Voting, therefore, is always going to be subjective and often inexplicable. If you're wondering why the BBWAA voters didn't consider Jim Rice a Hall of Famer until his 15th year on the ballot, consider that the Rock Hall didn't vote Paul McCartney in until five years after John Lennon was inducted.
A significant difference between the two halls is that while the main debate for the Baseball Hall of Fame is whether a player was good enough to qualify for induction, the Rock and Roll Hall has to wrestle with whether a candidate's music can rightfully be described as rock.
For example, Johnny Cash, the Shirelles, Sam and Dave, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, the Supremes, James Taylor and the Drifters were/are all great musicians. But were/are they rockers? They've all been inducted, so how can the Hall keep Buffett out?
Buffett is the Don Sutton of candidates. He's had only one Billboard Top 10 hit ("Margaritaville" made it to No. 8 in 1977); but even if you aren't a Parrothead, you have to admit the man has had one long, successful career. At age 67, he not only still sells out concert dates, he has two restaurant chains. Plus, he wrote No. 1 best-sellers on both the New York Times fiction and nonfiction lists. Isn't his longevity and all that commercial success the equivalent of 300 wins?
There is still hope, though. After all, the Hall finally elected Rush last year. Katz compares Rush to Bert Blyleven, saying that just like Bert, the very successful group was overlooked for years before fans mounted a campaign that eventually swayed the voters.
Anyway, here's the takeaway: Regardless of whether it is the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Mascot Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing), fans are always going to disagree with whom the members vote in or keep out. Someone is always going to think someone got shafted and that someone else doesn't deserve a vote.
The more important thing is that people care so much. Especially the Baseball Hall of Fame, which we care about most of all.
No one debates the football, basketball or hockey halls the way we do the Baseball Hall of Fame. While baseball writers and fans argue nonstop over whether or not players who took PEDs were cheaters who damaged the game, I never hear anyone even bring up that subject in connection with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fans and writers not only constantly debate who belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, we argue over what cap they should wear.
Simply put, fans are nowhere near as passionate about the other sports halls as they are about baseball's.
So through the exasperating, constant, angry debates, the name-calling and the inconsistent application of standards among the voters, we should pause this week and be happy that people actually care enough about the Baseball Hall of Fame to have such impassioned opinions.
(Meanwhile, I still would like to see Buffett in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After all, rather than just giving a long and usually boring speech thanking everyone imaginable, the Rock Hall of Famers also perform at their induction ceremonies.)
Each week, I provide a fragment from an old box score and challenge you to determine what game it is from and why it's significant. I give this one a difficulty rating of 5. Answer below:
Here's a card from a pack available at the Wrigley Field Pearl Jam concert last summer.