I don’t actually have any strong feelings about the Baseball Hall of Fame—I think the current way of selecting people for plaques is silly, and also don’t think my life as a fan would be improved by a better way—but I have written about Matt Cain’s career several times in this Tohu Bohu, so why not mention him again.
(Also, I’m trying out a thing where I post these shorter and ill-formed notes rather than not posting anything, in hopes that I will be more likely to write and post actual essays if they don’t have to be good enough to break three weeks of silence for.)
The thing about Matt Cain and the Hall of Fame is that no-one voted for him in his first year on the ballot, and so he is off the ballot and not eligible until some Veteran’s Committee (or whatever silly thing the Hall decides to put together to make sure that Gary Sheffield gets a plaque) re-examines his case. And Matt Cain is, I think, an excellent example of one problem with the BBWAA voting as a process, and honestly with the whole conception of Halls of Fame.
And it’s this: Matt Cain is obviously not a Hall of Famer. Nobody thinks he’s a Hall of Famer. And so nobody voted for him—why would anyone vote for him when everyone agrees he shouldn’t be inducted? On the other hand, he was a very good pitcher for a substantial amount of time, and it seems harsh that he got zero votes. Like, Huston Street got one vote. R.A. Dickey got one vote. Nobody thinks those guys belong in the Hall, either, but someone (someone with a vote) wanted to give them a vote so they wouldn’t have zero. Matt Cain got zero because someone was responsible enough to only vote for people who belong in the Hall.
The issue, really, is that when you have a Hall of Fame, and you have a list of inductees, everyone is either on the list or not on the list. I mean, there’s no almost. Scott Rolen is in; Jeff Kent is not. More people considered Jeff Kent worthy of a vote than Matt Cain is, but also someone voted for Huston Street, so that’s what that is worth.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,