Perfection isn’t always perfect. Artistically speaking, perfection is just about the worst thing that can happen. There is no resolution without dissonance, and no warmth without the specter of cold. As all good versus evil arguments go, there can’t be one without the other.
It is my opinion that the lack of perfection – the fact that the system is just a little bit illogical and disorderly – is the reason the Baseball Hall of Fame is as popular as it is. The constant arguments over what favorite got screwed, or which bozo got in that doesn’t deserve a plaque, are the lifeblood of the Hall‘s popularity. It isn’t easy to maintain the public’s interest in a museum, and I would hesitate to change anything under the assumption that perfection is a desirable goal.
Have you ever owned an old car, beat to hell and rusty all over but it just won’t quit? You are a little bit afraid to fix anything, because if you fix one thing than another thing has to be fixed, and eventually you end up with a pile of rust that won’t even run anymore. I have a feeling the Hall of Fame might fall apart if we were to start replacing those old rusty parts.
Trim too much fat and the meat loses its flavor.
Subjectivity is the very lifeblood of the Hall of Fame. Without subjectivity, the arguments end. Without the arguments, the Hall of Fame’s lofty pop culture status goes away. Without that status, the Hall of Fame is just another museum.
Any attempt to sterilize the voting – in an attempt to perfect it – could be disastrous. Baseball’s museum is more popular than the other major sports museums because the baseball public feels involved in the process. Their empowerment, in my opinion, comes from the residue of ambiguity left in the wake of the Hall’s refusal to define itself.
Barstool arguments about baseball are almost always either “if I voted I sure wouldn’t have voted for that bozo” or “I think the Hall of Fame should be …” – and every fan thinks he knows something the Hall is overlooking. If the Hall made logical, clearly defined selections according to specific rules, what would we argue about? The bozos would be qualified and the Hall of Fame’s parameters would be clearly defined.
Barstool pundits could argue that the Supreme Court would work better with seven members – or that they should have to take a shot every time someone mentions Roe v. Wade – but nobody does because the Supreme Court has specific rules (don’t tell Mitch McConnell), and the pundits don’t feel like they are smarter than the Supreme Court.
The Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Hall of Fame eligibility process has a list of 27 criteria that must be met before a player becomes subject to a vote. The standards are so high that few players are ever eligible, so any player who makes a ballot gets voted in immediately.
If baseball’s hall followed the LPGA model, the arguments would end. The angst would end. The personal involvement would end. And the interest would end. Cooperstown would be reduced to nothing more than a dusty, out-of-the-way storage bin for baseball’s history.