I have more fun speculating about Hall of Fame related questions than just about anything I do in my role as editor of Sports Collectors Digest. I have always contended that election to the Hall is one of the defining elements – if not the defining element – of a player’s collectibility.
The fact that I am on the mark in all this speculation only about half the time discourages me not at all, though almost every time I swing and miss I ended up being mystified that I could have done so. A batting average of .500 would sensational for a ballplayer, but not so hot for a pundit.
And so I own up to being 0-for-2 in the 2010 Hall deliberations. Though I believed him more than worthy of election, I had thought that the wide range of choices on this year’s ballot might have diluted his support enough to make Andre Dawson come up just barely short.
Then, to compound my error, I theorized that while Dawson had reportedly indicated a preference to having his HOF plaque show him in a Cubs cap, the arc of his career suggests that it should be as an Expo.
So far so good, but that’s when I stumbled. I thought that since he had apparently indicated a preference, that might sway the HOF decision. And I was wrong (or possibly his alleged preference wasn’t quite as profound as it had been suggested).
Either way, he’s going in as an Expo, and that’s just fine and certainly the correct choice in terms of accurately reflecting his career. While I was typing this blog, the Hall of Fame's official annoucement showed up on my e-mail, so in the spirit of embracing all this online immediacy, I'll include Dawson's quote about the decision and that of HOF President Jeff Idelson.
"I respect the Hall of Fame’s decision to put an Expos logo on my cap, and I understand their responsibility to make sure the logo represents the greatest impact in my career,” Dawson said. “Cubs fans will always be incredibly important in my heart, and I owe them so much for making my time in Chicago memorable, as did the fans in Montreal, Boston and South Florida, my home. But knowing that I’m on the Hall of Fame team is what’s most important, as it is the highest honor I could imagine.”
And Idelson: “Andre Dawson’s Hall of Fame career belongs to every one of his fans, in every city across the country,” said Idelson. “The logo selection is only important from an historical standpoint, as the Museum has a responsibility to properly interpret the game’s history. Every Hall of Fame plaque lists all of the teams where an electee played or managed. Fans of ‘The Hawk’ in every city in which he played should claim Andre as one of their own.”
And the announcement immediately prompted all the cyber chatter about potential headgear for folks like Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Vlad Guerrero. More fun when the time comes.
In the meantime, I noticed that Vlad – easily my favorite modern player because he reminds me so much of the Great Clemente – has never won a batting title despite having a lifetime average of .321. Wow!
Imagine, in this day and age of everybody swinging for the fences and massive dinero, a guy could have a lifetime mark like that without so much as one batting title. Nobody in the postwar era has a lifetime average that high without winning a batting title.
And I used postwar as a cutoff because the batting numbers from earlier generations just don’t mean the same thing. You understand how that goes: kinda like the home run numbers from say 1996 to 2004 or so.
Maybe that's a good reminder that baseball fans can – over time – learn to adapt and become reasonably comfortable with statistical anomalies. I think we are going to have to do just that.