Bad votes.

I think many of us in the sabermetrically-inclined crowd tend to discredit older sportswriters as less likely to consider strong statistical arguments and more likely to use specious reasoning to justify their award or Hall votes. I haven’t found that to be true while collecting Hall ballots, and here’s some proof that younger sportswriters can be just as specious:

1. [Tim Raines] admitted sliding headfirst the year he used because he kept coke in his uniform pocket and didn’t want it to fall out — which is an act as disrespectful of the game as you can imagine.

I presume Buscema will be leading the “recall Mickey Mantle” campaign, since we know Mantle showed up drunk for games on multiple occasions. And, of course, his last phrase is pure hyperbole, since I can imagine many more disrespectful acts, like throwing games for money. Except I don’t have to imagine it at all.

Raines had an addiction. He admitted it, sought treatment, has been clean for something like twenty years, and became a model citizen and good clubhouse guy for the second half of his career. His cocaine problem is a non-factor in discussing his Hall candidacy.

2. As a player whose key Hall of Fame attribute was his speed, I want to examine a little further whether the use of a stimulant could have enhanced his performance whether he used it for that purpose or not.

That’s just pathetic. Cocaine is now a performance-enhancing drug? Perhaps cops should take a sniff of coke before setting off to chase down suspects on foot. The perps wouldn’t stand a chance against those juiced-up cops!

And how is Buscema going to examine this further? Will he review the peer-reviewed studies on the effects of cocaine usage on athletes?

3. He wasn’t a surefire Hall of Famer without that issue by any means; in fact, I had only seriously considered him after several compelling columns turned my head.

This is perhaps as damning to me as the first point. Here we have a first-time Hall voter who, at certain points in his article (such as explaining why he didn’t vote for Dawson), shows awareness of stats like OBP. And yet when presented with Raines, whose .385 career OBP sits comfortably aside Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn’s (.388) and eventual Hall of Famer Derek Jeter (.388), Buscema needed other writers to point out to him that Raines is a surefire Hall of Famer … and still isn’t convinced.

When you only use statistics that support the point you already wanted to make, or you weigh statistics that support that point more heavily than those that don’t …

Bert Blyleven … but ultimately I still would have liked to have seen at least a little better winning percentage and/or more Cy Young votes, an ERA title and more than one 20-win season in 22 years.

… you raise a question, at least to me, of whether you understand the statistics at all. If we’re still talking about Blyleven’s win total – and acting as if that’s unconnected to Cy Young votes – then we’re still running uphill.

One ballot doesn’t prove the point that we may be discriminating a bit too much by age when talking about voter tendencies, but based on the 80-odd ballots I’ve got, I haven’t seen anything to convince me that the voter’s age is a major factor in affecting his Hall choices. Buscema was just kind enough to display his logic in public.


  1. DantesWitness

    Unfortunately, age would never be the only factor. There is always the chance that the young writers learned everything they know from the older generation. We can only cross our fingers and hope that Raines pulls a high enough number to know that while we may have to argue with people for years that he deserves to be elected, his election will certainly come. I mean if Tony Perez could do it, can’t Tim Raines?

  2. I stumbled across your site during the BBWAA controversy last month, but I’ve kept coming back because I tend to agree with you. Although I agree with the BBWAA limiting the caliber of inductees into the Hall, I think their reasoning is alternately asinine and pretentious. Every reason used to keep the top ten candidates on this year’s ballot is so easily refuted by the deeds of players currently in the hall. I would be perfectly happy if they said, “I just don’t think he’s Hall of Fame material” and left it at that. At least then we would no it was personal bias of a professional with no ridiculous reasoning. Some of the fault lies with years of back door elections of players with marginal stats, but the problem also lies with the selective and rose colored memories of the voters. Their biased nostalgia for days long ago creates tarnished reasoning and unfortunate decisions.

    I grew up in the late 70′s and 80′s. I was glued to the game of the week whenever Jim Rice or Dave Parker played. Tim Raines was every bit as impressive as Rickey and Vince Coleman. Dale Murphy at the plate when you had a one run lead was a reason for nervous rocking and screaming at the tv. My fear is that the waxing poetry of the 60′s and the gaudy performance of the 90′s has made some of the great players of my childhood less impressive. I hope that when I visit the Hall again in ten years that the of the players my childhood are properly represented.

    Then again, I also hope and pray that this post is grammatically correct. You’re one tough (but oh so necessary) cookie Keith.

  3. I caught your New Year’s Eve shot on ESPN News discussing the Raines vote. You offered the pretty inescapable view that (1) Of course Raines is a Hall of Famer and (2) Of course Raines won’t get in anytime in the near future.

    The host said that he had previous guests articulate the same view (I saw Joe Sheehan’s appearance from a couple of days previous) and, genuinely, I thought, questioned how it could possibly be that the body of statistical evidence would be so diametrically opposed by popular opinion.

    What I wanted you to do was yell at him.

    Despite the evolution (and dissemination) of our ability to quantify “truth” the gulf between what we know and what we believe remains monumental.

    Not just talking baseball here.

  4. Ed, you did have one error…in your first paragraph I think you meant know, not no. Just a minor error that I’m sure was an oversight, not an intention.

    Keith keep up the good work…I always get a kick out of your stuff (especially the grammar corrections — I don’t know how you deal with some of the knuckleheads during your chats on the other site).

  5. This is the type of voter who drives me craziest: the voter who professes to rigorously and objectivily study each candidate, but then demonstrates that he has no idea how to analyze and use the data that he cites.

    The criteria for Hall of Fame admission seems to be ambiguous if not non-existant, and for that reason I grudgingly tolerate voters who adopt a completely subjective approach. But for a voter to attempt to rely on objective statistical analysis, while focusing on runs batted in, won-loss records, Cy Young and MVP voting …

  6. As a player whose key Hall of Fame attribute was his speed, I want to examine a little further whether the use of a stimulant could have enhanced his performance whether he used it for that purpose or not.

    Most. Asinine. Statement. Ever.

  7. As a player whose key Hall of Fame attribute was his speed, I want to examine a little further whether the use of a stimulant could have enhanced his performance whether he used it for that purpose or not.

    Most. Asinine. Statement. Ever

    It’s also a mother of a misplaced modifier.

  8. [i]It’s also a mother of a misplaced modifier.

    What are you talking about? Dave’s quickness in jumping to improper conclusions is certainly worthy of some kind of Hall.

  9. I read this yesterday and I’m still amazed by the writer’s suggestion that Tim Raines used cocaine as a performance enhancer. In addition Buscema also makes reference to Chuck Finley’s ex-wife which is completely irrelevant to his HOF eligibility in addition to being unfunny. Needless to say I won’t be adding Buscema to my RSS reader anytime soon.

  10. I just picked this up here, I posted about it yesterday on my site.

    I can’t believe that he’s not voting for Tim Raines because of his cocaine problem. It makes me wonder if he knows what cocaine is? Like….does he think that cocaine is a drug you keep in a vile in your pockets that helps you run faster?

    He actually wrote this:

    “Raines is a more murky issue for me than a straight cheater….”

    What that fuck? Raines is more of a gray area than a guy like McGwire? Then why did he dismiss McGwire and almost vote for Raines?