Why I Still Care About the Hall of Fame

This is a post that’s kind of about baseball’s Hall of Fame in which I tell you how to think and how to act. It’s a post that I should have given a title with a colon or starting with the word “On,” or incorporating a Dr. Strangelove joke–in short, the kind of title I used to use for 70 percent of my baseball writing before I realized those tropes were more childish than profound. This post uses baseball to make a larger point about society and public discourse. It will be, in a word, insufferable.

This morning, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com posted his Hall of Fame ballot. I apologize in advance to the Dodger beat writer, because I’m going to call him Tom Grunick at some point and not catch myself–Broadcast News is one of my favorite movies and to be honest, I’ve spent much more time with William Hurt’s character in that movie (which is to say, any time), than I have with Ken Gurnick.

But the point is this: Gurnick voted for Jack Morris, and Jack Morris alone, for the Hall of Fame. And the internet blew up. I use the phrase “roundly pilloried” a lot, but it applies well here. I’ve made no secret of my own Hall of Fame rationale: I’m generally a big Hall person, I value peak over longevity, I make some allowances for qualitative or emotional influence on my evaluations (leading to, for instance, my preference for Larry Walker over Tom Glavine), and when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, I am on the most liberal end of the spectrum: if a player is eligible, I’d consider him. That’s how I’d vote, and I believe it’s the best way to vote, otherwise I’d have some other opinions. I don’t believe it’s the only way–if a voter prefers a smaller circle, for instance, or if he or she isn’t so comfortable with PEDs and chooses not to vote for a player who tested positive, or who was credibly accused of wrongdoing, I’d disagree, but such a ballot wouldn’t merit the treatment Gurnick got today.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 87: Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

Hey, hey hey, interrogate me hey…

@mdubz11: “your hall of fame ballot, opinions, etc etc”

I’m shocked that nobody asked me this before now, but I guess there’s a certain point past which nobody cares about my opinion. Anyway, I answered this last year, and nobody got in, so a lot of my answers are the same…actually, look at that, it was Dubs who asked for my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot last year too, the sneaky bastard.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 86: Basal Ganglia

I’m down to my last month or so in Madison (side note, if anyone wants to pay me to write or edit anything, I’m very much available), and let me say this: I am entirely sick of snow. We got about eight inches dumped on us in what seemed like an hour, and I’m so tired of having to go five months between grass sightings. This place is so cold all the doctors are named Yuri and write horrible poetry. I took the garbage out on Monday and got icicles on my beard and in my nose after about 30 seconds. I’m just so done with snow.

But I’ll say this–it being 10 below up here isn’t even close to the most miserable weather I’ve ever experienced. Because I’d take this winter over Philadelphia winter anytime. Philadelphia winter is 34 and overcast and unrelenting sleet and freezing rain and wind and I want to punch John Bolaris in the forehead right now just thinking about winter weather in Philadelphia. The worst place on the planet in winter is on the campus of Temple University, under the footbridge between Gladfelter and Anderson halls, where if you step out you get your ears frozen off from the sleet and belted by wind so strong you wonder if NASA’s testing a static airframe for a new hypersonic rocket plane. It is the most miserable place I’ve ever been.

Your questions.

@dj_mosfett: “Over this Holiday Period, I have consumed much Egg Nog. What are your thoughts on Nog? What is your preferred Nog recipe?”

My preferred Nog recipe goes something like this:

Crash Bag, Vol. 85: The Duck Blind

Bill told me, when this post was in draft mode, that I’d turned off comments. I have no idea how I did this, so I don’t know how to turn them back on, and while Bill apparently edited the post while I wasn’t looking, he might not have reenabled the comments. We’ll see how this goes.

@jenningsjt: “If RAJ was fired and the city decided Hinkie should run both the Sixers and the Phillies, what would be his first few moves?”

I think the first thing he’d do is try to trade for draft picks, maybe take on a couple bad contracts to do so, figuring he’s got the cap space…then come hurtling back to the ground when he realizes you can’t trade draft picks and baseball doesn’t have a salary cap. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 84: The Burrito Emporia of Queens

Good set of questions this week, so I’ll dive right in. First from the boys at Cespedes Family Barbecue. In my Roy Halladay tribute piece on Grantland earlier this week, I called Zoo With Roy the weirdest, most passionate blog…excuse me, “bolg”…in the history of sports, but Cespedes Family Barbecue is about 94 percent as weird as ZWR. Anyway, they sent a barrage of questions, starting with this one:

@CespedesBBQ: “if you were Domonic Brown, what team would you want to be traded to? you can’t choose the Expos”

So I’m going to interpret this question as involving the following parameters: putting my personality and tastes in Dom Brown’s body. So I’m the same person, but instead of being a married 26-year-old writer who looks like Jonathan Frakes’ slobbish nephew, I’d be a single 26-year-old baseball player who looks like an underwear model and whose salary is like mine, but with significant multiplication involved.

And because this is me being Dom Brown, and not Dom Brown being Dom Brown, this list would look different than you’d expect.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 83: I Am Easily Shamed

Let’s start things off with a furious bout of wishful thinking.

@asigal22: “Is there a record this season that gets Amaro fired? If so, can he get the Phillies there?”

I don’t think so. Well, let me rephrase–there is such a record, but it’s like 36-126 or something ridiculous and bad as I think the Phillies are going to be, they won’t be record-settingly bad. I’m pretty sure the Phillies’ win total this season is going to start with a 7, and if it doesn’t it’ll be because Cliff Lee falls off a cliff, not because of anything Ruben Amaro‘s done recently. This has been inevitable since 2010, and that we’re just now feeling the effects of the decisions that killed the Phillies’ chances at contention doesn’t mean that they’re fixable in the short term. A few weeks ago I set an over-under date of something like December 9, 2015, more or less out of the blue, and asked around whether people thought Amaro would be gone before or after that date. I’d take the over, just because I can’t imagine what would change between now and then to change the mind of ownership. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 82: The Hanukkah of Excess

So last week I made an effort to keep the Crash Bag largely baseball-focused. This week, not so much. Sorry.

@jlwoj: “is Friday Thanksgiving Kosher or does it violate everything?”

I think if there’s a good reason for you to celebrate Thanksgiving on the Friday–like work or travel restrictions–then go for it. I don’t presume to impose my own relatively conservative cultural norms on everyone else without a reason. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what I do whenever I write about something like the DH or the shift. This brings up the secondary question, however, of whether it’s appropriate to eat an enormous amount of food and watch an equally enormous amount of football on Friday. And the answer to that is yes. The presence of Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches and two days of college football rivalry games almost makes Thanksgiving a de facto three-day holiday. Four, if you count Wednesday night as the official day of going out to the bar, getting irresponsibly drunk and running into people you hadn’t thought about since high school.

Thanksgiving, in short, is like the Hanukkah of Excess. And here was I, getting all tetchy about having to get on a plane to see the relatives. I’ve been looking at it the wrong way all along.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 81: Semi-Serious Baseball Questions

I got a new laptop since the last time I wrote the Crash Bag, and it has a touchscreen. It’s so cool–I could never go back to a non-touchscreen computer now. This week I tried to scroll on my wife’s Macbook by touching the screen and nothing happened and my first thought was: “What a piece of junk.”

The only thing I need now is some kind of program to make my desktop and all my applications look like the LCARS system from Star Trek. You know, like this:

And I know there are apps that let you play around and press the buttons and stuff, but I’m talking about the whole shebang. I had a Winamp skin that did this a while back, but never anything for the whole computer. Let’s get on this.

And let’s get to your questions.

@dschoenfield: “Don’t you think somebody should do a study on when MLB players peak? Could perhaps be helpful for RAJ.”

Yeah, that’d be nice. Someone ought to get on that and show it to Ruben Amaro before he signs another player who’s old enough to be my dad. Well, Marlon Byrd isn’t literally old enough to be my dad, but you get the point.

I’ll say this–there’s something to be said for swimming against the current. To a certain extent, you’re not going to find low-risk, high-upside bargains in the free agent market, because that’s not where the value is anymore. But shouldn’t you be able to finagle the occasional bargain by taking a stab at a player most teams think is too old? For instance: the Mariners got 29 home runs last year out of Raul Ibanez, a 41-year-old they paid less than $3 million. And he would’ve been a steal at that price if they’d DH’d him full-time instead of giving him 97 starts in left field, which is something an insane team would do. As a little more than a half-time left fielder, he gave back about two and a half wins (NOT RUNS, WINS) with his defense alone. Ibanez got 97 starts in left and his glove alone was about as great a detriment to the Mariners as Domonic Brown, an All-Star, was a net positive for the Phillies. You can’t let that happen. Civilized people don’t let that happen.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 80: Sex is Real

Oh, hello. Eric Longenhagen here. Please, let me explain.

I don’t like answering emails via the written word. I don’t find it fun. I take baseball too seriously (I’m aware of how dumb that sounds) to infuse fun and humor into questions about Marlon Byrd and Kevin Frandsen like Michael does so well. I just can’t do it. I DID want an excuse to do a podcast, however, which is why I accepted the responsibility of writing this week’s CrashBag. It is a dense 35 minutes long. Writing, recording and editing this thing took forever and it features more parts of me than I’d like to admit including, but not limited to, my fascination with villains, my inexplicable fluency in Yiddish slang and my love for juxtaposition between the ultra-serious and absurd. This podcast starts out as bland and boring as anything you’ve ever heard. At about the 15 minute mark, you’re gonna start wondering if you’re having a stroke. I hope you enjoy it and that I still have a job here on Monday.

Produced by: Phil Milia (@BeercanStudios)

Written and Directed by: Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen)

Music by: The Transmission Now

Guest Starring: Jillian Galm and Glen Longenhagen

 


2013 Phillies Report Card: Ryan Howard

This latest era of Phillies ignominy was, for me, inaugurated by Ryan Howard. Specifically, it began as he collapsed to the ground in agony, clutching at what turned out to be a ruptured Achilles tendon, as in a blur, out of my focus, the Cardinals completed the force at first and began celebrating their trip to the 2011 NLCS on the field.

Continue reading…