There comes a point in just about every man’s life when he has to begin to prioritize things that he cares about. We don’t have an unlimited inventory of “giving a shit.”
Usually these things correlate directly with our desire and ability to attract women. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to my local watering hole in some combination of moccasin slippers, shorts, sweatpants, hoodies, etc. That’s not to say I was wearing a skin-tight pink polo shirt and a spray-on tan before, but I’ve met a woman that I love, and that I live with, and if I’m going to a bar it isn’t to impress anyone. Now I’m attracted by the selection of delicious craft brews, and really nothing else. So I don’t care. As long as I’m dressed well enough that they’ll serve me, fuck it.
And there comes a time in life when we as men must release ourselves from ceremony. I remember being in high school playing baseball, and every time I’d start a game on the mound, if I pitched well and the team won I wouldn’t clean my socks. I know this parallels the Jason Vargas and Doug Fister commercial from a few years ago, but I’m serious. I would practice a whole week in dirty socks, and pitch the next week in dirty socks. Normally I kept my socks in my locker, and while they stunk, they were a drop in the pond of over high school men’s locker room smells. One day, though, I brought them home, and I don’t know if I threw them into the hamper, or if my mom washed them but they got washed. My lucky nasty fucking dirty socks got washed. And I pitched fine the next game. The socks didn’t matter.
A lot of stuff we care about doesn’t matter. And I’m not talking about the “there are starving kids in China” level of stuff not mattering, because with all due respect to China, I care a lot about sports. You care a lot about sports. You wouldn’t be on the fourth paragraph of a sports blog that won’t get to the fucking point if you didn’t care about sports.
Nobody got elected to the hall of fame yesterday. Nobody includes Edgar Martinez, and some people are mad about that. Count me among the people that doesn’t really care. I mean, I care about baseball. I care about baseball a ton. I think about baseball, and when I’m not thinking about baseball I’m trying to narrow the rest of my life into a scope that can be translated into baseball terms.
And I love Edgar Martinez.
There’s three things at work here basically. The first is that baseball writers are split significantly among those who use antiquated measures of greatness (Wins, RBIs, over-emphasis on batting average) and those who seek a higher standard of measure.
The second is that nobody knows how to deal with the steroid era. Everyone’s tainted by it, and we’re going to erase an entire decade as a result of it. Or we’re going to let some roiders in. One of the two is inevitable, unless it’s something in the middle. If it were up to me we’d give deference to those who are presumed clean, but keep voting the roiders in. There’s always the obligatory “Ty Cobb was racist, Babe Ruth was a drunk, and everyone used greenies” line here, and it’s all as true as baseball literature could ever be true. Imagine if the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame kept out all drug addicts, deadbeat dads, adulterers, or anyone that every contracted the clap. It’d be an empty room full of goddamned Randy Newman posters.
The hypocrisy though, is that the same writers that won’t vote these guys in are the same guys who didn’t have full enough rosin bags to call these players out for over a decade.
The third is that Edgar is a DH. People get pissed when you bring that up, but Edgar isn’t helped by being a DH.
“But he’s the best fucking DH ever man! You’re going to hate on him for being a fucking DH? He didn’t make the lineup card. He didn’t make the rules, man!”
The DH is a position that has helped extend the careers of many aging, injury-prone players. It was designed to increase offense, and it was designed to make it so that instead of taking a day off, a star player could take a day off in the field while keeping his bat in the lineup. The DH has forever changed milestones on offense, And it has forever confused a voting process that was already pretty fucked up. Or it has confused the process until writers with antiquated views are no longer in the BBWAA.
That a writer grew up watching baseball with no DH doesn’t mean he shouldn’t vote for Edgar. But that Edgar was a DH doesn’t help his cause. He played a tremendously specialized position where all he did was hit. While other players at a position normally get compared to their positional contemporaries, because all Edgar did was hit, and all position players hit, he must be compared to everyone.
The way to get into the hall is to be great for a long time, or good for a very long time. Edgar was a great hitter, and a not-fielder. He did it for some time. I don’t get the opportunity to determine what was long, and Hall of Fame voting just doesn’t fill out my boxer briefs (that’s right, a second reference to genitals) like hot stove news or actual present-day baseball does. Edgar Martinez is one of the best Mariners of all time. He was one of the best hitters of his day. His day didn’t last extremely long, and he spent a lot of his days at a position that offers less value to his team than any other position on the field. Whatever.
But Edgar IS perhaps the best spokesman ever to don a baseball uniform: