Baseball Hall of Fame 2013

This 2013 Hall of Fame class has long been ominously looming, and is finally arrived. There is no easy way to approach the steroid era, and unfortunately we will be debating and delineating this for a few more decades.

This year the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) did not elect anyone for enshrinement in Cooperstown. I think this is shameful, as there are at least 13 deserving players. The most notable omissions for me, other than the steroid guys, are Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, and Jeff Bagwell. Having lived in Houston, and seen many games, it was obvious to anyone who watched Biggio and Bagwell throughout their careers that they were game-changing players for about a decade and a half. And a closer examination of Jack Morris’ numbers give him the credibility, not to mention that he was super clutch (see: 1991 World Series game 7).

The voting percentages were very interesting to me. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are hovering around 37% (75% is needed for induction, 5% is needed to remain on the ballot), Mike Piazza had around 57%, Sammy Sosa got 12.5%, and Rafael Palmeiro got only 8%. Biggio was closest with 68%, but pretty much everyone who was on the ballot last year either stayed the same or dropped a few percentages. Morris around 67%, Bagwell around 59%, Tim Raines up to 52%, Lee Smith down to 47%, Alan Trammell down to 33%, Edgar Martinez down to 35%, Larry Walker down to 21.6%, and “The Crime Dog” Fred McGriff down to 20.7%. This is not good.

I agree with Jim Caple that one of the biggest problems with Hall of Fame voting is the 10 player limit. A voter can only vote for 10 players on a single ballot. If a voter votes for more than 10 players his/her ballot is thrown out and not counted in the percentages. However! If they turn in an empty ballot because they believe no one is a worthy HOFer (which is ridiculous this year), or as a protest, or to make some sort of silly statement, the ballot is counted against the percentages. Over the next several years, this ten player limit could hose a number of great players, like McGriff, Edgar, Trammell, Walker, and Raines.

Things will start to get really difficult because we’re about to enter about a three year stretch where there will be between 15-18 deserving candidates every year. For example, the 2014 ballot highlights Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, “The Big Hurt” Frak Thomas, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent. The 2015 ballot features many potentially Hall worthy players and several locks, highlighted by Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson. The 2016 ballot is highlighted by Trevor Hoffman and Ken Griffey Jr. All of these names on top of the guys who didn’t get in this year. This could create total chaos. So making the large assumption that in 2016 the writers still have not elected anyone, there are 25 players sitting on the ballot who deserve to be enshrined. This year, only 18 players received enough votes to remain on the ballot. So even if every writer fills in all 10 slots on their ballot (which they won’t), there may not be enough votes to go around to keep Hall worthy players on the ballot. So now people have to start voting to please the percentages just to keep guys on another year. This is going to be a huge mess for years to come.

I am of the opinion, like Buster Olney of ESPN, that you judge an era in its context. There were potentially thousands of players who used PED’s over this period of time, and most of them were doing it for money, and to keep up with the competition. Probably only a few, like Bonds and Clemens, took them because of their legacy in the game. We may never know. The Hall is a museum, and while I understand the argument that we should not reward players for cheating, it was an era of rampant cheating. Are the numbers inflated? Oh most definitely! But we can’t pretend they didn’t happen. Put them in!

So while I’m not saying my opinion is the best one, if I had a vote, here’s what my ballot would look like, in no particular order:

1. Barry Bonds–Just go look at his 2004 season. Impossibly ridiculous! His plate patience was legendary. Greatest player I’ve ever seen.
2. Roger Clemens–Maybe the most dominant right-handed pitcher ever.
3. Jeff Bagwell–One of the greatest first basemen of all time.
4. Craig Biggio–The most doubles of any right-handed hitter ever. Ever.
5. Curt Schilling–Over 3,000 career K’s, 300 K’s three times, and perhaps the greatest postseason pitcher ever.
6. Jack Morris–The definition of a big game pitcher, averaged 7 IP PER GAME for his CAREER! Ridiculous!
7. Edgar Martinez–.312 career hitter, .418 OBP, .933 OPS, and a career OPS+ of 147, better than many HOF’s, including Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson, as well as his former teammate and future HOF Ken Griffey Jr.
8. Mike Piazza–He’s the greatest offensive catcher ever.
9. Alan Trammell–Career WAR of 67.1, higher than Barry Larkin, and an outstanding defensive SS.
10. Sammy Sosa–Only player to hit 60+ home runs more than once. He did it three times.

But I would also put these guys in:

11. Fred McGriff–493 career home runs (come on!), and transformed the middle of the Braves lineup.
12. Tim Raines–2nd greatest leadoff hitter ever. Reached base more times than Tony Gwynn.
13. Rafael Palmeiro–Forget the finger wag, look at his numbers.
14. Larry Walker–Dominant hitter during his peak.
15. Lee Smith–A dominant closer who pitched for the wrong organizations.

Fringe players:

Mark McGwire–Hit a ton of home runs (583), but didn’t do much else.
Don Mattingly–Made hitting a science and art for many years.
Dale Murphy (Now off the ballot)–Dominant and feared for 8 years, 2 NL MVP’s, played in massive ballparks.

What do you think?

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The Image of God—A.W. Tozer

Read carefully. A reading from “Why We Must Think Rightly About God,” from The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
The history of mankind will probably show that no people [group] has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow…

That our ideas of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.” —A.W. Tozer

Sermon-LiveGenerous—Thankful and Obedient

This is a sermon I preached on October 28th, 2012, at CrossPoint EightTen during the LiveGenerous series. I was asked to preach specifically on tithing and Luke 17:1-21.

First and foremost (again): There is so much more going on in this amazing passage than I am able to get into here, not to mention the awesomely confusing verses that immediately follow. I was asked to speak on tithing. Is this passage about tithing? Not really. But it does deal with thankfulness and obedience in a sense, and since the series was on tithing, I wanted to make the connection that we give tithe to our local church out of thankfulness and obedience for God’s faithfulness to us, and so that money does not become our god.

Also, in the beginning of the sermon I way oversell the self-deprecating, disappointed church-goer bit about the sermon being on tithing. I did this out of iniquity in me regarding this subject and myself. Made aware of this after, these are things the Lord and I are working on. Also, the sermon is not nearly as much about about tithing as it is our reaction to God’s activity.

Amendment: About 20 minutes in I say that CrossPoint is able to give away millions of dollars a year to help people in need. This is not true, I did not take a close enough look at the budget, but they do help people in all the ways mentioned. I apologize for the mistake.

October 28, 2012 from CrossPoint EightTen on Vimeo.