“Thank you,” Pedro Martinez said. “Thank you for voting for me.”
He was enduring a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. Before launching into one of my usual long and convoluted questions that makes perfect sense to me, I’d dutifully congratulated him on his coming induction and that was his response.
Thank you for voting for me.
And I totally would have, too, had I cast a Hall of Fame ballot. I hadn’t. So upon Martinez’s graciousness, I felt a tinge of, I don’t know, not guilt exactly, not regret, but maybe a conflicted sadness.
That it had come to this. That it should have, years ago.
Now, nobody cares what 1/550th of the BBWAA voting bloc does or does not do – Aaron Sele votes apparently notwithstanding – but after 15 years (and another 10 spent earning a vote), I didn’t want to be part of it anymore. The ballot sat on my desk for a few weeks. When the deadline passed, I folded the ballot into thirds and slid it into the folder that holds copies of completed ballots from over the years.
I didn’t care about the voting limits – 10, 12, unlimited, made no real difference to me.
I didn’t care about the confusion over steroid-era candidates – vote for Barry Bonds and the others or not, I held no judgment. It’s a personal decision drawn from their personal choices.
I didn’t care the Hall cut the eligibility period from 15 to 10 years, even if its leadership didn’t bother to consult with (or even notify) the BBWAA first, which it didn’t have to, but would’ve been nice.
The results of the votes? I thought they were almost always fair.
I simply tired of helping – in a very small way – to create the news that drove the outrage. The condescending diatribes. The uncivil debates. The arched eyebrows and spittle. The campaigning. The agendas. The disregard – no, the pointed hatred – for a contrary opinion.
And that was all before the second beer arrived.
Well, maybe that’s all part of it now. And maybe that’s somewhat healthy for a system that clearly isn’t perfect but, for the moment, is the best we’ve got. Because I do believe the BBWAA is most qualified to render as close to a pure decision on in or out as we have. I also believe it shouldn’t (which is not for me to decide), and I certainly shouldn’t (which is).
Those men and women, they care. They really do. They want to get it right, when – particularly in the middle of the ballot – there’s no real right. Or wrong. That’s why there’s a vote. What’s right for some explodes the brains of the rest, however, and that’s probably not healthy.
Some of the votes make no sense to me, but, then, I’m sure some of my votes made no sense to them. It’s wispy like that. (They probably think I’m an over-writing, sentimental, long-question-asking simp too, and I have no defense.)
I just choose not to be in the middle of it anymore. And we – well, they now – are nothing if not in the middle of it.
Some of my colleagues have reached the same conclusion, a few for slightly different reasons. They believe the system is broken. If indeed we decide it is appropriate for journalists to separate the great from the almost great – and so far we have – I believe the system needs some work, but hardly is in pieces. It’s better than a fan vote. It’s cleaner than a vote of sitting Hall of Famers. It’s more honest than a vote for the numbers alone.
It’s just not for me anymore.
Resigning from my participation in the news and then writing a piece about it has its hypocritical elements, granted. I’d not intended to. And then, well, Pedro thanked me for a vote I had not cast. An explanation seemed proper.
So here it is:
It’s not my job. Not anymore.