Thursday, November 11, 2010
Marvin Miller politicks (or not) for Hall
Earlier today, I quoted George Vecsey on George Steinbrenner. Among the things I left out was Vecsey's big finish:
Everybody makes more money because of Marvin Miller. But voters have tended to ignore Miller because baseball people have a bad case of Stockholm syndrome. That is, they identify with their captors and become fearful of truly smart people with vision, like Marvin Miller. In recent years, even some baseball people seem to have come to understand that a truly great innovator and leader has been shortchanged.
At least one member of the panel feels that way. Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame pitcher, said in an e-mail: “My vote has been and will always be for Marvin. He gave the modern day player a voice, completely changed the landscape.” He spoke positively about Steinbrenner, but added, “There are enough marks against him to warrant a later entrance.”
Marvin Miller is 93. He deserves to be present at his induction into the Hall of Fame. Then, when the first wave of emotion has passed and we are all thinking a bit more clearly, let’s get back to the discussion about George Steinbrenner.
I believe there should be a process that fairly considers Miller, but otherwise I'm somewhat ambivalent about his candidacy, mostly because the Hall of Fame is built on precedent, and there's no precedent for electing a labor leader. Maybe that precedent should be established -- opening the door in future years for Donald Fehr and Scott Boras, perhaps -- but until it has been established, I have a hard time getting worked up about Marvin Miller.
Miller, on the other hand, even at 93 doesn't have a hard time getting worked up. This fact came into stark relief today, when I read Jim Palmer's comment, above: "My vote has been and will always be for Marvin." Which makes a great deal of sense, considering that without Miller, Palmer and his contemporary colleagues wouldn't have been nearly as wealthy as they were. It's a truism of politics that people "vote their pocketbooks," and I suspect this applies to Marvin Miller's electoral prospects, too.
Why did Palmer's comment strike a nerve? Because just yesterday, I read Miller's comment about Palmer: "Jim Palmer was a great pitcher, but he was an anti-union sonuvabitch.”
Are those the words of a man who wants to be in the Hall of Fame?
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a shiny beacon in the firmament of what used to be called Organized Baseball, and what might also be described as The (Baseball) Establishment. Frankly, I wonder if Marvin Miller actually prefers things the way they've been, because it's all he knows. We might prefer that he found some sort of peace with Baseball, and with the world. But maybe that's just not who he is, or wants to be.
Maybe he would rather go to his grave, still shaking his fist at his enemies.