I’m not really big on awards. When I was a kid, sure, I was pumped that Justin Morneau beat out Derek Jeter for the AL MVP in 2006 and Joe Mauer’s MVP was a huge deal as well. Regarding Johan Santana, he should have had three Cy Youngs on his mantle but only received two because the voters were more enticed by Bartolo Colon’s wins than Santana’s utter dominance in 2005.
Perhaps it was that Cy Young in ‘05 that started to change my opinion, along with Morneau’s MVP win in ‘06. In Santana’s case, it was probably blind homerism at the beginning, but I was confused why so many people said Jeter deserved the MVP over Morneau, who hit .321/.375/.559 with 34 HR and 130 RBI. Meanwhile, Jeter was at .343/.417/.483, but with just 14 HR and 97 RBI. It took me a while to buy into the argument that Jeter put up better numbers relative to the players at his position compared to Morneau, but now I wouldn’t be as upset by that argument compared to when I was 17 years old.
As for the Gold Gloves, this year it was awesome to see Byron Buxton take home his first of what should be very many for the rest of his career. However, the voters made a huge mistake over at first base in the AL. Yeah, I’m disappointed that Mauer didn’t win, but the bigger joke was that it went to Eric Hosmer, a player that had a shiny .997 fielding percentage but that was it (even then, Mauer had a .998 fielding percentage). It wasn’t as egregious as Rafael Palmeiro winning the 1999 Gold Glove at first base despite starting just 28 games at the position, but fielding metrics rated Mauer as the far better defender (9.1 UZR/150, +7 DRS) while the numbers either saw Hosmer as average (-0.4 UZR/150) or poor (-7 DRS) at the position.
Altogether, it’s hard for me to get worked up about the awards because there always seems to be some factor that prevents them from appearing anywhere near 100% valid. With that, it brings me to the Hall of Fame, yet another offender in the lack of validity. A museum where the voters for the longest time didn’t even need to be involved in baseball, where people avoid voting for a sure Hall of Famer to make a statement (or on the flip side, vote for a nobody to also make a statement of good will), where you’re limited to the number of people you can possibly select in one year, the list of issues can go on and on. The Hall of Fame and the Baseball Writers Association of America have made tweaks to improve the process over the past five years or so, but there’s still some problems that are bugs rather than features.
One of those bugs is the insistence that players with ties to performance-enhancing drugs are not allowed to be Hall of Famers. That means that Barry Bonds, the greatest hitter of all time, will not be enshrined at the moment. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the two hitters whose home run race in 1998 helped revive the popularity of baseball, will not be inducted. The aforementioned Palmeiro, who hit 569 home runs in his career, is out. Countless pitchers too will not get selected because of alleged or admitted cheating, even though the vast majority happened to do it during a time when MLB didn’t care. This argument was reinforced earlier this week as Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan sent out an email to the BBWAA voters discouraging them from voting for PED users.
While we could write this off as Morgan just offering his personal opinion, the issue is that Morgan’s email was sent through the official Hall of Fame email, meaning that the museum likely endorses Morgan’s comments as well. That’s unfortunate, as it shows that some people are still more concerned about integrity of the Hall than actually acknowledging the best players in its history, which is a shame as the current Hall of Famers include a collection of players that demonstrated anything but integrity. Besides, the hypocrisy is astounding as players in Morgan’s time often used greenies, or amphetamines to help them make it through the season. This idea that steroids are any different than greenies is a misnomer pushed by the old guard that still thinks the Golden Age was back in the ‘60s-’80s, and anyone after that time should be held to a different standard.
Ultimately, the Hall of Fame just becomes more and more of a joke for me. I don’t need other people to tell me who the greatest players are in the history of baseball. I can make that decision just fine on my own.