Friday, January 13, 2006

Mr. Shady & Mr. Sunshine

1. Mike Fish has what I suppose is an expose on Bobby Lowder here, but most of the material in the article is old news to SEC fans. It was amusing to remember that Lowder spearheaded the effort to fire Tommy Tuberville in 2003 and thus failed to show the presumed good judgment that amassed his fortunes, although on the other hand, would the 2004 Tigers have gone unbeaten anyway with a Gang of Six offense? What? Auburn had Bobby Petrino before? With that same personnel? And they didn't run roughshod over the backwards SEC? You mean this whole "Gang of Six" theory is bullshit?

2. LD grinds his annual axe that Dale Murphy isn't in the Hall of Fame. As much as I agree with him that Murph was the lone bright spot in seven years of appallingly bad baseball, I'm of the opinion that Murph's stats dropped off too quickly for him to be a legitimate Hall of Famer, which is not to say that there aren't players in the Hall with inferior credentials, but one mistake doesn't justify another and I like baseball's selectivity when it comes to the Hall. Murph had six great years, but just as there is something to be said for being the best at your position for a given time period, there's also something to be said for longevity. LD cites the low trade value that Murph had by the time the team decided to trade him; that trade value would have been significantly better and the roster would have been more talented at the start of the 90s when the pitching staff came around if Murph wouldn't have gone in the tank in 1988.

One argument that LD didn't make in his Murphy/Puckett comparison that should be mentioned: Puckett's batting average was better, but Murph's on-base percentage was better during the height of his career and that's a more relevant stat, especially because it doesn't penalize Murph for having Dion James and Oddibe MacDowell as his table-setters. Murph had a .417 OBP and 115 walks in his monster 1987 season; Puckett never had an OBP higher than .379 or more than 57 walks in a season. During Murphy's six-year run, his OPS was at least 142% of the league average in five out of those six years; Puckett reached that level only once in his career. LD makes a good point that Puckett's glaucoma actually helped his cause, partially by making him a sympathetic figure (everyone remembers him crying with a patch over one eye at his retirement ceremony) and partially by allowing him to avoid the decline phase of his career. If Murphy would have had some sort of sympathetic incident that cut short his career in about 1988, he'd probably be in the Hall.

One other factor that helped Puckett: he looked like a Teddy Bear. Writers had to like him by appearance because he was this roly-poly guy who, despite his unathletic appearance, was a great player. Sportswriters can relate to tubby guys, which is probably why they love David Wells so much. Murphy looked like the prototypical athlete, so his feats were less surprising or relatable.


peacedog said...

I'll see if I can dig up some win share stuff for you over the weekend and we'll take another look at Murphy.

I think to be a legit HoF guy, you need to have some good (not great) seasons in your low to mid 30s. You can't peak at 30 (32 is pushing it, even). Puckett did avoid a decline phase, yes, but his career stats may well have taken a noticeable byte because of the Glaucoma (which appeared to be causing torubles in his eyesite before that ceremony). He may well have had, barring that sort of development, a few good years left in him. I'd argue that this belief (reasonable or not) pervaded the media at the time, and that it reached voters as well. The assumption that his career stats took a significant hit, and that a decline is a non-issue, is easy when we never get to measure it up.

I want Murph to be a HoF'r. But I just dont' see it. Particularly when his dropoff was so severe, and that's another issue. You can't fall off the map like that. A couple of post-1987 .280-.290 seasons with 20-25+ HR and 80+ RBI may well have turned the tides. But he really fell far, and hard.
Puckett did have one other interesting quality - the total lack of strikeouts. He put a lot of balls in play, and had enough power and speed to do well as a result.

The local sports talk show (comes on 105.5 at 5pm) had a guy on who was comparing Murphy to, wait for it, Joe Dimaggio. Dave called me very angry the other day about this. Not only did the guy ignore things like DiMaggio missing time for WWII, he said that he didn't get any of his other stats right (citing a .304 career batting average for Murph).

The local show, in case you were wondering, is regarded by a joke here (by here, I mean by Dave and I; I've never really asked anyone else about their opinions on it).

Michael said...

My last recollection of a sports talk show in Macon was a station at the end of the AM dial whose drive-time host thought that referring to Curtis P. Enis was the height of comedy.

peacedog said...

Never got around to looking up the winshares.

We not get ESPN radio on 105.5. However, they substitute local programming a 5pm for a couple of hours. One guy sits on he show and blows a whistle occasionally. Freaking embarrassing.

Recently, they banished Rome from the regular schedule (either removing him or putting him on a tnight, not sure). We get Mike & Mike in the am (who are usually good but love Bill Curry too much), Cowheard to the afternoon, then Dan, then the local guys. We used to get an hour of Colin and then several of Rome.