And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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What a dead night for baseball. Only six games plus the day tilt in New York. All night my Twitter feed was filled with people talking about the NBA (15%) and the damn spelling bee (85%).  And between the two of those things I don’t think there’s any more human misery possible to unleash on the world.

Whatever. Seven baseball games is better than none, so let us be thankful for what we have.

Giants 12, Cardinals 7: Three homers and six RBI for Aubrey Huff makes him easily the biggest RBI whore of the day (Update: I missed that Colby Rasmus had six RBI as well, so let’s call them co-RBI whores). For St. Louis, Lance Lynn not only makes his major league debut, but he makes it on short rest against the defending World Series champs. Oh, and his defense decided not to show up either. No errors while he was in the game but all manner of misplays that make Lynn’s line look misleading (5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 5K), though due to Huff’s heroics, it probably doesn’t matter.  While we’re talking about the Giants, after this mean-spirited display of jackassery, I kind of want Brian Sabean to get fired for some reason and never find another job for as long as he lives. There. How do you like it, Brian?

Mets 9, Pirates 8: I hit this one up yesterday. Shorter version: On Wednesday the Mets did a pretty decent Pirates imitation. On Thursday, the Pirates did a pretty decent Mets imitation. These are two teams that deserve one another.

Rangers 7, Indians 4: Indians’ pitchers did not strike out a single Rangers hitter. Hurm. Cleveland is 4-6 in their last 10. A mere bump in the road or are we on pumpkin watch?

Twins 8, Royals 2: The six-run third pretty much ended this one before it started. I guess if you have to look on the bright side for Kansas City it’s that Joakim Soria pitched two innings without getting his head blown off.

Astros 7, Padres 4: That’s four wins in a row for Houston, all on the road. I like to imagine that, if a team wins every game on a road trip, little music plays at the end and applause is heard sort of like when you clear all the coins in a row in Super Mario.

Nationals 6, Diamondbacks 1: A three-run first inning and thirteen hits overall made this an easy night for Washington. Another strong start for Jordan Zimmermann, and this time — unlike most of his good starts lately — he actually gets a win.

Mariners 8, Rays 2: Two home runs for Carlos Peguero and the M’s hit four overall off James Shields.  Meanwhile, a typical day at the office for Felix Hernandez (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 11K).

OK, now, can we get back to a nice 15-game schedule tonight? Thanks.

No, New York players do not get an unfair bump in Hall of Fame voting

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Angels owner Arte Moreno said something interesting yesterday. He was talking about the retired former Angel, Garret Anderson, and said “If he would have played in New York, he’d be in the Hall of Fame.”

The initial — and, I would add, the most on-point — response to this is to note that, for however good a player Anderson was at times, no definition of the term “Hall of Famer” really encompasses his legacy. He was OK. Pretty good on occasion. Nowhere near a Hall of Famer, and I don’t think you need me to go over the math to establish that. The only way Anderson would ever sniff the Hall of Fame one day is if we sent Tony La Russa back in time to manage him for several years and then brought him back from the past to strong-arme the Veterans Committee.

The more interesting question to me is the matter implied in Moreno’s comment: that players in New York get an unfair boost when it comes to the Hall of Fame.

I get why he might say that and I get why people might believe it. New York gets all the press. If you can make it there you can make it anywhere and, my God, people in New York will not let you forget it for a second. East Coast Bias™ and all of that.

Except it’s baloney, at least as far as the Hall of Fame goes.

I think it’s fair to say that, yes, if you play in New York, your reputation gets elevated more than if you played elsewhere, but I think there are limits to that what that elevation gets you. You’re more famous if you knock in 100 as the third-best guy on a Yankees team or if you are involved in a notable game or series or controversy as a Met, but it doesn’t mean you get some extra helping hand from the BBWAA five years after you retire.

At least one guy I know, Adam Darowski, has taken a rough look at this on the numbers. He has determined that, by at least his measure, Yankees players are the fourth most underrepresented contingent in Hall of Fame voting. Red Sox are fifth. Mets are in the middle of the pack. It may be more useful to think of this without reference to any numbers, though, and look at it in terms of who is and who isn’t getting some sort of unfair bump.

If there was a New York Premium to Hall of Fame consideration, wouldn’t Bernie Williams, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Elston Howard, Don Mattingly, Roger Maris, Jorge Posada, David Cone, John Franco, Keith Hernandez, Andy Pettitte and a bunch of other guys of that caliber get more support than they’ve historically gotten? I’m not saying all of those guys deserve to be in the Hall, but they all have better cases than Garret Anderson and none of them got in or appear to be getting in any time soon. They are close enough on the merits that, one would think anyway, an aura of New Yorkness surrounding them would have carried them over the line, but it never did.

Meanwhile, almost all of the most borderline Hall of Famers are old, old, old timers who were either poorly assessed by the Veterans Committee or who had the good fortune of being good friends with Frankie Frisch. Again, not a ton of Yankees make that cut. A whole lot of Giants do, but I suppose that’s another conversation. The questionable Hall of Famers of more recent vintage represent guys from all over the big league map. The only Yankee I can think of in relatively recent years who raised eyebrows was Catfish Hunter, and I suspect more of that was based on his legacy with the A’s than with the Yankees, where he really only had one great season.

Here’s what I think happens, practically, with New York players: If you play in New York, merely good and notable performance makes you huge in the moment and in casual remembrance, but your historical legacy is often written down a bit as a function of overall team success. Also — or, maybe, alternatively — it’s a matter of every good Yankees era being defined by such a big meagstar — Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Reggie, Jeter — that the really good, even Hall of Fame-worthy guys who played with them are overlooked to some degree. Which, when you think about it, kinda sucks even worse for them because their megastar teammate is, thanks to the rings, in some ways getting elevated by team success while the lesser stars are denigrated because of it.

Which is not to say that we should cry for New York players. Paul O’Neill will never have to pay for a steak dinner in Manhattan for the rest of his life and, thanks to all of his friends in the press, Andy Pettitte’s obituary won’t mention his PED use at all while Barry Bonds’ obit will mention it in the first graf. It’s getting to the point where if you can simply avoid infamy and not suck for a five-year stretch you can get your number retired and a place in Monument Park.

But New York players aren’t getting unfair consideration in Hall of Fame voting. Indeed, I think they’re probably getting graded a bit too harshly.