[shanghaijim posted his meditation on the meaning of Cooperstown a couple days ago that got people talking. I wrote the post below a couple weeks ago but have been sitting on it as a draft, and it's funny the correlations with the discussion in that thread. So - posting it now.]
About five weeks ago, I drove across the USA with my father, moving my sister's furniture from Providence RI to San Diego.
Ready to roll
We stopped at Cooperstown on our way. I have wanted to see the HoF for decades, and am glad that I finally did.
I was surprised by it though - I guess I expected something different. First off, it took about two hours on snowy twisty anonymous back country roads to get to into town at all. I'm not sure how all the VIPs get there for the induction ceremony each year. Also, I imagined the museum would be some sort of grand pavilion situated in an epically landscaped park. Turns out, it was more like just a building, on one of the streets of a small town.
Me at the front door
Many of the exhibits were cool and interesting, and it was of course great seeing the real (jerseys, bats, cleats, game balls, rings, etc) from historical events.
Overall, however, the exhibits felt to me not very well maintained or presented, kind of slipshod messy and haphazard, and the museaum as a whole was smaller than I thought it would be. As much as I have read about the great honor of memorabilia being "sent to Cooperstown," I expected more. Frankly, my dad and I had a better time at Graceland in Memphis.
The one thing I did enjoy the most was the plaque room - it had a deep, solemn, and reverential feel to it.
My dad digging the scene
Forty-year San Diego resident with Tony Gwynn plaque
Of course, there were many plaques for people who mean nothing to me - writers, GMs, and the like, and many of the old-tymie players. And the plaques themselves usually list some numerical accomplishments that were interesting to my Dad - but not so much to me, given the hundreds of hours I've spent perusing Baseball Reference. Still - I loved being in that room.
We slept that night in Seneca Falls, and there was a nasty snow storm the next day as we set out. We saw scores of spun out cars and big rigs, including one massive pile up that haunts me to remember the sight of.
Anyway, the next day, driving through Kentucky, my dad asked me who I thought currently isn't enshrined in the HoF who I think should be. I told him that I don't have much to say about players from before 1965, but I gave my thoughts on more recent players.
Since getting back to normal life, I've been giving it some more ponders, and, on reflection, the list below is what I'd say about more recent players
C - Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza
1B/DH - Albert Pujols, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Thome
IF - Alan Trammell, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Larkin, Bobby Grich, Chipper Jones, Craig Biggio, Derek Jeter, Lou Whitaker
OF - Barry Bonds, Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey, Manny Ramirez
P - Curt Schilling, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine
Manager/GM - Bobby Cox, Dusty Baker, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa
Nate Silver recently posted a great article saying that modern baseball is dramatically underreprisented relative to players from before 1945. Using that logic, I'd be fine with letting these guys in too:
C - Jorge Posada, Ted Simmons
1B/DH - Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro
IF - Buddy Bell, Jeff Kent, Graig Nettles, Ron Santo, Scott Rolen, Willie Randolph
OF - Andruw Jones, Dick Allen, Dwight Evans, Gary Sheffield, Jim Edmonds, Kenny Lofton, Reggie Smith, Sammy Sosa, Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrero
P - Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Jamie Moyer, Luis Tiant, Rick Reuschel, Tommy John, Trevor Hoffman
Manager/GM - Billy Beanne, John Schuerholz, Lou Pinella, Walt Jocketty
Obviously, I don't give that much of a shit about ye olde steroids. I mean, I think that they are bad, glad there are tighter standards now, they're probably what really killed Jesus, etc. But, regarding 1995-2005: it wasn't against MLB rules, seems like both pitchers and hitters were doing it (so it retained competitive balance), players did it to try to get better and help their team win (in contrast with, say, Shoeless Joe or Pete Rose's gambling), and players from past eras (Hank Aaron, etc) had their speed and coke to pump themselves up.
Anyway, I can understand the argument that doping knocks Piazza and Manny from "definite" to "maybe", and that it knocks Pettite, Shef, Mac, Sosa, and Palmiero from "maybe" to "no" (I don't like those last three guy's "vibe" anyway). As I told my dad many times, though, if Bonds, Rocket, and ARod don't get into the hall of fame, then, for me, membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame really has little meaning.
Also: no Helton, and no Larry Walker - call me when you can hit in anywhere besides one single pinball-game park (also: fuck the Rockies).
My dad said over email that he thinks Dusty Baker doesn't deserve to get in. He also kept arguing that Mike Scioscia deserves to be inducted, and that Scoscia compares favorably with Torre. He said, "How about the fact that five of Scioscia's staff have gone on to be major league managers (e.g., Buddy Black, Joe Maddon etc)?"
I countered that the manager spawn are not really relevant, and pointed out that
Torre - player - 55.6 WAR, manager - 2,326 wins
Dusty - player - 34.8 WAR, manager - 1,405 wins
Scioscia - player - 23.7 WAR, manager - 980 wins
A 55.6 WAR is higher than the scores of many HoFers - Torre would be a fine HoFer just as a player, even if he never had managed a single game. With his four world championship team managed, and fifth place in all-time managerial wins, he should get in on his first vote.Scoscia is not on the same planet as Torre, either as a player or as a manager, and Dusty is clearly superior in both categories too (2002 WS not withstanding). Mike Scioscia is not currently worthy of the Hall of Fame. You're demonstrating a SoCal bias.
Anyway. I imagine that HOF-worthyness has probably been tossed around on other McC threads that I haven't read. But I am curious to see what the HoF list of other McCoven would look like, and what changes folks would make to my list.