Roberto Alomar and Richard Nixon


On my way home from work today, I was listening to a Prime Time Sports podcast from the other day, the day after the Baseball Hall of Fame announcement. During the show, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star made perhaps the dumbest comparison in the history of, well, anything. They were discussing the fact that some players are not voted in to the Hall for years and then are voted in, when nothing changed in the meantime to suddenly make them HoF-worthy. Griffin said:

Richard Nixon in 1960 was no different than the guy in ’68. He was not elected in ’60, he got to be President of the United States in 1968.

He’s comparison the election of a President with the selection of a player into the Hall of Fame. This is not just an apples-to-oranges comparison, this is apples to Volkswagens. And I don’t mean Beetles, because they’re sort of round like an apple, I’m talking about a Touareg or one of those big old bus things. And one that’s not red. Or green. Or yellow.

1971_VW_bus

  • I don’t know what the population of the US was in 1960 or 1968, but it was well over a hundred million, most of whom were eligible to vote. A large percentage of them are less than fully informed on the issues and where the candidates stand on things. There are about 500 professional baseball writers who can vote for the HoF, and they all follow baseball in great detail because it’s their job. You and I may not agree with them all of the time, but they are better informed on baseball than the majority of voters are on politics.
  • When you vote for the President, you choose exactly zero or one of the candidates. There are only a handful of candidates, and usually only two that have any real hope of winning a Presidential election. Not only will people vote for you if they want you to be President, but they may vote for you if they don’t want the other guy to be President. Perhaps people thought Kennedy was a better choice for President in 1960, but that Nixon was a better choice than Hubert Humphrey in 1968. The HoF voters can vote for any number of eligible candidates, so voting for one doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t vote for someone else. If you think Andre Dawson and Tim Raines are both worthy, you can vote for both of them. If you don’t think Dawson is worthy, you don’t vote for Raines to try to keep Dawson out.
  • You elect a President for what you think he is going to do. You elect a baseball player to the HoF for what he’s already done.
  • Does he really think that Richard Nixon was no different in 1968 than in 1960? He may not have served as a Senator or Congressman during that time, but things happened during his life that changed who he was. Plus the country changed, so even if he wasn’t right for the country in 1960, he may have been in 1968. None of that means anything when electing someone to the HoF. What Alomar did during his career will not change between now and a year from now.

I’m not sure what surprises me more – that a professional journalist would make such a meaningless comparison, or the fact that none of the three other professional journalists / broadcasters on the show called him on it.

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