You know that the Hall of Fame votes for a player tend to go up as the years of eligibility pass. But, as Chad pointed out, it’s not exactly like these players are putting up good numbers to improve their hallworthiness. They’re retired for cripes sake.
So, what causes Hall of Fame vote inflation? I’ve got a few theories:
Theory 1: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
You know that friend who only comes into town a couple times a year? You look forward to hanging out, but then he gets get seriously annoying after a few hours. So you bail, maybe a little disappointed that the evening didn’t live up to your expectations, but a couple weeks later you’ve forgotten how he can’t stop talking about high school politics or Nintendo DS games and you’re remembering the fun times fondly again.
Maybe retired players are like that. Maybe the more time that goes on the more sports writers forget how players were injury prone or clubhouse cancers or just a-holes to have to interview.
Theory 2: I Like Old Coke Better than New Coke because It’s Old…Like Me
It’s only natural that people identify with people that are like them. Newspaper sports writers aren’t exactly renowned for being young and hip, ergo, maybe they’re more compelled to vote for players who are also not young and hip…the not younger and the fewer hips the better.
Theory 3: Misty Water Colored Memories
If you aren’t actually old enough to remember the blizzard of 1978, you’ve probably heard a story about it. Over and over again. And each time you hear that story, the amount of snow dumped on the midwest may well go up and up and up, until entire houses were covered with only the tippy-top of the chimney poking out of the banks through which the inhabitants could breathe and there was no bread within a 500-mile radius. This is why, to this day, all of the bread will be gone from your local grocer if so much a three inches of snow are forecast. A lack of bread is truly a traumatizing event, especially when your deprivation grows year-over-year in your memory.
If this phenomenon carries on to baseball, maybe writers’ impressions of how awesome players were in the past just keeps growing and growing. Players hit harder, ran faster, jumped higher, and made humanly impossible circus catches to completely change the fate of the whole team–no, the whole league–and the game would never be the same.
Of course, this would never happen if they gave the vote to the bloggers. Why, I remember one young go-getter–Jose Guillen–who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Back in those days, players were classy. Not like today.