Tuesday, February 22, 2005

An Apology

My sincere apologies to Jayson Stark are in order. And here I am to offer them.

If you recall, I ripped Stark pretty well in recent years for his failure to support Jim Rice for the Hall of Fame. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t object to such a stance, because I have never been such a Rice zealot that it clouded my objectivity. Rice is a borderline guy, I admit it. Rational people can object to his election.

But Stark’s objections we so pat, in my view, so lacking in real supporting facts, that I felt compelled to call him out and email him with my rather expansive thoughts on the matter. To his credit, Stark always replied thoughtfully and politely, no matter how lengthy or pointed my commentary. Then came last year’s ballot, when he not only kept Rice off his ballot again, but reiterated all of his hollow objections again, without any new or more detailed reasons to explain why he wouldn’t be swayed. I wrote at the time that it seemed clear Stark was a lost cause, that he had put the Jim Rice question to rest in his own mind, after years of struggling with Rice’s candidacy. I wrote him off and dropped my efforts to persuade him away from The Dark Side.

It turns out I was wrong. This year, when his latest ballot was published on ESPN.com,Stark’s views had finally changed. After ten years of deciding Rice wasn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame, Stark changed his mind and voted for Rice.

When I saw that, I sent Jayson a quick email, thanking him for being as open-minded as he always said he would be, and apologizing for labeling him a lost cause. True to form, Jayson sent a gracious, polite, thoughtful reply.

This is the kind of thing that gives me hope, not only for Jim Rice’s chances of ultimately being inducted into Cooperstown, but for life in general. I don’t know why, because this is a pretty trivial matter in the grand scheme of things, but it does just the same. Maybe it’s the fact that Stark turned out to be an honest man. He said he would always be open to dissenting views, and he was true to his word. That’s rare in the world of big time sports these days, where athletes regularly say it’s not about the money just before they accept the biggest contract offer, or claim they didn’t take steroids, or didn’t slap the ball (hear that A-Rod?). Stark’s honesty was a pleasant surprise.

So here’s to you Jayson. Please accept my sincere apologies for giving up on you.

Now, about your views on Alan Trammell…

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