Well, we know for sure that neither Cal Ripken, Jr., nor Tony Gwynn will be the first-ever unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame. Paul Ladewski of the Daily Southtown confirmed he turned in a blank ballot, refusing to vote for any of the eligible candidates. His explanation:
So take that, Ann Killion...you think you are all high and mighty, with your steroid/HOF stance?
And here's how I'll determine my vote: Can I look my kids in the eyes when I tell them whom I selected?
* * *
All I can do is cast my own vote judiciously. And be able to look my kids in the eyes when I do it.
Yeah, well, how are you going to look your kids in the eyes now, Ann Killion? Ladewski saw your "I won't vote for McGwire," and raised. Now what? Are you just going to fold now? How will you ever look your kids in the eyes now?
This whole thing is stupid. Ladewski's stance is stupid, but I have a little more respect for it than I do Killion, mainly because I hate it when folks like that play the "I want to be able to have my children's respect" angle.
Update [2007-1-7 21:51:10 by Adam J. Morris]: -- And thanks to WyoRanger for finding this article by Killion in 1998, singing the hosannas of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, et al and again playing the "kids" card:
In 1998, baseball fulfilled its historic role. It pulled us along for a six-month ride, keeping us interested, amused, excited, occasionally teary-eyed. Baseball has been a true pastime, an escape, knocking Bin and Monica off the front pages, relieving stock-market anxiety. The past criticisms-boring, not hip enough, not fast enough-were obscured by the pleasure of the game.
It bodes well for the next century. When kids pull up "Baseball, 1998" on their tiny, virtual-reality encyclopedias in 50 years, they'll be in for a treat.
It reminds me of an argument I had with someone almost a decade ago, when Michael Irvin was with the Cowboys and had gotten into some sort of legal situation.
My friend told me that she couldn't understand how I could support Irvin, how I could continue to be a fan. Children look up to athletes like Irvin, and would I want my child (I didn't have any yet, of course, but my hypothetical child at the time) to look up to Irvin, to see Irvin as a role model?
I told her yes, absolutely, I would. And even now, as a father, my answer is the same. I would want my son to emulate Michael Irvin.
Not emulate him off the field, with the drug use, the problems that he's had with the law and with various women (though it does appear he has put much of that behind him).
But emulate him in his work ethic? In his pride? In his willingness to do whatever he can to maximize his ability? In his desire to win, to be the best? In his willingness to work his ass off to be a great receiver, and then, when his playing days were over, work his ass off to be the best broadcaster he could be? Absolutely.
I've never met anyone who I'd want to model myself after absolutely. I've never encountered anyone who was flawless. I'm a big history buff, and I just finished Walter Isaacson's biography of Benjamin Franklin today. It is a great book, and paints a portrait of a giant figure in American history who, like all of our founding fathers, had great attributes and strengths, but also had weaknesses and flaws as well.
So I think Ladewski and Killion are both taking stupid positions, but I find Killion's stupider than Ladewski's.
And the best explanation I have for the difference is set out in the words of Vincent Lauria, talking to Fast Eddie Felson in "The Color of Money":
even if it is just for bangers,
everybody's doing it.
There's a lot
of guys doing it.
A lot of guys
but only one guy
can be the best.
And in this time when there were a lot of guys doing it, the guy who was the best was Mark McGwire.
He was the best going up against a bunch of pitchers who were doing it.
He was better than a bunch of other hitters who were doing it.
And what Killion wants to do is punish McGwire because he was the best, while letting those who were just as guilty, but not as good skate.
At least Ladewski's position is intellectually honest. He says, if everybody's doing it, then as far as I'm concerned, no one is the best.