I read something online the other day that gave me a bit of pause because it emphasized once again the dependency that people often have in refusing to use their common sense and instead insist on having heavily structured environments that are so laden with rules that no actual thought is needed.
I apologize for the long-winded intro. While quite properly noting the incredible season that Albert Pujols is having, the writer felt compelled to point out that the St. Louis star ought not be referred to as a Hall of Famer because he hasn’t put in 10 seasons yet. Really?
Obviously, there are a number of tragic events that could conceivably take place that might prevent him from hitting the mandatory 10-seasons threshold, but they are pretty uniformly unlikely or nearly impossible, and for the vast majority of them it wouldn’t mean that Prince Albert wouldn’t get a plaque.
Without pondering the specifics of any ghastly scenarios, if something happened that prevented him from reaching 10 seasons that wasn’t connected to any malfeasance on his part, our friends at the Hall of Fame would promptly issue a waiver of that requirement and the matter is solved. So the short answer is that Pujols is already a Hall of Famer, awaiting only the formalities of the passage of time and the induction procedures.
In nine seasons (OK, 83/4), he’s had nine HOF-caliber years. That’s a Hall of Famer. There are lots of guys with plaques who didn’t have nine HOF-caliber seasons. And just as in Albert’s case, Ichiro Suzuki is a Hall of Famer, too. He has also had nine HOF-caliber seasons, and pretty much all the things I said about Pujols apply to him as well. Plus, I understand he had a handsome career in his native Japan prior to his MLB sojourn.
At a time when HallofFameOphiles like myself are worried about how the great institution is going to reconcile its voting procedures with the stigma of the steroid era, it’s reassuring to have two first-ballot locks already in place, with very little on the horizon that could upset that happy ending.
Almost nothing, really.