submitting a ballot at all doesn’t hurt candidates, as the ballot is not added to the denominator when percentages are figured. But a blank ballot does. Someone out there, in the interests of making a point, made the hurdle for Biggio higher.
- Ken Gurnick and Murray Chass helped. The former’s “Jack Morris and no one else” ballot and Chass’ belief that everyone besides Morris, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine took roids worked as votes against Biggio too. Obviously, it’s possible that these guys would not have voted for Biggio even if they weren’t tilting at their particular windmills. Maybe they do not think Biggio took PEDs (well, Chass does) and maybe they just think 3,000 hits and everything else Biggio did was not good enough. But I’m guessing, absent the protest, they have a hard time explaining leaving Biggio off his ballot.
- The novelty voters are fun to look at. Here are some players who received votes: Eric Gagne, J.T. Snow, Armando Benetiz and Jacque Jones. Snow and Gagne got two each! I hope against hope those votes didn’t come from guys who otherwise filled their ballots. The idea that crazy votes like that precluded a the two votes Biggio needed for induction is horrifying.
- Deadspin? I think their buying a vote for pranking/criticism purposes and allowing their readers to vote was kind of inspired, but I do hope that (a) the Deadspin readers picked Biggio; and (b) the person who sold their vote wouldn’t have voted for him if they did not. UPDATE: WHEW! Deadspin revealed their voter: ESPN and the Miami Herald’s Dan LeBatard. The Deadspin voters did vote for Biggio.
- The ten-vote limit: this is a bigger thing, of course. There are many voters who filled out ballots, 1-10 but would have but Biggio on it if they had, say, 11 or 15 votes to give. There really is no rational reason for a ten-vote limit, and the fact that there is one does nothing to elevate the Hall of Fame and everything to do harm.
But really, this is a Davey Moore situation. No one wants to screw Craig Biggio, I presume. But the rules, the vendettas, the ignorance that is encouraged and in some cases venerated and many other factors lead us to a situation in which a player who stands head and shoulders above many others already in the Hall of Fame must stand on the outside looking in for at least another year.
It’s not tragic like Davey Moore, but it’s still kinda sad.
The funny thing about that “stick to sports” stuff I was going on about the other day is that, in reality, a whole lot of the people who say “stick to sports” don’t really want to just stick to sports. They’re totally cool going on about political, social or cultural stuff as long as it fits their world view. It’s not “stick to sports.” It’s “don’t talk about the social implications of sports-related stuff in ways that upset me.” If sports and culture come together in other ways, however, they’re completely fine in grinding their axe.
For example, Beyonce is playing a concert a Citi Field this summer. The show is so popular that they added a second date. The Mets’ Twitter feed just announced that tickets will go on sale for the new show soon:
A while lotta Mets fans responded to that negatively. For political/social/cultural reasons that they are willingly bringing in to a conversation about a pop singer and a baseball stadium that will double as a concert venue:
And they go on and on.
How much do you want to bet that a whole lotta these respondents would tell you to “stick to baseball” if you wanted to bring up how race affects the sport or how, if instead of Beyonce, this was announcing a Kid Rock/Ted Nugent-headlined festival and you mused whether that was a case of the Mets somehow endorsing their messages?
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are “making progress” in talks with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Gallardo has been on the market so long because he has a first round pick tied to him due to his declining the Rangers’ qualifying offer. The Orioles would have to forfeit the 14th overall pick in order to sign him. That has been too steep a price to pay for them all winter, but as we’re mere days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s likely that Gallardo’s price has dropped enough to make it worth their while.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons — and had a career-low 3.42 ERA in 2015 — but his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012, suggesting that trouble could be on the horizon.
If the O’s do burn their pick to get Gallardo, it might make sense for them to go all-in with another free agent like Dexter Fowler, given that they’d not have to give up anything else to do it.
First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.
Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.
Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.
We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.
The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.
Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:
With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.
Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.
“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”
I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.