Few events invoke as much hysteria among baseball followers as the Baseball Writers Association of America’s voting on player induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The HoF voting process highlights all four of the values that I espouse on the left sidebar:
Humor: The sabermetric community usually spares no sarcasm in commenting on the voting cards of BBWAA members. In 2012, Twitter in particular served as a forum for great one-liners chastising specific ballots or ballot explanations that do not pass the saberist sniff test.
Empathy: The articles filed by BBWAA members, bloggers, and baseball celebs are dripping with emotional pleas for votes (or non-votes) for their favored players. Often these take the perspective of the player (“How must Lou Whitaker feel being lumped in with the new class of <5% vote-getters like Bill Mueller”) and empathize with his situation (“Jack Morris was a contemporary great: he just pitched to the score!”).
Logic: Multiple flavors of the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) framework, Jay Jaffe’s JAWS, the old school Hall Of Fame Monitor/Standard, similarity scores, and other logic-driven estimates of player career value are put forth as evidence of a player’s right to enshrinement.
Passion: Any other plaque on any other wall is just a hunk of brass on wood compared to a Hall of Fame plaque. Endless debate over the merits of a “small hall” vs. a “big hall” (exclusive vs. inclusive), over irrational support for one player or another, over the meaning of character, over the role of the Hall itself in establishing standards, etc., will rage on forever. Or at least until I get my way.
Anyways, just wanted to share a real-life example of my HELP values in action. Congratulations to SS Barry Larkin, who thankfully did not require as much HELP to get in as the man who will join him (in spirit) in the induction ceremony, the belated Ron Santo, who never received the support he should have when he was alive.