Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tear Down The Hall of Fame

Here's a quick trivia question for all of the baseball fans out there... name the third basemen who are in the Hall of Fame (without looking at Google).

I'll start. Schmidt, Brett, Brooks Robinson, Pie Traynor... and I'm stumped. (And it's not just third base; try it with any other position; with the possible exception of relief pitcher.) It's not a question that anyone outside of Cooperstown freaks can answer, even if you're down with MLB history.

And this, along with dozens of other reasons, is why we need to destroy the Hall of Fame... because it doesn't really mean anything anymore.

Let's go down another path. When I say Hall of Fame, what do you think of? For me, it's Pete Rose. Buck O'Neill. First ballot voting. Veterans Committe abuses. Yankee over-representation.

And then, finally, we get down to how nice Cooperstown is, and how I've enjoyed my trips there, despite the fact that the management of the Hall does unreal cheap nonsense like keeping O'Neill out of the Hall because he was involved in a Negro League Hall of Fame.

We can do better. Eventually, we will, because there's too much money tied up into MLB to keep doing it badly. So...

1) Make each position a Top 10 list.

Right there, we've got something meaningful to discuss. Each year, there's a ranking, and players that are no longer in that go to a Auxilliary or Alumni ranking. And everyone starts to know (or care) who is in the Hall.

Plus, and this is a huge win... we no longer have the tedious "First Year" debate. Hell, you could even name active players for all I care. Just so long as we can stop hearing why Greg Maddux isn't a first-year pick from some honk that wants attention.

2) Blow up the old Hall.

Right now, Candy Cummings is equal to Walter Johnson, Willie Mays and Cal Ripken. Who is Candy Cummings? A 19th century pitcher who might -- might -- have invented the curveball. No, really. And he's far from the most egrigious example, given that Charlie Comiskey, the skinflint owner that helped create the conditions for the 1919 Black Sox scandal, is in there for his contributions as a player. (He was the first guy to play off the bag at first base. In the immortal words of Derrick Coleman, Whoop De Damn Do.)

3) Forget the old rules.

By the Hall's own rules, there can be no more players from the Negro Leagues; it's all over now. Why? Because they're trying to avoid the big problem of the Veterans Committee, which was that they just kept adding players who weren't really all that good, but knew somebody.

By moving to a Top 10 list for every position, we eliminate this artifice, and get back to the real gist of what the Hall should be about -- a living document of the game. And, well, an argument. Which is more than what we've got right now -- a lot more.


Jeff V said...

What does FTT think about the Bill Simmons pyramid system?

(hit me up for a link if necessary, I'm lazy now)

DMtShooter said...

It's been a while since I read the Bad Tooth's take on this, but I think he's suggesting a Tier structure for good, better and best HOFers.

Pyramids are good for separating fools from their money, but in this case, it's silly. The point of the Hall should be to impress new fans (kids with their parents, basically) of the history and scope of the game, rather than make them buy into some Ponzii scheme of greatness.

When you go to the Hall, you walk through the decades, which is as it should be; you gravitate to the eras that you care about. I don't have a problem with that part of the Hall; I have a problem with who the Hall has inducted, and how.

The problem with the Hall is the politics that have made inclusion a crapshoot, and the sins of the past that can't be undone. Separating them by position, and making the plaques a living document, would do wonders to make who is in the Hall a relevant conversation again. Now, it's just a constant campaign for your cause de jure; there's a lot more skin in the game if you have to take someone out.