Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 14, 2009

Adrian Wojnarowski's account of Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech just makes me sad. I haven't seen the speech, so maybe Wojnarowski and the people he quotes are overreacting, but really, bringing up long-ago grievances like the 1985 All-Star Game at an event like this is just sort of petty. I've always liked Jordan, even when he was torturing the Knicks, and I never held against him his enormous ego; you don't get to be Michael Jordan (or Babe Ruth, or Ty Cobb, or Ted Williams, or Shaq, or Muhammad Ali, or John Elway, or Brett Favre) if you don't walk around all day believing you can pull off things nobody else thinks possible. But some guys just have trouble letting go of the fight when they're off the playing field. I've been lately reading Leigh Montville's outstanding biography of Ted Williams, and Williams could be the same way (he brooded over old grievances, channeled his fire into fishing but also into yelling at his wives), but at least he used his Hall of Fame speech to be gracious, even changing the history of the Hall with his call for the enshrinement of Negro League greats. Jordan's speech will be swiftly forgotten, as are most such speeches (Williams' aside), but it's sad for him as much as anyone that he couldn't make a nicer moment of it. I wonder - given his stumbles as an executive - where he'll find another challenge worthy of his energies again.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:17 PM | Basketball | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

The problem/curse of super competitive/accomplished people.

Posted by: dch at September 14, 2009 9:56 PM

the only,repeat only, Hall of Fame speech I remember is the Rizzuto speech-that was surreal, heartfelt and entertaining.

Posted by: dch at September 14, 2009 10:01 PM

Michael Irvin's HOF speech was surprisingly good, considering the source I think all of Canton was shocked.

Posted by: dave at September 15, 2009 8:38 AM

I remember Kellen Winslow's speech because it, like Jordan's, caused me to lower the amount of respect I had for the person. There's a time and place for everything and Kellen Winslow using his HOF speech to push a political agenda (affirmative action) was not exactly his classiest moment & led me to assume that the reason his son appears to be an a-hole is because his father walked around with a HUGE chip on his shoulder for much of his life.

Posted by: RW at September 15, 2009 9:07 AM

Crank is right that most HoF speeches are forgetable, though I would caveat that you tend to remember the speeches of your most favorite players (or, I assume in dch's case, an iconic figure from your favorite team).

I really like George Brett's, especially the part where he said to his older borthers something like, "All I ever wanted was to be as good as you were."

If steroid users ever get in, it will be interesting to see whether and how they would treat the issue and how their post HoF comments compare to their previosu lies and "explanations."

Posted by: Magrooder at September 15, 2009 11:30 AM

Mac, I doubt steroid users will even bring it up; there's simply no way they can win doing so, even if they came out and admitted doing so fully, and apologized unconditionally. If they do that, people like me will say "See?! He CLEARLY shouldn't be in the Hall!" If they mention it but gloss over it, people will (rightly) call them mealy-mouthed and the like. If they admit it and DON'T apologize for it...well, you can imagine how bad that would be. There's just no way they can approach it and come off the better for it in the court of public opinion. I don't think they'll mention it in their speeches at all, if they get in.

Posted by: Tom at September 15, 2009 12:53 PM

Like Crank, I was in attendance at the 1982 Cooperstown ceremony, so the one speech I'll never forget is that of ex-commissioner Happy Chandler, who, in broiling heat, droned on endlessly, giving himself credit for practically everything in the history of the game, while Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron helplessly sat by awaiting their turns.

Posted by: Jerry at September 15, 2009 1:59 PM

There was a book of poetry published back in the 1990s based on Rizzuto's in game ramblings that is really fun to read-. The guy was a genius, but in a not so easily recognized way.

My favorite player as a kid was Pete Rose-so so far...As an adult Jeter. I think of him as a non-ahole, more athletic, quieter, classy version of Rose

Posted by: dch at September 15, 2009 8:44 PM


As a Sox fan (I bet that surprised you, dch), I have always admired Jeter for the way he played and how he has conducted himself off the field. I hadn't thought of it before, but your Rose comparison seems apt. Neither was the "best" at his position, but each was the one you would want on your team, especially in a big game.

Posted by: Magrooder at September 16, 2009 10:46 AM

You know while I always want the Yankees to beat the Red Sox, I respect them, their history, Fenway, the passion of their fans, etc. They are a real baseball town with real fans.
To have real rivalries their has to be a give and take-Ali-Frazier, Duke-UNC, the Giants/Cowboys/Redskins troika in the NFC East. It can't be the Globetrotters vs. the Generals. So while I am not happy the Red Sox have won those two recent World Series, I am less annoyed with that as compared to the Florida Marlins and Diamondbacls winning it and I am happy for their fans who had to wait all those years.

I am a child of the 1970s and I had to wait/endure all those seasons from 1977-2006, then we had that great run and now its almost 9 years since our last championship. But those gaps are nothing compared to what Boston and Chicago fans have had to deal with.

Posted by: dch at September 16, 2009 2:42 PM

Ted Williams Hall of Fame speech in 1967 excoriating the writers for not allowing Negro League heroes in the Hall of Fame is the absolute best.
Of course the MSM today would accuse him of pandering. They know who butters their bread.

Posted by: Berto at September 17, 2009 5:15 AM

Ted Williams did not suffer fools at all, but he was as generous and kind a person could be, considering his personal demons. Just ask any kid that attended his baseball camp when he was there.

Posted by: Chris Waters at September 23, 2009 11:46 PM
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