If you read his column, you know ESPN’s Buster Olney regularly links to pieces by sportswriters all over the country.
Today, Olney writes, “Bill Conlin wonders why there is not more support for Tim Raines.”
I read that and I thought, “No way.”
As a rule, Conlin and I don’t agree. He thinks Jimmy Rollins is better than Derek Jeter. I don’t. He thinks the Phillies were smart to sign Raul Ibanez to a three-year deal. I think they’ll regret it by year three, if not sooner. Conlin thinks modern statistics are just “wishful fan numbers.” I think numbers are valuable.
So when I read that Conlin, unlike a majority of Hall of Fame voters, supports Raines’ candidacy, I was shocked. Finally, some common ground! Maybe Bill and I weren’t so different after all?
Then I read his column.
It turns out that while Conlin supports Raines, he didn’t actually vote for him. Not this time.
From the Daily News:
It is simply not fair to keep placing your bet each year on candidates who simply have not been as highly regarded by your BBWAA colleagues as a man you consider worthy of a vote. I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be.
Who did Bill vote for this year?
You can only vote for a maximum of 10 players. I checked six names on my ballot and have never voted for more than six. Three are guys who have been knocking on the door and need to be affirmed by the BBWAA before they wind up being passed onto a dazed and confused veterans committee that last year honored World War II second baseman Joe Gordon. I voted for two pitchers, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris, whose numbers look a lot better now that the 300-game winner is being excised from history by the pitch-countniks, and The Hawk, wonderfully talented rightfielder Andre Dawson.
From the impressive list of ballot virgins, I voted for Alomar, Martinez and McGriff. I’m already feeling guilt for not giving a nod to Gallaraga. Next year.
Tim Raines, if you’re reading this, please understand — it’s not that Conlin thinks you don’t belong in the Hall. He just doesn’t want to waste one of his six votes on a guy who doesn’t have a chance of getting voted in, unless that person’s name is Fred McGriff. Even though, technically, Conlin gets 10 votes. But he’s never voted for more than six, you see, and if he went over that self-imposed limit the world would spin off it’s axis.
I’d like to think that this kind of illogical thinking about HOF voting is unique to Conlin, but it’s pretty clear that lots of voters employ similarly arbitrary rules, to the detriment of deserving candidates like Raines, Alomar, and Blyleven.