Alright, alright, it's that time of year again. The world of baseball fandom waits with bated breath while the BBWAA works towards their annual task of revealing to the public which journalists we should hate the most. That's how the Hall of Fame voting works, right? The various baseball writers across the country decide which of history's great players were plaque-on-the-wall great, and which were only legends in your own mind, and hardly anyone is happy with the final result.
The usual complaints, of course, can be trotted out like the deviled eggs plate on the Thanksgiving hors d'oeuvres table, because this is how we whet our appetites for the main course of ultra-rage later. Oh nom nom nom, smack smack, mmmm, nom nom nom, tasty indignation!
Why is the ballot still limited to only ten votes? That's so stupid and arbitrary -- pass me those crackers.
And why are members of the BBWAA made members for life, allowed to cast Hall of Fame votes long after they've stopped covering the sport? That's about the most asinine thing I think I've ever heard of -- yes, I'll have another handful of those black olives.
You know what's really, really dumb? That the only people who get a say in determining what the Hall of Fame looks like are writers. Let people who have actually played the game get part of the vote! Let managers and ex-managers get part of the vote! Let fans get a small piece of the total vote! Yes, I'll have a few more baby carrots with veggie dip, please.
Alright, enough of that, let's get to the good stuff. Here is what this year's Hall of Fame ballot looks like. Take a good long glance, because there will be a test at the end:
|Garret Anderson||Mark Grudzielanek||Mike Piazza|
|Brad Ausmus||Mike Hampton||Tim Raines|
|Jeff Bagwell||Trevor Hoffman||Curt Schilling|
|Barry Bonds||Jason Kendall||Gary Sheffield|
|Luis Castillo||Jeff Kent||Lee Smith|
|Roger Clemens||Mike Lowell||Sammy Sosa|
|David Eckstein||Edgar Martinez||Mike Sweeney|
|Jim Edmonds||Fred McGriff||Alan Trammell|
|Nomar Garciaparra||Mark McGwire||Billy Wagner|
|Troy Glaus||Mike Mussina||Larry Walker|
|Ken Griffey Jr.||Randy Winn|
After looking at a chart full of names like that, the only reasonable thing to do is string together a series of random and disjointed thoughts on several things. Luckily, I came prepared for the task.
First of all, how did that guy's name get on the list? You know exactly who I mean, because you had the exact same thought, didn't you? Are they just accepting any warm body with a name and a uniform number as candidates now, or what? There's no way he belongs on that list.
And then there's Barry Bonds. Your opinion of Bonds vis-a-vis the Hall of Fame is really a shibboleth for how you feel, at a deeper level, about the Hall of Fame itself. Should it be the Hall of Upright Men Who Also Played Baseball, or should it be the Hall of Dudes That Blew Your Mind, no matter what else they may or may not have done?
Except, the thing about Bonds is that he was the guy who kicked your ass all afternoon in a heads-up multiplayer game of Halo, and that was before he entered the GODMODE cheat. In the year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were making baseball relevant again by destroying baseballs with malice aforethought, Bonds finished only three spots behind McGwire and one spot ahead of Sosa in OPS, hit over .300 for the sixth time in his career, posted an on-base percentage over .400 for the ninth year in a row, and became the first player in history to rack up 400-plus career home runs and 400-plus career stolen bases.
And then he started thinking about how steroids might help him.
But yeah, I get it, drugs that enhance your performance are evil and have absolutely no place in Major League Baseball.*
(*Major League Baseball is brought to you today by Shagidol boner pills. Shagidol: because even though you've reached the age where you probably shouldn't be doing the horizontal bone dance any more, there's no reason why the natural aging process should have the final say on how often you get to make the two-backed beast. Ask your doctor if Shagidol is right for you. Shagidol may cause dizziness, fainting, or even blurred vision, which is actually pretty cool when you think about it -- even in your teenage years, did you ever get a boner so violent that you couldn't see straight, or felt like fainting? Exactly.)
You know what's still a really stupid rule since I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago? That whole ten-vote-limit thing. Look at that list again for a minute. Pretend that there's only going to be one Hall of Fame ballot cast this year, and for some reason the BBWAA has given that ballot to you (possibly because you have some pictures of the BBWAA doing Shagidol-fueled things at least year's Winter Meetings). It's all up to you, friend, and you only get to pick ten names, so don't screw this up. Can you do it? No, you cannot, not without leaving at least two to three names unselected, two to three names that you know darn well should be going to the Hall of Fame this year. It's a stupid rule.
Nomar Garciaparra is a joke name, though, right? He wasn't an actual baseball player. "Nomar" is a nickname you give to an actual baseball player named "Omar" when he strikes out for the fourth time in four at-bats.
Well, I'll be damned. He's a real player, and he was actually pretty good. Career slashline of .313/.361/.521/.882 (which is phenomenal for a shortstop), six-time All Star, Rookie of the Year, came in second in the AL MVP race in 1998.
But speaking of six-time All Star shortstops, hello again, Alan Trammell. I'd actually like to see Trammell's name removed from the ballot at this point. He's not getting in, and every time I see his name on the list, it just rips the scab off a wound that will never, ever heal. It's cruel to Tigers fans to keep dangling him out there, so, hey BBWAA, we give up, ok? Oh, Tram ... we'll always have that 1984 World Series MVP Award, won't we?
You know why Trammell isn't getting into the Hall of Fame? Because of Jeff Passan.
Always a great privilege to do this: My 2015 Hall of Fame ballot. The first time I haven't voted for the maximum 10. pic.twitter.com/5rjVPm2j6z— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 13, 2015
That's the problem, right there. Passan had ten votes to cast, he only used nine of them, and he couldn't even toss Trammell a why-the-hell-not vote. That vote is just going to sit there on Passan's end table for months, until someone unknowingly knocks it onto the couch and it slips beneath the cushions, where it will live forever alongside a scattering of popcorn kernels and some balled-up Halls Menthol wrappers. That could have been Trammell's vote, you monster.
Finally, Curt Schilling should never, ever be elected to the Hall of Fame. I don't care about his stats, his legend, his bloody sock, or anything else other than the fact that, over the past 12 months or so, he's publicly conducted himself like the Commander in Chief of the Lunatic Brigade. When even ESPN says, "hey, actually, we'll call you," there's a serious problem. Forget his baseball career, it doesn't even matter in light of what h-- ah good, here we are, my invitation to become a member of the BBWAA has just arrived.
My work here is done.