Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Imperfect Ten

I woke up early Friday morning to some very startling news. My radio alarm is set on a classic rock station, and the DJ and the news-reader were discussing the passing of Ron Santo at length. I knew that Santo had a history of health problems, including two boughts with cancer and a lifelong struggle with diabetes, but I was still shocked.

As a Chicagoan, it's very difficult to say anything bad about Ron Santo and get away with it, and his passing has only reinforced the defense shields. The Cubs have an almost nationalized fan base, and not surprisingly my home city is their apparent Mecca. On the north side of the city, the Cubs are a religion --a cult in the most literal sense-- and Wrigley Field is their Hagia Sophia. Good luck finding a White Sox cap within a one-block radius of the stadium, which is almost nothing but sports bars and fan boutiques. In spite of that even Sox fans are sitting shiva, and the most cynical Cubbie-haters are keeping their mouths shut or carefully choosing their words... myself included.

For the longest time, I waffled on Ronnie's Cooperstown credentials. Without being too blunt, a career line of 342/1,331/.277 over 15 seasons is pretty good but not good enough. The fact of the matter is, what exactly puts Santo on the same level as Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Brooks Robinson, or Eddie Mathews? If all-around nice guys with decent power stats made the Hall of Fame, Dale Murphy would be in by now. If players that dominated their position for one decade but didn't do much else afterward were inducted, so would Dwight Evans. A remarkable start followed by a string of injuries? Don Mattingly. At least five Gold Gloves? Jim Kaat and Dave Concepcion. Harold Baines has nearly 300 more career ribbies, but he'll be lucky if the Veterans' Committee votes him in. Yes, you could argue that if you put all of those factors together Santo should be a lock for the Hall of Fame, but that's not what it's all about. Being above-average at a wide variety of things and excelling at nothing does not merit enshrinement. That'd be like if a career B+ student were chosen for National Honor Society.

The iO Theater is one half-block south of Wrigley on Clark Street, so I typically walk past the stadium about two or three times a week. I was in city late Saturday night for a show, and two separate but equal tributes had mushroomed on the stadium premises. The first and most visible was along the home plate entrance under the red "Friendly Confines" sign, inside and along the locks and barricades. The second was on the Walk of Fame along the first base side, where each team HOFer has their name engraved into Addison Ave. sidewalk. There were photos, flowers, letters-- pretty much everything you can think of except baseball cards. The outpouring of support to Santo's family and the Cubs' organization was remarkable. This tribute could curb the most tactless soul from saying anything disrespectful about the deceased, it was that resonating. However, I'm still not convinced that he should be enshrined --a sizable albeit quiet minority-- though right now stating such a strong opinion makes me feel a tad squeamish.

Other notes:

+ I finally found a job... for now. I interviewed with a temp agency in early August, and just before Thanksgiving they recommended me for an interview with a local catering company. I aced the sitdown and now I work 35+ hours a week in a calling center. I'm only officially employed with them through New Year's, but hopefully this parlays into something more substantial.

+ My TV.com fantasy football team is 5-8, and even though I've won four of my last five matchups, I'm nowhere near playoff contention and the window has all but shut. My other team is 3-10 and couldn't even beat our resident last-place roster in Week 13. As most of you know, I'm still doing decent in NFL Pick 'Um, though.

+ Late last week, I noticed that several of my Facebook friends had changed their profile photos to beloved childhood cartoon characters for the purpose of raising child abuse awareness. In solidarity, I changed mine to "Mathman" from Square One TV. On Sunday afternoon, I heard through the gravepine that the organization that promoted the stunt had ties to NAMBLA and was conspiring to hack the accounts of preteen Facebookers. Oops.

1 comment:

  1. Christ, Stu, you make it sound like Cubs fans are a heat-packing mafia (they're actually a bunch of drunken idiots).

    Santo was a completely biased homer who was not objectionable at all, was completely unprofessional as an announcer and whined and moaned like a ridiculous infant, and his personality could really rub people the wrong way. Click your heels, you motherfucker? - how about a beanball to the face? You just didn't act flamboyant like that in baseball. Nor should you carry yourself as a desperate "Future HOFer" on your telecasts, like you're somehow entitled to it. We've been subjected to constant barrage of Santo because of where we live and the unfortunate people who are fans of that team. Most people outside of Chicago never even heard of Santo.

    Santo's stats are not Hall worthy. Unfortunately the Hall is getting very watered down, and every vote these borderline players seem to keep getting more sympathy votes as in "they don't want to be that guy that keeps him out". These BWAA 'journalists' only need to be employed by a newspaper, magazine or sports website for 10 years to be allowed to vote on the Hall. Gold Gloves are not that special when they give out 18 of them a year, and it's not exactly a scientific or well-rounded system, either.

    You're not even a Chicago baseball fan, why so squeamish? Don't let those stupid Cubs fans bully you around with their blasphemous rhetoric. They care more about looking at ivy & pissing in a hole their grandfather did.