I often wonder what it must be like to be a player waiting for induction in the Hall of Fame. There’s three kinds of players to be in this imaginary exercise. There’s the kind of player who knows they’re not getting elected, who are just hanging around for the fun of it, who are thrilled to simply be on the ballot. Then there’s the kind of player who knows they’re getting in, who is waiting on pins and needles for the call, who has probably been expecting the call for five years. What is it like to wait for a night that you know is coming soon?
My analysis of the Hall of Fame voting continues here, with the Newcomers. (You can read Part One of my breakdown here.) These are players who have been selected to join the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. The rules are as follows:
- You must have played in Major League Baseball for at least 10 years.
- You must have been retired for five years.
- You cannot be on baseball’s ineligible rolls (See: Rose, Peter)
Those relatively loose rules mean that multiple players of varying quality can join the ballot. For every newcomer such as Randy Johnson, there’s a Jacque Jones. For every Pedro, a Tom Gordon. For every Smoltz, a Delgado. It’s an eclectic mix, and one that’s always a crapshoot as to who will actually receive votes. Who sticks around is a separate matter, but we’ll get into that.
It’s time once again for that holiday tradition that absolutely nobody is calling for – my analysis of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2016 ballot. I’ve been told by a grand total of zero (0) peeps that this is their go-to for the Hall of Fame election process, and I aim to please our readership. This year, we’ve got 32 players to examine (once again, a decline of 2 players from last year), and I aim to cast guidance as to whether or not the player is getting in, along with some idea of whether or not they’re going to be making any gains in the voting this year.
Everyone has their personal joys in the holiday season. Some enjoy the giving of presents. Some enjoy caroling. Some find great meaning in gathering with family and friends and celebrating simply being able to spend time with each other.
Box office numbers are coming in for the past weekend, which saw the wide release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2, the fourth and final installment of The Hunger Games film franchise. They’re typically ginormous – buoyed by hordes of fans who poured out for the latest event movie of the season (see Bond, James and that upcoming space opera movie for other similar event movies).
And yet, there’s already a sense of disappointment going around the Internet at the cumulative take.
I wanted to write about the World Series on Monday. I wanted to write a wrap-up about the culmination of the Royals journey, a journey that started last October and ended on November 1st with Kansas City sitting on top of the world. I wanted to write about the sheer joy of seeing a team come together, about the sheer joy with which that Royals team played baseball, about the fact that even in the most dire of moments, this team always felt like they would rise above everything.
But I didn’t. Because my heart was broken a few days earlier when ESPN announced that they were shuttering Grantland for good.
I may or may not need to write about Games Six and Seven on Monday. The way the Kansas City Royals are playing baseball, this series could be wrapped up by Saturday night. Or I could be back here on Monday talking about the resurgent New York Mets, their ability to overcome the odds, and their triumph in the face of a growing cultural consensus that this year is KC’s year.
Instead, let’s talk about the despondency of being a fan, and of what it means to be a sports fan.
At this time last year, I was alternating between performances of a show at Second City (I was one of six co-writers in the Advanced Writing program) and running to the nearby Old Town Social or catching the Clark bus to walk to Murphy’s Bleachers to catch the tail ends of a thrilling postseason. It was a fantastic time to be writing, and a splendid time to write about baseball – and like many other Americans, I fell in love with the Royals. Which made the climax of the World Series that much harder, as they were stifled by the heroics of Madison Bumgarner (still the best postseason pitching performance I’d seen since probably Josh Beckett in ’03 and ’07.
I didn’t think the Royals could come back. Too many things worked against them. Their success was a fluke, a combination of momentum and luck that couldn’t be equaled.
Last week, Alex wrote an enlightening article about the traditional portrayal of Africa in Western Cinema here. The impetus of the piece was the arrival of the film Beasts of No Nation, adapted and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga from the novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala. It’d be a lie to say that many of Alex’s thoughts and observations about the Africa of Western cinema didn’t color my reading of the film, but as with all good writing, it helped me to take notice of several things that might have been missed.
What was unmistakable to me, however, is the fact that Beasts of No Nation, in spite of its ambitions, fails to succeed on several different fronts. It is not without merit – but there’s a great deal missing that could have made this a great movie instead of another mediocre portrayal of an often-overlooked region of the world.