Hall-of-Fame: Dawson In; Alomar Must Wait
The National Baseball Hall-of-Fame, class of 2010, was revealed on Wednesday afternoon amid the usual controversy. In a delightful surprise for anyone that witnessed virtually every game the Hawk played in Montreal from 1975 through 1986, former Expos star Andre Dawson (77.9%) was the only player selected. Poised for election next year are Bert Blyleven (74.2%) and Robby Alomar (73.7%).
It's good news all around on Hall-of-Fame announcement day. Even though Dawson was the only player selected for Cooperstown in 2010, Alomar, in his first attempt, is so close he can smell it and Blyleven is five votes shy. Each should be a mortal lock for baseball immortality in 2011.
However, there are those in the local T.O. media and fandom who lament the fact Alomar did not enter in the first year he was eligible. That's a wrongheaded look at Wednesday's results.
The fact of the matter is that once you are enshrined as a Hall-of-Famer, whether it's on the first, second or 15th ballot, you are a Hall-of-Famer, equal with the Babe, Willie and the rest. It's a process and with the rules the way they are currently and into the foreseeable future. The only right or wrong is if a player fails to get in after his 15-year eligibility expires.
I defy anyone off the top of his or her head to take a list of players voted into the Hall-of-Fame in the decade of the '90s and tell me what year of their candidacy they made it.
Thus, when Alomar is voted in next year, it will be a recognition of his accomplishments that should be celebrated as much in the long-run as if he had made it in his first try. The thing that annoys me the most about the online baseball public and some local media is the sense that if those critics of the process have their opinion (the FAN's Mike Wilner among them) then they are the only ones who are right and that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. Meanwhile among earnest, eligible voters, there is always discussion and very often respectful disagreement — with the emphasis on respectful.
There is a voting process that has been in place for years and years, back to the start of BBWAA voting for the Hall. The writers take it seriously. The rules are there and they allow for the fact that voters understand that it's not necessarily a first-year thing where it means more than anything else. In fact I'm sure there were eligible BBWAA voters this year that believe because of Alomar's spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck and maybe some other things that have marred his personal life off the field that he should be made to wait. That is their right as part of the process.
Alomar in his first try garnered more than 73 per cent of the BBWAA votes cast. That's pretty damned good and for someone to say that writers don't know what they are doing and to ask "how could the writers leave him out while Dawson with his lousy on-base percentage is in" (on his ninth try) is silly.
Whatever happened to reasonable discussion on baseball issues and the ability to disagree without writers being vilified as a group of village idiots? I'm tired of the stats arguments as be-all-and-end-all without personal issues being considered. If you want a Fantasy Baseball Hall-of-Fame, then start one.
And to suggest that writers make their Hall-of-Fame decision and fill out their ballot in five minutes is ridiculous and insulting. I have been a member of the association for 15 years and have been involved in more sensible and well thought out discussions about Hall-of-Fame status at World Series, winter meetings and on road trips than anything else.
Dawson is in and I am delighted for him. Blyleven is poised on the doorstep after 13 years and I am delighted for him. Alomar will be in next year and I am delighted for him. Alomar of all people should understand why he was made to wait a year. He is not perfect as a human being (who is?), but as a second baseman he was as good as it gets. He will be celebrated in the Class of 2011 and in time no one will care whether it was in his first year or his second.
Congratulations to Dawson and here's hoping that in collaboration with the Hall-of-Fame, they decide that on July 25 at Cooperstown he should go in as a member of the Montreal Expos..