I love Jason Varitek. He was The Captain for seven years, the catcher for several more, and hoisted two different closers into the air to celebrate the first two World Series wins most living Red Sox fans had ever seen. Also, he did this to Alex Rodriguez en route to the first of those, and for that I shall name my first-born child after him. Sorry, future daughter Jason, but sacrifices have to be made.
As of December 14th, 2016, Jason Varitek was also confirmed to be one of the relatively few players who will ever receive a vote for the Hall of Fame. Here’s the ballot, belonging to one Jay Dunn by way of Ryan Thibodaux:
This is a bad ballot, in no small part because of Varitek’s place on it. Stats like WAR of all varieties don’t really tell the full story on Tek, given how much of his value stemmed from the aspects of catching that are not easily measured in defensive metrics. Still, he’s the type of player who will go down in history as a local great rather than a national one, and that’s probably about where he belongs. Boston will remember him long after, say, Baltimore has forgotten.
But do I care? No. I just can’t anymore. Not when the Hall of Fame doesn’t seem to care.
Here is Jim Molony’s ballot, again from Ryan Thibodaux.
If Dunn’s ballot wasn’t great, I don’t have the words to describe Molony’s. The idea that Manny Ramirez gets a vote where Barry Bonds does not is inexplicable. I simply cannot conceive of an argument for it. You can have a strong opinion on whether steroids should be disqualifying. But that strong opinion can’t be “it is if I feel like it.”
(Earl Bloom is also guilty of this, but at least he didn’t vote for Rent-A-Wreck.)
Molony will face the following repercussions for making a mockery of the process:
If the voters make a joke of the process, and the response is that there’s no problem with that whatsoever, then it stands to reason that the Hall of Fame itself can’t be that far from a joke.
Dunn’s vote for Varitek is probably more of a kind gesture to a guy who he doesn’t feel should get shut out entirely more than anything else. That’s sort of vote would be a problem in a year with so many deserving candidates (and limited vote allotment) if-and-only-if there’s any sort of gravity and sanctity left to the proceedings to protect. As is, though, it’s kind of like berating someone for wearing casual clothes to work when half the staff is busy looting the office and setting fire to the building.
Somehow or another, the combination of relatively high barriers to entry and the wisdom of the masses will continue to produce a Hall of Fame that is largely respectable, with the most glaring errors being the less-notable errors of omission. The process, though, is always going to undermine the institution so long as there’s no push-back against the madness. And if you can’t rein in nonsense like the Jeff Bagwell witch hunt and the logical inconsistency of Molony and Bloom, then a friendly vote for Varitek doesn’t even belong on the radar.
Now we just need someone to throw Tim Wakefield a bone.