By the end of today, I'm going to feel very old, very white and very crabby.
Baseball's Hall of Fame announces its newest inductees today, and that means some people are going to be disappointed. When a talented ballplayer doesn't make it — and there usually is at least one — he often becomes upset. His legions of fans become upset. And many of the non-voting media become upset. Then they all howl and point a finger at the “crabby, old, white guys” who dominate the voting.
Heck, I've heard that for many, many years. And it's a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you hear something often enough, it eventually comes true. Sure enough, I looked in the mirror one day and I was all of the above.
But it's not as if we are one big, living (wheezing) organism. We don't move in lockstep. There are disagreements. It's still stunning to me that Tommy John and Jim Kaat never got elected. How could the other voters leave them out? They always were at or near the top of my ballot.
Then there are the inevitable rants about changing the voting process. Some are pretty interesting. Others are flat-out dumb, such as letting the fans vote, which would result in a popularity contest.
But there might be something to the notion that the game has passed by some of us crabby, old white guys. After all, things do change. Even the numbers and stats look different these days. I've never had any use for OPS, never mind OPS+. Or WAR or RAR or any of the other fairly recent measures concocted in the basements of, as Ron Gardenhire calls them, sabermagicians.
To me, on base percentage remains the key metric. And wins and losses. Jack Morris won more ballgames than Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson and Whitey Ford. Yet look at the problems he's had getting into the Hall. When did style points come into play?
All that said, there still are merits to the current process. To vote, a person has to have been an active member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for 10 consecutive years. Once a writer receives a Hall of Fame vote, that writer is eligible to continue voting even after retirement, as long or he or she becomes a lifetime honorary member.
I don't know about that last part. It might be difficult to keep up with the game after many years in retirement. But there is something to be said for the 10-year initiation period. You have to watch a lot of baseball, talk to a lot of baseball players. It usually ensures that you're around the game, often looking at it from the inside out.
I saw Greg Maddux pitch a number of times. You could hide the stat sheet and still know that he was a future hall of famer. There was something special about him. It was the same way with Paul Molitor. We'd watch him hit a ball in the gap and run the bases and then marvel about how it was so perfect. We could tell that Kirby Puckett was something extraordinary. The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera today generates that same vibe.
I also saw Jack Morris pitch. What the newer, fancier numbers don't show is that Jack would tackle an opposing base runner if he thought he could get away with it. Jack Morris would do just about anything to win. He had a rare, overpowering competitiveness that was evident to anyone paying attention.
The only statistic he cared about was number of W's. He won 254 times. He went all the way 175 times, not because he wanted to but because he needed to for his team to win. That's more complete games than Maddux or Tom Glavine (or Drysdale or Ford). Why my fellow crab apples had such a hard time seeing that is beyond me.
Anyway, the process mostly works. But now it's time to get ready for the annual yelping. We don't always deserve it.
But sometimes we do.