Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Cupboard of the BBWAA's Love

One of the few channels provided by my good friends at DirecTV that I bother to tune into on a regular basis is BBC America. Yes, this is just another sign of my vast reservoir of pretense.

At any rate, I particularly enjoy the wacky comedy Coupling (also available on DVD from Netflix, if you're so inclined). One episode I recently viewed is titled "The Cupboard of Patrick's Love," in which it is revealed that resident stud/borderline creepy guy Patrick keeps a video record of his sexual conquests in his closet (or cupboard, as the Brits would say).

All this is a roundabout way to discuss how the BBWAA approaches the Hall of Fame election. Far too often, the writers don't bother looking at the record when making their choices. All they need to do is look in the Cupboards of Love in their own minds to determine who's in and who's out.

The difference is that the Cupboard of Patrick's Love actually contains an actual, historical record of that happened. The Cupboard of the BBWAA's Love contains no records, historical or otherwise. It's a garbled mish-mash of increasingly fuzzy memories that get focused only in the context of favored scripts.

Do Andre Dawson and Jim Rice deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Hell, yeah! We remember seeing them back in the day, and they were awesome! Pitchers hated facing those guys! They were clutch!

How about Rich Gossage or Jim Kaat? Hell, no! We don't remember them doing anything particularly memorable. And don't bother us by reciting their stat lines – yawn, yawn, boring, boring. There's no room for dull numbers in our cupboards!

There's nothing wrong with using memories as part of the reasoning process. But there is everything wrong with using memories as all of the reasoning process. That's because human memory is faulty – mine, yours, everybody's.

That's why humans invented numbers and writing and stuff all those centuries ago. So we could keep track of stuff. Because it's hard enough remembering what you had for lunch two days ago, let alone how good a player was twenty-five years ago.

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