As you probably know, it’s political season in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Idiots be running around tiny, unrepresentative states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and we all pretend that the crazy people who inhabit those states speak for the rest of the country in their preferences for extreme nutbag candidates like Rick Santorum, to get them their party’s nomination for President.  This is probably a good time to warn you that I come at this post from a fairly left-of-political-center perspective.
It’s also election day in Hall of Fame voting, as we find out this afternoon just who is going to be joining Ron Santo’s ghost at Cooperstown this summer.  The candidates are loosely comparable:

Barry Larkin is Barack Obama.

That Obama will be nominated as the Democratic candidate for President is as inevitable as the sunrise.  He may not be as popular as he was when he took office in 2008, but he’s a sitting president.  Parties simply don’t abandon a sitting President.  Obama hasn’t even had to campaign.  He’s content to let the Republicans According to @leokitty’s Hall of Fame tracker, more than 90% of the BBWAA is voting for Larkin this year, making him a shoe in.

Jeff Bagwell is Jon Huntsman.

Huntsman is probably the most centrist candidate on the GOP ballot.  Even though he’s a Republican, he was Obama’s ambassador to China and speaks Mandarin, and thus has foreign policy experience with a potentially contentious global partner.  He supports civil unions for gay couples, is reasonable on environmental issues and immigration and is general seen as moderately friendly to business.  And he’s generally seen as someone willing to work across party lines to achieve progress and compromise.  But he has almost no chance of winning the nomination, given how the process rewards extreme wings of both parties to try and out crazy one another in order to appeal to the hard core bases on the Left and the Right.  But if there was any justice in the world, a guy like Huntsman, whose views are relatively close to mainstream American voters, would be the nominee.

Similarly, Bagwell is incredibly deserving of election.  He’s one of the top 10 first basemen of all time (I think he’s in the top 4), hit .297/.408/.540 with a 149 OPS+ (including an OPS+ above 130 for a dozen straight years), 449 homers, and 488 doubles, and won both a Rookie of the Year and an MVP award.   He would have ended up with more than 500 homers if there hadn’t been a strike in 1994-1995, and if he had played in any other park than the Astrodome from 1991-1999, the prime of his career.  Sadly, Bagwell is going to go down to rumor mongering and steroid whispers, despite the complete lack of evidence that he used.   It’s a damn shame.

Jack Morris is Rick Santorum.

I have no idea how these guys have any momentum at all.  Santorum is an extreme social conservative who has been in favor of legislating against sodomy in general and homosexuality in particular.  He has extreme positions on abortion too that leave no exemptions for cases rape and incest, and potentially the mother’s health.  He’s also on record as opposing Americans’ right to access birth control.  And he came within 10 votes of winning the Iowa caucuses, and is now seen as a major contender for his party’s nomination.

Morris was a good pitcher. There’s no way around that.  He was above average for 10 and a half years, and was really good in seven of those.  And he won a lot of baseball games.  But he played for a ton of teams with strong offenses, which buoyed his win total, and pitched one game that is particularly well remembered.  As a Twins fan, he will always have my thanks for that, but that doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer.  His 39.3 rWAR would put him 55th out of 64 pitchers in the Hall, above only Chief Bender, Burleigh Grimes, Herb Pennock, Jesse Haines, Catfish Hunter, Jack Chesbro, and Rube Marquard among starting pitchers.  If he’s a Hall of Famer, Luis Tiant, Kevin Brown, Jim Kaat, Tommy John, David Wells, and Dennis Martinez, amongst others, have a huge beef.

Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are Herman Cain.

Scandal rules them out.

Tim Raines and Alan Trammell are Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House during the Clinton Administration, was given up for dead this summer, as his campaign staff started jumping ship while he went on vacation to Europe.  Yet, through strong debate performances, he’s reminded Republicans that he’s incredibly smart and capable.  And he gives non-extreme wings of the GOP a viable alternative to the front-runner, Mitt Romney.  He’s clawed his way back into the race and is now a viable candidate again going into the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

Similarly, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell had no chance a few years ago.  Trammell bottomed out at 13.4% of the vote in 2007, but has steadily climbed to 24.3% last year.  He especially benefits from comparisons to the frontrunner, Larkin.  Likewise, Raines got just 22.6% of the ballot in 2009, but has jumped in each of the last two years to 37.5% this year.  Expect both of these gentlemen to see their totals rise again, although chances are that they won’t be elected this time around.

Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Biran Jordan, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Brad Radke, Phil Nevin, Tim Salmon Tony Womack, and Eric Young are Michelle Bachman

They should all suspend their campaigns too.

I don’t know, I guess Dale Murphy, Lee Smith, Larry Walker, Don Mattingly and Fred McGriff are Rick Perry.

Perry has not acquitted himself well with his duh-bate performances and clueless YouTube videos in which he talks about “defending marriage” while wearing Heath Ledger’s jacket from Brokeback Mountain.  Some people remain committed to him, and in the right light he looks Presidential.

Murphy, Smith, Walker, Mattingly, and McGriff are all, potentially, viable candidates.  But they aren’t going anywhere this year.

Edgar Martinez is Ron Paul.

Paul is a Libertarian ideologue who believes strongly in having the smallest amount of government possible, and is incredibly consistent on this point across fiscal, foreign, and domestic social policies.  He has a huge following because of this, but his campaign boils down to essentially one issue: shrinking the size of government.

Similarly, Edgar’s Hall of Fame case is shrunk down to one issue: can DHs be Hall of Famers.  Well, Paul Molitor played more games there than anywhere else, but he also played more games elsewhere than at DH.  Edgar, meanwhile, was pure DH.  We all acknowledge that his hitting is good enough to get him in.  But does being a DH mean that he’s “half a player”?  Or does he help his team by being ok with not being in the field, if that makes any sense?  Is value value, regardless of how it’s accrued?  One issue will make or break Edgar going forward.  Just as it will Paul.

Comments (12)

  1. “But he has almost no chance of winning the nomination, given how the process rewards extreme wings of both parties to try and out crazy one another in order to appeal to the hard core bases on the Left and the Right.”

    Not to completely miss your point (which I totally agree with, by the way — Huntsman and Bagwell are both credible, deserving nominees who are being screwed over by dumb voters who take pride in their own ignorance), but this statement just bugs me. There’s no way that the Democratic nomination process has played to the crazies to the same extent as the Republic one has for at least the last two decades. I mean, on the right, going back to the early ’90s, you’ve had candidates like Rick Santorum, Pat Buchanan, Herman Cain, Steve Forbes, Ron Paul, etc., etc, 1) espousing policies and viewpoints that are completely, insanely whackjob and 2) being treated as serious, realistic candidates for the presidency. Where/who’s the equivalent on the Democratic side? Dennis Kucinich? Al Sharpton? Even if you accept, for the sake of argument, that those people are the lefty equivalent of any of the right-wing nutjobs, none of them ever got taken seriously in any polls, let alone at the ballot box. Obviously, there’s pandering to the party bases that takes place throughout the primaries on both sides, but to say that the Democratic candidates pander to the fringe left to the same extent that the Republicans pander to the extreme right is just wrong.

    So, uh…Bagwell/Huntsman 2016?

  2. So, TCM, when are you and Bill just going to give up and become Canadians? You guys are both Twins fans, which I assume means you guys are from Minnesota and means you’re practically Canadians already (used to the cold, watch hockey, talk funny, etc.).

  3. American politics? Yawn.

    Baseball politics? For sure. Ya, let’s get back to this one.

  4. I’m just relieved that Morris and Santorum got connected.

  5. I appreciate the effort being made here, but your portrayal of Mitt Romney as being a member of an extreme wing is ludicrous. Leftists never let facts get in the way, though.

    • Why is this comment not surprising?

    • Nobody portrayed Romney as member of a an extreme wing anyway. What he says about Romney:

      “And he (Gingrich) gives non-extreme wings of the GOP a viable alternative to the front-runner, Mitt Romney.”

      In other words, most alternatives to Romney are extreme. Gingrich is not. The statement doesn’t actually qualify Romney at all. But you know don’t let reading comprehension get in the way of you’re constant bitching.

    • Romney is, indeed, a relatively centrist candidate. I never said otherwise. However, he’s a relatively centrist candidate who is running to the right and who still got only 25% of the vote in Iowa, and figures to get between 30-35% in New Hampshire. So his centrism appeals to a significant percentage of the party, but nowhere near a majority. Again, the American primary system caters to the fringe.

  6. The American primary system caters to the fringe in order to win the nomination… but the person who wins the nomination must then retreat to the center in order to win the general election.

  7. Who are these crazies on the American Left that you’re talking about? The policies that Obama campaigned around are not fringe left wing policies but have the support of more than half of Americans. The political spectrum in Washington is far to the right (and toward the corporate world) compared to the spectrum of the people. By Washington’s standards, America is an unambiguously left-wing nation, by and large. 50% or more of Americans (with the remainder including healthy chunks of “I don’t know”) support(ed) all of the following: a public healthcare option, equality with respect to gay marriage, access to abortion, legalization of pot and significant reigning in of the drug war, massive withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, non-negotiable protection of social security, medicare and medicaid. The Occupy movement has polled much better than the Tea Party movement in America, there is wide-spread disillusionment in America with regard to the powerful role that private interest lobbiests play in Washington (a concern second to none among Occupiers), and Americans today are as wary as they’ve ever been about the disparity of wealth and power among the haves and have nots. I’m not saying that there aren’t people that we could call left-wing crazies in America. They exist. But Obama’s campaign was not built around them. The sorts of things that Washington DC views as being “far left radicalism” is more often than not widely endorsed in the American mainstream. What’s interesting is that while most Americans endorse the left-leaning position most of the time (thus making the left leaning position actually a centrist position in terms of demographics), most Americans run away from labels like “liberal” and “socialist” because they’ve been so demonized. While more than 1/2 of Americans are liberals on a policy-by-policy basis, probably about 1/3 of Americans are policy-liberals who don’t even know it because they’ve been taught to think that liberalism is a gross, unamerican abortion of a concept.

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