Life in the Slow Lane

January 13, 2009

Baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes are morons

Filed under: Sports — pauljlane @ 4:13 pm

rickey-henderson-939-stolen-bases-1991-photograph-c10103677

OK, maybe such a generalization isn’t fair. But there are a few in the ranks of the nation’s baseball writers who tarnish the good name of the many quality people who hold this job.

Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson were voted Monday into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they’ll take their places in Cooperstown this summer. Their election brings up two strange points.

Rice, the Red Sox legend, made it in his 15th year of eligibility. If he was good enough this year, why wasn’t he the first 14 times? There have been several years during his time of eligibility when only one other person was elected (Ozzie Smith in 2002, Goose Gossage in 2008), so a lacking of quality candidates isn’t it. It’s not like he played since he first appeared, either, so he couldn’t bolster his numbers. The writers who flip-flopped must just hold to some outdated, childish, idiotic notion that he didn’t “deserve” to be a first-timer, or to go in on a “good year” (such as when George Brett, nolan Ryan and Robin Yount were inducted in 1999), or whatever.

As for Henderson, he made it in his first year of eligibility, but the all-time stolen bases king and game’s prototype leadoff hitter was only named on 511 0f 539 ballots (94.81 percent). How was he not a unanimous selection?

Granted, no one has ever been a unanimous pick (TOm Seaver, at 98.84 percent in 1992, was the closest). But why? Do some writers hold bitterness because their favorite wasn’t unanimous, so no one can be? Are they jealous that they aren’t as rich and athletic as these players? Do they just want to be talked aobut and have attention,a nd choose to do so by not nominating an obvious pick?

Whatever the reason, they’re pathetic people.

The Hockey Hall of Fame set the example that other sports should follow. Following Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999, the hall waived the five-year waiting period and immediately inducted. The NHL also retired his No. 99 leaguewide, ensuring no one would ever again wear his number.

Yes, it breaks tradition. But you’re allowed to do something, even if “it’s always been done” another way. Hockey should be commended for even considering such a breech of etiquette. Exceptional players deserve certain exceptions.

Even with the “tradition” and “lore” of the national pastime, MLB would make a great move if it waived the waiting period for future sure-things such as Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter (I hate the Yankees, but the truth is the truth). it won’t because that might offend a few of the old-timers who insist on things being how they always were, but the idiots who wouldn’t vote for Henderson this year have no right to tell anyone else how to do things when they can’t get the easiest of decisions right.

Maybe this old-school insistence is why baseball continues to fade from the nation’s consciousness. Wake up, writers.

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