When last we visited with Corky Simpson, the septuagenarian was taking a beating for inexplicably leaving Rickey Henderson off of his Hall of Fame ballot. After facing mountains of Internet abuse, Simpson recanted yesterday. His apology, however, reeks to me of a half-hearted and back-stabbing attempt to make online ends meet.
Simpson’s mea culpa arose from an interview Carl Steward, columnist for the Oakland Tribune. Steward and Simpson talked about the controversial ballot, and Simpson offered up his excuse and an apology. “Rickey deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and if I had my ballot back, he’d have a shot at unanimity — and I wouldn’t be hated by quite so many people,” Simpson said.
Had he stopped there, Simpson would have offered a nice shot at reconciliation, but as he kept talking, his responses grew more sarcastic and less sincere:
“I’ll bet it was worse than when 98 people failed to vote for Catfish Hunter some 22 years ago,” he added. “The blogosphere would have exploded if it had been around when 43 people failed to vote for Mickey Mantle, 23 for Willie Mays, 36 for Jackie Robinson, nine for Hank Aaron, 31 for Roberto Clemente, 57 for Yogi Berra, 23 for Stan Musial, 20 for Ted Williams and 28 for Joe DiMaggio.”
Green Valley News sportswriter Nick Prevenas said he warned Simpson about leaving Henderson off his ballot when he filed the column, but Simpson told him he “wasn’t a Rickey guy and that he would vote for him next time.”
Simpson is now well aware of the controversy he stirred but regrets that it happened. “If I had properly researched the situation, I would have voted for Rickey Henderson if for no other reason than he played for nine ball teams,” he said. “Imagine that. He’ll be the first Hall of Famer to have a bronze bust with nine caps stacked on his head. Seriously, he was a wonderful player and I simply goofed. I voted for eight deserving men. I could have picked two more — and I wish to heck I had.”
I don’t buy it, not one bit. Simpson clearly doesn’t like Rickey Henderson. Why else would he have told one of his colleagues in Arizona that he “wasn’t a Rickey guy”? It’s also really easy to tell someone you’d vote a player the next time when he’s bound to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Meanwhile, Simpson is going after a straw man argument. It doesn’t matter if other deserving players weren’t picked on the first ballot. If a player is Hall of Fame-worthy, he should be voted in on someone’s ballot no matter what everyone else is or isn’t doing. It is also dismaying to learn that a Hall of Fame voter had not “properly researched the situation.” Again, I would seriously consider removing Simpson’s voting privilege if I were in charge of the BBWAA.
But then again, what should we expect from an organization which saw three of its members try to vote non-rookie Edinson Volquez as Rookie of the Year this year?