In the past, I’ve tried to remove myself from Hall-of-Fame debates. Because at the end of the day, they’re really no more useful or material than the Oscars or Grammys. You’re basically debating someone’s opinion. And because of the esteem these things have gotten over the years, you’re debating the opinions of people who have definitely gotten up their own ass about it. Which I suppose is why people get so heated, because people who have gotten as much up their own ass as baseball writers certainly are annoying and need to be taken down a peg.
That doesn’t mean I’ve held to my word very well at all. I’ve laughed at Cooperstown voters deciding they are the gatekeepers of all that is holy and good by keeping Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out, even though both would have been Hall-of-Fame players even without their controversial second acts. I’ve mocked the NFL and NHL Hall of Fames for basically letting anyone in as long as they played for more than seven years and went out drinking with enough writers after games (only applies to hockey).
But these are obviously contradictory. I can’t say it’s worthy of jokes to treat a Hall of Fame as sacred, and then turn around and make fun of those who just throw the doors open. Or I shouldn’t, I obviously can.
So really, who cares? That’s what dawned on me last night as it was announced that Minnie Miñoso, Buck O’Neil, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, and Bud Fowler would be enshrined come July. O’Neil and Miñoso and Hodges are almost certainly long overdue. As for the others...who gets hurt? No one. Their families get to have a thrill of a day, Oliva and Kaat are still around to enjoy it. (Though with Kaat there is this to navigate.) Their enshrinement certainly doesn’t dim the shine off of anyone else there, as writers fear would happen if Bonds or Clemens were to make a speech or get a plaque. Watch the hoops they’ll jump through trying to justify voting in David Ortiz in a month when they do, mostly because Ortiz was a lovable character and the other two were most certainly not. But again, who cares?
Let everyone in. It’s a museum, after all, meant to convey the history of the game. Every player had some role in that. More things to look at when you visit. O’Neil is certainly more important than most, given his staunch dedication to promoting awareness and celebration of the Negro Leagues. Miñoso, too. Keeping it as some sort of Valhalla only to be defined by those who never have to actually explain their parameters only makes for annoying chatter. The world won’t end no matter who gets in. It’s better news when someone gets in and the only joy in someone not getting in is vindictive. We don’t need more of that.