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Pander Me Out To The Ball Game

You know, as much of a baseball fan as I am, I’ve never gone to Cooperstown to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And now, I never will.

And why? Because it’s become a sham. Yet another political staging area for concessions, indulgences, and special dispensations. Is there nothing sacred in this fading republic of ours that can weather the storm of politically correct “privileges” once afforded to only the worthy?

In case you’re not a baseball fan (or are just a bloody moron who doesn’t know that such a thing exists), the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a repository and museum for the players, coaches and other assorted personnel that have made either positive or exceptional contributions to the game of baseball.

In order to be considered for the HOF, eligible candidates are required to garner at least 75% of the votes on ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The process is a little more complicated than that, and I won’t bother to reproduce it all, but if you click here, you can read all about the other rules and regulations.

Here’s a short list of previous inductees:

Babe Ruth
Ty Cobb
Ryne Sandberg
Johnny Bench
Yogi Berra
Carlton Fisk
Jackie Robinson
Willie Stargell, etc, etc.

If you’re interested, you can view the entire list here

Notice something about that list? Right, every single one of them was a damn fine ballplayer and enjoyed both success and popularity. Here’s a sampling from the list of 2006’s inductees:

Andy Cooper
Biz Mackey
Cum Posey
Mule Suttles
Cristóbal Torriente
Effa Manley
Bruce Sutter

Notice anything about this year’s list? That’s right! Other than the fact that their names seem to suggest Faulkner characters or adult movie stars? With the exception of Sutter, the other inductees share two glaring traits:

1) No one’s ever heard of them,
2) They never played in the Major Leagues.

The 17 “special inductees” that the HOF is honoring this year are (at best) arbitrary choices from a pool of players that appeared in either the Negro or Cuban Leagues in the 1920’s.

Now let me point out that I am in no way denigrating the Negro Leagues. At a time that segregation was a blight on our country, Negro League players showcased some fine talent outside of the Majors – they didn’t just “succeed by overcoming racism” or any of that 1990’s feel-good hokum, but did so for the love of the game. And I salute them for that.

But.

These players were never elected to the HOF by the traditional means. Instead, a “special committee” consisting of two people funded by MLB sat in a room and unilaterally decided which of these obscure players would sit alongside Whitey Ford, Tom Seaver, and Sandy Kaufax in the hallowed halls of the National Pasttime. You know, to "embrace diversity." I'm guessing that there aren't any Black baseball players that actually deserve the honor?

Even worse than this, two of this year’s inductees never even played ball in this country! Why is the National Baseball Hall of Fame honoring players from the Cuban National Team? I can’t buy cigars from Havana, but Cuban players are given a distinctly American honor? I know it’s not the Congressional Medal of Honor, but give me a break.

And you want to know the really sad thing? Baseball greats such as Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Bert Blyleven, Don Mattingly, and Tommy John did not receive the required number of votes, so they’ll have to wait another year for consideration. Their place was co-opted by the panderings of a “special committee.” And the most despicable part of the voting procedure is that players such as Ozzie Guillen and Hal Morris can never again be considered for induction because they failed to earn the requisite 5% of votes from the BWAA.

Will “The Thrill” Clark, first baseman for the Giants who was named MVP for the 1989 NCLS, and batted a career .303 with 2176 hits in 15 years, will forever be passed up for the Hall for lack of three votes. But Cum Posey is going in.

Take heart, Will, maybe in a few years, they’ll be a “Special Committee” for you, buddy.

And maybe me too. Hell, I never played in the Majors, but I tossed two consecutive no-hitters with the Black Roses softball team in the late nineties. Given the current practice of honoring anyone and everyone who ever spent some time between the lines, I should make it to the Hall by the middle of this century.

First round’s on me, Will. We’ll let Pete Rose pick up the rest.

Comments

Eric Alan said…
I'm amused by your text, so I'll check back to see what comes next.

Your punctuation could use additional attention.

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