Ten things you need to know about your Baseball HOF vote

Ten things you need to know about your Baseball HOF vote
November 15, 2013, 12:30 pm
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No. 6: When you've seized upon a point you like, repeat it often, only in a slightly louder voice each time. (USATSI)

I think we can all agree that this year’s Baseball Writers Association of America postseason awards went as well as could be expected, with just the right level of shrieking, flesh-rending, curses, imprecations and promises of ritual disembowelment the next time Voter A sees Non-Voter B in a tavern.

We say this clearly and plainly because if you can’t find entertainment in that level of I’m-not-listening-to-you-because-I’m-too-busy-listening-to-me vitriol, go roll with the Dalai Lama. I hear he’s a complete hoot when there’s a dispute in the monastery’s weekly Boggle game.

But while we can do nothing to further foment friendly exchanges with the American League Most Valuable Player topic (I didn’t have a vote, so as a matter of philosophy I am opposed to your side, whatever it is), we have the mother of all I’m-holding-my-breath-until-you-turn-blue pants-wetters coming up in January.

The Hall of Fame.

This one has it all. More voters, so a greater chance of completely baffling votes. A hot debate about whether PED users should be lionized, shunned, or beaten half-dead and left in the woods for the bears to sort out in the time-honored ursine way. The always magnificent “Why don’t I get a vote” wails from people who swear they love and understand baseball most of all (which ought to be its own disqualifier, but we digress).

And the current blue plate special, the “I voted for/I did not vote for Jack Morris, so you suck hot steaming bowls of death” roundelay.

So let me help guide both the hardiest stakeholders and the least interested alive in the best ways to make this year’s voting and all the ancillary debates that accompany them come fully alive.

1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS ABOUT AS MUCH AS IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE ONE. There are 500-some-odd people who can be bothered to get off their couches long enough to give the matter any thought at all, and while the majority of the voters are conscientious at least to a passable degree, there is not one who can singlehandedly get a person into the Hall of Fame or keep one out. This is the most inclusive Hall of Fame of any sport, but by all means assume that in case of disappointment, your guy has been singled out for particular disgrace because the membership doesn’t like his teeth, or his kids, or the way he keeps up the front lawn.

2. IT’S EVERYBODY’S FAULT, EVEN WHEN IT ISN’T. If your guy doesn’t get in, do not complain about the 100-some-odd people who didn’t vote for your guy, because that’s stupid. Complain instead about all the voters as thought they were a gigantic Medusa, with one body thinking as a hive mind. Nothing wins people over to your side quite like telling someone who did vote for your guy why he or she is a gaping orifice to hell because someone else who isn’t even in the room didn’t.

3. SEEK OUT SOMEONE REALLY DOGMATIC AND CLOSE-MINDED ON A SUBJECT TO GENERALIZE ABOUT EVERYONE. I happen to be of the opinion that each qualified candidate should be inducted no matter what drugs they might have used to enhance their performance – even if he took a bicycle pump loaded with Honduran wombat extract and shot it directly into his eye while on the reviewing stand of the opening-day parade for Little League in his home town. I think baseball should have to eat its shame yearly for every year it chose willfully to do nothing but cash checks on the backs of the illicit chemical industry, and I also think that denying the history of the game good and bad is intellectually dishonest. But that’s just me. What I must do, however, when confronted by someone who feels differently is to nod as they present their argument, listening intently to every word, and then kick them squarely in That Place. Because debate isn’t about the rational exchange of ideas and concepts, it is about the level of your willingness to harm others to make your point.

4. WHEN A VOTER GOES BACK IN HISTORY TO PROMOTE A CONTEMPORARY CANDIDATE, INDULGE THEM, THEN SLAUGHTER THEM. If someone wants to promote a player by bringing up, say, a player from the days before the color line, argue in favor of the induction of more white players from the ‘30s. If someone waxes poetic about the good old days, pitch the idea that all white players should be kicked out of the Hall of Fame for five years to more fully appreciate the price of segregation.

5. UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS SO THAT YOU CAN BETTER MISREPRESENT IT. Nothing spices up a good debate like misstating the rules for eligibility or for voting. That way, you get bogged down in a process argument that makes you forget about what player you were flogging for induction.

6. WHEN YOU’VE SEIZED UPON A POINT YOU LIKE, REPEAT IT OFTEN, ONLY IN A SLIGHTLY LOUDER VOICE EACH TIME. Your critics are deaf, or thick, or just brain-dead, and likely all three, so you need to broaden your vocal range. Do this with your pets for practice, because if you do it with your spouse or children, there is an excellent chance you will end up with a dagger in the chest, and nobody needs that this close to the holidays.

7. ADMIT YOUR ISSUE ISN’T WITH A VOTE BUT WITH WHO’S VOTING. If you have a Hall of Fame vote, defend it from others as though it was your own child (assuming, of course, you care about your children), and if you do not, point your argument toward “Well, I’m smart and you’re a moron, so give me your vote.” That's a winner every time.

8. NEVER CONSIDER THE NOTION THAT SOMEONE ELSE’S CANDIDATE MIGHT HAVE LEGITIMATE QUALIFICATIONS. There are two kinds of baseball players – guys you would vote for, and sludge in human form. There is no third category. Never has been. Oh, and if you want to seem particularly snotty, refer to someone else’s candidate as “The modern-day Dick Bartell” or “the contemporary Roger Bresnahan,” to show that you bookmarked Baseball Reference once upon a time.

9. ALWAYS AGREE WITH WHOEVER IS BUYING THE DRINKS. If this means you have to change your mind several times, so be it. You are a person of conviction, and you believe more than anything else in the central truth that free alcohol is the best alcohol.

10. WHEN YOU’RE DONE, CLOSE YOUR POSITION WITH “BITE ME.” There are only two answers to “bite me,” and they are “yes,” or “no.” “Bite me” is a binary state of being, and there is no baseball-related rejoinder to that. It does not mean that the argument is over, because the argument must never end. All it means, in the final analysis, is, well, “bite me.” And if we cannot all agree on that, then we have descended back to mere chimps. And when that happens, nobody is buying any drinks. Is that what you animals want?

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