On Tuesday, thanks be to the Baseball Writers Association of America, the sports world finds out who its newest gods are. It’s no small job standing the watch at the pearly gates of the Hall of Fame. As afterlifes go, the Hall is right up there with Valhalla, and the voting baseball writers will, in their long lives of service to the sport, perform no act more solemn. At any rate, a story that writes itself is a godsend, and every year the scribes get a story out of explaining who they’re voting for and why. The Tribune, casting nine votes this year, published its story last Saturday.
Dan McGrath: “I had a change of heart this year and voted for Alan Trammell after ignoring him in his previous six years on the ballot.” Mike Downey: “A stubborn streak in me: Sorry, I still left Goose Gossage’s ballot a big goose egg. If he misses out by one vote, it’s mine.” Philip Hersh: “I won’t ever vote for [Roger] Clemens or [Mark] McGwire.” Mark Gonzales: “I’m grateful I’ll have more chances to vote for [Tim] Raines in the future. But after three days of crunching numbers and weighing other considerations, I wasn’t ready to vote for Raines — yet.”
No, voting for the Hall of Fame isn’t a science, and it isn’t an art either, and it’s a serious digression from journalism. Maybe we should agree it’s a presumption. On Monday the tarnished Clemens faced the press in Houston. The AP reported: “The 354-game winner abruptly walked out after fielding several questions from reporters. ‘Do you think I played my career because I’m worried about the damn Hall of Fame?’ he told a room filled with many potential voters. ‘You keep your vote. I don’t need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off, and I defy anybody to say I did it by cheating or taking any shortcuts [steroids, human growth hormone], OK?'”
Did any of those potential voters, as they scribbled down Clemens’s words, think, “What an odd position I’m in!”?