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Why Bother?

Ron Santo again didn't get elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, the second time he has been passed over by the current Committee.

Nobody else made it, either. Santo and Gil Hodges both missed by eight votes.

Seriously, why bother having this committee anyway? They vote once every two years, and so far, in the two elections they have had (2003 and 2005), they have kept the doors to the HoF closed and locked.

This smacks of elitism -- whether they intend this message to be sent or not, the 83 members of the committee (which is composed of 14 Frick Award recipients, eight Spink Award recipients, one member of the past Veterans Committee whose term has not expired, and living 60 Hall of Fame members, all except this year's inductees) seem to be saying: "We're an exclusive club and all the rest of you -- keep out". In fact, Mike Schmidt has even admitted this -- saying if he votes anyone in it cheapens his own membership. That's wrong on so many levels, I can't even respond.

Maybe I'm speaking as a Cubs fan who saw most of Santo's career, but as a nine-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner, and among the top career home-run hitters among third basemen, I think Ron deserved induction long ago. This doesn't even mention the juvenile diabetes with which he played his entire career, and which likely shortened said career by several seasons.

A friend at work today tried to make the comparison between Santo and Graig Nettles (who is clearly not a Hall of Famer), and sure, Nettles hit more homers (390 to 342). But Nettles also played eight more seasons, had a career average nearly 30 points lower, and had only one 30-homer season (Santo had four). And for all Nettles' reputation as a glove man, he won only two Gold Gloves. Santo drove in 98 or more runs seven times; Nettles, once. Nettles' highest single-season average was .276; Santo beat that eight times. Ron also led the league in walks four times.

But it is the defense where the problem may lie. Nettles got huge recognition for a handful of spectacular plays in the postseason -- a place Santo never went.

If the Cubs had made the postseason even once in the Santo era, I think he'd be in already. There are already three Cubs of those ballclubs in the HoF -- Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins -- and maybe the committee is saying that's enough for a non-winning team.

If so, they should be ashamed of themselves. As I have written many times before -- players are not elected to a Hall of Statistics, or a Hall of Who Won The World Series.

It is a Hall of Fame. And Ron Santo, in addition to his statistical accomplishments, is indisputably famous.

I think he'll eventually get in, if only because the HoF won't want to be embarrassed any more with the votes of these men who seem to have forgotten how hard it is to play this game.

I only hope Ron can enjoy it while he's still here on Earth.

Now, let's play ball. Tomorrow!