Monday, December 7, 2009
The politics of glory
That was the original title of a 1994 Bill James book on the history of baseball's Hall of Fame; it has since been reissued under another title, Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?
The original title came to mind today as I read the news story about the Veterans Committee's Hall of Fame votes.
In: manager Whitey Herzog (above) and umpire Doug Harvey.
Left out, among many others: Marvin Miller, the man who built the players union from a figurehead notion to the powerful force that it is today.
Harvey is almost certainly one of the five best umps in baseball history. Herzog is a justifiable selection, although I will always remember his whining after the Cardinals lost the World Series in 1985 and 1987. (Yes, Don Denkinger blew a call in the ninth inning of Game 6 in 1985; the Cardinals proceeded to fall completely apart for the next 10 innings. If a bad call gets into their heads that badly, they shouldn't be champs. And his complaint that the '87 Twins only had two starters was pointless.)
But the real news is that Miller — again — didn't make it.
The committee that voted on executives and "pioneers" elected nobody Monday. It took nine votes from the 12-member committee to get in; Miller drew seven.
The two former players on the committee (Tom Seaver and Robin Roberts) voted for him; so too, according to this report, did the three media members on the panel. That's five. Bert Blyleven's California high school math tells us that he drew just two votes from the other seven members, all owners or executives.
The very people Miller spent his years beating in one dispute after another have the majority of the votes on the committee.
No wonder he's out.
(Incidentally, two of the seven have Twins connections — Andy MacPhail and Jerry Bell. I suspect that MacPhail is one of the two who voted for Miller, but that's just a suspicion based on my perception of MacPhail as a fair-minded thinker.)