Aaron Sele And Other Hall Of Fame Thoughts

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Oh boy. So much Hall of Fame stuff to talk about, so little time. I am not sure I have the time, or space , to fully extrapolate on all of my Hall of Fame thoughts right now, but I will do my best to get to some main points. I am not even sure I know where to start? Or end, for that matter. So my apologies if my stream of consciousness  goes on tangents that are hard to follow at times. Just, ya know, bear with me.


Am I surprised that no one was elected this year? No. From all of the straw polls, or whatevers, there seemed to be a general sentiment that no one would get in this year and if anyone had a chance it was Craig Biggio. Do I think it’s bad or sad that no one got in? Well, not necessarily? I think I am in an “on the fence” sort of gray area here. I understand the exclusivity of the Hall of Fame, but it seems silly that no one got in, just based on the fact that there are several players on the ballot who deserve to get in, including several who will definitely get elected at some point. So what makes their case any better one year to the next? Their statistics don’t change, right? Well, yeah, of course I am right. Hey, it happens from time to time. Really, it does. Scout’s honor! Alright, sorry, moving on. The way these statistics are looked at or which statistics are looked at can change, especially as the ballots change. As in, the votes can depend on who else is on the ballot as much as how good the players on the ballot are. What I mean is, there could be a crowded ballot of talented, Hall of Fame caliber, players on a ballot. Say, for the sake of argument, you are a voter and, for the sake of argument, the ballot you receive contains 12, maybe 15, players who, in your mind, are Hall of Famers. Okay, well you have 10 votes. So, someone is going to have to wait. But here’s the thing, how would you decide? Would you rank them by their qualifications, which seems to be the most logical? Or do you base it on how many years of Hall of Fame eligibility they have left? Or, better yet, do you base it on your personal feelings towards the player? Personally, I would use a bit from each column, I think. Truth of the matter is, I have no idea how the writers would handle this or what goes on in their heads. While this may not be the case for some writers, since some handed in empty ballots, it is some food for thought. Of course then there’s also that whole aura surrounding a first ballot Hall of Famer.

I understand that the first ballot club is something to be prided and exclusive. To get in on your first ballot you need to be the elitist of the elite, the cream of the crop, famiest of the famers. That makes perfect sense, I think?  In a way? Well let us loom on this. I mean should a person who is thought to be a Hall of Famer, not be voted for, just because he is not so great that he should be going in on his first try, as if it is a certain right of passage? Baseball, and many other sports really, but baseball more so, is a game filled with rituals, traditions, secret handshakes, inner circles, etcetera, etcetera. You know, kind of like the Stonecutters.  So while you may be thought of as a Hall of Famer, you may not be though of as the greatest of Hall of Famers. This actually made me a bit surprised that Biggio got such a high vote total, I didn’t think most writers would feel like he was a 1st balloter. Well, two of the best players of their, or maybe anyone’s, time (unless you live under a rock you know who I am talking about and it ain’t Royce Clayton or Woody Williams) were snubbed, and we all know why. Do we all understand why? I would say, yes, yes we do. They are being punished for tarnishing the sanctity of the game. The fact that we all know they will get in, makes it seem silly that they don’t get in now, right? I think most ( I said most, not all) of us can agree they were great players without the “help”, but nevertheless they will have to wait. How long? well only the writers know that I suppose. I guess the whole thing goes back to the precious “feel” that writers hold onto ever so tightly. Yep, gonna talk about that whole “feel” thing once again. Briefly. Well, briefly for me, that is.

Here’s a quick thought on feel. I think it is silly to a point. This is because there absolutely needs to be, at the very least, combination of using “feel” with using statistics, mostly of the advanced kind. Here’s my list of every player on the ballot and whether or not I feel like they are a Hall of Famer. Now, I am basing this, not on statistics, but my actual gut. I am taking away all my knowledge of any of their statistics and just gonna vote on how I felt about them and their careers as they were happening. Now, I have poured over many of their careers and stats, so you will just have to take my word on this:

Craig Biggio- Yes
Jack Morris- No
Jeff Bagwell- Yes
Mike Piazza- Yes
Tim Raines- Yes
Lee Smith- No
Curt Schilling- Yes
Roger Clemens- Yes
Barry Bonds- Yes
Edgar Martinez- Yes
Alan Trammell- No
Larry Walker- N0
Fred McGriff- No
Dale Murphy- Yes
Mark McGwire- No
Don Mattingly- Yes
Sammy Sosa- No
Rafael Palmeiro- No
Bernie Williams – N0
Kenny Lofton- No
Sandy Alomar, Jr- No
Julio Franco- No
David Wells- No
Steve Finley- No
Shawn Green- No
Aaron Sele- No
Jeff Cirillo- No
Royce Clayton- No
Jeff Conine- No
Roberto Hernandez- No
Ryan Klesko- No
Jose Mesa- No
Reggie Sanders- No
Mike Stanton- No
Todd Walker- No
Rondell White- No
Woody Williams- No

So, as you can see, I was in agreement, for the most part, with the writers. I do think  Biggio and Trammell are Hall of Famers, just never really felt that way when they were playing I guess. On the other side, I think Lofton and Bernie Williams deserve a little more conversation and with time and perspective, as much as I love him, I don’t now think Dale Murphy belongs in the Hall. But look at how many players I had as yes, just by feel. If I counted correctly, there were 11. Going by the statistical case, since Lofton and Williams deserve more consideration, you could say maybe 14-15 I think belong in the Hall, for this argument that is. Ten votes, how would I vote? Well if  I did feel Dale Murphy belonged in, he would get my vote this year, because it was his last chance. But with this, let’s bring it on back to that first ballot Hall of Famer stuff.

Does my reasoning there affect some first balloters? Sure. Look how many 1st ballot Hall of Famers I feel are Hall of Famers on this ballot. Would I not vote for ten names ( and I am okay with not submitting ten names, if you honestly do not think ten belong) , just because I didn’t feel like any first balloters deserved it? I wouldn’t, but writers do, just to keep that up on a pedestal as a holy grail for Hall of Famers. I mean it is a bit of farcical idea if you think about it, but many of the voting writers this year did vote for a fair share of 1st timers. But not seeing all the votes, although some writers do post or show their final ballots (I’m guessing who ever voted for Aaron Sele did, and will, not) we have no idea. I’m sure there are plenty of writers that did not vote for Biggio, because he didn’t feel like a first ballot Hall of Famer, but shouldn’t the crux of the argument be whether or not he is a Hall of Famer or not, period? Clearly it isn’t always the case. So when you see the final tallies, you wonder who lost one vote in favor of someone like, say, Aaron Sele. Actually in that instance, if you are like me,  you wonder how Aaron Sele got a vote at all, but I digress. We have no way of knowing, but it is possible that that voter had a slot and did not want Clemens or Bonds or any first timer in and instead, out of  bitter spite or whatever, jotted Sele’s name on his ballot.  The thinking being that there is no way this vote will be relevant. It was a safe bet that very few, if any, voters were voting for Sele, so no harm, no foul. Now again, I have no idea who that voter opted to not vote for instead of Aaron Sele, but I do know that Aaron Sele did not deserve a vote and therein lies part of the problem. Maybe that writer has a good anecdote about Sele or thought Sele was a stand-up guy and really deserved the vote. Stranger things have happened. But imagine if he was doing it as a “whatever” vote, thinking no one else would vote for Sele, so it did not matter. Now imagine, 75% of writers had a similar idea. In some sort of weird twist, Aaron Sele would be a Hall of Famer! Imagine if you heard that announced on Wednesday afternoon?! Okay, this is a ridiculous argument, I understand, because no one has to vote for ten players, but it still does not change the fact that someone voted for Aaron Sele. One more time. Aaron Sele! The voting process needs tweaking and I am not saying this because no one got elected this year, I swear. Although that does help point out to more people that said tweaking is needed.  It has needed tweaking for quite some time now.

I think Bill James has a pretty good idea on how to start the tweaking. Courtesy of Rob Neyer’s article over on SB Nation:

“In fact, Bill James was (I believe) the first significant writer to make a similar suggestion about the voting population, in The Politics of Glory (disclosure: I did a spot of work on that book). I suspect the following passage might be the most powerful in the whole 452-page book:

Let’s think for a moment about the people who can’t vote for the Hall of Fame. I can’t vote. Tony Kubek can’t vote. Tom Seaver can’t and Sparky Anderson can’t. Bob Costas can’t. Larry King can’t. Ron Santo can’t. Tommy John can’t. Keith Olbermann can’t. Ron Barr can’t. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays can’t vote. Tom Reich can’t vote. Bobby Cox can’t. Alan and Randy Hendricks can’t. Ted Simmons and Syd Thrift can’t vote. Jack McKeon can’t. Jerry Coleman can’t. Your local radio broadcaster, who sees 162 games a year and studies the media notes for an hour before the game so he’ll know what he’s talking about — he can’t vote. Skip Caray and Don Sutton can’t vote. Harry Caray and Steve Stone can’t, either. Carlton Fisk can’t vote. Tal Smith can’t vote. Doug Harvey can’t vote. Earl Weaver can’t. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan don’t get to vote. Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra don’t get to vote. Roger Angell can’t vote. Steve Wulf can’t vote. Craig Wright and Pete Palmer can’t vote. George Brett and John Roseboro can’t vote.

Well, pardon my asking but why the hell can’t we vote? What, none of us knows anything about baseball? Our opinions aren’t worth anything?”

Now, you will have to pardon Mr. James’ cussing at the end there, but he makes a good point. Now, as far as former players, managers and fans go, I am a little iffy on this. Not sure how the fan thing would be able to be done fairly and I feel like players and managers may have more grudges and bias than baseball writers. This, of course, would not go for all former players, but a good amount of them, I would reckon. But the idea, in essence that the voting should be expanded beyond tenured and ten-yeared (see what I did there?) baseball writers. There are plenty of other valued baseball minds that should get some input into who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. And I feel if you are a voter and do not turn in a ballot or turn in a blank ballot, then you should lose your privilege, unless you can make a valid argument that no one on the ballot deserves a vote. Maybe not forever, but you should be penalized, I think. Hey, maybe I am the only one that feels that way, I dunno? Maybe I am the only one who thinks whomever voted for Aaron Sele should also lose their vote, but who knows? What I do know is I am gonna wrap this post up with what I think you all want to see, the players I would have voted for, in no particular order (and yes Clemens and Bonds would be off by ballot just out of spite):

Schilling, Trammell, Raines, Mattingly, Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, E. Martinez and of course…. Aaron Sele.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave B Says:

    It somehow escaped me that somebody voted for Aron Sele. Incredible.
    I would be in favor of broadcasters getting a vote, but like you, I’m not too keen on former players and managers getting votes.
    While I do think that some players on this year’s ballot were deserving (Biggio, Bagwell, Trammell, and Raines, at a minimum) I absolutely do not think that voters should be required to put players on their ballot ever year. It’s entirely possible that there will be some years where there simply isn’t anybody deserving on the ballot, and it’s still to force people to name somebody, even if they be undeserving.

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