Nobody in their right mind should be arguing against Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Yet in the case of each man, otherwise respectable people deemed qualified to assess their worthiness silently argued nonetheless.
This is why, every year at this time, an ungodly number of people go off on the voting process.
Mostly it’s Joe Fan going off, and its root cause is the same thing that brings us such joys as obnoxious parents berating and second-guessing coaches and umpires at every level of the game: Little League baseball.
Before the youth soccer boom really exploded, populating suburban swaths of grass with packs of 6-and-unders hovering to and fro in blissful bunches, Little League was t
he first organized sport most American children played. Virtually everyone played the game, and because of that we have multiple generations who fancy themselves experts on the sport. Expertise, real or imagined, breeds confidence.
Hell, make that overconfidence. Unjustified confidence.
Add to that a little schooling and a press pass, and poof! A professional know-it-all is born.
Thus, fans aren’t the only folk going off on the HOF voting process. The voters themselves often take to their various platforms to rail.
Not against their own voting process, of course. Theirs is unassailable, though they invariably dilute said unassailability by explaining or justifying or rationalizing their selections. Call me crazy, but if something is truly unassailable, there’s no need for any form of defense, right?
But defend their process they do, and if you read or listen closely enough, that’s usually the point of their diatribe. It’s merely under the guise of bashing the thought process of anyone whose process doesn’t jibe with their own.
It’s a tawdry little rite of the late offseason in this great game of ours, predictably and often comically unfolding like clockwork, and it always includes a variety of passive-aggressive disclaimers such as:
The Hall is a museum of the game’s history, period, and as such must reflect all eras. This proclamation is typically used by those who vote for juicers and juice suspects such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the headliners of Wednesday’s No Chance In Hell Class.
The Hall has a duty to uphold the game’s integrity and police all heathen-athletes who’ve threatened it. Typical stance among those who think Bonds and Clemens weren’t just juicers, but … um … short-for-Richards.
Because borderline-mythical figures such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Nolan Ryan weren’t unanimous selections, nobody deserves unanimous selection. Perhaps the most disturbingly nuanced and complex notion among the lot, this one is employed mostly by idiots.
OK, maybe idiots is a tad harsh a label to affix given the aforementioned complexity. But nowhere on the Cooperstown ballot does it provide distinctions of any sort. The job of the voter is clear: If you see the name of a guy whose career you think merits recognition in the Hall, you vote for him.
Not voting for him because he is not — in that starfish of a head of yours — worthy of unanimous or even first-ballot status, is nothing short of a gross dereliction of duty.
(Did you know starfish are brainless yet still considered predators? The analogy makes more sense to you now, doesn’t it?)
The unanimous and first-ballot angle surfaced again Wednesday, when it was learned that about 3, 8 and 16 percent of the voters deemed, respectively, Maddux, Glavine and the Big Hurt NOT worthy.
What the hell. I’ll call ’em what they are (the voters, not the God-yes-worthy legends): Idiots. And probably, um, short-for-Richards, too.
Mychael Urban has covered Bay Area sports for more than 22 years as a contributor to Comcast SportsNet, CSNBayArea.com, KNBR, MLB.com, ESPN The Magazine and various newspapers. BaseballGreg MadduzHall of FameMychael Urban