Saturday, August 16, 2008

Remembering and Not Recognizing

Todd Jones, a closer, who has a weekly column in the Sporting News, gave thanks to Jerome Holtzman in the August 4, 2008 edition of TSN.

For you movie buffs, Jerome Holtzman looked like a cross between Ed Begley and Sheldon Leonard. He was a Chicago-based writer who also wrote for the Sporting News, when it was strictly a baseball paper. Back then it had baseball card like photos of the hottest player in the game, each week. In fact, the phote was so good it would have been a great idea had I saved the covers because they were far better than baseball card photos and those phony stances with the bat and awaiting a ground ball that used to be in vogue. These photos were in such living color that you felt like you were there and could smell the freshly mown grass of the field.( Note: If the photo was taken on astroturf, you could smell the nearest hot dog and cigar.)

Todd Jones goes on to say: Relievers are indebted to Mr. Holtzman because he introduced the save statistic to baseball.

Mr. Holtzman was ahead of his time. He realized just as many games were won or lost late as early. He noticed that some guys were coming into games a lot more often than others when the outcome was on the line. He decided there needed to be a way to quantify what those guys were doing. And finally, he was able to sell his idea to Major League Baseball (MLB).

In a way, the save laid the groundwork for the entire evolution of the bullpen. The save shed light on the guys in front of the closer because without the 8th (inning) there is no 9th (inning), without the 7th there is no 8th...

I agree with everything Todd Jones says. Unfortunately, Holtzman's fellow writers are having a tough time assimilating this because the closer isn't getting a whole lot of love when it comes time to vote for Hall of Fame stoppers. How can this be? Are they jealous of Holtzman because they think the save stat ruined the game because starters barely pitch 6 innings nowadays? Why let that fact get in the way of what is happening and judge a player by his standards between the lines of play because that's what being Hall of Fame worthy is all about. The complete game will come back, give it time. (San Francisco has a pitcher, Tim Lincecum, who will see to that.)

The writers just prove how inept they are when they don't vote for a player based on how that player changed the game or made those playing with him change their game because of said player. Only players know which players did this to them and their peers. That is WHY I say remove the writers from having the authority and privilege in saying who is and is not worthy. Because the majority of writers aren't worthy of such a privilege as voting for who belongs in the hallowed halls.

Most writers vote based on popularity. They don't care that batters had to constantly make adjustments or change their whole approach because of what a particular pitcher did to their comfort level when facing that pitcher. Or vice versa, if that player was a batter, the pitcher may have had to change his whole philosophy because everything he tried seemed to fail. So at long last the pitcher either elected to intentionally walk the batter or made sure no runners were on before that batter came to the plate.

When you play the game of baseball differently than what brought you success - just to avoid having to challenge this particular opponent- you cannot possibly be comfortable in your surroundings therefore unusual results are bound to happen. Usually in unfamiliar and uncomfortable settings an athlete doesn't get his/her desired results. This brings up the question: How many players would have had a real good shot at being Hall of Fame worthy had they not ran into these type of players often enough where all of these unnatural adjustments affected the numbers necessary to even be considered for the Hall of Fame?

You cannot vote a player into a hallowed place like the Hall of Fame based on popularity. Politics and voting for Hall of Fame worthy candidates do not mix. Please, leave your hurt feelings at home or in the closet- with all your other disjointed personal problems-where they belong, you cry baby writers.

Isn't it enough that your whining (about certain ballplayers) finally gets some owners, those Good Ole Boys so near and dear to you because you all grab each others ass until finally these ballplayers aren't allowed to play in the Big Leagues ever again.

Big Leagues, wow, what a misnomer that is. Because there is nothing Big League about the behavior of Good Ole Boy owners and cry-baby writers who couldn't get the respect of the player because the player wanted no part of playing any game other than baseball.

Kevin Marquez