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A Few Thoughts on Ron Santo

Posted on 2010.12.06 at 14:44
Current Mood: peacefulpeaceful
Current Music: Time Has Come Today - The Chambers Brothers
If you’re a baseball fan, and especially if you’re a Chicago baseball fan, you’ve heard by now of the passing of Ron Santo. I need hardly recap his achievements on the diamond in this space; you can easily find innumerable stories and stats on him if you care to look for them. Suffice it to say that he was on the short list of the greatest baseball players of his generation. As someone who did not know Santo, one of the first things I always think of when I hear his name is the injustice of his never being elected to the Hall of Fame. A glance through the blogosphere today shows that I’m not alone – there are innumerable angry posts out there, decrying Santo’s exclusion from the Hall.

I’m not here to join them, though – meaning that I’m not angry about the situation. No, my overriding feeling about it is that Santo’s death is merely the latest predictable chapter in his journey towards Hall of Fame enshrinement.

The notion that Santo might not make it to the Hall until after he was dead was widely thought about and discussed over a decade ago, so any devotee of the HOF or of Santo should have vented their anger about it a long, long time ago. Not that Santo is a shoo-in to make it next year. It’s entirely possible that many HOF voters will think along the lines of, “Well, if I change my vote now, I’d have to admit I was wrong… so I can’t do that! I must guard against being part of a sympathy vote for an unworthy candidate.”

That might be a sensible way to look at it, except that Santo has always been an eminently worthy candidate. The explanation for the Hall’s failure to enshrine him is equal parts bad timing, silly politics, inconsistent standards, and pure mystery.

So my view remains unchanged: Ron Santo WILL be elected to the Hall of Fame. I thought so years ago and I still think so. Maybe his passing will generate a certain number of sympathy votes; maybe it will cause some voters to scrutinize his impressive career more closely than they have before. But justice? No, the scales of justice for Ron Santo are permanently tilted towards the side of injustice. But his ultimate election to the Hall will at least constitute a thin, watery gruel of justice and I look forward to the day it is served.

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