Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hall of Fame voter submits 'Jack Morris-only' ballot

UPDATE: This was apparently Gurnick's swan song.

Hall of Fame voter submits 'Jack Morris-only' ballot

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

UPDATE: This was apparently Gurnick's swan song.


MLB.com published a list of BBWAA members and the votes they submitted for the year's Hall of Fame ballot. The main issues involve the steroid era and Jack Morris' legitimacy as a candidate. Some writers' responses to these topics have been stubborn, while others maintain some form of objectivity and reason.

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Ken Gurnick, a Dodgers beat writer, falls somewhere outside of it all.

"Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them."

--Ken Gurnick, Dodgers beat writer

Putting aside that Gurnick did not vote for Greg Maddux, and used his maximum of 10 votes on a packed ballot to vote for only one guy, it doesn't even really need to be said how flawed this logic is. But we will.

Not voting for a single player from a certain era because steroids were prevalent is a silly stance to take, and completely devalues the process by which players are selected for the Hall of Fame. If the BBWAA wants their Hall of Fame voting to be seen as a deeply mystical religious experience and the Hall of Fame viewed as baseball Valhalla, then maybe they should take votes away from people who don't understand how baseball/numbers/voting works.

It can also be noted that Gurnick's precious Morris-vote also falls within an era that included names like Canseco and McGwire, both of whom Morris pitched against in the 1992 ALCS, putting them all quite definitively in the same era. But since the "Steroid Era" lacks a true definition on the baseball timeline, we're left to wonder between which two unspecified years Gurnick has marked "BAD" on his cheat sheet.

 ESPN's Dan Szymborski sums it up, and CBS Sports' Mike Axisa does as well:

"If we're assuming 1995 is the start of the Steroid Era, well Maddux had 131 wins, three Cy Youngs and 40.7 WAR before then. Morris retired with 43.8 WAR."


Then there's Ken Rosenthal, who was quick to defend the sanctity of the process and Gurnick's right to his opinion; and as always, when a writer is criticized for his radical, deeply flawed logic, it devolved into a discussion on free speech before disappearing into the rest of the Twitter noise.

Gurnick is obviously entitled to an opinion, and since his is public, he is open to any sort of criticism. But the Hall of Fame voting process is routinely treated with the utmost reverence. Gurnick sent in a ballot that defied common sense - even in the context of his own explanation - which leads to the conclusion that he did so solely for the effect it would have on the public (a public that has been reassured all this time that the voting process was important.) When it is mistreated in the way that Gurnick has done, it makes those without the influence of a vote wonder why such a revered procedure is at times so easily clogged by ignorance? 

And now, upon Gurnick's opinion and BBWAA voting credentials being questioned, Rosenthal villifies angry baseball fans.

And, as we all know, after enough Twitter complaints, a BBWAA member's voting rights are always taken away. So this defense is completely necessary. And anybody who compares angry baseball fans on Twitter to a "lynch mob" is deeply confused about what angry baseball fans on Twitter are capable of.


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