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When I was a boy everyone was a Hall of Famer!

Jul 15, 2010, 8:55 AM EDT

I’m thinking I need to come up with some award to bestow on columnists who play the “when I was a kid things were much better” card.  Maybe it should be the Golden Age Award or the Nostalgia Award or something, but whatever we call it, it should be given to those writers who use their perfect 20/20 hindsight to denigrate today’s game for not matching up to the game of their youth.

The latest recipient of it would be Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune who slams the 2010 All-Star Game this morning because there simply aren’t enough future Hall of Famers in it for his liking:

The games, however, aren’t
what they once were. They have become, rather, a collection of men paid
obscenely well to perform at the highest level. The players in Anaheim
on Tuesday don’t have the abundance of cachet found during the actual
golden age. This might explain the record-low TV ratings . . .
They play a fine game of
baseball, yes, but they are playing not in the golden age but the age of
gold, the era of wealth. Many wouldn’t have come close to an All-Star
game 40 years ago.

His summary of this state of affairs came earlier in the column when he said “to reiterate, less than 10 percent of the players on the combined
All-Star game rosters have proved worthy of the game’s greatest
individual honor,” meaning the Hall of Fame.

I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but I recall Bill James once wrote that, roughly speaking, a little less than 10% of active players at any given time have gone on to be in the Hall of Fame.  In light of that I’m struggling to see what Poole’s problem — other than a general frustration with modernity — really is.

Poole aside, there have been people saying that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket since approximately five minutes after we first came down from the trees.  Amazing that it never actually gets there.

  1. Simon DelMonte - Jul 15, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Well, here is everything we need to know about the 1970 All Star Game. A lot of star power on the roster, but also a lot of guys of middling fame.

  2. Simon Oliver Lockwood - Jul 15, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    His evidence doesn’t support his supposition. Of the players he said had “already earned their busts:” only 9 or 10 would have made the Hall if they had blown out their knee that day at Tiger Stadium. Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Marichal, the two Robinsons, Kaline, Aparaicio, Killebrew, and maybe McCovey were fully qualified at the time. The others made the Hall only because of their achievements after 1971. Johnny Bench in 1971 was more of a question mark than Joe Mauer now — simply because Bench had only been in the league 4 years.

  3. nps6724 - Jul 15, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Poole may be right, but think about it: the ASG REQUIRES one player from each team. There were only 24 teams in 1970. There are 30 today. So that’s 6 guys who are REQUIRED to make the team regardless of merit. Then when you include injury replacements, there’s a lot of guys who end up playing who may be 2nd-tier.

    It’s also easy to say “many wouldn’t have come close to an All-Star game 40 years ago” when you have hindsight to see how many HOFers were in the game. Of the 20 starters (9 hitters + 1 pitcher on each side) in 2010, 14 of them are under 30 years old. So yeah, kinda hard to say anyone under 30 is going to the Hall when you don’t have 40 years of hindsight.

    Shoule we send Mr. Poole a cane that he can shake at those kids who won’t get off his lawn?

  4. aleskel - Jul 15, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    star power is right, but how many of those players do you think were sure-fire HOFers as of 1970? Aaron, Mays, Frank and Brooks Robinson, Killebrew, probably Clemente. A lot of those other greats (Bench, Palmer, Morgan, Seaver, Yaz) were either just coming on the scene or setting up their all-time status

  5. Jonny5 - Jul 15, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    No baseball the night before makes baseball writers grasp at straws, go nutty, stay up all night in their bathrobes, unshaven with a pint of brandy. Cut the guy some slack, there was nothing else to write about! sheesh.

  6. Chipmaker - Jul 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    Call it the “Purist Award” — because I see the term purist thrown around often, and I have not yet found a better fit definition than “I believe baseball was better when I was a kid”.
    Even self-described “purists” do a poor job of specifying what they mean. It’s so disappointing.

  7. Utley's hair - Jul 15, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    I have no idea what this guy is talking about. My “formative” years saw Steve Jeltz as the starting SS for the Phightins, so I was exposed to a very small number of surefire HOFers. Now, can we get back to some, uh…whatchacallit…what’s that game called?

  8. Simon DelMonte - Jul 15, 2010 at 11:34 AM


  9. Old Gator - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    The text of your blog veered off to the right of where your title implied you were going. When I was a kid, every Yankee was a an all-star to me. They were my guys, you dig? Yogi really could run up the flagpole like his cartoon did in the Yoo Hoo commercial. Louis Arroyo wasn’t fat at all. Phil Linz was a better harmonica player than Sonny Terry. Replicas of Tony Kubek’s adams apple could have sold alongside his signature model glove down at Marvin’s Sporting Goods and Toys. Love is as indiscriminate as it is blind. Which is something I wish I’d outgrown before I married my first wife.
    Three years later, I was mired in adolescence, acne, world-weariness, subject to strange urges at the sight of the Playboy on Daddy’s nighttable, and had become a Mets fan.

  10. Utley's hair - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    Have you outgrown any of that?

  11. scatterbrian - Jul 15, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    by my count, there were 19 HOFers (not including Rose or Torre) and 15 guys who made just this one All Star game.

  12. BC - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    The reason the game is watered down is that there’s like 157 players on each roster. Cut the roster back to 27 – make it 25 guys, then an extra pitcher and an extra catcher to play in case of emergency. Dump the every-team-gets-a-representative thing. It’s passed its day. There’s too many teams now. Used to be you only had maybe 2 or 3 truly awful teams. Now you have like 8.

  13. BC - Jul 15, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Three years later, I was mired in adolescence, acne, world-weariness, subject to strange urges at the sight of the Playboy on Daddy’s nighttable, and had become a Mets fan.
    So THAT’S what happened to me….

  14. Old Gator - Jul 15, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    I have outgrown those strange urges in the worst possible way. But it was a blast while it lasted.

  15. Old Gator - Jul 15, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    That’s true, BC, but look at how many truly awful reality TV shows there are. And situation comedies? Not to mention –yawn – vampire serials? Please. We’ve got it easy.

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