Baseball Widow, the BCS, and Dale Murphy
Ask anyone who's married to an Auburn fan (perhaps Baseball Widow, for example), and s/he'll tell you about the college football Bowl Championship System: it's bunk. Actually, Baseball Widow could have told you that well before this year. Prior to BCS, there existed the polling system. It was arbitrary. We all knew it was arbitrary. So, if we liked the #1 choice, we cheered the system, and if we didn't, well, we wrote the system off as arbitrary.
Post-BCS, we have a system that is just as arbitrary. Preseason rankings, unevenly skilled conferences, pre-delegated votes--it's all pseduo-scientific, and the result is the same. . . If we like the winner, we cheer the system, and if we don't, well, we write about how arbitrary the system is.
So, that's the BCS part of the post. I suppose now it's time to talk about Dale Murphy. In Baseball Widow's utterly unscientific poll, she stumbled across some common arguments utilized in discussions about Murphy's increasingly less likely Hall of Fame bid. (For a more scientific take, check out Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT.)
Strongest Pro-Murphy Arguments:
398 Homers before the offensive boom of the 90s. (Seriously, in the homerun era, how long is 400 going to remain impressive?)
Back-to-back MVP Awards while he was on a crappy team.
Stupidest Anti-Murphy Arguments:
398 isn't 400.
Baseball Widow isn't the first to have said this, but who cares about a long career? Murphy could have stuck around to hit two more homers, but what would have been the point? Four hundred is an arbitrary number. Would the existence of those two homers have radically altered anything about Murphy as a player? Why not respect those who leave when it's time rather than stick around well past their primes, prolonging their careers and therefore inflating their stats (ahem, Pete Rose)?
There's one more pro-Murphy argument that Baseball Widow hears a lot: the "He's a Good Guy" line of reasoning. Yes, Hall of Fame voting is supposed to consider character, but Baseball Widow thinks it cheapens Murphy's independently impressive accomplishments to use that argument. Sure, he's a great guy, but he was a great player, too. Lately, Baseball Widow has come to realize that Murphy's absence from the Hall might be the greatest testament to his nice guy status.
Hall of Fame balloting is like any other popularity contest. Namely, it's a contest. It involves campaigning and butt-kissing and self-glorification. Remember, Randy Johnson's trade deal was held up because Wade Boggs was inducted this year. (The two share an agent.) Yeah, that's right, for some reason Boggs needed his agent to help negotiate a deal FIVE YEARS AFTER HE RETIRED! He needed negotiation (in some form or another) to make it to the Hall.
Can anyone even imagine Murphy running his own campaign for the Hall? I don't think so.
Every year, Baseball Widow and Hubby hope in vain that Murph will get his due. This year, however, Baseball Widow realized that, like the BCS, it just doesn't matter: it's bunk. From now on, Baseball Widow is going to keep in mind the pseudo-science of Cooperstown induction. If I like the new inductees, that's fine, and if I don't, well, it's arbitrary, and it has absolutely zero effect on how well my favorites actually performed.