Hall voting is tough, but not as tough as Bill Conlin makes it

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You know how every few years you have to go to the DMV to renew your driver’s license? They check your vision and take a new photo and make sure your stats are up to date?

I’ve always thought that at a certain age – much older than my own, of course – you should also have to re-take the driver’s test to make sure you are still fit to operate a motor vehicle. After reading this story, I think the same idea should be employed for Hall of Fame voters. (Jay Mariotti might flunk the test on purpose, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

Take it away, Bill Conlin:

I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock’s career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.

I agree that it’s a bizarre process and could probably use an overhaul. Thank you, Bill, for making everything clear and sensible. You vote for Raines, then stop when not enough other people do. Now you’re back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) Way to stick to your guns.

Speaking of being on the wagon, I, like many of our readers, like beer. If I’m out with some people and no one is drinking beer, I might have one anyway. The fact that the people around me don’t like beer doesn’t change my feeling about beer at all, and I am still going to vote to induct said alcohol into my belly. But maybe that’s just me.

In an earlier column, Conlin wrote that he voted for Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez and Andre Dawson. That’s six players. Remember that voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players, and Conlin likes Tim Raines. So why not make Raines No. 7 on your ballot?

You can only vote for a maximum of 10 players. I checked six names on my ballot and have never voted for more than six.

*Author momentarily blacks out.*

OK, so you can’t vote for Raines until you have an opening amongst your self-imposed limit of six choices, even though the rules say you can pick 10. Furthermore, you don’t think Raines can crack a top six that includes Jack Morris and Fred McGriff. I guess thinking Raines isn’t more deserving than Morris and McGriff is your opinion, and that’s fine. But remember, you like Raines and you can pick seven.

Let’s revisit the beer analogy. Remember that I like beer? I usually buy a six-pack when I’m at the store. But let’s say the store has a deal: Buy one six-pack, get a second free. Am I going to buy one six-pack, then just leave the second on the shelf? Am I going to take the second six-pack and pour it down the sink? No, because I like beer – even more than I like Tim Raines – and the store’s rules say I can have the second one for free. I am going to vote for more beer, because I can.

Voting for the Hall of Fame is a difficult process, I’m sure, but don’t make it tougher than it has to be. If you like Raines, vote for him. If you don’t like him, leave the box unchecked. And while you’re at it, you might think about not answering your phone. The DMV might call, asking for your license back.

(Huge thanks to UmpBump)

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.