Baseball’s perfect imperfection 

While some dismiss it as an overly romantic notion, baseball truly is a metaphor for life. Based on failure but ultimately rewarding for those who take the setbacks as challenges and find a way to persevere through the long grind, baseball, like life, is far from perfect.

And never has that point been more emphatically pounded home than with the release of the Hall of Fame balloting results Tuesday. Imperfection ran amok, starting with the eight boneheads who left Cal Ripken Jr. off their ballots, and the 13 who didn’t vote for Tony Gwynn.

They didn’t omit these players because they don’t think they’re Hall of Famers, mind you. Even the biggest of baseball-writing idiots can’t make a case against Ripken and Gwynn as bronzed permanent citizens of Cooperstown.

No, they omitted them because they either don’t think they’re first-ballot Hall of Famers, or they omitted them because they contend that if Babe Ruth and Cy Young weren’t unanimous selections, nobody should be.

Either way, it’s the same kind of ridiculous that Wednesday had LaToya Jackson, Jack Osborne and somebody known as Wee Man starring as certified police officers on a reality TV series. One way or another, we Americans will put on display our astounding capacity for eventually sapping every profession of its nobility.

First of all, either a guy’s a Hall of Famer or not. And if you think he is, you vote for him the day his name appears on the ballot.

As for protecting the greatness of the Babe or Cy in some way by refusing to allow another player to be a unanimous selection, well, the people who think they’re doing this obviously don’t know the first thing about Babe or Cy. Both men had such passion for the game that they’re probably looking down from that field of dreams in the sky utterly disgusted, wishing for one more day on Earth so they can put a fastball in the earhole of these clowns.

More imperfection: Virtually every story about the voting included as much about Mark McGwire as Ripken and Gwynn, and that’s just sad. Here are two of the greatest ambassadors of the modern game, in their moment of ultimate glory, and their moment is almost a secondary story.

And as if all of this weren’t enough, Ripken himself proved imperfect in a way. While Gwynn, whose next lie likely will be his first, was more than happy to acknowledge that he was well aware of the commonality of steroid usage during his playing days, Ripken insisted he had no idea.

Baseball as life? Absolutely. In both games, even the best players drop the ball on occasion.

Mychael Urban is the author of "Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito" and a writer for MLB.com.

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