Roberto Alomar is up for the Hall of Fame this year, as you may have heard. The internet’s totally queer with speculation about his chances, which I think is sort of dumb. It seems pretty clear to me that Robbie Alomar would be going to the Hall even in normal times, and, nowadays, since steroids have made everybody forget about trivial, non-baseball-related things like hitting and home runs and winning, and everybody just cares about grit and hustle and beating your wife, I’d say he’s a shoo-in. I mean, come on. Robbie Alomar is going to get so many votes he’ll be able to build a giant Vote Boat and sail it directly into Hall of Fame Harbour, where they’ll build a giant statue of him right next to Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby and all the other second basemen who were actually good. Because Robbie, he’s a colourful character, but he’s only a little bit above average as a baseball player. He had four good seasons, a lot of mediocre seasons, and three miserable seasons at the end of his seventeen-year career. He was okay, but he’s nowhere near Hall of Fame calibre.
What you get from Roberto Alomar: seventeen years of a 116 OPS+ and league-average defense at 2B. And since nobody but Ozzie Smith ever seriously gets into the Hall because of defense, and nobody at all gets into the Hall for being average at defense, really you’re just talking about that 116 OPS+, and that number, she is not enough. What does an OPS+ of 116 actually mean? It means you’re in the same offensive category as noted Hall of Fame luminaries Steve Garvey, Jim Northrup, and Dusty fucking Baker, all of whom have one thing in common: none of them are in the Hall of Fame. Actually, believe it or not, no player with a career 116 OPS+ is in the Hall. Not even Thurman Munson, who was an excellent defensive catcher, and arguably redefined his position like Cal Ripken Jr. did shortstop. When all you bring to the table is your 116 OPS+ — since your defense and baserunning are totally average — you’re just not really Hall material, is what I’m saying.
Not that I’d complain about having an average-defense, 116 OPS+ 2B on my team. That’s a pretty good player. One might even say a very good player. But, as Colin Cowherd is going to start telling the people who listen to assholes like Colin Cowherd every time somebody calls in to complain about Bert Blyleven still not getting into the damn Hall: this is not the Hall of Very Good.
Let me be upfront about this. The "Hall of Very Good" joke is beyond awful. It was sort of cute the first time I heard it, which was in 1888. But idiots like Cowherd repeat it like a mantra, like it really means something, and like they have any idea what that meaning is. The point, though, is that it’s not designed as like the gold watch you get when you retire from baseball. Congratulations, Robbie! In recognition of your distinguished service, we award you a plaque with your full name on it. My father got that when he retired from the electric company after 35 years, and his OPS+ was only like 112. That’s not what the Hall of Fame is. The Hall of Fame is the elite gentlemen’s club where the very best baseball mans go to get their names on plaques. And, sorry, Robbie, but you’re not in that group.
Not that Cowherd has any idea this is what he means. He’d rather yammer on about how it’s the "Hall of Fame," so only "famous" baseball players should get in. And I’m thinking, hey, I know Ryan Theriot’s name, Google brings up 213,000 search results for him, and he’s on national television 160 or so times every year, so… first ballot?
Face it, gang: we live in a world where Roberto Alomar is going to the Hall of Fame, and Bert Blyleven is not. Also Mark McGwire. FTH?
Here’s a brief history of the Hall of Fame:
1839: Abner Doubleday is hit on the head with a baseball that falls from the baseball tree he’s been napping under, and spontaneously formulates the Theory of Baseball, originally stated as "what goes up with heart and grit and hustle must fall down to the bottom of the standings unless it can get the fuck on base occasionally. Also there is pitching."
1905: Ty Cobb begins playing baseball. Injures many opposing players with his sharpened spikes and dick-kicking skills. Knifes a black man for being "uppity." Dives into the stands to attack a fan for suggesting that Cobb didn’t really hate the black man he knifed.
1914: Babe Ruth begins playing baseball. Drinks himself stupid almost constantly. Plays drunk from time to time. Gets really fat, cheats on his wife, and has a candy bar named after him.
1936: Hall of Fame established with a clause in the requirements for acceptance instructing voters to consider the "character" of the player in addition to his baseball skills. Cobb and Ruth are among the five players inducted in the first class.
1998: Mark McGwire takes a lot of steroids and hits a lot of home runs.
2007: Ditto Barry Bonds.
2009: Naked pictures of Grady Sizemore appear on the internet.
2010: Mark McGwire once again does not get into the Hall of Fame because he once took drugs to make him play baseball better. BBWAA members rationalise this on the grounds that it violates the "character" clause. Many of them show no restraint in voting for players such as Dave Parker, however, who were manifestly less good at baseball and also took a whole lot of illegal drugs that made their teams do worse. They also vote en masse for Roberto Alomar, a man who allegedly intentionally gave a woman AIDS.
2011: Naked pictures of Alex Rodriguez appear on the internet, depicting him as a griffon.