Former A's-among-other-teams Tony La Russa and Frank Thomas will be inducted today into the Hall of Fame, as will some people not ever associated with the A's. A few random thoughts on the Hall of Fame...
* The voting, to me, is absurd. Players used to stay on the ballot for up to 15 years, which is now being changed to 10 years, but I have never understood why players needed to be on the ballot for more than one year.
These are players who have been retired for 5 seasons. How much do their stats change from year to year at this stage of their non-career? Apparently a lot because Jim Rice was voted not quite good enough for the Hall of Fame 14 times in a row, until apparently he had a "career non-year" in which he was so good at age 56 that the voters felt compelled to elect him.
How does a voter conclude that a player isn't worthy 5 years after they after and also isn't worthy 6 years after they retire, but should earn their vote 7 years after they retire? I'm supposed to take the Hall of Fame vote seriously in this context? Very few players are "first ballot Hall of Famers" because really, how good can a player be a mere 5 years after his last at bat or last pitch? Hall of Fame credentials are, apparently, a lot like fine wines, or perhaps like aged Gouda: "Well he was very Gouda, but he's not that Gouda...yet."
How about a 2-year process? One year to vote, thoughtfully and carefully, and a second year as a built-in "appeals process" for players who miss the cut to get another look. That I could actually take seriously.
* There ought to be a separate Hall of Unicorns, featuring Mark Ellis and maybe one other player I'm overlooking. A Hall of Brandons would also be nice, I think.
* When I think of Tony La Russa, and his tenure with the A's, my mind -- I guess my mind is very chronological -- goes first to La Russa's first game ever managing Oakland: July 8th, 1986. Talk about a set-up for failure: The A's were at Fenway Park, where they almost literally never won, facing Boston's ace, and the ace of the league, Roger Clemens. Clemens would go 24-4 that year with a 2.48 ERA.
To make matters even more ridiculous, Oakland was starting a pitcher they had picked up off the scrap heap because he had been so bad as a reliever that the Phillies had shipped his 6.57 ERA out of town. It was a mismatch that would turn into a future mismatch -- in that Dave Stewart always seemed to be able to get the best of Clemens, especially in key post-season showdowns. On July 8th, 1986, Dave Kingman hit a soaring drive over the Green Monster as Stewart and the rest of La Russa's A's, trumped Clemens and the Red Sox, 6-4.
Even Bob Melvin had to wait a day for Scott Sizemore's dramatic 9th inning 3-run double to give him an improbable first win as A's manager. It was almost as if La Russa had brought with him a magic set of candles that when lit, instantaneously foreclosed on Fenway's "house of horrors" status, rotatted Stewart 180 degrees from retread to ace, and relegated Clemens to "best against the rest" status.
Congratulations Tony, to The Big Hurt, and to Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine for earning the vote sometime between your 5th and 20th years out of baseball. You have all, apparently, aged well.