The Down-ballot Hall of Famer

Is there such a thing?

Should there be?

I don’t see much of a point in building a down-ballot Hall of Fame, or even making a specific list of down-ballot Hall of Famers. But I think it would be a good term for guys like Roger Maris, Charlie Keller, Ed Ruelbach, Ross Barnes, Tommy Bond … guys who are too interesting to just forget about, but not obvious choices for the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.

A guy asks, “Is Roger Maris a Hall of Famer?” and the answer can be lots of things, not just “sure” and “no, you moron.” I like down-ballot Hall of Famer for Maris, because it implies two things that are useful to the discussion.

First, it implies that Roger Maris is in the discussion for the Hall of Fame. Which, of course, he is. He’s on the “historical figure” side of the room, as opposed to, say, Charlie Keller, who is more on the “great player” side, but he’s in the room. It disposes of a liberal argument, that anyone outside the Hall of Fame is being snubbed.

Second, it acknowledges that Maris (and Keller) are at a lower level, not equal partners with Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. That’s useful in the discussion, because it disposes of a conservative argument, that anyone even considered for the Hall of Fame is lowering the standards of the place.

If the Hall of Fame ever goes to a tiered system, the term might be rendered obsolete. But until then, it might be a useful thing to say.

Disembodied narrator: “Hey Bruce, is Boog Powell a Hall of Famer?”

Bruce: “Sure, why not?”

Random conservative: “No way, he wasn’t good enough! Next, you’ll want to induct Don Buford and Rick Dempsey!”

Bruce: “Ok, if you insist.”

Conservative: “No, that’s not wh- no. NO.”

Liberal: “But Boog Powell was great, man, he won an MVP, hit a boatload of home runs, was part of a great team … he was a huge guy, great fun to watch, and he is a Baltimore institution with his restaurant and everything. He deserves to be a Hall of Famer.”

Bruce: “Ok, if you insist.”

Conservative: “But there are hundreds of players who were just as good as Boog Powell. You can’t put them all in.”

Liberal: “Why not?”

Conservative: “Because it’ll become like some random place where there are so many plaques that people will lose interest.”

Disembodied narrator: “What the hell happened to my body?”

Voice of Reason (VoR): Hawkface has a point. The Hall of Fame doesn’t have to be Babe Ruth and four other guys, that’s stupid; but if everyone just gets in, there won’t be anything special about getting in. Nobody will go there because it’s too crowded.”

Yogi Berra: “You owe me six cents.”

VoR: “Shut up Yogi, you’re dead. I’ll mail a check to your estate.”

Yogi: “Fair enough. Got any toothpaste?”

Conservative: “For f-sakes, get back to the point!”

Disembodied narrator: “I feel faint … ”

VoR: “Drink a Red Bull or something. The point is that Boog Powell was important to baseball, and a large — no pun intended — a large factor in baseball’s popularity. But HateCrime is right; if we induct Boog Powell, we have to consider the precedent we would set.”

Liberal: “But he was better than George Kelly.”

VoR: “So were another thousand players, maybe 1,500. Just because we accidentally let one bee into the kitchen, we don’t just build a hive.”

Conservative: “What he said, snowflake.”

Disembodied narrator: “I don’t have any lips … anyone got a straw?”

Conservative: “Who invited that guy?”

VoR: “He was here first, and I didn’t want to write him out after I got going.”

Liberal: “Point. The POINT.”

VoR: “Lighten up, WordNazi. Boog Powell was too good to just dismiss, but he wasn’t good enough to let in, or we’ll have too many members. So he’s sort of a second-city theater Hall of Famer, part of the Hall of Fame’s farm system.”

Liberal: “I am not a WordNazi. And if you call me that again, I’ll have you arrested.”

Disembodied narrator: “does anybody have a mop?”

VoR: “Common, guys, concentrate. We can’t call him second-city, that’s probably trademarked. We can’t call him part of the Hall farm system, though that’s more accurate than the Hall would like to admit. We need a term that honors Boog without dishonoring the Cooperstown Hall.”

Conservative: “We can’t just make room for every down-ballot wannabe that shows up”

VoR: Say that agai-”

Liberal: “We can’t call George Kelly a Hall of Famer and not call Boog Powell a Hall of Famer.”

VoR: “Down-ballot …. that might work.”

Conservative: “down-ballot wannabe! Perfect.”

VoR: “No, ConcentrationCamp, that’s not what I meant.”

Conservative: “ConcentrationCamp? Common, even for you that’s a low blow.”

VoR: “You’re right, DateRape. I was out of line.”

Conservative: Apology accepted.”

Liberal: “I think you need to apologize to-”

VoR: “Can it, WelfareBreath. Is it ok to use Hall of Famer for Boog as long as we mitigate it with down-ballot? What do you think, #MeFirst?”

Liberal: “Which one of us is that supposed to be?”

VoR: “Both.”

Conservative: “It works for me.”

Bruce: “Sure, why not?”

VoR: “Ok, it’s settled. Down-ballot Hall of Famer it is.”

Liberal: “Hey, that’s insulting to the plaquesoationally challenged.”

VoR: “Really? That’s what you are going with?”

Disembodied narrator: “This stuff is sticky.”

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