Over at Sports on Earth, Leigh Montville talks of the late Bill Conlin. The long-time Philadelphia columnist who, in the summer of 2011, was awarded the Spink Award by the Baseball Writers Association of America. And who, five months later, was publicly accused of molestation by seven members of his family.
Montville believes — and I am sure he is correct — that had the allegations against Conlin been public before the vote, the BBWAA would never have named him a Spink Award winner. He now argues that the BBWAA should strip him of the award:
These are the same people who have wrung their hands in the past few years, held their noses and refused to allow the all-time leading home run hitter, the all-time hits leader, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner and other assorted famous players into the building for assorted transgressions. If they had known about Conlin’s transgressions, there is little doubt that they also would not have allowed him to enter.
All they need now is a second chance. Change some bylaws. Bend some rules. Take a vote to rescind the 2011 vote. This is an arbitrary election, an arbitrary process. Miss America, for example, would have been dethroned in a heartbeat for much less serious charges. There does not have to be any due process. There does not have to be any statute of limitations.
I doubt they will. The BBWAA has debated the notion of stripping Ryan Braun of his MVP award after his PED test came to light. They’ve never once considered past Hall of Fame votes after negative information came to light about inductees. I couldn’t seriously see them entertaining the idea of stripping Conlin of the award now. To be honest, they’d probably prefer not to mention Conlin’s name ever again.
Not sure how I feel about it either way, to be honest. On the one hand Conlin is an utter disgrace and there is no such thing in my mind as too-strongly repudiating such a person. On the other hand, his induction happened and the precedent of the BBWAA going back into Hall of Fame voting — even if the Spink Award isn’t technically the same as the Hall of Fame — is kinda worrisome. There’s also the idea of not giving Conlin any more public consideration forever. Letting him fade into anonymity as fast as humanly possible.
Just an awful thing. But, as Montville’s column shows, one that is hard to shake from your consideration.