Derek Jeter opened his post-Hall of Fame election conference call on Tuesday night with these words:
“I just want to say thank you to all of the baseball writers . . .”
Well, not all of them.
As you know by now, Jeter was overwhelmingly elected into the baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday night. He received 396 votes. That’s out of 397.
One writer did not vote for Jeter, denying the former Yankees captain the honor of joining teammate Mariano Rivera as the second unanimously elected Hall of Famer in baseball history.
Earlier, on his post-election appearance on MLB Network, Jeter was — amazingly — not asked about the one ‘no’ vote. It was the elephant in the room. But not in that room, apparently.
Why? Is it not OK to talk about?
Actually, it is.
So let’s talk about it. Should we cue the condemnations for that voter? Or ho-hum, who cares, this doesn’t take away from Jeter’s accomplishment, nothing to see here, move along?
That’s your choice. And that's the point. This whole Hall of Fame thing is about opinions, not facts. In this arena, yours is just as relevant as the person who decided to leave Jeter off his or her ballot.
The baseball Hall of Fame is the granddaddy of all the Halls of Fame. No other Hall causes the same debates, the same disagreements, the same acrimony, the same awfulness from one human being to another.
And — other than that last one — it’s one of the most beautiful things in all of sports.
Look, as a Baseball Writers Association of America member and Hall of Fame voter, it doesn’t matter to me whether Jeter gets every vote or no votes. I only control my vote, and as Newsday readers may know, I submitted a ballot this year that only contained a checkmark next to Jeter’s name.
So one other writer — who as I type this has not been identified — sent in a ballot that did not include a checkmark next to Jeter’s name.
Under the Hall of Fame’s voting rules, that person may remain anonymous. (It’s important to point out here that the BBWAA years ago voted to make every ballot public. The Hall of Fame, which had the final say, rejected that vote.)
Or that person may decide to reveal the reasons behind his or her decision. I eagerly await that discussion, even if I end up disagreeing with the logic behind that ballot.
But actually this year’s Hall of Fame announcement ended up being more interesting because of the lone dissenter. If Jeter got 100%, that would have made him No. 2 on that list (even though that would have been fitting). Been there, done that. It was just last year.
Now Jeter stands alone as the only person to get into the Hall with 99.7% of the vote and people have something to bang on about. Plus, it gives Rivera something to rib him about for all eternity. Wanna bet that started already on Tuesday night?
It’s OK to get worked up about it — as long as a little respect for other people’s opinions is part of the equation. If your heart was set on Jeter joining Rivera as the two 100 percenters, you have every right to be disappointed by Tuesday’s result.
It’s also OK not to give a hoot. Jeter was one of the greatest baseball players in history, has five World Series rings, by all appearances has had one of the best lives imaginable, and will be standing on the podium in Cooperstown, N.Y, on July 26. Something tells us he’s OK with the one ‘no’ vote.
Wait — it was Jeter himself who told us he was OK with it. After MLB Network whiffed, Jeter was asked about the 'no' vote on the BBWAA conference call (by the first questioner, former Newsday baseball columnist Ken Davidoff, now of the New York Post).
The 99.7% Hall of Famer gave a 100% perfect answer. Would you expect anything less?
“Well, I look at all the votes that I got,” Jeter said. “And it takes a lot of votes to get elected to the Hall of Fame. You know, trying to get that many people to agree on something is pretty difficult to do. So that’s not something that’s on my mind. I’m just extremely honored and excited to be elected.”