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Just shut up now, please

Posted by Charles P. Pierce  January 6, 2010 02:46 PM

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I am engaged in something of a personal boycott of the Baseball Hall Of Fame, not because of who it lets in and who it keeps out, but because it's located in Cooperstown Freaking New York, which I believe settled its last Indian war three hours ago. Perils remain, however. There are outlet malls up there. The threat of antiquing looms around every bend. Is worth risking all that to see Babe Ruth's autograph on the menu from an old Back Bay brothel? I don't think so.

And that's not even to mention that, every year, the Hall Of Fame holds its election and a festival of sanctimony and self-importance breaks out of a kind unseen since the last time Joe Lieberman saw himself in a mirror -- assuming he can, which I doubt.

Let's start with the basics. Journalists have no business -- absolutely none -- deciding who should or should not be included in what is essentially a promotional scheme for the institution they cover.  This has very little to do with competence, and much more to do with professional ethics. Baseball writers should no more be deciding on who should be in the HOF than some Pentagon correspondents ought to be awarding the Silver Star. The answer to the obvious question of who should vote is: I could care less. (If I hadn't lost my golden BBWAA ticket in 1989, two years short of eligibility, I planned to have my bartender cast my first ballot.) My own preference would be to have one Big Baseball Person decide every year, the way certain annual compilation volumes have guest editors.

And that's not even to mention the horrible effect that voting for this thing has on many of the electors. My lord, people. This is a museum. It is for old things. It is for dead people. It is not a vehicle through which you can settle grudges, elevate enthusiasms, or remain 12-years old forever. What happened to Buck O'Neil was a disgrace, and what's happening to Marvin Miller now is an offense against history, which I take much more seriously than I do baseball.

The only good thing about this year's election is that the sole inductee, Andre Dawson, only had a OBP as high as .360 once in his career. Any defeat for the sports-as-math-homework crowd is a good one. Elsewhere, well, let's just all agree that Bert Blyleven has about the same chance of ever getting in as Mark McGwire and I do. The reasons why are murky, which is another reason why this whole process -- and many of the participants in it -- needs a high-colonic. And anyone who sent in a blank ballot should be a subject of mockery and derision all the days of their lives. What, these guys couldn't find a bartender who wanted the job?
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