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More Albert Belle Bashing...

From Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune:

I saw him curse at reporters. Saw him react callously after accidentally flinging a bat into the stands that bloodied the face of a 10-year-old girl. Saw him pile up meaningless stats before sparse crowds. Saw his teammates and coaches revile him.

So who is this guy talking about? Ted Williams? Jeff Kent? No, of course he's talking about Albert Belle, everybody's favorite bogeyman.

These are the words of a reporter who covered Albert Belle in 1998. And while I certainly do not deny that Belle was a first-class jerk, this type of pontificating is something that really irks me. The Hall of Fame is not entirely made up of good citizens, although there certainly are some there. It is made up of exceptional baseball players, who through their play on the field, have been inducted for perpetuity. Being a jerk does not remove oneself from Hall of Fame eligibility.

Of course, Greenstein didn't stop there:

The Hall of Fame voting process has become politicized, they say. If you're a baseball writer who takes into account a player's off-the-field behavior, you're superficial and petty for holding a grudge.

What a crock that is. Character counts. If it didn't, Pete Rose would be adding "HOF" to all those autographs he hawks

No, Mr. Greenstein, Rose is not in the Hall of Fame because he bet on baseball, something that carries with it a lifetime ban. If Rose were eligible, he'd already be in the Hall.

I also suppose that Kirby Puckett, who was just as marginal a candidate as Belle should have his plaque taken out because of his recent behavior?

Don't worry, there's more:

Even as a player, Belle did nothing to warrant enshrinement. He was a pedestrian fielder who was pulled from games for not hustling to first base.
Belle put up giant numbers with the Sox in '98, finishing with 49 bombs, 152 RBIs and a .328 average. But he did nothing until June, when the Sox were already 15 games under .500.

But I suppose he'll have no problem lauding Jim Thome, who hit all those home runs in 2002 after the Indians were out of the race. (Note: I'm not ripping on Thome, just making a point).

Listen, I have no problem with voters who won't vote for Belle because his career was so short. But I do have a problem with these blowhard journalists who appoint themselves the arbiters of morality by withholding votes from players they didn't like.