Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hall of Fame Voters Are Kind of Dumb

Did not vote for Biggio or Bagwell for the Hall of Fame

So there's nobody living going into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, which is dumb. The voting process for the Hall has so thoroughly embraced the notion of "The perfect is the enemy of the good" that it's gone a step further: The voters' perfect not only is the enemy of the good, it's also dating the good's ex-girlfriend, kidnapping its dog, and leaving flaming bags of poo on the good's doorstep. 
And like I said, this is dumb. The Hall of Fame induction weekend is a chance to make baseball look good. It's an opportunity to bring back memories, to invoke the warm nostalgia that is one of the game's  birthrights. It's an opportunity to celebrate what is good in baseball, with attendant publicity.
Except, of course, the voters have collectively adopted the "well, actually" attitude of the Simpsons' Comic Book Guy, demanding every candidate be so good and so angelic that even playing at the same time as PED guys is enough to invoke a wave of "Not on my ballot" chest-thumping.

Look, as a fan I enjoy Hall of Fame arguments. I appreciate the fact that many writers take it seriously, and I understand that they love the fact that it's a guaranteed chance to look Solonic by weighing their votes both publicly and carefully. Go on, folks. Milk it for all it's worth. Enjoy yourselves; I don't care.
But in taking that responsibility so seriously, they've fallen into a trap. The self-appointed guardians of the game's sanctity have set a bar so high no one can reach it, in the interest of keeping the hall "pure". Never mind that there are plenty of scoundrels in there already - that argument's older than Jamie Moyer , and about as likely to make a difference this year - it means they're actively looking for reasons not to vote for people. Hence the "well, he looked like he did steroids" accusations leveled at Jeff Bagwell, and the "he played with a guy who looked like he did steroids" stuff thrown at Biggio. Once upon a time, "real" writers got upset at bloggers who supposedly made unfounded accusations. Now they're leading the charge.
The end result is that the Hall voters have turned into a kind of cartoon Jewish Mother, the sort that insists there's no man good enough for her daughter while simultaneously fretting that she's doesn't have grandchildren yet. The inherent illogic of their position escapes them; they refuse to understand that a Hall induction of living players is good for the Hall, good for the game, and thus good for the people covering the game.
But, in the words of George S. Kaufman, they'd rather be right, for certain values of "right" that they get to decide that have nothing to do with what happens on a baseball field. What should have been a celebration of still-vibrant memories and marvelous achievements will instead be a reinforcement of the notion of baseball as something dusty, ancient, and untouchable.
And if they keep doing this, and people start caring less about the Hall of Fame as a result, they'll have no idea why.
Post a Comment
There was an error in this gadget