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muck

Hall of Fame

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For pretty much every sport out there, I've heard it said that for a player to get into the HOF for that sport, that player would have to be a "dominant player" over "several years".

 

What qualifies as being a "dominant player" and what number of years would satisfy "several years"?

 

If say, for example, a player is a top 5 candidate for league MVP five times in a six year span (topping out with two 2nd place and two 3rd place finishes), is that dominant enough for long enough, if that is really all they did over their career? Does it matter if one of those dominant seasons ended with being a hughly integral part of a championship winner?

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For pretty much every sport out there, I've heard it said that for a player to get into the HOF for that sport, that player would have to be a "dominant player" over "several years".

 

What qualifies as being a "dominant player" and what number of years would satisfy "several years"?

 

If say, for example, a player is a top 5 candidate for league MVP five times in a six year span (topping out with two 2nd place and two 3rd place finishes), is that dominant enough for long enough, if that is really all they did over their career? Does it matter if one of those dominant seasons ended with being a hughly integral part of a championship winner?

 

 

I'd say the Mendoza line for "dominant years" is probably upwards of 5 over a fairly compact stretch, with exceptions. Talking my main area of expertise, the NFL, I think guys like Sterling Sharpe and Terrell Davis are HoF guys, because they were clearly among the top 1 or 2 at their position, despite their abbreviated careers. I tend to look askance at "compilers" - guys who were definitely "good" players, but just managed to be good for a long time, without truly being great.

 

An obvious exception to this rule would be someone like Kurt Warner - absolutely phenomenal for 3 years, then a journeyman for the mid-part of his career, before closing with 3 more MVP caliber seasons. The donut in the middle is outweighed by the strength of the beginning and end.

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Hmm, seems like muck is on the same wavelength as his fellow North Dakotan, Chuck Klosterman

 

the Pro Football Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle achievement within a life in football. Players and coaches love to insist that the most important goal in their professional lives is the winning of championships, but they are all lying when they say that. Either they are lying consciously or they're so socialized by the omnipresence of that childish falsehood that they've actually convinced themselves Jeff Hostetler's career was more fulfilling than Dan Marino's, simply because Scott Norwood missed a field goal in 1991. The Hall of Fame does not exist, so it's unaffected by reality; it matters more than reality, because ideas are more important than actions.

 

This Saturday, seven people will be enshrined into football's nonexistent Hall of Fame, even though the preseason game that normally accompanies this procedure was canceled due to the imaginary lockout: Marshall Faulk (who gained more than 19,000 total yards from scrimmage), Richard Dent (the MVP of Super Bowl XX), Deion Sanders (the best cornerback of his era), Shannon Sharpe (more than 10,000 receiving yards as a tight end), Chris Hanburger (the focus of the Redskins defense throughout the '70s), Les Richter (a deceased legend from the 1950s), and Ed Sabol (the architect of NFL Films). They all deserve this reward, inasmuch as anyone can "deserve this reward." The only strange thing about Sabol's induction is that everyone who knows who Ed Sabol is assumed he'd been inducted 20 years ago. Sanders is the only class member who was an irrefutable lock, so his election is mechanical and predictable (he'll probably cry, but not a fraction as much as he'd scream if he'd somehow been ignored). Faulk was the best offensive player in the NFL2 for roughly 4½ years, so his selection is likewise rote. Richter is dead, which means this is a nice day for his family; Hanburger's recognition will be appreciated by D.C. old-timers and gratify league historians. But it's the selections of Dent and Sharpe that are most interesting. They're interesting because both of those players — while indisputably "great" — are bubble selections not altogether different than a bunch of newly eligible guys who didn't make the cut (Cris Carter, Willie Roaf, Curtis Martin) and arguably less "great" than a massive collection of individuals who failed to make it in the past (Charles Haley, Drew Pearson, Roger Craig, Andre Reed, etc.). All of the players I've mentioned are aware of this in a way the rest of us cannot comprehend. And that's what's so weird about the whole Hall of Fame process: The public sees it as an argument, but — within the mind of the elite athlete — it must be one of the most confusing, painfully personal scenarios they'll ever experience. Being inducted into a Hall of Fame is both the greatest thing that can happen to an athlete and the effective end to his or her cultural import; being rejected by a Hall of Fame is a major blow to one's self-image and the single-best thing that can happen to a retired player's legacy. The process is a lose-lose: It's either good (and then bad) or bad (and then good).

 

It's easy to remember Michael Jordan's speech when he was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, mostly because it was just about the only compelling Hall of Fame speech anyone's ever delivered — he seemed drunk,3 vindictive, and relentlessly ungracious. MJ apologists tend to argue that this speech validates the intensity of his competitive fire and exemplifies what made him different than everyone else who ever played, and they're not wrong when they say this. But that speech made two other things just as lucid, and these things are less inspiring. The first is that this induction was a formality that Jordan couldn't enjoy the way a normal man might, since he'd lived almost half his life certain this moment was inevitable (it was like finally receiving a plaque for something he'd done in 1994). The second is that this speech was the last time anyone would think about Jordan as a living basketball player, and he knew it. Obviously, we'll never stop talking about Jordan's career, but — from now on — it will almost always be in reference to someone else.4 He's now a canonized historical figure. He's like George Mikan. He's reached the highest level of achievement, so there's nothing left to consider or rethink. We've completed our social experience with Michael Jordan as a basketball player; he's still alive, but he is dead.

 

Now, compare that with what's happened to Roger Maris. Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961 and was criticized for doing so. It's starting to look like 61 home runs might be the most anyone can hit in one season without steroids, so this remains one of baseball's tentpole accomplishments, achieved during an era when baseball mattered way more. He retired with 275 career homers (but a lifetime BA of just .260), one Gold Glove, and two MVPs (although he only made the All-Star game four times). It's as good a career as anyone can have without making the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it seems curious (and a little sad) that he's been denied entry.5 Yet this denial is — without question — the greatest thing that's ever happened to his career.6 People still talk about Maris every year. It's like clockwork. You cannot have a discussion about borderline Hall of Famers (or Hall of Fame voting) without referencing Maris. And whenever this conversation occurs, we don't solely compare him to other people — we talk about his actual stats and his perceived ability and how his unpopularity with the New York media hurt him more than his batting average. People still talk about him like he's alive, even though he died in 1985 from lymphoma. Because he's not in the Hall of Fame, the (literally) dead Maris continues to live. His career feels unfinished and incomplete — and that plays to his benefit.

 

I'm sure the Maris family would still prefer that their namesake be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and having his life synonymous with the plight of the overlooked athletes doesn't make Roger's corpse feel any more satisfied. If you have to choose between being inducted into the Hall of Fame or being unjustly ignored, it doesn't take a genius to deduce which option is more desirable in the living present. But let's imagine that Maris had made the cut: Would he be remembered at all? Would he be best known as a guy who was wrongly inducted for one memorable season? Would he be mentioned only in discussions about which Hall of Famers don't deserve to be in Cooperstown?

 

For Maris, it's almost a no-win situation: He's either the greatest non-elite player of his era, or he's the worst elite player of all time. Technically, those are both massive compliments. But they're the kind of compliments that make a dead man feel worse.

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Fond memories of the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament. My first job was at the Fargo Country Club. My Dad says Maris should be in, that's good enough for me. I'd put Warner in based on what I saw.

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My Dad says Maris should be in, that's good enough for me.

 

Maris is interesting, because without the 61*, he'd be a solid career guy who had 3 exemplary years in the middle. In other words, "not good enough for long enough"; but WITH the HR record, I think he might vault into the Joe Namath category of "too famous NOT to be in the Hall"

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Maris is interesting, because without the 61*, he'd be a solid career guy who had 3 exemplary years in the middle. In other words, "not good enough for long enough"; but WITH the HR record, I think he might vault into the Joe Namath category of "too famous NOT to be in the Hall"

 

Probably. I'll ask him why this weekend. I'm sure he's asleep right now.

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Here's a baseball player's career:

 

* First couple of years are rather non-descript (think of the end of Kurt Warners' time in STL and his time in NY)

* The next six years involve FIVE top five votes for the Cy Young (5th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd) and one World Series win (and one other WS team appearance), in both of which he was a key player

* The next several years were only slightly better than the first part of his career.

* In spite of the brevity of the really good part of his career, he still ranks among the all-timers in some career categories.

* While he doesn't have any single season records, he places very very well in several "best single season" categories for his dominance during that six season stretch.

 

Without naming names, is that good enough for long enough?

Edited by muck

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Here's a baseball player's career:

 

* First couple of years are rather non-descript (think of the end of Kurt Warners' time in STL and his time in NY)

* The next six years involve FIVE top five votes for the Cy Young (5th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd) and one World Series win (and one other WS team appearance), in both of which he was a key player

* The next several years were only slightly better than the first part of his career.

* In spite of the brevity of the really good part of his career, he still ranks among the all-timers in some career categories.

* While he doesn't have any single season records, he places very very well in several "best single season" categories for his dominance during that six season stretch.

 

Without naming names, is that good enough for long enough?

 

I generally discount championships in team sports (maybe not so much if we're talking basketball), but I think it's pretty clear that for a 5-6 yr stretch, the guy was among the best at his position.* And a solid player otherwise. So FOR ME, I think that is a player that would merit serious consideration, and probable election.

 

 

For HoF electors (and in this, I'm most familiar with what happens in the NFL), I think they see WORLD SERIES and their eyes light up. He would probably be somewhat punished by not actually having won a Cy, but you look at the finishes and he obviously was in some rare air for a long stretch. And then electors seem to often confuse the compilation of numbers with greatness, so the rankings in some all-time categories would be a nice plus as well. But baseball writers are f*cking weird about the HoF, so you never know. They might keep him out because he was a knuckleballer and a % of voters won't vote for knuckleballers or something stupid like that.

 

 

* - assuming the Cy Young voting is representative of actual good pitchers and not a joke like the all-star games.

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I generally discount championships in team sports (maybe not so much if we're talking basketball), but I think it's pretty clear that for a 5-6 yr stretch, the guy was among the best at his position.* And a solid player otherwise. So FOR ME, I think that is a player that would merit serious consideration, and probable election.

 

I forgot to mention that in that six year stretch where he was really impressive, he finished 11th, 9th, 8th, 6th and 3rd in MVP voting (I've edited my original post to include this bit of info, too.

 

So, yeah, you'd think he'd get serious mention...

 

In his first year of eligibility, he barely got a sniff of recognition, and nothing but zeroes since.

 

For HoF electors (and in this, I'm most familiar with what happens in the NFL), I think they see WORLD SERIES and their eyes light up. He would probably be somewhat punished by not actually having won a Cy, but you look at the finishes and he obviously was in some rare air for a long stretch. And then electors seem to often confuse the compilation of numbers with greatness, so the rankings in some all-time categories would be a nice plus as well. But baseball writers are f*cking weird about the HoF, so you never know. They might keep him out because he was a knuckleballer and a % of voters won't vote for knuckleballers or something stupid like that.

 

Oh, yeah ... he played for a small market team. Maybe that has/had something to do with it...

 

According to Baseball Reference, he has the following career accomplishments:

 

Top 5 all time in career Adjusted ERA+

Top 5 all time in Range Factor / 9 innings pitched

 

Top 20 all time in career Walks per 9 innings pitched

 

Top 30 all time in Cy Young shares (you add up the % of Cy Young votes you have in each season for your career total, then compare your career total vs. other pitchers)

Top 30 all time career games finished

 

Top 40 all time career Saves (87% of his career saves came in that six season stretch)

 

Top 100 all time career ERA (under 2.80 for the career)

Top 100 all time career WHIP (under 1.18)

 

Top 150 all time career games pitched

 

Oh, and his career WAR is exactly equal to two other relievers in the HOF.

Edited by muck

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This is always a rough debate, because a Hall of Fame is NOT a Hall of Really Really Good and that distinction is sometimes tough to gauge.

 

Let's look at chavez's mention of TD. I'd say NO to him, in part based on their allowance of Gayle Sayers entry. He put up TD numbers in a 14 game season as a rookie, at a time when no one else did anything of that nature. TD did usher in the era of those 25+ total TD years, but Priest Holmes ain't getting in. Sayers really in effect had one lightning in a bottle season and several really really good ones before injuries cut him short. Not sure if he would make the cut NOW, but he was one of those who at the time most agreed 'was the best they ever saw.' And that's where it gets tricky.

 

Here's a Hall of Fame career especially when you look at his #s for a 3rd baseman and remember he was basically #1 in most 3rd Basemen categories when he retired, but Mike Schmidt came along right at that moment, and he's been forgotten ever since. It seems that the #s are finally breaking his way however, but it's taken decades.

 

Also this year's NFL class seems a little jammed, especially with a backlog at WR. Let's face it Carter and Brown surely need to be put in, and even as a Bears fan I'm kinda thinking Dent is one of those bubble players, although I must admit I haven't dug into his individual stats, I just love the Bears D team stats from 1984-89/90.

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This is always a rough debate, because a Hall of Fame is NOT a Hall of Really Really Good and that distinction is sometimes tough to gauge.

Well, what is the key is semantics - what, exactly, is the Hall of FAME? It's like debating what makes a player "valuable" enough to be MVP.

 

 

An interesting case is Joe Namath (or Paul Hornung) - two of the more marginal selections in the HoF, based upon their career numbers - each had maybe one year where you'd really go "that guy is among the best in the league"; but then again, if you think about it both ARE among the most famous players of their era. So do they belong in there, despite the fact that their on-the-field careers aren't particularly compelling?

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I would have never guessed who it was. :tup:

 

Your argument says HOF but the name and total career numbers don't to me. Hall of Very Good or Great but not Fame. There were a couple other closers of his era that were better too and some of them aren't in. Unfortunately I think MLB favors compilers or at a minimum guys who had about 10 year spans of "greatness"

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....I think MLB favors compilers or at a minimum guys who had about 10 year spans of "greatness"

 

 

The weird thing about that is more than a few compilers have never really had ONE year of "greatness" - just a long stretch of very-goodness.

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I agree w/ both of you guys on two things --- (i) there are others who are in a HOF but don't belong, and (ii) too many people get in who simply played above average for a very long time w/o any single season of true GREATNESS.

 

Now, I will strongly disagree that there were relievers who were more effective during the time Quiz was GREAT. He won the Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the year award five times in six years. So, at a minimum, he was the most dominant closer in the AL for that six year stretch. True, he didn't throw harder than Gossage, but I have a hard time saying that he (or Fingers or Sutter) was a better closer -- the stats don't lie (see below).

 

**********************

 

Fingers' best year was 37 saves (and only had two years above 30 saves and had three years with ERA of less than 2.00 and nine other seasons with an ERA of less than 3.00 in 17 seasons). He was on three teams that won the WS with the A's in the early/mid 1970s, pitching excellently in each one. Was top eight in CY voting four times (8th, 8th, 3rd, 1st). Won four Rolaids Relief awards. He's in the HOF.

 

Sutters' best year was 45 saves (and had one other season above 40 saves, and three others above 30 saves, and had two seasons with an ERA of less than 2.00 and five other seasons with an ERA of less than 3.00 (which includes two seasons at 2.99 and one at 2.98) in 12 seasons). The Cardinals won a WS in 1982 with him as a reliever (had a 4.70 ERA in the WS). Was top six in CY voting five times (6th, 5rd, 3rd, 3rd, 1st). Won four Rolaids Relief awards. He's in the HOF.

 

Quisenberry's best year was 45 saves (and had one other season above 40 saves, and three others above 30 saves, and had two seasons with an ERA of less than 2.00 and six other seasons with an ERA of less than 3.00 in 12 seasons). The Royals won a WS in 1985 with him as a reliever (in which he was excellent) and they lost a WS in 1980 in which he was not (5.23 ERA). Was top five in CY voting five times (5th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd), never winning. Won five Rolaids Relief awards.

 

Gossage's best year was 33 saves (and only had one other season above 30 saves, and had four seasons with an ERA of less than 2.00 and nine other seasons with an ERA of less than 3.00 in 22 seasons). His teams were 1-2 in the WS, pitching excellently in two of the three. Was top six in the CY voting five times (6th, 5th, 5th, 5th, 3rd), never winning. Won one Rolaids Relief award. He's in the HOF.

 

**************

 

All four seem pretty similar.

 

Quiz is the only one not in the HOF.

Edited by muck

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