As we approach the next round of Baseball Hall of Fame inductions, things are rapidly unfolding to reveal that the hot button players this year are going to be Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, and Jack Morris. We'll have more on Blyleven and Morris later today.
Last year, a lot of the hubbub about Hall of Fame selections revolved around Expo Great Andre "The Hawk" Dawson. Some said he should be voted in, some said he shouldn't, but ultimately, he made it in.
The season before, the brouhaha was about Red Sox slugger Jim Rice. Fantastic slugger in his prime. Some said he should be in, some said he shouldn't, but ultimately, he made it in.
The problem I'm seeing with the whole process anymore is that the Hall of Fame has been diluted. Issue is there are a lot of all-time pretty goods are in there, and that just doesn't float with me. There are just too many guys who "were great in their prime" or were a "feared hitter" or played for a more media-friendly team. Whatever the reasoning is, it all sounds like excuses for why a player who wasn't the best of his generation is immortalized in Cooperstown. As a young sports fan, reading through the endless columns and articles of bitter old men arguing with newcomers to the voting process has left me somewhat disenchanted to the whole concept of the Hall of Fame.
Frankly, I find the Hall of Fame to be somewhat of a crock. Yes, the all-time greats are in the Hall of Fame, that part isn't a crock. Babe Ruth is in there. Ted Williams is in there. Ricky Henderson is in there. Tom Terrific is in there. Rollie Fingers is in there.
Along with those all-time greats, however, we also find Rabbit Maranville, Bucky Harris, and Lou Boudreau.
When I think of the Hall of Fame, I want it to be filled with the players of legend, a veritable pantheon of the greatest players to ever don cleats and a leather mitt. I want to see the players who set the bar for what excellence as a baseball player means. I think that's been lost over the years as the conditions for the Hall of Fame have slowly deteriorated. (For the record, I'm aware that a lot of players were elected based purely on nepotism by the Old Timers Committee way back when.)
It seems to me that the Hall of Fame voting process has become less about electing the surefire BEST OF ALL TIME players into the immortal halls of Cooperstown and more about proving that your argument for borderline players is convincing enough to let someone in who doesn't truly belong there. Honestly, if a player's candidacy for the Hall of Fame isn't blatantly obvious enough to elect them on the first ballot, I question whether they should really get in. There is no room for "Yeah, buts". Why any writer would leave someone off of a ballot intentionally and then vote them the next year based on "Well, they're just not a first-ballot Hall of Famer" is absolutely preposterous. You either are or you aren't, and if it takes 5 years to think about it and get taken out to dinner by questionable players on the ballots, then maybe your vote isn't as meaningful as it's been made out to be.
Again, this is just my stance on the whole issue. I understand that the Hall ISN'T my pantheon of greatness; it's becoming the Hall of Pretty Darn Good more and more every year. Too many players are being included because of a short stretch of dominance or an abundance of support from a more influential media market. Too many players whose careers have gotten a rose-colored wash and suddenly appear that much greater to the writers remembering them.
As I'm writing this, I'm picturing myself in 25 years saying, "Yeah, well, you didn't SEE Ubaldo pitch. I did."