Time to Yell at the Hall of Fame—Again

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, so if you’re reading this, my heartfelt thanks for remembering to check in! The end of the Fall term is always a bit tense, and there just hasn’t been time to do everything that I had on my “to do” list. Of course, that doesn’t mean that nothing has happened in the last couple weeks! This post will be about some of the recent goings on in the world of baseball, and there’ll be a few to follow where I talk about some of my favorite music of the past year.

I probably needn’t go into depth about everything that’s happened in baseball recently. But this has been an unusually active offseason so far. Highlights include:

  • Robinson Cano proves that there’s always an idiot with too much money looking for a way to decrease his wealth. Reaction to Cano’s 10-year, $240 million deal was quick and mixed. David “Big Papi” Ortiz, of the Yankee-hating Red Sox, disparaged the Bronx ballclub for letting their best player get away. Keith Law and others seem to express the most common opinion, namely: this deal helps the Mariners, but not nearly enough for them to compete in a very good AL West. And because the Yankees can never avoid controversy, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he would have made the same decision as Cano, and Yankees President Randy Levine said he “felt sorry” for Cano since Cano really wanted to be a Yankee. Levine then went on to earn himself an accusation of player tampering by suggesting that he would have offered Angels’ phenom Mike Trout a 10-year deal.
  • Not to be outdone, the Mets made a flurry of signings, inking former Yankee Curtis Granderson to a 4-year deal, Chris Young for one year, and the ageless wonder Bartolo Colon to a 2-year contract. The Mets now have an outfield that doesn’t include a steel door on legs, but of course, it won’t matter when the bullpen is serving up gopher balls faster than Bill Murray.
  • After provoking widespread bafflement last winter by trading power hitting outfielder Justin Upton for a glove-first third baseman than they moved to left field, the Diamondbacks did it again by trading a promising young outfielder and a promising young pitcher for a musk ox who should never again be allowed to touch a baseball glove. Of course, the outfielder is coming of an injury and the D-backs minor league “system” managed to alter the pitcher’s rotation to destroy his effectiveness, so I guess this deal might make sense in some weird universe where all that matters are home runs. But the next time I have a bag of garbage that I need to unload, you can bet I’m calling Kevin Towers.
  • Finally, baseball continues to deny the importance of its labor union history. The “Expansion Era Committee”—this year’s successor to the ever-popular group of demented old men known as the Veterans Committee—elected managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa to the baseball Hall of Fame. Each of these managers is very deserving—to the extent that we know what exactly a manager does, and to the extent that we don’t hold managers culpable for their players who may have been chemically enhanced—and each manager earned a unanimous vote of confidence. Left on the outside yet again, though, was MLBPA pioneer Marvin Miller. Miller served as union head from 1966 to 1981, and he had a tremendous impact on the game. He was largely responsible (along with Curt Flood) for helping to eliminate the old contract system under which a team offered its players contracts on a year-by-year basis, and players could either accept the team’s offer or simply not play. Miller helped to win players the right to negotiate contracts that paid them fair wages, protected them against the whims of their employers, and afforded them stability and security in their jobs. New union head Tony Clark said “Over the past 50 years, no individual has come close to matching Marvin’s impact on the sport. … Despite the election results, Marvin’s legacy remains intact and will only grow stronger, while the credibility of the Hall of Fame continues to suffer.” Rob Neyer—whose discomfort (if not opposition) with putting Miller in the Hall is, like all his opinions, very well reasoned—joined the chorus of calls to drastically overhaul the Hall of Fame balloting, a process as opaque as the College of Cardinals and is gives votes to people who have no earthly business voting on such a thing. Most depressing, though, is that there were seven former players on the voting committee—individuals who clearly and substantially benefitted from Miller’s work. We don’t know how many votes Miller garnered—because the Hall of Fame only told us that, after the managers, no other individual earned more than six votes—but we know that at least one former player felt the need to reap the fruits of Miller’s labors while denying him entrance to the club that Miller in part made possible.
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