This year, I decided to make my life a little happier by giving up on my usual winter pastime of hate-reading terrible Hall of Fame columns written by trolls and gibbering nitwits. Stan Keister of the Hackensack Courier-Educator-Herald voted for no one and spent his entire column on the greatness of Jack Morris? That's none of my business. Dan "Hecky" Cornschemier of the Wichita Imperator wrote at length about how he can tell Craig Biggio was on the steroids because of the strange changes in the shape of his earlobes? Great! To each his own.
I broke down, though, when word ended up in my Twitter feed that Rob Parker—more or less the dumbest man alive, the guy who asked Rod Marinelli if he wished his daughter (who was married to his defensive coordinator) had married a better defensive coordinator and who went on ESPN and asked if RGIII was actually black—would be taking to a Mets podcast to explain why he didn't vote for Mike Piazza in the recent Hall of Fame election. The point of interest wasn't his actual vote, but his reasoning, which was said to have nothing to do with unfounded steroid rumors, but rather with his conviction that Piazza just wasn't good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. I had to hear this. I listened. It was glorious.
The first seven minutes or so of the podcast aren't anything special. Parker, who voted for Lee Smith, cites Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Babe Ruth as examples of the type of player he feels comfortable voting for; invokes Pedro Martinez's peak as an example of the sort of run a player worth voting for should have enjoyed; and explains that he doesn't really care about steroids because no one even knows who was using what. (Hey, stopped clocks, etc.) The special part—the part where your brain will start leaking through your nose—comes when you hear Parker's dispassionate assessment of Piazza's virtues as a ballplayer.
PARKER: I just looked at his numbers, I thought they were very good. There's a lot of guys very good. Fred McGriff's not in the Hall of Fame, he's a few home runs away, three home runs away, from 500. He has way more RBIs than Piazza, he's not in the Hall of Fame. So there are guys like him. And I know, it's the catching position, and people want to give more credit because it's so hard to catch and play, but some of the defensive issues—not throwing out runners, no Gold Gloves as a catcher, things like that—that bothered me. I thought he's a great hitter, he was a great hitter, batted over .300, but something told me he belongs in the Hall of Fame—or, Very Good, but not the Hall of Fame.
Whatever you might want to say to that—about positional differences and how incredibly rare a catcher who can hit as well as the best first basemen in the league is; about how Mike Piazza was actually a perfectly okay catcher who was fine at everything but throwing and played in an era in which throwing hardly mattered; about how if Mike Piazza was a legitimate Gold Glover he would have been the greatest player of all time at his position; about how holding someone to a standard that requires him to have been the greatest player of all time at his position is batshit; about holding someone to that standard while voting for Lee Smith—know in advance that Rob Parker doesn't care; that he was allowed to vote in the recent Hall of Fame election and that Dan Le Batard wasn't; and that the Hall of Fame that really matters is the Hall of Fame in your heart.