If Harold Baines is In, I Retire From Caring About the Baseball Hall of Fame


Congratulations to Harold Baines for making the Baseball Hall of Fame. He doesn’t deserve it, of course, but it’s an awesome honor nonetheless. Baines was a very good baseball player who managed to play 22 seasons, thanks large in part to designated hitting. Such longevity afforded him the opportunity to amass some impressive raw totals in the hits, home runs, and, uh, plate appearances.

The Veterans Committee, in its limited wisdom, elected Baines and Lee Smith — another somewhat confounding choice — to sit as equals in Cooperstown. To be elevated to the same level as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Cy Young. To be elevated over Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, and all the other so-called morally unfit candidates so unqualified to rub shoulders with the bust of noted good guy Ty Cobb.

It’s a joke. It may be an intentional troll as well, the last dying breath of those who hold pitcher’s wins and batting average sacrosanct. A “screw you” to the analytical community, or any other sane person who looks at Baines’ stats and critically concludes he has no business in the Hall of Fame. Smith and Baines, combined with Jack Morris’ selection last year, are a disturbing trend.

Baines is the most ridiculous of the lot. Look at his stats in detail. They put him among some unfortunate company of worst selection ever. Just a cursory look at his page reveals one bold number.

This is a man who made two All-Star teams during his final 12 years in baseball. A man who posted a 38.7 WAR, a one-dimensional player whose greatest attribute was perseverance. There is more to baseball than numbers on the page. But was there ever a time when Baines was considered one of the top 10 hitters in the game? Top 20? Top 30?

Want to put Baines into the Hall of Fame? Fine. But I’m done — and you should consider being done as well — in debating any future player’s candidacy. I simply don’t care anymore. Cooperstown is the new public office and deep political cynicism has sunken in.

Why be worked up about Baines when Bonds isn’t in? Why get all red-faced when Lou Whitaker, vastly superior to so many inducted, sits there with no chance of getting in?

The Baseball Hall of Fame matters a lot less than it did yesterday, cheapened by the Veterans Committee. There’s some irony in the fact they are submarining some of the sanctity of the game they think they are upholding.

So congratulations to Baines and those who voted him in. And congratulations to myself for not caring anymore.