Thursday, January 7, 2010
Which hat will the Hawk wear?
As if his election wasn't controversial enough, now this:
The Hall of Fame has not decided which team's logo will go on Andre Dawson's bronze plaque.
Hall president Jeff Idelson says that while the museum has final say, the Hall makes its decision with the player. Dawson arrived in New York too late after his election on Wednesday to begin discussions.
Dawson played 10-plus seasons for the Expos, where he was NL Rookie of the Year in 1977. He also was selected 1987 NL MVP in the first of six years with the Chicago Cubs.
As an Expo, Dawson played in 1,443 games, hit 225 home runs, stole 253 bases, and posted a 122 OPS+.
As a Cub, Dawson played in 867 games, hit 174 home runs, stole 57 bases, and posted a 125 OPS+.
Qualitatively, Dawson played just as well with the Cubs as with the Expos, if you ignore speed and defense.
Quantitatively, Dawson played significantly more with the Expos than with the Cubs.
The only argument for going with a Cubs logo is that Dawson's most famous season came with that franchise.
To me, that's not enough. Not nearly enough, and an insult to all those Expos fans who have already suffered the loss of their beloved team. Now, it's easy for you and I to wonder why anyone should care about which logo's on his cap. Who even thinks about that?"
But we didn't lose our team. And let us imagine for a moment the uproar if, say, Andy Pettitte were to someday wear an Astros cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
The Hall of Fame does not exist for the benefit of Dawson or Wade Boggs or Roger Clemens. The Hall of Fame exists for the benefit of itself, and just secondarily for the benefit of baseball fans, let alone fans of defunct teams. But there is a principle involved here. There was a rumor that Boggs "sold" his Hall of Fame cap to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. If true, the Hall of Fame put the kibosh on that. A few years, Clemens said if the Hall of Fame put him in a Red Sox cap, he wouldn't show up for his induction. If Clemens is someday elected -- right now, it's not a sure thing -- the Hall of Fame simply must call his bluff.
The Hall of Fame has reasonable options in these cases.
Letting the player choose his logo is not one of them.
The first, best option is to talk to the player and use his preference as a tie-breaker, in the rare event of a tie.
The second option is to talk to the player, then give him a choice between the logical choice -- Expos for Dawson, Red Sox for Boggs and Clemens, etc. -- and no choice at all.
If Clemens won't show up if you give him a Red Sox logo, then you could just give him no logo at all.
That's not what I would do, though. I would call his bluff. Clemens needs the Hall of Fame more than the Hall of Fame needs him.