I guess this is what happens when your franchise has atrophied to the point of having few fans, few glaring All Stars and no hope of playing baseball in October for 14 consecutive years. When it comes to time to find Orioles “Hall of Famers” you begin to stretch and reach and embarrass the honor itself by attempting to find the next candidate to appear at your annual rubber chicken luncheon in August for the Oriole Advocates.
I like Mike Bordick. I like Mike Bordick more than I like most people who have ever put on an Orioles jersey. Great baseball man, great family guy and a guy teacher of the game.
But, if we’re considering numbers and contributions and Orioles “Hall of Fame” worthiness, then Mike Bordick can’t be taken seriously as a candidate or an honoree.
Bordick played parts of six mostly-forgettable seasons of Orioles baseball and was once dealt away in the heart of the pennant race to play in the 2001 World Series with the New York Mets.
He hit .236, .260, .277, .285, .249 and .232 in those five seasons. He was a wonderful role player and served as the man who replaced Cal Ripken at shortshop. He was a team leader, a good fielder and what most teammates would call “a gamer” — a real baseball gym rat who loved the game more than most.
But a Hall of Famer? Not really…
I’d put Bordick in the “Hall of Nice” — as I wrote @WNST on Twitter yesterday, but not any serious Hall of Fame.
This is the problem with all of the Hall of Fames in every sport in America. They’ve all become a pandering situation, where the media, sponsors or “powers that be” need their egos (or wallets in some cases) stroked in order to bestow the honor upon even the worthy. In this case, the Orioles simply don’t have any warm bodies from the last 15 years who haven’t been busted for steroids or fallen out of the good graces of Peter G. Angelos to the point where it would be uncomfortable for them to return for an honor.
The baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t have the greatest hitter of the century (Pete Rose) in it. It won’t have the greatest player of this generation (Barry Bonds) in it. It also won’t have any of the single-season home run kings (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Bonds) in it. And if Roger Clemens goes to jail over the steroid scandal, I’m assuming he won’t get elected, either.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just announced its 2011 candidates. Somehow, Kiss, Rush and Def Leppard have been left off the docket while the Beastie Boys and Bob Geldof have somehow found their way into consideration ahead of bands that changed the landscape for their genre.
And the Pro Football Hall of Fame has become a limited country club for the less-than-50 voters who work their agendas, grievances and politics into the selection of the NFL’s best players of our generation under a heavy microscope each Super Bowl weekend. And in my opinion, most years they seem to induct worthy candidates into Canton but overlook many others who are yellow-jacket worthy.
And speaking of football, it would be inappropriate and unfair to not mention that the Ravens “Ring of Honor” was tarnished upon its conception when Art Modell unilaterally made Earnest Byner the first member of the club. Every time I look over onto that wall and see his name, it makes the entire institution feel like a joke, really. But give the purple birds some credit — they have held the line in a big way ever since, only allowing players who have made a Pro Bowl eligibility into the “Ring” and I think that’s a standard that’s the very lowest bar that should be set. (Although, I could make a case for Edwin Mulitalo, Mike Flynn and a few others who served the team capably for many years but I sort of like that the Ravens have now made it a REAL honor and a difficult club to enter.)
This isn’t an Orioles problem. Or an Orioles Hall of Fame problem.
For me, its an endemic part of ANY Hall of Fame, the phoniness, crony-ness and screwiness that these “highest honors” awards have become.
Who gets in and who doesn’t? And how can we argue the point when the criteria is either non-existent or so vague as to be obtuse to anyone who would have to justify their vote?
And who are the “qualified” voters or judges?
In this case, the Orioles talent pool has been so shallow for so long that they’re doing the only thing they can do at this point.
If you suffered through enough losing seasons as an Orioles player and you’re a “nice guy” and you don’t say anything bad about Angelos, you get your Hall of Fame passport stamped at The Warehouse.
Either way, I’ll be at the luncheon this year with Aunt Pat and delighted to shake Mike Bordick’s hand.
But I wouldn’t have voted for him.
But then again, if they’re going to have a luncheon each year the Orioles have to honor SOMEONE and clearly they’ve just run out of names and worthy people at this point.