There are people who make a great case for Andre Dawson’s Hall of Fame qualifications. There are those who don’t, and I don’t feel compelled to link to them.
The debate over what constitutes a Hall of Fame career is over my head. There are some magic plateaus that, in the past, have made the conversation pretty easy: 300 wins; 3,000 hits; 500 home runs. The advent of PEDs has rendered even those landmarks somewhat powerless. Mark McGwire can attest to (and Sosa, Bonds, and Clemens will soon learn about) the strange veil of judgment under which the Hall of Fame question is currently enshrouded.
I don’t think there’s one answer for what constitutes a Hall of Fame career looks like. Sometimes it’s stats (Tony Gwynn). Sometimes it’s championships (pick a Yankee). Sometimes it’s superhuman skill emanating from your pores (Ozzie Smith). Sometimes it’s just . . . fame (Jim Rice). But I’m approaching Dawson’s candidate as a fan, not an objective sportswriter. So when you ask me if I think Dawson’s accomplishments have earned him a place in Cooperstown, this is how I respond.
I don’t care. I want Dawson there because I really, really like Andre Dawson. He gave me a lot of good memories at the expense of his knees. He picked the Cubs. Just gave them a blank check and said, “Sign me. Pay me what you want. I’m playing here.” That may have been a stupid thing for him to do, but so is cheering for the Cubs. I mind-numbingly chose the Cubs three decades ago, and I’ll do it again. I can’t explain why I’m a Cubs fan, and I can’t explain why Dawson decided he wanted to play here. But that decision (and the time he spent patrolling right field in Wrigley) is more than enough to command my loyalty.
And so he has it. Look, one of the things I remember most about Dawson as a Cub was the simple fact that his knees were already shot when they got here. I remember the media dogging him for being so hobbled. I remember the questions of whether he was too crippled by his swollen knees to keep playing professional baseball. I don’t remember him as an unstoppable force on the North Side. I remember him like a kind of grandpa who showed more heart, grit, and bad-assedness than I had ever seen from a baseball player. Yeah, I remember him being awesome when he wore the Montreal elb* on his hat. But the bulk of my personal memories were of him struggling to walk as much as dominating.
I think Dawson deserves to be in the Hall, but that’s not my decision. And it’s not my job to be objective. I want him in. So I’ll keep tweeting #Dawson4theHall, hoping it becomes a trending topic and a conversation item among voters. Will it work? I don’t know, and I don’t care.
*Yes, I know it was a letter M. But it freaking looked like it said elb.You know it. I know it. The Canadian people know it.