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Sunday, July 22, 2012

This is the year; this is the day

Posted By on 07.22.12 at 09:00 AM

Ron Santo was always a passionate guy—as a player and as a broadcaster—so it should come as no surprise that there's an eddy of swirling emotions surrounding his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday.

There's gratification, vindication, relief. His induction was inevitable for so long—Bill James had identified him as the best player not in the Hall of Fame going back to at least the mid-90s—that it's a triumph to have the day finally upon us.

Yet that's just the thing: He did belong in the Hall, and had belonged there for a long time. So there's anger that Santo didn't live to see the day.

I'm not going to go into the case for Santo's induction. I've done that before, and now the case once and for all has been made.

Yet I am going to hold a grudge against the baseball writers who ignored Santo's greatness in the 60s and instead judged him by the premature end to his career in the mid-70s (thanks largely to diabetes). And I am going to hold a grudge against the Hall of Fame players who for years refused to dilute their own greatness by voting in a single extra member of the Hall—until it got so egregious they had the process taken away from them.

Right now, in fact, anger is the prevailing emotion for me, anger that Santo isn't here to get his rightful due—much as he knew he deserved it when he was alive. But I'll try to overcome that to catch the induction ceremony midday today on MLB TV (both WGN Channel 9 and Comcast SportsNet Chicago have game obligations, although Channel 9 will turn over the second half of its evening news to the induction at 9:30).

Maybe that will ease the anger. Because when Santo is inducted at last, a great wrong will have finally been corrected.

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