Ken Griffey, Jr. is Not a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer
Hello, I am Baseball Writers Association of America member John Doe and I rightfully voted to omit Ken Griffey Jr. from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Though you undoubtedly disagree, I will shortly convince you that, in my shoes, you would have done the same.
Without unveiling my nom de plume, I can say I am a career beat writer, weaned on the sweet perfumes of teletype and champion of all things analog. My career gained some small notoriety in the middle-west, suckled at the bosom of the mother-waters. Recently jettisoned afield by “blogs” and a ceaseless news cycle, I have made new home as a latter day Ponce de Leon, discovering my fountain of baseball youth in the Atlantic South. Here, real men play real baseball.
In short, my credentials are without smirch.
Authority punctuated quod erat demonstrandum, I again repeat: Ken Griffey, Jr. is not a first ballot Hall of Famer.
As I do every year, I considered those seeking baseball immortality emboldened by Nickelback’s 2005 masterwork, “All the Right Pieces” (a composition introduced to me by a youngish apprentice). As hope springs eternal, as pitchers and catchers hear October in February’s yawns, I opened my BBWAA ballot hoping to see Baseball personified. Call me an old fool. It took longer to find a return mailing address (electronic-mail be damned) than did the actual balloting.
Were secret balloting not integral to Cooperstown’s integrity, I would lay bare my cards. As part of the whole, omitting Mr. Griffey Jr. is the only logical choice. However, transparent Hall of Fame voting would be a travesty on the level of designated hitters or the erection of light stanchions over ballfields. Though my exact ballot must remain veiled, reading this column should well indicate the exact number of players I deem worthy of Stan Musial’s immortality.
Hall of Fame plaques must be earned. Did Mr. Griffey win 10 consecutive Gold Gloves patrolling Seattle’s cavernous, skin-eating Astroturf ocean? Well, Yes. Did he earn nomination to 13 All Star squads? Again, that I cannot deny. Did he clobber 630 home runs (without whiff of scruple, I may add) and maintain an .OPS rivaled only by Greek gods? Of course, yes and yes! But again: the plaque must be earned.
What lesson do we impart on our Little Leaguers if we crown a first-ballot candidate simply because was the best of his generation? Insanity! We baseball writers must uphold the work ethic integral to Baseball. As star players must work their way up through the minor leagues, so too must a Hall of Famer languish on the first ballot. The Hall of Fame must be earned, I say, not simply given at first eligibility.
Secondly, I affirm no man should win unanimous vote to any office. Can you imagine the scandal, the outrage, the degradation of America, should we elect a President without dissent? Democracy is dissent. Unanimity would be the very height of madness! Having read the tea leaves (helped in part the “social media” of my Nickelback’d apprentice–though I argue the medium neither “social” nor “media”), I ascertained it was the BBWAA’s intent to ascend Mr. Griffey Jr. without blemish.
Not even Bob Gibson earned unanimous election. How could we elevate Mr. Griffey Jr. above the baseball gods? Should the Son of Man himself return to take up bat and ball, I would withhold my yea. No baseball player, no matter his divine All Star pedigree, should ever win perfect election to Baseball’s perfect building. Baseball is a game of errors. There is no perfection in baseball.
I will admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, a distaste for Mr. Griffey Jr.’s setting the vanguard of certain baseball fashions. Twisting the cap backwards? Pleh. Rotating one’s brim is the mark of a catcher, not an outfielder. Even worse was Mr. Griffey Jr.’s, “wearing the pajama pants,” that is to say pulling one’s pant cuffs over the top of one’s shoes. Baseball is meant to be played in stirrups (preferably striped) and sanitaries (preferably white). Neither Dizzy Dean nor Rogers Hornsby would have sullied a diamond with pants baggier than grocery store plastic. I maintain this distaste did not seep into my omission of Mr. Griffey Jr. and only mention it to swipe fodder from the boorish ignorants already gathering pitchforks against me.
Three of us together came independently to this truth and agreed through a series of confused faxes to stand as one. Together with Larry and Curly, I am one leg of the triumvirate atop which Baseball’s sanctum sanctorum wobbles with ever-increasing unsteadiness. I fear, when time eventually kicks one of our tripod legs out, Cooperstown will surely crash to dust. Today’s scribes pull made-up acronyms from the mountainous aether of useless data. I stand armed only with common sense, AVG and ERA, protecting the game which has shaped our great country.
To those who cry and gnash their teeth, moaning that my only interactions, being but a local beat writer, with Mr. Griffey, Jr. occurred briefly as he showered to catch the team flight from a visitors locker room, I say Pish posh. Pish posh! In an age where information lay no further than a public library’s card catalog, I daresay my stores of knowledge regarding Mr. Griffey, Jr. are equal to (and likely even exceed) the rain-soaked and caffeinated Seattleite.
So I repeat my chorus one final time, now joined no doubt by your own voice in harmony: Ken Griffey Jr. deserved omission from Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2016.