Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cooperstown, Alan Trammell, and ugly

No doubt Ken Griffey Jr. was worthy of Hall of Fame induction. But getting the highest percentage of votes EVER (99.3%) would seem to defy logic. He outpaced Tom Seaver's record mark of 98.84% way back in 1992.

Is KG II more deserving than TS was? Maybe. A position player that's out there every game would seem to be more valuable than a starting pitcher that gets 4 or 5 days off between appearances. Griffey could hit for average, hit for power, steal bases, and was a terrific defender. Seaver could pitch and do nothing else. He sat on the bench for far more games than he participated in.

But Griffey's near sweep (437 out of 440 voters) raises a couple questions.

First, despite his talents, are we supposed to believe he was more worthy of enshrinement than the likes of, say, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron?

And second, who were the nitwit voters that failed to include the four above-mentioned immortals on their ballots? How could anybody in their right mind NOT vote for those guys?

[The recent purge of eligible HOF voters was WAY overdue. Get rid of the doddering old fools set in their archaic/spiteful ways, and usher in the next generation of objective and unbiased thinkers. Did I mention it's about damn time?]

Alas, Alan Trammell, long time shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, only got 41% out of the necessary 75% in his final appearance on the ballot. Not even close.

Going off into the politically incorrect world, yours truly has a theory as to why Tram never gained any traction with the HOF voters. It's the ugly factor.

It should be noted that former St. Louis Cardinal shortstop Ozzie Smith was enshrined several years ago. Statistically, Tram far outpaced Smith. A far better hitter, to be sure, But Oz was flamboyant in the field while Tram was just steady. Smith could make routine plays look spectacular while Trammell could make difficult plays look ordinary. Plus, there was the back flip thing.

Tram was part of a World Series winning team, made a few All-Star games, and played for twenty years. Check champion, individual accolades, and longevity off the list of qualifications.

Which brings me back to the doddering old fools and the ugly factor. Trammell himself was hardly a good looking guy. Whether it was something genetic, a world-class case of acne left untreated as a youth, or a horrible accident with battery acid somewhere along the way -- suffice it to be said Alan Trammell's mug and complexion left much to be desired. He had more pot holes up top than your average Michigan road these days. It might just be that, on some level, this turned the voters off. Sure, Babe Ruth himself wasn't exactly an Adonis, but those were different times. And the Babe was a larger than life figure. Tram kept a low profile.

Now the part that might get me in trouble. On her best day, they are many that deemed Tram's wife not a pretty sight. Yeah, I know. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and she probably was/is a terrific person. Well yours truly beheld that she was ugly. The stone variety. It might just also be the HOF voters took this into consideration as well. The dude's one of the best major league shortstops ever and he wound up married to THAT?

In recent times, true merit has been tossed out the window in favor of "sexiness" and sensation. Is it fair? Of course not. But a lot of things in life aren't fair. Look at the Presidential candidates 300 million Americans have to choose from in the coming months. Look at Tiger Woods still making countless millions from endorsements when he's not even in the top 400 golfers in the world any more. The tax system. Pete Rose's ongoing purgatory. Kobe Bryant making $24 million for the Lakers when most other teams wouldn't have him on their rosters for 24 cents. Barry Sanders walking away from the Detroit Lions and their fans at age 30, and likely leaving the all-time rushing record (and several million bucks) on the table. Other notables whose lives were cut short by illness, plane crashes, and the like. None of this was/is fair.

And perhaps the HOF balloting over the years hasn't been either.

As for Detroit Lions ownership and Mr. and Mrs. Trammell? Well, there's really no way around it. Some things are just destined to be flat out ugly.

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