added 1/14/2013 by Patrick Hajovsky
There once was a Monty Python skit where the former leaders of the Nazi party were all gathered around planning to run in the North Minehead bye-election. They used very intelligent code words to hide their identity, replacing the first letter of a telling word with the letter "B" or cleverly switching a letter in their names.
As Mr. Hilter, Ron Ribbentrop, Heinrich Bimmler and others bumbled around and put forth their views, some of the voters didn't care much for the sound of these here Boncentration Bamps. Also, the National Bocialist platform for Minehead of annexing Poland and taking over Taunton (since, well, Taunton was historically part of Minehead to begin with), puts them in wonderful stead with the electors.
It is an incredible skit and one the funniest ones in the Python lexicon. I was reminded of this when thinking about this year's Hall of Fame voting. I think the parallel between the two farces comes out when you see how eagerly the citizenry believe in the sincerity of the obviously lying war criminals, since it makes you question whether you are one of those people or not. The only thing I can't place is whether the Baseball Writers Association of America are the bumbling Nazis or the voters themselves.
Like Mr. Norman McGoering calling to say he's found a place that rents bombers by the hour, the BBWAA has pronounced from their stoop and megaphone that nobody this year had the qualifications to be considered a "Hall-of-Famer". Nobody. Not the player with 3,000 hits, 650 plus doubles and a career WAR of 62.1. (We'll call that player "Raig McRiggio".) Not the player with 449 home runs, stellar defensive numbers and widely considered one of the top 5 or 6 first baseman to have ever played the game. (We'll call him "Reff Ragwell".)
The BBWAA (or the AAWBB in this skit perhaps?) went even further. Apparently the best hitting catcher of all time, Rike Riazza, merits a mere 58% of the vote, Rock Traines 52% and Alan Rammell 34%. All of this is reality, which gives you pause because it is so close to being Python-esque. The ludicrous approach by the bumbling jokers who purport to pass judgement on deserving players is really beyond parody.
George Vecsey, hallowed former New York Times sportswriter and author of a recent overhyped and sloppily written biography of Stan Musial, had this to say on voting for Craig Biggio, "...played three positions - very impressive - but not necessarily the most feared hitter on his own team. Wait a year."
But he didn't vote for the most feared hitter, who supposedly cheated to do that. So maybe Biggio was the most feared hitter? And this man has a vote!
Harold Reynolds, not a BBWAA voter but he might as well be given his eminence grise status on MLB TV, proclaimed Biggio is a Hall-of-Famer "but not a first ballot Hall-of-Famer." So, Biggio is a Hall-of-Famer but, uh, he's not a Hall of Famer. Oh, I get it, and luckily for Reynolds, the voting criteria must be different in the second year of eligibility, meaning Biggio should be a shoe-in next year.
Wait. What's that, you say? It's the same every year? How can this be? Harold Reynolds (and the multitudes, apparently) tell me different. Who am I to believe? The National Bocialists or my own lying eyes??
As to the other players, well, they're one of those. You know the ones. The ones who are all around us. The ones with the power and the money and the cheating. The ones who give themselves an unfair advantage. We don't have any evidence of any advantage. No smoking guns on these guys, but it just has to be true. They have certain physical attributes, so they can be identified, not to worry about that!
And we simply can't have that. They must be unsavory. Too unsavory for North Minehead, that's for sure.
It's not like they had the knowing push from their teams and the league and (wait! can it be?) the BBWAA members who covered their teams in the media? Naaaah! Surely the National Bocialists would never get involved in anything so swarthy as that!
So what are we left with? Sadly, I don't think the fans of these players are sitting around with quite the laugh they'd have if they watched the Python skit. But they should. They should go to the AstrosDaily.com multimedia section and see the videos. They should go to Amazon and purchase the Astros 50-year retrospective. They should close their eyes and remember the brilliance of the plays they saw and the players themselves. They should remember the National League pennant runs of 2004 and 2005.
Meanwhile, the BBWAA will be left up in Cooperstown poring over the wrong maps. Instead of what they think is the map to their glory, it's, well, Stalingrad. And to quote Mr. Hilter through his clenched teeth, "Yah. Not much fun in Stalingrad, no."
(editor's note: Mr. Hajovsky assures us that no actual Nazis or baseball writers were harmed in the making of this column.)