Former Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson (who also played for the Florida Marlins and Boston Red Sox at the tail end of his career) was the only player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame today.
I have no problem with Dawson making it in. He was a stellar ballplayer and, while many considered him borderline, I thought he accomplished enough that his election certainly doesn’t merit scoffing – 438 career home runs, a .279 career batting average, one MVP award, eight Gold Gloves and eight All-Star appearances.
My issue is with the completely unexplainable quirks of Hall of Fame voters. Why was Andre Dawson suddenly worthy in his ninth year of eligibility? How does someone who was not considered worthy in eight years of votes all of a sudden propel themselves into worthiness? As Rob Neyer of ESPN.com pointed out, “Because, you know, he hit all those home runs in 2009.”
Again, my issue is not with Dawson being voted in. My feeling is that either a player is a Hall of Famer, or a player is not a Hall of Famer. I have never bought into the idea of first-time honorees being more special than someone who has to wait, because I don’t feel people should have to wait. The fact that Dawson waited nine years is nonsense. He shouldn’t have been compared with the players that were nominated – he should have been compared with all Hall of Famers and all players. There’s no reason why Dawson couldn’t have been included in the same class as Cal Ripken Jr. Players are either worthy or they aren’t.
I also have a huge issue with the idea of not voting for a player in his first year of eligibility to send a message. This is Hall of Fame voting, not Facebook. If you don’t want to vote for a player because you suspect that he used performance-enhancing drugs, or he was a total douche to the press and the public, then don’t vote for him – ever. Making players wait is stupid. Again, either they’re worthy or they aren’t, period.
Another thing I have a huge issue with is players who have no business even remotely sniffing Cooperstown getting votes. While voters can select as many players as they wish, so voting for one player doesn’t prevent them from voting for another, it drives me insane when players who don’t belong anywhere near the Hall of Fame get votes.
Look at some of the bottom-feeders this year. Two votes apiece went to Ellis Burks and Eric Karros. Seriously? They were both decent players, with Burks better all-around than Karros, in my opinion, but Hall of Fame votes? Why? Worse, the following marginal players received one vote each, for no apparent reason: Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen and David Segui. Really? Can Alvaro Espinoza be far behind?
I was venting the other day (shocking, I know!) that voting for the NBA All-Star Game should be taken away from the fans, as Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady were in position to start the game, despite barely playing at all this season. But baseball writers vote for the Hall of Fame, and they’re not exactly doing a bang-up job, either. Maybe college football’s BCS has the right idea by letting computers do the work?