Murray Chass: Gestapo. Station: Cooperstown.

The Hall of Fame vote is to be revealed this week. Murray Chass hates his voting struggle, love average pitchers with remarkable digestional genetics. Shall we join him in his plight?

Credit to JSBrick

Yes, quite clearly this is a Red Sox site. Format, content have not been changed. Soon enough you will have your Tuesdays rescued by a good bit of Cafardo hilarity. Please forgive me as I make my debut stretching a bit outside of Red Sox nation, but some things just need not be ignored.

For example, someone smarter than you or I has plead for your attention.

Even better, it is a New York journalist.

Murray Chass, formerly of the New York Times, winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink award, and reluctant member of the blogosphere has revealed his Hall of Fame ballot. Based on the credentials listed, we will surely find a well researched, cutting edge, liberated, creative ballot:

One and done.

I placed an X next to Jack Morris on my Hall of Fame ballot, and I was finished voting. If Morris is elected, I will most likely be finished voting period. If Morris is not elected this time, I will vote for him next year in his final year of eligibility and then be done.

Well, ummm, yeah…..

It’s on the edge and I want to cut myself. So, cutting edge seems about right.

Barring a change in my thinking, which I don’t expect, I believe the time has come to relinquish my right as a 10-year (actually 50-year) member of the Baseball Writers Association of America to vote in the Hall of Fame election.

Murray has changed his mind before! He used to insult blogs, then decided to blog when, you know, no one wanted to publish his golden thoughts of genius. New York Times doesn’t
want him anymore? No problem, he can self publish, and he has this vote to prove he is better than the average twitterer or bloggerer. He can change his mind darn it, he’s Murray
Chass, he’s smarter than us. He has a Hall of Fame vote!

I offer two reasons for my decision. Though I don’t believe there is a more qualified set of electors, certainly not the new-age stats guys who are envious of the writers and believe they should determine Hall of Famers, I don’t think reporters and columnists who cover and comment on baseball news should be
making baseball news.

As a certified new age, stat guy blogger I am indeed envious of Murray Chass. I was given a whole set of criteria to publish. In order to hold my position with Fire Brand, I am required to cite sources, defend positions, research, and think.

While I am on the subject, I am envious of his salary.

And his coveted, yet wasted, Hall of Fame vote.

The steroids issue has made it impossible to conduct a rational vote and cast a reasonable ballot. No matter how a writer votes or on what he bases his decision whom to vote for or not to vote for, his reasoning has to be flawed and open to challenge.

#whiteguyproblems

I have read and heard all sorts of explanations for voting or not voting for players listed on the ballot, the focus falling on players known to have used performance-enhancing substances (i.e. those who tested positive) or those who were suspected or having used them (especially those cases where circumstantial evidence e of use was strong). There are the writers who say they will not vote for anyone who cheated. There are writers who say they will vote for players who established Hall of Fame credentials before they became cheaters.

There are two sides to the story that has been reported ad nauseum. Let me explain these reports in great detail. I’m a professional!

There are writers who say they will ignore steroids use, even in obvious cases, and vote as if the stuff did not exist because it’s impossible to know for sure who used and who did not use. And anyway Major League Baseball ignored all of the cheating so why should not they, the last group argues.

Yes, Major League Baseball ignored it! Blame them. Don’t blame the media that was entrusted to cover the locker room and team. Don’t blame Murray!

I have a very vivid memory of waiting in a water fountain line at Union Street Elementary in South Weymouth, MA circa 1988 discussing with my fellow 2nd graders Jose Canseco
steroid use. How did we know then, but Murray waited until players from the next generation became eligible for the Hall of Fame to begin to investigate their place in the game?

A. Bartlett Giamatti, the late commissioner, used to say in applicable situations, “You could use a higher standard,” and that suggestion would apply here for the writers who throw up their hands and say, “How am I supposed to know who cheated and who didn’t?”

Please use a higher standard! PLEASE! Like the sort of standard that thanks Jack Morris for one of the best moments/games in baseball history, but demands better than a 3.90
ERA (!) to be a Hall of Famer.

It’s a perfectly good and fair question to ask, but it shouldn’t be answered by voting for known or suspected cheaters. The most logical answer is don’t vote. I have not made a study of the matter, but I noticed the other day a column on ESPN.com by T.J. Quinn, who declared an end to his voting. Good for him. Are there any other sensible writers in the house?

John Fay. He blows, too.

Now, you might ask and reasonably so, if I plan to stop voting, why did I vote this year? I voted in the hope that my vote would contribute to Morris’ election. I didn’t vote for anyone else because anyone I might have considered was a known or suspected cheater, and I didn’t want to aid and abet a cheater.

What of Alan Trammell? He is ACTUALLY DESERVING OF A VOTE (being the second best SS hitter of his generation and second best SS defender of his generation behind two
first ballot Hall of Famers) and is in no way suspected of being a user.

I think I am safe in concluding that Morris did not cheat. I know the stats zealots don’t think Morris is a Hall of Famer because his rankings in their new-fangled ratings fall below their standards.

3.90 ERA = new fangled stat.

But they don‘t have a formula for intestinal fortitude or determination.

I’ve worked on a formula. Great time to debut:

(Angry scowls) x (Consecutive days without diarrhea)
___________________________________________ = Fortitudmination

BIG games

Morris willed the Minnesota Twins to win Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, refusing to leave as long as the game was scoreless. The stats zealots are tired of hearing about that game, but it is symbolic of the fatal flaw in their way of viewing players. Numbers simply don’t tell the whole story.

Fortitudmination!

BTdubs – Is Don Larsen in the Hall of Fame? Shouldn’t a perfect game in the World Series beat Morris’ game if that was all that it took?

Scratch that, word is that Don Larsen struggled with IBS for most of his adult life, decreasing his intestinal fortitude.

They seem to have formed a band those fellows, and I don’t know if you’re ever going to change their mind,” Tom Kelly said in a telephone interview Wednesday evening.

I’m Murray Chass and I have Tom Kelly’s celly!!! BOO YA!

Kelly managed Morris with the Twins and managed against him when he played for Detroit and Toronto. Coincidentally, Kelly had watched a replay of the 10-inning 1-0 Game 7 earlier in the day. “It was snowing and I sat there and flipped the channels,” he said. The game naturally brought back memories. “I remember saying to myself in the dugout I gotta find a way to get a run,” Kelly recalled. “I was starting to get concerned that I couldn’t help the boys get a run.” Morris pitched all 10 innings. John Smoltz, the Atlanta starter, left in the eighth. “To me,” Kelly said, “the hardest part of the game for those two guys was their teams had opportunities to score and they didn’t. Other pitchers would have crumbled. Those two fellows kept going out there and being nasty.”

Morris, Kelly added, “did that quite often through the ‘80s and ‘90s. He shut down the other team. If he had the split-finger thing going you felt sorry for the other team. Through the ‘80s and ‘90s if you had a pitcher you had to pick out whom you didn’t want to face Morris had to be in the conversation. “People just don’t know what it was like to sit there and watch from either side of the field. I got to do both.”

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Lest anyone think Kelly was praising Morris because he managed him, I note that they were together only one year in Morris’ 18-year career. “I sure hope it goes his way,” Kelly said. “It seems absurd that he’s not in. How many rings does he have? Three? I wish those young guys would look at that.” In case those “young guys” don’t know what Kelly is talking about, he was referring to the three World Series championship rings Morris won with three different teams. That was no accident or coincidence, Kelly would tell them. Morris was instrumental in the success the Tigers, the Twins and the Blue Jays had in their championship seasons.

Lonnie Smith (1980 Phillies, 1982 Cardinals, 1985 Royals) for Hall of Fame!

Come to think of it, had he kept running he would have 4 rings and Morris would be locked up in a room Ray Finkle style!

Morris, however, has not been as successful in his effort to gain entry into the Hall of Fames. He is in his 14th year of his 15-year eligibility on the writers’ ballot, and he labored through his first 10 years without drawing as much as 50 percent of the vote. A player needs 75 percent for election.

Because the old school reporters who covered him and voted late in their life knew he was not a Hall of Famer. Quit, for the Love of God, blaming new school stat guys. His rise in
votes has strangely coincided with the rise of acceptance of advanced metrics. Ironic.

In 2010, Morris broke 50 percent with 52.3, then rose slightly to 53.5. Last year, in his 13th year on the ballot, he made a major breakthrough, receiving 66.7 percent and getting to an historically significant plateau. According to the Hall of Fame, all but one player who attained the 60-percent plateau subsequently was elected, either by the writers or the post-writer committees. The lone exception – and Brooklyn fans still feel his pain – was Gil Hodges.

I’m Murray Chass, and I am so old that I know Brooklyn Dodger fans.

Three times the Dodgers’ first baseman received more than 60 percent of the vote: 60.1 each in 1976 and ’81 and 63.4 in 1983, his last year of eligibility. What happened in ‘82? He sank to 49.4. That year Hank Aaron got 97.8 and Frank Robinson 89.2.

Amazing how good players (Hodges) look so average next to greatness (Aaron, Robinson). Have fun, Jack Morris hanging your plaque next to Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson, Christy
Matthewson, and Steve Carlton.

During Morris’ first 13 years on the ballot, eight players gained more than 60 percent, some more than once, and all were subsequently elected. Morris could be hurt or helped by how writers vote on the cheaters. If they go big for the big names, they will very likely not include Morris.

THE HALL OF FAME EXISTS TO GO BIG FOR BIG NAMES! IT IS LITERALLY ITS PURPOSE!!!

If they choose to reject the cheaters, Morris figures to benefit.

Amphetamines, now banned, were rampant in the 1960’s. They were as illegal then as steroids in the 1990’s. Please. Stop. Revisionist. Moralizing.

If Morris isn’t elected this time, he could face a problem next year because Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will be on the ballot for the first time.

Again, good next to great.

Years ago, I introduced a motion at a national writers’ meeting that we withdraw from voting. Had the motion been voted on at that meeting, I think it would have had a good chance of passing. If it had passed, we wouldn’t be debating the steroids issue now. But a quick- thinking writer moved to table the vote until the entire national membership could vote by mail.

And, we have our first original thought. In the last paragraph. It is a weird one, but it is original.

I have a thought: disband the Hall of Fame, cheaters and all.

Oh, that is weird? Nevermind…

My motion easily lost so here we are today talking about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa,Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell among others.
I spoke to several writers about their ballots and found that two had voted for Biggio and two others hadn’t because of a suspicion in baseball circles that he used steroids.

This is LIBEL! It’s supposed to be a big deal among journalists.

When Bagwell was eligible initially a couple of years ago, I voted for him, then was told he was a steroids guy. Trusting the information, I haven’t voted for him since.

Trusting LIBEL as source! THIS HAS NOT been reported. There is NO sourced reporting on Bagwell or Biggio being demonstrated to be steroid users.

Maybe the two writers who told me they voted for Biggio will come to a similar conclusion before the next vote. Those writers said they also voted for Piazza, which is troubling because I don’t know if there’s anyone in baseball who doesn’t think Piazza used steroids.

Aaaaarrrggghhhh!

For some reason, the news media have not talked about the former catcher and steroids the way they have talked about Bonds, Clemens and Sosa. When I worked for The New York Times, I tried more than once to write about Piazza and steroids, but the baseball editor said I couldn’t because his name hadn’t been linked to steroids.

I have to admit, I respect the reasoning here. If an editor blocks him…

Then again, his “proof” was…

I can link his name to steroids, I countered, but I had to wait until I started this Web site to talk about Piazza’s acne-covered back, a generally accepted telltale sign of steroids use.

Piazza’s passionate fans ridiculed me for that assertion (and surely will again) and ignored the fact that Piazza’s back cleared up as soon as baseball began testing for steroids.

PIMPLES AND ZITS ARE YOUR PROOF?????

A book for which Simon & Schuster paid Piazza an advance of $800,000 or $750,000 hadbeen scheduled for publication next month, but there’s talk about a delay because of a dispute between the publisher and Piazza over the subject of steroids and their presence in the book. The Hall of Fame wouldn’t look too good if Piazza were elected next week, and then his book came out with his admission that he used steroids. But maybe the Hall doesn’t care about Steroids.

This was a headline on its Web site the other day: Sosa on verge of Cooperstown

It did not end in a question mark; it was a simple declarative statement as if he Hall knew something the rest of us didn’t.

Maybe the issue is that steroids were a part of the game in their era. Shall we pretend it did not happen? I would expound, but I am busy erasing scandal ridden and defamed Warren
Harding, Ulysses S. Grant and Richard Nixon from my list of American Presidents.

Categories: Hall of Fame Hall of Fame Ballot Jack Morris Murray Chass

Thinks Pedro deserved the MVP and that Justin Verlander did not, that Dwight Evans was better than Jim Rice, that Marty Barrett was a worthy choice as favorite Red Sox player when I was a child, that J.D. Drew was very good for the Olde Towne Team, that Fenway Sports group owning Liverpool is not a proper reason to support that loathsome soccer club, that Peter Gammons needs a key lock on his cell phone, still thinks that Nomar Garciaparra is better than Derek Jeter, and that, finally, there is no such thing as being completely bias-free. When not writing about or watching the Red Sox, I moonlight as a father, a husband, a pastor, a doctoral candidate, an infielder and #2 hitter on the church softball team, soccer fan, Disney pass holder, snark manufacturer, and pizza connoisseur. Free time free since 2001.

8 Responses to “Murray Chass: Gestapo. Station: Cooperstown.” Subscribe

  1. Tim January 8, 2013 at 9:24 AM #

    I'm still not sure which was the worse lasting legacy of Fire Joe Morgan — was it the remarkable inability to be correct without being insufferable at the same time, or was it all the casual profanity? Well, at least you avoided the second one.

  2. ChipBuck January 8, 2013 at 11:11 AM #

    Very nicely done, Tim. I'm glad to see the FJM snark didn't leave Fire Brand when I did. The only question is this…will you break down and pay Boston.com, so you can troll CHB columns?

    As for Chass's piece, I found it astonishing that his entire argument for Morris was Game 7…well that and intestinal fortitude and determination. Wait…is intestinal fortitude the thing Red Sox players were always coming down with during the Terry Francona was? Nope, that was intestinal distress. Either way, after reading Chass's piece, I feel the need to "intestinally distress myself" all over his blog…err…internet column.

  3. Timothy Brooks January 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM #

    I am clearly a FJM disciple, and I hope to one day watch the funniest show on television that networks are religiously attempting to cancel. I suppose I never set out to be insufferable, but I am not sure that it was meant to be suffer-able. In the end, I simply ask for responsible writing from Hall of Fame journalists. Then again, it seems that his inclusion in the Hall of Fame spurred him on to vote for pitchers of his own ilk.

    Dang, I was insufferable again…at least I avoided four letter words, unless you count "dang" or "four."

  4. ChipBuck January 8, 2013 at 8:27 PM #

    Wait…you haven't watched Parks & Rec yet? Run…don't walk…to Netflix right now. It's so amazing.

    And who said you were insufferable? Rational is more like it. Haha.

  5. Tim January 9, 2013 at 9:24 AM #

    Tim — I shouldn't single you out, because goodness knows you're not the only one writing this kind of article that FJM pioneered. But, at least for me, FJM got tiresome quickly. And once this sort of response column became an established voice and the shock of the new wore off, what was left was a style of writing that was as sure of itself, as domineering, and — again to me — as off-putting as the jokers like Chass and Shaughnessy had ever been. I find myself rolling my eyes at positions I agree with, which is a weird place to be.

    I like this website a lot. AND I'm tired of this kind of article. That's all I'm saying here.

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