Tuesday, December 08, 2009

There has been an interesting transition here on the blog. It's been about three weeks since I have posted anything. Not only have I just not had a lot to talk about, I'm finding myself spending more time on Twitter and Facebook. Those sites provide me with more interaction and feedback, so I have less time for blogging. I will still come back here when I have something I want to talk about, though. Like today. I have a rant.

Yesterday, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee for Managers and Umpires. Both men are very deserving of being enshrined in Cooperstown. However, in yet another Epic Fail, the 12 member Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers failed to induct anyone, including long-time MLB Players Association chief Marvin Miller.

Except for the makeup of the committee, it's almost inconceivable that Miller wasn't elected. If I had to pick three people in the 20th century that had the biggest impact on the game, they would be Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Marvin Miller. Ruth fundamentally changed how the game was played, pretty much singlehandedly moving baseball out of the dead ball era. Robinson changed the social makeup of the game by breaking the color line. Marvin Miller was instrumental in breaking the reserve clause, bringing in free agency and arbitration, increasing ballplayer salaries to their current stratospheric levels and forcing the owners to change how the business of baseball is conducted.

So, how is Marvin Miller not in the Hall of Fame? There's a simple explanation. The committee was made up of two players (Tom Seaver and Robin Roberts), three writers and seven executives (John Harrington, Jerry Bell, Bill DeWitt, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail and John Schuerholz).

Any more questions? Seaver, Roberts and the three writers all voted for Miller. Five of the seven executives didn't. Nine votes were required for election. Obviously, the executives who didn't vote for Miller (and no one has disclosed which ones they were) weren't interested in whether he was a deserving candidate for enshrinement or not.

The system obviously needs to be fixed. How can Tom Yawkey be in the Hall of Fame and Miller isn't? Yawkey owned the Red Sox for 43 full seasons, from 1933 to 1975 (he passed away during the 1976 season. His teams finished under .500 14 times, and won a grand total of three pennants and no World Series. His Red Sox were the last team to field an African American player, a full 12 years after Robinson broke in with the Dodgers. Charges of racism by players ranging from Earl Wilson to Reggie Smith to Tommy Harper dogged the Red Sox for decades afterwards. The only lasting positive legacy of his ownership is the Red Sox involvement with the Jimmy Fund, and even that was started by the Boston Braves before they moved to Milwaukee.

So, a fairly inept and possibly racist team owner has a plaque and a man who fundamentally changed the business structure of the game doesn't? I think that says about all you need to know about the politics of who gets into the Hall of Fame.


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