Hi, I’m Mike Piazza.*
Do you remember me? Normally I wouldn’t ask that because I seem to remember being quite famous a few years ago, but it seems like several hundred people whose business it was to follow my career have forgotten me, and I just don’t know how to deal with that. I mean, I know there were better players than me, but I hit .308/.377/.545 for my career with 427 homers in 16 seasons. My career OPS+ was 143. The next three catchers on that list whose careers have already ended are Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Johnny Bench, and they’re way behind. I played in the World Series. Everyone said when I played that I was heading to the Hall of Fame.
But today I got just 57.8% of the vote, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I think that’s kinda light, don’t you?
It’s almost as if someone is holding something against me and my Hall of Fame candidacy apart from what I did on the field. I know that’s possible! It happens to a lot of players these days. But (again, sorry for being narcissistic) I Googled myself and I couldn’t find a single article written which presents any facts which would reasonably lead someone to withhold their vote. I wasn’t named on any lists or outed in anyone’s book. There’s just … nothing.
It’s almost as if 42.8% of the Hall of Fame electorate has been talking about me behind my back, too cowardly to come out and accuse me of something, yet holding that something against me all the same. I’m just a simple man from Pennsylvania and I don’t necessarily understand how everything in the world works, but that strikes me as kinda wrong.
Sorry if that’s rude, but it beats the other explanation I have in mind: that 42.8% of the BBWAA are blithering idiots and wouldn’t know a Hall of Fame catcher if Carlton Fisk fell out of the sky, landed on their face and started to wiggle.
Thanks for your time.
*At least we here are assuming this was Mike Piazza. We heard this voice with a distinct Pennsylvania accent saying these words in our head moments after the Hall of Fame results were announced and felt duty-bound to put to pen to paper in order to preserve them for posterity.
The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.
As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.
If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.
Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:
In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”
Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.
Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.
But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.