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Dawson faces imposing HOF challenge ...

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Here’s one of my elemental beefs with the lunkheads (some of the them are, anyway) who make up the annual BBWAA vote for the Hall of Fame: Andre Dawson came up 44 votes shy of election last year. If we are to hope that he gets elected this year – and I do indeed – 44 guys/gals have to decide that an eight-time All-Star who wasn’t worthy last year is somehow now looking more, uh, immortal this year.

That’s idiotic on the face of it. I don’t fault the Hall of Fame, which labors mightily to find a fair and effective procedure for deciding who gets a plaque, but I do think there needs to be more rigorous oversight from the BBWAA over their own little (and important) fiefdom.

If there were some procedure for our mysterious scribes to explain some of their more unusual maneuvers, like the guys who somehow leave names like Henry Aaron or Willie Mays off the ballot, or more recently guys who turn in blank ballots. Really? Nobody at all is worthy enough by your ethereal standards?

So I fear for Dawson’s chances, pessimistic as I am about his ability to pull in those 44 additional votes. I figure there are enough new HOF-worthy names appearing on the ballot for the first time to confuse these same writers anyway.

Mark McGwire, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, seems unlikely to make it this year of maybe even any year until the voters figure out an equitable way to reconcile their epic disgust over alleged steroid use with the reality that virtually a whole generation of modern stars is going to arrive on the ballot under that cloud.

McGwire, who is guilty of little more than implementing a regrettable strategy when he testified in front of several hundred Congressional hypocrites, will have to ultimately find a spot on the wall in Cooperstown. But at 22 percent last year – actually a decline from the year before – it’s difficult to imagine that happening anytime soon.

Bert Blyleven fell a mere 67 votes short last year, but his situation is more ominous because he only has two BBWAA votes left after this one. The only thing I can figure is wrong with his candidacy is that he won 20 games only once, and thus confronts a curious BBWAA preoccupation with magic numbers that seems to suggest that winning 20 is wonderful but 18 or 19 is just plain yucky.

He also suffers from being lumped in – fairly or not – with a number of other fine hurlers who fell short of that other magic number: 300. That list would include Jim Kaat, Tommy John and Luis Tiant. How you look at those four guys and decide who is the more urgent candidate is way beyond me.

More on this year's HOF ballot in another blog.

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