I’ve finally discovered something that directly involves my profession and is even more random and corrupt than the BCS.

Not that sportswriters should be trusted with protecting the sanctity of anything.

Being the gatekeepers of the National Baseball Hall of Fame? We. Are. Not. Worthy.

We prove it the first Wednesday of every new year, when an elitist panel — to a grumpy, old man — uses its privilege of preserving the pastime’s proud history as a bully pulpit for God-knows-what.

Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were ushered into immortality last week, ticketed for summer enshrinement in Cooperstown. N.Y.

That news alone was saddled with enough baggage and baloney to feed a month’s worth of rants from a disenfranchised wretch like me.

Now look at the list of greats deemed unfit for a golden plaque with a flowery, one-paragraph epitaph at this time. It reads like a who’s-who of, well, my childhood, if not yours: Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, (deep breath) Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.

The ares and the are-nots are selected by an archaic system, one that incorporates the wit and whimsy of writers who should have been put out to pasture when Bowie Kuhn was commissioner.

Let’s start with the two guys who will get to wear a suit and tie, stand in the courtyard and bore us to tears.

Alomar belonged in the Hall of Fame in 2010, his first year on the ballot. That should have been as plain to baseball purists as the fact that Bob Costas colors his hair or that George Will and Keith Olbermann are nearsighted.

There is minimal argument that Alomar is the most complete player to hang a shingle at second base, ever. As a hitter for average and power, he ranks among the top two or three at the position. Paint in his defensive prowess and you have the portrait of a legend.

That’s not enough for the Baseball Writers Association of America, who seemingly have a compulsion that every hall of famer also should belong to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Fifteen years of greatness have been held hostage by five seconds, as in the unfortunate amount of time it took Alomar to hock a loogie in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck in the latter third of his career.

Did that persuade some scribes to deny Alomar admittance to the hall in his first year of eligibility? There’s no other logical explanation, really. And heck, at least it’s a reasonable objection. Anybody who doesn’t believe Alomar’s body of work on the field made him a Hall of Fame lock simply wasn’t paying attention.

Then we have the curious case of Blyleven, who enjoyed an otherworldly change in the perception of his pitching career between 1998 and 2011.

In his first year on the ballot, Blyleven barely received enough support to earn a second look. Thirteen tries and a tantrum or two later, the durable Dutchman cleared the 75 percent threshold required for admission.

It’s as if somebody stumbled into a vault and found deleted scenes from Blyleven’s highlight film, two lost World Series rings and four stolen Cy Young awards. How else do you explain the progression from four out of five voters recoiling to four out of five voters relenting? Hey, I know some of these guys die off, but not that many.

Never understood the distinction between “first-ballot” hall-of-famer and generic brand hall-of-famer. Sure, when a musician or pop culture icon dies, maybe his work gets reevaluated and his greatness is unmasked by the test of time.

This is baseball. Numbers don’t invite closer inspection. There is no symbolism; no reading between the lines. If you had 287 wins and 3,700 strikeouts when you retired in 1993, you don’t have 324 wins and 4,100 strikeouts now.

What changed? The media itself, of course. Now those of us who study and preserve the games people play listen to our own kind dissect it beyond recognition, day-in, day-out, year-round, on TV and talk radio.

We’re easily swayed. And we buy our own bill of goods.

For example, how did Ozzie Smith get the key to the museum in his first try, while Larkin plays the waiting game and Trammell stands not a chance in hell of getting invited until the Veterans’ Committee convenes in 2048?

Hype. Smith oozed with it. He did cartwheels on his way to play shortstop. He dove after balls with childlike abandon and threw out baserunners from one knee. He slapped an opposite-field single every third day whether the Cardinals needed it or not. And we ate it up.

Larkin and Trammell were quietly excellent. Very good at everything, spectacular at nothing.

Like most of the old-timers who got pushed through the hall of fame turnstiles in the early years without a nanosecond of reconsideration, in other words.

The same concept made Andre Dawson a hall of famer and makes Dwight Evans an easy autograph to pick up at Red Sox spring training. Stack their career statistics side-by-side in a double-blind taste test and there is almost no difference.

But Dawson was the star of stars in Montreal and Chicago. Dewey belted almost 400 home runs and collected a closet full of Gold Gloves in the shadow of Rice, Yaz, Eck, Tiant, Clemens, etc.

‘Tis nothing but a popularity contest, which sucks the life and credibility out of what was once sports’ purest monument.

And if you think the process stinks to high heaven now, wait until Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Clemens join their steroid-era brethren on the ballot.

Corruption piled upon corruption. Can’t wait.

Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected]


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