January 27, 2022

Article at Steven on Authory

Browning's 1841 Statement on the 2022 HoF Results

I just got a note from a friend I met originally on BJOL (I seem to have a lot of ex-BJOLers, as well as some current ones, on my mailing list) who asked me if I planned to opine on the current HoF election.

I wasn’t—you can read 100 opinions on the HoF by opening your Twitter feed, and almost that many just by opening your eyes—but I did answer his e-mail, and articulated my views, so I may as well briefly share them with you, mainly because I haven’t read of anyone expressing an opinion quite as extreme as mine. (Also I’m writing the last chapter of my novel this week—may make my Feb. 1 deadline, may just miss it,  so no time or energy to waste blathering about the HoF, but here goes):

I am pleased. Pleased as punch, pleased as slap, pleased as jab, all of which I think this was to the faces of Mssrs. Clemens, Bonds, Schilling, Kent, McGwire, Rose, Sosa, and A-Rod, all of whom I despise equally. I despise them royally, I despise them nobly, I despise them commonly, I despise them individually, I despise them collectively. They are despicable.

I derive great joy from their frustration at having put up amazingly, obviously, blatantly, HoF-worthy numbers, and having put in long careers atop the very first order of baseball excellence, and still the world (OK, the HoF) tells them, “Sorry, you’re still too much of an unethical hypocritical lying piece of unprocessed rat-dung to get your plaque-- maybe when you die, but don’t count on that either. Better luck next life.”

I hope that when each of them does die, it will be with this thought foremost on their minds: “Maybe I should have given less consideration to putting up those numbers, and more consideration to how I put them up. Maybe I should have been slower to put illegal, or dangerous, or untested substances into my body that many of my contemporaries chose not to take advantage of, just to give me an unethical edge over my peers, and maybe I should have been more open about what I was doing, and sooner, and maybe I should have treated the media as if they were humans trying to do their jobs and not as contemptible scum, and maybe I should never have even considered gambling on anything, at all, ever.”  Okay, that last one is just for Rose (I hope) but I wish for all of them to spend their final moments thinking about the despicable actions they could have performed a little less often, a little less virulently, a little less proudly, a little less in violation of decent, honorable behavior.

Oh, yeah, and one more thought I want them all to have: “If I’d just been a good citizen like David Ortiz was at times, if I gave just an occasional honest interview like Papi did, if I’d just been a better team player and focused more on helping my teammates succeed like David did, then I might have gotten elected to the Hall first shot out of the box, like David Ortiz did, instead of spending decades deflecting questions from those asshole reporters about what I think I could have done differently to get elected to the Hall.”

Because I am deliriously happy that Big Papi got in, even gladder than I am that those listed above did not get in, and may never get in, the Hall. I have a Big Papi #34 jersey that I would wear now if it weren’t in the laundry because I’ve been working out in it all week, and it stinks, though it doesn’t stink nearly as putrid as the hypocrisy that the HoF voters have been accused of wallowing in for electing Papi despite his steroid use while blackballing their own particular steroid-addled darling(s).

Because that’s all it took: a glimmer of humanity instead of the arrogance, the lying, the self-centeredness. A smile once in a while instead of the nasty grimace. That’s all the HoF voters were looking for, a glimpse of a friendly aspect to the fans, to the cameras, to the press, and a bit of truth now and then. Papi was far from a saint, but he was a good guy most of the time, and that was all the HoF voters, I believe, wanted from the overqualified superstars whom they were shutting out of the Hall. “Throw us a crumb,” the HoF voters were begging the superstars, “give us a reason to vote for you, aside from your stellar numbers.”

I think what the overqualified superstars who will never get elected to the HoF were saying was “If I put up good enough numbers, you can’t NOT vote me in, so I don’t have to be nice to anyone, I don’t have to display good character that I wouldn’t recognize anyway if it bit me on my pimply ass, I don’t need to show good manners, or sensible PR or anything that all of yuz are imploring me to show. All I have to do is put up the numbers, and to do anything at all to get those numbers, and I’m in, and there ain’t a damned thing anyone can do keep me out.”

And I think what the voters just told them was “Oh, yeah?”

Character counts.

For those of you who are wondering about my character just about now, and I suspect that some of you are thinking me a spiteful, hateful man who gets pleasure from others’ pain, I’d like to note in my defense that I am not wishing death on these men. Not at all. To the contrary, I wish for each of them many, many years of getting rejected by Veterans’ Committees, by Special Steroid-Era Committees, by Huge Hat-Size Committees, and for each of them to contemplate repeatedly, obsessively, that they are among the greatest players ever and also the most disliked players ever, at least by those with the power to elect them to the Hall of Fame, and that all they had to do for this to have worked out otherwise was to have emulated David Ortiz’s model just a tad more and their own model a skosh less.

I also hope that I outlive them all, though, so I can have the satisfaction that the HoF’s rejection lasted through each of their long, long, long lifetimes. Since I’m older than all of them (except Rose) that may be asking for too much, but in any event I hope these miserable creatures live on for decades with the knowledge that their great numbers were outweighed by their atrocious character.

Papi and Gil Hodges in the same year these reprobates got rejected! As Robert Browning once wrote in his great poem “Papi Pisses”: “God’s in His Heaven, and all’s right with the world”!