Harold Baines, Hall of Famer … well, no

Alan Greenwood

Apparently Tony La Russa’s success in turning baseball into a fitful three-plus hours of bullpen bingo has inspired him to turn the Hall of Fame into the Hall of Good.

La Russa is a member of a 16-person panel called The Today’s Game Committee. Its mission is to provide a second look at Hall of Fame candidates who do not receive the required 75 percent of votes from qualified members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Whether this committee’s existence is a good or awful thing is in the eye of the critic. But the fact that 12 of its members believe that Baines truly belongs in the Hall of Fame strongly suggests that they are basing their judgment on something that has little relevance as to what happens on baseball diamonds.

In 22 big-league seasons Baines logged a .289 batting average with 2,886 hits and 384 home runs.

It was a nice career, maybe even a really good career if “nice” does not lend enough heft to Baines’ reputation.

Baines certainly should be proud of his accomplishments. He should be given a lifetime pass to visit the Hall whenever he likes.

He should not have a plaque hanging in the Hall, an eternal marker proclaiming that he was one of the the best of the best ballplayers of all time.

Among the voting writers, Baines never drew more than 6.2 percent support. He didn’t even gain enough votes to remain on the ballot for more than five years.

(The writer who is hunting and pecking his way through this prose is a voter who considered Baines more seriously than he considered Mike Greenwell, but nowhere near enough to offer a vote.)

In an interview on the MLB Network, La Russa torched those of us who consider Baines’ entry to the hall beyond mind blowing. Leaving out the words that would get a scribe fired, La Russa says arguments against Baines are “weak-a–, superficial bulls–t.”

Baines played for La Russa with the White Sox and the A’s. He was clearly a respected ballplayer by his peers, and his career included enough memorable moments to flesh out a nice, little highlight film.

It is equally obvious that La Russa holds his former player in high regard, which is fine. At the same time, La Russa insists that his longstanding friendship with Baines had nothing to do with his endorsement.

“Harold Baines was a great man and a great professional and I think he’s a Hall of Famer,” La Russa said on MLB Network.

Your thinking is beyond wrong, Tony.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood @nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_ AlanG.