In principle, the Baseball Hall of Fame is supposed to be a shrine to America's Pastime. Often, however, it is the conduit for curmudgeon sports writers to cosplay judge, putting on a robe and wig and pounding a gavel with the power of their pen. Historians are not sure when and how an institution honoring racist Ty Cobb and hound dog Babe Ruth became known for its morality and ethics, but the annual sludge that has been produced because of this pursuit never ceases to amaze.
Such as this gem from Boston Red Sox writer Bill Ballou, on why he's not voting for Mariano Rivera—inarguably the greatest closer in the game's history—on his ballot.
First, let's start with the headline: "Bill Ballou: Mariano Rivera not getting this writer’s Hall of Fame vote." Oh my, so regal in just 12 words. You know someone is important when they put their own byline at the front of the header. Let's you know we're dealing with a man of prominence. And the emphasis on his verdict is pure joy: you're not getting this writer's vote. If you're ever asked to summarize Clint Eastwood's "GET OFF MY LAWN" character in Gran Torino, this headline will suffice.
But then there's the article in itself, which is just (chef's kiss):
Even so, I am not voting for him for the Hall of Fame, and three people come to mind as part of the reason why — Craig Kimbrel, Adam Viniateri and Taylor Dakers.
Kimbrel, of course, was the Red Sox’ closer last year, and his performance in the postseason was an abomination. When he pitched, Boston’s victories felt like defeats. In 10-2/3 innings he had an ERA of 5.90, and permitted 19 baserunners.
He was also 6 for 6 converting saves — a perfect record.
In the Patriots’ 32-29 Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 1, 2004, Vinatieri kicked a field goal with 9 seconds left to provide New England with its margin of victory, a play that was described as “clutch” and “game-winning.”
So because of the perceived shortcomings of Viniateri—who plays a different sport than Riviera—Ballou is, um, not voting for the Sandman. There's a lot to untangle here, like, you know, USING AN ATHLETE WHO PLAYS A DIFFERENT SPORT FOR YOUR ARGUMENT, but that Ballou picked one of the best kickers in NFL history to somehow prove his point is fantastic. God, I wish Ballou had an Academy Award vote. "Sorry Bradley Cooper, you were fine in A Star is Born, but my steak was overcooked by Wolfgang Puck in 2005, so not today, Sally."
And then there's this:
All of that said, nobody I’ve talked to about this agrees with me on Rivera. (Terry) Francona, (Mike) Matheny, (Pedro) Martinez — they would all no doubt cast Hall of Fame ballots for Rivera if they could vote. Even Palmer writes that Rivera is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. The class of 2019 will be revealed Jan. 22.
Nothing boosts your argument like, "Well, two Hall of Fame pitchers, an eventual Hall of Fame manager and another respected coach all think I'm an idiot."
Without a doubt, though, Rivera is going to be elected to the Hall of Fame on this ballot, so whether or not I vote for him is irrelevant.
THEN WHY WRITE THIS ARTICLE?
Well, it's because—and our apologies if this ruins your Christmas—Ballou wants you to know he's not voting at all. Hell, why even have a ceremony this year.
By the way, if you think this is bad, just wait until Derek Jeter becomes eligible next winter. Takes are coming.