Sports writers tend to be deft writers, no doubt about it, engaged and knowledgable about their subject. Still, sports writing is not as expansive and profound as it could be. Not that I don't enjoy rereading Roger Angell and the like, but imagine the altered dynamic that will exist when women begin getting some of the plum sports columnist jobs--that is, the widely-read columns in major newspapers. (Here's an interesting take on that slow but evolving process.)
Despite our respect for sports writers (and especially the poetic subgroup of baseball writers), we must admit there is truly something amiss in the HOF voting process...something not quite right...something unsettling. It's the writers who vote, but the HOF hinkiness has less to do with the writers/voters per se than it does with the...well, the zeitgeist in which they toil as ink-stained wretches.
And that's exactly why the fact that voting in an HOF-er can take as long as 15 years seems an absolutely sensible safeguard. When players make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame, they are unquestionably well-regarded by 75 percent of more than 500 ballots. Allowing 15 years make sense. Stats followed with wild eyes today aren't necessarily the same stats followed with wild eyes 15 years ago and won't be the same 15 years hence.
For example, Bert Blyleven received 18 percent of the vote his first year, dropped to 14 percent the next year and still was nowhere near election his fifth year (26 percent). But he was all the way up to 63 percent last year and squeakingly close this year. Also, it took Jim Rice 15 years on the ballot to get elected. Thoughts about players today may not be the thoughts of tomorrow; why rush it? Let the thoughts percolate. The slow-cooker approach has the effect of making the voting process seem refreshingly selective.
How many major league baseball players have there been since the dawn of baseball history? There are only 291 Hall of Famers (67 living).
So this year's HOF voting result is that Andre Dawson, who won eight Gold Glove and four Silver Slugger Awards in 21-season career with the Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins, will be inducted into the Hall on July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y. "The Hawk" will be honored along with manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey, elected last month by the Veterans Committee. The ceremony is to include presentation of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Here's a bit of his writing in an open letter to George Steinbrenner about the new Yankee Stadium:
Sadly, Boss, your ballpark is a monument to the rich and is the epitome of
wretched excess. Take the scoreboard, or rather should we call it the “ad-board”
engulfed by the $14.3 million jumbotron? Never has there been a bigger waste of
space than the 59-x-101 foot TV screen that'll show A-Rod's new nipples in High
Def but barely a glimpse of something as relevant as the batter's count: God
forbid, should you try to find that piece of information anywhere (hint: it's at
the very bottom of the tiny auxiliary scoreboards underneath the huge ad
billboards in right and left field).....As one marketing exec with expertise in
stadiums and arenas said to me: 'The programming philosophy between the Yankees and their stadium and the Mets and Citi Field is as decidedly different as to
whom they're catering to. Citi Field is a much more intimate setting for the
fans, and there's clearly a lot more there for the common fan.'
(Not bad, I guess. But for mind-bogglingy engaging daily sports writing in the realm of our interest, we baseball card people are very fortunate that all we have to do is visit this site.)
As for broadcasters, ten are finalists for the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award: Billy Berroa, Skip Caray, Tom Cheek, Jacques Doucet, Lanny Frattare, Graham McNamee, Jon Miller, Joe Nuxhall, Herb Score and Dave Van Horne. The winner will be announced Feb. 1.
In an unrelated development, here's a little contest. One way we can lighten our card load around here is to run quick contests. We'll start with a one-card contest and then build from there; you better keep checking back here, because none will take longer than 24 hours to decide, and with our attention span, that time may shrink. Also, if there's one thing we don't like, it's complex rules for card contests. So this ain't complex. Here is all we ask: leave a comment with the full names of five HOF-ers with the given (first) name George; five with the given name William; and three with the absolute best (in your view) nicknames. That's a total of 13 names. The first commenter to do so successfully* wins this:
In one of Upper Deck's tragic classic collating errors, we received three of these cards instead of one in a Team USA box a while back. We gave one to a good blogger friend, we aim to keep one...and that leave this 'un.
Our only rule is, in honor of Lucy, who is studying for a Spelling Bee next week, *all 13 of the HOF names must be spelled correctly. We won't be able to check back until after 5 pm to assess the results. Thanks for playing.