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We need to send Dale Murphy to Congress ...


A couple of weeks back, I blogged (and wrote in my column in SCD) about a flap involving U.S. Senator Jim Bunning and the cancelation of an autograph session in suburban Detroit over Bunning's “No” vote on the automakers' bailout package.

Either I am a lousy writer or the current political climate is so thoroughly befouled these days that even the most innocent news reporting can get twisted around to seemingly betray a political affiliation.

When I wrote about Bunning, I was merely noting a news development in the mainstream that involved our hobby; I tried pretty hard (but perhaps failed) not to appear to be commenting in any fashion on the autograph appearance flap, which quite possibly gave rise to the media’s inquiries into Bunning’s charitable foundation.

I’ve had a couple of e-mails that charged me with taking Bunning to task on the situation, but the truth is I pretty much steered clear of commentary in any fashion because I was aware of the sensitivity out there.

A reader suggested that I had implied that there was something wrong with Bunning’s selection to the Hall of Fame. I had not, but had noted that several other pitchers – I mentioned Jim Kaat, Luis Tiant and Tommy John – probably did have a beef, since their stats are the equal or superior to Bunning’s.

By the way, I probably should have included Bert Blyleven in the observation, and didn’t, not by any grand plan but from nothing more than memory lapse. In any event, my beef is not with Bunning’s election but with their exclusion.

The same reader quite fairly asked if I thought that Bunning had gotten preferential treatment because he was a Senator from Kentucky. That one’s a little trickier, since I would have to quibble about the manner in which he framed the question.

Begging your forgiveness, I’ll employ that annoying rhetorical device that politicians use in asking and answering their own questions: Do I think that the Veterans Committee voters took into consideration the fact that Bunning was a U.S. congressman from Kentucky when they voted for him in 1996? You betcha.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, since considerations about character and integrity are included in the things that voters are asked to evaluate. It’s a good thing that such things could be considered, since it would seemingly elevate the stature of the Hall itself by placing real emphasis on those traits that so many Americans hold dear.

And besides, it would be impossible, really, to consider the merits of inducting a retired ballplayer into the Hall of Fame without taking into account those important considerations that involve being a great human being and not just a great ballplayer.

Somewhere, Dale Murphy is hoping I’m not completely full of bull poopey on this one.

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