Show yourself, you sniveling coward! You chicken-livered cur! You fainthearted invertebrate!
I’m talking to you, the Baseball Hall of Fame voter who wishes to remain anonymous after being the only person not to cast a ballot for Derek Jeter. Jeter, the former Yankees shortstop, received 396 of 397 votes.
Come forward, you gutless wonder!
There is nothing wrong with voting your conscience. It’s what we Hall voters are supposed to do. It’s what any kind of voter is supposed to do. Knowing something is going to be unpopular but doing it anyway is courageous, unless it’s a felony. In which case, don’t. Not voting for the first player in Yankees history with 3,000 hits is incredibly misguided, but sticking to your convictions is kind of cool, in its own tortured, tangled way.
To not put your name on your vote is like plowing a car into another vehicle and fleeing the scene. The bad kind of hit-and-run.
I never have worshipped at the altar of Derek. I’ve never known an athlete more aware of TV cameras than Jeter was. If it was late in a playoff game, you could be certain he was going to be on the top step of the dugout, where a cameraman could find him and an adoring broadcaster could gush about his team spirit. It wasn’t enough for the New York media that Jeter was a very good player. He had to be a saint, a rescuer of dogs in traffic and a MacArthur Genius Grant winner. By the time media members were done with him, it was impossible for him to get dirty sliding into second base.
So if you, my whimpering weasel, had come forward and said you couldn’t vote for Jeter because you detested the aura that had been created for him and by him, I would have applauded your gumption. I would have called you out for your terrible judgment, but I would have smiled at your reasoning.
Of the 397 Baseball Writers’ Association of America members who voted, 79 chose to keep their ballot private. That’s their prerogative as Hall voters. Social media being what it is — a bottomless pit of outrage and vindictiveness — it’s understandable why people would cloak themselves in anonymity and lock themselves in their bathrooms.
But, my fellow voter, you are the one person who didn’t vote for Jeter, depriving him of joining former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall selections in history. You need to explain yourself. Just because you can remain nameless and faceless doesn’t mean you should. I’m not suggesting anyone should out you. I’ve always thought that cowardly in its own way. You should out yourself.
I know you’d be subjected to abuse from scads of Yankees fans who gladly would have donated to Jeter’s Supermodel a Day Campaign. These people think God invented the Yankees first and baseball second. And they see Jeter as the perfect Yankee. Coming forward won’t be fun.
But you need to human up.
Jeter’s backers are sure you’re connected to the hated Red Sox. Having been around the sport and sportswriters for more than 30 years, I find that hard to believe. The people who cover teams don’t act like the fans of those teams. I never have seen a voting Hall member stand up and raise his or her arms when The Wave goes by in a ballpark.
But I don’t know what to think about you. Maybe you bled Red Sox blood onto Curt Schilling’s sock. Nobody knows. And that’s just it: We’d like to know.
You cowering cad.
The name-calling doesn’t make you want to step forward, does it? That’s what I thought. Let me take a different tack, then. You’re misunderstood, like all the great ones are. You’re shy. You don’t love a parade. You prefer time alone with a book in your hand. You have insight into Jeter that no one else does. Possibly photos. But you’d like to keep it all to yourself.
So let’s think small. Rather than going public with your name, how about going public with your thoughts about Jeter? Write an unsigned column about why you didn’t vote for him. You’ll be able to retain your anonymity while telling the baseball world why a 14-time All-Star isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Say something, no matter how dumb it is. Anything is better than silence. If you simply forgot to check Jeter’s box, that would be understandable. If you think Jeter has outrageously bad breath, rendering him Hall-unworthy, at least we’ll be able to call ourselves informed. We’ll have an answer to the mystery of our times, even if we won’t have a name.
And, no, dear readers, I’m not Anonymous. I voted for Jeter, Larry Walker and Schilling. Wrote a column about it. Tweeted it.
Very, very publicly. Unlike You Know Who. Whomever that is.