In 1881 the future National League wanted to upgrade its image and target a more upscale fan base by doubling ticket prices, banning gambling, and outlawing alcohol sales. Several team owners who happened to be brewers refused to accept the new rules and banded together to form what would eventually become the American League. The National League attempted to discredit the new league by dubbing it the Beer and Whiskey League. This, of course only made the new league more popular. Duh!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

In today's page-two column on ESPN.COM, Eric Neel points out how all the hype over the Yankees and Red Sox are overshadowing some very exciting baseball being played out on the West Coast. In his blurb about the Mariners, Neel points out:

In Seattle, where folks are still reeling from the news that Norm Charlton's decided to retire, they've got Jamie Moyer, the 117-year-old marvel who started 33 games, went 21-7, struck out 129, and had an ERA of 3.27 last year. Can he possibly do that again? Haven't we been asking that same question about him for years now? They've also got Edgar Martinez, who's putting the finishing touches on the first-ever Hall-worthy career for a DH. At age 40, Edgar posted an OPS of .895. He walked nearly 100 times, drove in nearly 100 runs, hit 24 homers and 25 doubles. At age 40.

Neel's comments about Moyer sparked a thought I've been harboring the last year and that I'm now sharing with you my dear faithful readers. For all the talk/debate about Edgar's being a true hall-of-fame candidate (based of course on the tired old debate about the DH rule), I'd like to propose the rather novel idea that Jamie Moyer should also be considered a viable HOF candidate.

Moyer?!?!? Are you fucking kidding me? -- yes, that's what you must be thinking but let's consider the specific parameters for HOF Candidacy. As Daniel Greenia points out in Baseball Primer, there are no hard and fast rules for HOF eligibility but there are some very rough guidelines:
Are there any requirements, any written standards for voters to follow? Here is Rule #5 used by the Hall itself: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." This is clarified only slightly by Rule #6: "No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted." There is one statistical standard mentioned in Rule #3(B): "Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons."

If you take Rule #3B in conjunction with everything else, the bottom line is that during a ten-year span a player must have been one of the most dominant at his position. In other words, it's not necessarily about one's entire career (although that's certainly important) but how dominant one can be for an entire decade ... and as Prince says, "and that's a mighty long time" (well, he's talking about forever but let's not quibble).

Look at the following sets of numbers for two pitchers from 1996-2003:

1996-2003	Wins	Loss	Win %	ERA

Pitcher #1 136 62 .687 3.95
Pitcher #2 143 58 .712 3.78

Both records and ERA's are quite good but Pitcher #2 is obviously the better pitcher and, of course, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that Pitcher #2 is Jamie Moyer. Since coming to the Mariners in 1996 (in trade for Darren Bragg, he of the great .258 career batting average -- possibly the second-best trade in Mariner history ... yeah, and you know the first, don't you, George Costanza?), Jamie Moyer has the best winning percentage of any major league pitcher with more than 150 starts. No other pitcher since 1996 has dominated in terms of wins and losses. What makes this feat even more impressive is that most of those last eight seasons were spent in the not-so-very-friendly confines of The Kingdome.

Who is Pitcher #1? That my friends is none other than Roger Clemens. Look, I'm not stupid ... there is no way I'm going to claim that Moyer is a better pitcher than Clemens but, again, if one of the major parameters of the HOF is decade-long dominance then I think that if Moyer can continue to do what he has done for the next two years (the remainder of his Mariner contract, by the way) he then needs to be looked at as a serious HOF Contender.

So, the next time you hear someone mention Jamie Moyer you should stop them and say, "you mean, Hall of Famer, Jamie Moyer."