Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Goose Egg

Just a quick note from the end of my lunch break.

The word came down about a half hour ago from Hall of Fame, with only Bruce Sutter getting the necessary 75% supermajority of baseball writers needed to get that bronze plaque in Cooperstown, New York.

My first reaction is anger. I don't see how you can put Bruce Sutter in the Hall of Fame while excluding Goose Gossage. If you don't believe in relievers in the Hall of Fame, I understand that--it's hard to justify letting a pitcher into the hall that's pitched only a small fraction of what the top starters have done.

But if you let relievers in, then be consistent. Gossage was dominant, and had much greater longetivity than Sutter. Gossage contributed to championship teams, and had a 2.87 ERA in postseason play. Yet he wasn't within 10% of getting elected in this, the best possible year for his cause.

It's disappointing. Maybe I just don't "get" Sutter, because when he was at his best, I was pretty much an AL-only fan. Does anyone else see why on Earth the BWAA electorate would consider Sutter Gossage's superior?


Matt said...

Gotta be the splitter factor. My guess is, most writers credit him with either inventing or popularizing the splitter, and if you accept him as the father of the modern splitter, you can then proceed to assume he changed the game. Although I'd been under the impression the splitter was essentially a hard forkball. Given that forkballs had been around for decades, it kinda kills the argument that he "invented" the splitter, thereby negating what may have been the prime incentive for voters to vote him and not Gossage.

But we can't really expect the BWAA to know their baseball history, can we?

DJ said...

Yeah. In the last 22 hours, I've seen and read Sutter referred to as a "pioneer" so many times, I think maybe they're confusing Bruce Sutter with the the guy Colin Farrel plays in the new Terrence Malick film.

Most folks know that Sutter didn't "invent" the splitter, and IIRC, he himself happily admits that he didn't invent any pitch. There's value in what Sutter actually did, which was use the splitter in a different way and with greater effectiveness than those split-finger pitchers who came before him did. But going too much into the "Master of the Splitter" angle then throws Sutter into the territory of another candidate who was more deserving than Sutter--Bert Blyleven, who threw an absolutely unnatural curve back in the day. Shouldn't that count in Blyleven's favor, if the splitter works in Sutter's?

I mean, Bert may not have invented the curve, but he sure knew how to spin it, didn't he?

I hate situations like this because I really don't begrudge Sutter his place in the Hall. In fact, I want to feel happy for him. But I also feel that this may have been the best (and possibly the last good) chance for Blyleven and Gossage to make it to the Hall. I think despite all the talk of hopeful signs with both players picking up a large number of votes this time out, most of that support will evaporate next year, when the threat of not having anybody elected won't be in play.