I wrote over at NBC this morning that I think Marvin Miller was a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. Not everyone agrees with that. Not even some pretty damn reasonable people. Here are two perspectives. First Rob Neyer:
I mentioned this morning that I’m still an agnostic regarding Whitey Herzog’s Hall of Fame candidacy. I suppose I’m also agnostic about Marvin Miller. Before you tear my head off, let me ask you one question: If you believe that Marvin Miller belongs, would you be comfortable with Scott Boras someday joining Miller? Because Boras, too, has been historically significant and reaped untold millions of dollars for the players.
Point taken, but doesn’t the innovation trump mere exploitation? Isn’t comparing Miller to Boras this like comparing Henry Ford and Lee Iacocca? Wait, that’s not even fair. Iacocca at least developed the Mustang. Isn’t that like comparing Ford and the CEO of Toyota? If there’s an automobile Hall of Fame Ford’s in it. The CEO of Toyota isn’t.
Another perspective comes from NBC commenter Simon DelMonte (don’t worry; he’s one of the reasonable ones over there):
I’m as pro-union as they come in this day and age, the son of a proud member of the teachers union. And I usually agree with Marvin Miller when he gives interviews on the state of affairs in baseball. But I still feel uncomfortable about having him in the Hall. His accomplishments were off the field. Period. And just don’t know if they helped the game. Helped the players, yes. The game? I don’t think so.
Can I offer a compromise candidate in Curt Flood? Here is a brave man who changed the game as well, but was also a pretty good player. And someone who, unlike Miller, basically lost his career for his principles.
Well, for starters there are a lot of guys in the Hall whose accomplishments were “off the field,” so that’s a non-starter. I understand the thinking behind the “good for the players and not the game” argument, but I don’t buy it. The game is radically different now than it was before free agency, I’ll grant that. But I think it’s a tall order to say that the game is worse off. More people watch it now. Everyone makes more money. The quality of play remains high. There is competitive imbalance, but is it any worse than what we saw during the alleged Golden Age? Are Royals fans really worse off than St. Louis Browns fans were? Wait, we can’t answer that because there are no more St. Louis Browns.
As for Flood: if you’re inclined to put him in the Hall of Fame, I can’t see how you can argue against Miller. Miller was behind Flood’s challenge in the first place. If failed in his case. Miller persisted and ultimately won with other players what could not be won with Flood alone. Ultimately they were after the same thing, and one succeeded where the other failed. Why honor the guy who failed instead of the one who succeeded? Put less harshly, why honor the name out in front of the challenge instead of the mastermind?
Ultimately my argument for Miller comes down to this: there were three times in baseball history where everything frickin’ changed: the end of the deadball era, the integration of baseball and the advent of free agency. Marvin Miller was the force behind that third one. How can you not honor that?