You should not care if Ken Griffey Jr. is voted into the Hall of Fame unanimously

36 Comments

There are not a ton of legitimate reasons to be outraged about the Hall of Fame vote this year. To the extent there will be injustices, they will not be shocking injustices.

Based on the tracking of public votes it’s extraordinarily likely Tim Raines won’t make it in. It’s a certainty that some longer holdovers like Trammell, McGriff and the PED guys won’t make it in. Mike Piazza stands an excellent chance of going from 69.9% of the vote last year to induction and if he doesn’t it will be a surprise. But really, everyone should’ve been outraged that he wasn’t inducted a couple of years ago, so the surprise will be tempered with experience. Same goes for Jeff Bagwell, over whose candidacy we have all battled before.

So, it seems, that leaves us with Ken Griffey Jr., who will certainly be elected today. Of this there is zero question. The sole question many want to raise about him is whether or not he will be elected unanimously.

It’s a dumb question, really, because he almost certainly won’t. No one ever has, for reasons we’ve gone over many times before. The short version: some voters pick nits. Other voters are attention-seekers and submit blank ballots or intentionally omit worthy candidates for silly reasons. Some voters want to vote for the 11th or 12th best candidate and leave a top candidate off strategically, knowing he’ll be elected anyway. There are some voters still left, I suspect, that our Joe Posnanski once compared to “the Brotherhood that protects the Holy Grail in the Indiana Jones movie — who think it is their duty to make sure no one gets in unblemished.” If Mickey Mantle wasn’t unanimous NO ONE SHALL BE, they implicitly say, before being chopped up by the prop of that big ship in Venice.

I’d like to think that Griffey could be unanimous and hope that, this year, someone finally is, but I can’t see getting outraged over it if and when he’s not. When Greg Maddux, the best player without PED associations to be up for election in the Internet era, wasn’t selected unanimously, the “honor” lost any small shred of importance it ever had (and yes, “the Internet era” matters, because the Internet has increased scrutiny of voters and has likely tempered some of the worst excesses of voters).

In a larger sense maybe even Maddux’s vote total or Griffey’s or anyone else’s shouldn’t matter at all. As I said in another post recently, what some random voters do today does not truly impact a player’s legacy, especially if what they do isn’t the difference between him being elected or not. I’m not gonna think all the amazng things Griffey did between, say, 1990 and 2000 was somehow diminished because of it. It’ll be a blip to which we should pay no heed. The single worst thing about the Hall of Fame process over the past several years is just how much it has become about the voters as opposed to the candidates. Some of the outrage I’ve pitched around here over the years has certainly contributed to that and that’s a big reason why I have decided to ratchet it back some. I’ve worked hard to remember that, ultimately, it’s about the baseball  and the entertainment it provides. Everything else is secondary.

Will Griffey be unanimous today? I really doubt it. If he is, it’ll be a makeup vote, for all of the other immortals who didn’t get that unanimous election in the past even though they deserved it. Newman’s Oscar for “The Color of Money.” Scorsese’s for “The Departed.” Other performances were more worthy, but it’ll be nice to see this one finally get it, I suppose.

But that’s all it’ll be. Either way, at 6pm this evening, Griffey will be a Hall of Famer. It’s the only thing that matters.