The Friar’s Club

Even I get sanctimonious when I consider Johnny Damon's Hall of Fame candidacy.

Sanctimonious sports writers experience a bunching in their panties often, but nothing chafes the crotchal region quite like discussions regarding induction to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Purists like Bob Costas get fanatical when certain ball players are mentioned as candidates. I must be missing something. Who cares? You get a bust in upstate New York. You get to spend a weekend talking about Napa with Tom Seaver, and talking about his date with Liz Taylor with Ralph Kiner. Seems like a club you wouldn’t want to be a member of. Kind of like Facebook for really good ball players from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. 

I went to the Hall of Fame when I was a kid. It was fun. Bert Blyleven in or out doesn’t really concern me too much.

It’s very difficult and often downright foolish to compare players from different generations. Arguments for or against a player’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame are often based on whether the player dominated his era and for how long. Again, Kirby Puckett for 12 years vs. Jim Rice for 18, not that interesting to me. Purists believe if even for the briefest moment you have to think about whether or not a player belongs, he doesn’t. Others talk about statistical benchmarks like 3,000 hits or 300 wins or 400 home runs. By the way, Paul Konerko has 382 career home runs, and the best pitcher in baseball last year won 13 games.

I was watching ESPN last night. Sorry. ESPN is a sports station based out of Bristol, Connecticut. You should be seeing more and more of it. Like I was saying, someone asked Doug Glanville whether Johnny Damon was a Hall of Famer. And I threw up a little in my mouth. It seems Johnny Damon is one of 11 or 12 players in baseball history with some odd combination of stats like 500 doubles, 100 triples, 2,500 hits, and a partridge in a pear tree. All the others with those numbers are in the Hall. A conversation ensued about Damon being a compiler, and never finishing in the top 10 in an MVP vote.

If Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer, then I’m the Queen of England. That guy was a dynamic player for a few years. He was mostly above average, and he’s been solid throughout. He never gets hurt so some of his numbers are bafflingly impressive. His defense was more bad than good.

Again, I really don’t understand why people get so crazed about the Hall of Fame. It’s the same with steroids. Baseball writers seem to think that Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Mantle were cast members on Little House on the Prairie. Part of the beauty of baseball is scratching and clawing and cheating to win. And then going out and behaving like a stunted child. These guys are ball players. They don’t always behave the way a broadcast journalism major from Syracuse would prefer them to.

Maybe that’s why I can’t commit to writing my blog. I’m sanctimonious and self-hating. That may remind an older generation of Groucho Marx, but I’m reminded of Woody Allen quoting Groucho. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.


About peterstadlen

Peter Stadlen lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two cats.
This entry was posted in A Little Night Music, Baseball and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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