Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Worst. Ballot. Ever?Posted by Chris Jaffe
Normally I'm not one to pick on any BBWAA member for their ballots. Part of the great thing about Cooperstown debates is that there are so many different ways you can tackle the question of who deserves enshrinement.
How do you balance peak, prime, and career value? How much do you emphasize pitching or fielding or hitting? How much does postseason play matter? Baserunning? What do you think of character and off-field contributions? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. So if a writer submits a ballot I don't agree with, I almost always accept it, even if I don't get it.
But ya know—there's a reasonable point of view, and then there's Barry Stanton's point of view.
ESPN.com posted the ballots from their 18 Hall of Fame voters earlier today, and here are Stanton's picks: Jack Morris, B. J. Surhoff, Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, and Edgar Martinez.
Fine players all of them. But . .. what? Here are some of the guys he passed on: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, Dale Murphy, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines, John Franco, Dave Parker, and Mark McGwire.
Is this some sort of anti-steroids ballot in which Stanton won't vote for guys he suspects were on the juice? Does that mean he thinks Larkin, Alomar, and others juiced? Is he abstaining from Raines and Parker because of cocaine? If so, why not vote for uber-role model Dale Murphy?
More importantly, Stanton is the last guy who should be making any high and mighty moral claims, given that he had to resign from his previous jobs over plagiarism allegations. If he isn't getting morally righteous with his ballot, I really can't explain it. Frankly, I'm not sure I can explain it anyway.
The strangest vote in the bunch is the one I can find the best explanation for: Surhoff. That's a token vote for a local kid. A poster named SoSHially Unacceptable at Baseball Think Factory noted that Stanton used to work for the Journal News in Westchester, NY, Surhoff's home town. Normally those votes don't bug me because they're ultimately meaningless. Here it just amplifies how horrible the overall ballot is.
I'm not sure which is worse: Stanton actually thinks the guys he voted for are the best players on the ballot, or that he—a Hall of Fame voter—is so damn disinterested in voting for the best players to the game's highest honor.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.