I suspect that in the days before email, getting “The Call” might have actually meant getting a phone call from a highly-placed representative who, with appropriate fanfare befitting the occasion, would inform you that you had finally made it, your day had come. Or at least you were closer to making it than you had previously been, and your day to begin the process of determining if your day had come had come, or something like that. Sadly, in our modern, all-wired-all-the-time, have you checked your inbox in the last thirty seconds times, there was no Call from The Hall at all.
What I received was an email from a guy who has sent me no fewer than two dozen emails since May of this year, an email whose subject heading was “Ult HOF calling?” Truth be told, I was so certain that this was another admonishment for another failure to adhere to another deadline for submitting my evaluation of another form that I hadn’t reviewed that I deleted the email off my Blackberry without reading it. It was only after I returned to the office and checked my email from my desktop that I found that yes, indeed, I had gotten “The Call.” As you might imagine, I wasn’t quite so thrilled by the honor as I never really thought I would be.
Thus began the vetting process, but unlike Sarah Palin, I can’t say it was like a visit from the IRS and the proctologist at the same time. In fact, it really wasn’t much of a visit at all. It was more like a prize announcement from the Publisher’s Clearinghouse, but without the magazine subscriptions. Greetings! You may have already been named to the Hall of Fame. At the very least, you have been selected to the “Slate of 8,” (their term, not mine) and you should consider yourself honored to be among the eight finalists who have been chosen to be under consideration for the honor of possibly being inducted into the Hall of Fame. All you have to do is fill out the attached seven page self-aggrandizement form and have each of three friends/teammates/acquaintances fill out the attached suck-up form and get all these supporting materials returned to us with a photograph no later than five days from now.
There is nothing the UPA loves like a deadline.
When the inductees from the Class of 2008 were announced and I realized I was not among them, I asked via email why I had been snubbed. What I was told is that no one had realized I was old enough until the voting had already been done. I was also told that while it was an “embarrassment” that I hadn’t been inducted in the first year of my eligibility I was not alone. Other prominent and potentially deserving players had also been overlooked. What I couldn’t help thinking at the time was, if this is such an embarrassment, if so many deserving players were overlooked, why don’t you just extend the deadline? I mean, how hard would it be to re-open the voting?
Now don’t get me wrong. I mean, I’m all for strict adherence to deadlines, and I have no problem with not letting that slacker from Ambush (it was Ambush, right?) play because all the other teams did play by the rules and did get their rosters in on time and did deserve the right to pound the shit out of Ambush even worse than they would have if the rules had been bent a little. Besides, if you make an exception for them where do you stop? It’s the principle of the thing. What I’m not so sure is how the same principle applies to the Hall.
By that I mean, if our fledgling shrine to the glory of the past achievements of the legends of our little game decided to extend the deadline or even re-open the voting to right an obvious wrong, who would be hurt? Would all the other marginal sports with fledgling shrines rise up in protest because they, too, through some unfortunate oversight, overlooked the eligibility of Weasel McNulty, a true god of the game, but they didn’t re-open their voting or extend their deadline? That seems just a tad unlikely. But perhaps a more salient question is just how important are Hall of Fame deadlines anyway?
On the UPA site Hall of Fame page we can learn that the selection process is an extremely complicated, multi-layered affair with a series of periodic deadlines running from March to August. But the one that really sticks out in my mind is the one at the bottom that says that once the voting has been completed, a press release will be issued on the fourth Monday in August with the names of that year’s class of inductees. Click on the “Press Releases” link at the top of the page and what do you find out?
Of the four press releases announcing HOF inductions, not one was released on the fourth Monday in August. The earliest release date was for the inaugural class, and it was dated November 1, 2004. On average, UPA Hall of Fame press releases can be expected to be issued about three and a half months late.
Which once again sets me to wondering just how important HOF deadlines are.
But I’m letting that nagging question get in the way of my immeasurable joy at making the Sl8 (better, don’t you think?). Although to be truthful I was not nearly so pleased to receive the honor of the candidacy as I was to be given an excuse to fill out an lengthy form detailing the myriad impressive accomplishments of my most favorite player, me. I’ll leave it to you to imagine what a wonderful read the self-aggrandizement form of an accomplished egotistical blowhard such as myself must be, and I might even share some of the tastier tidbits if not for the fact that to do so would in some way tarnish the solemn significance of the process. Nonetheless, I will share a few of the achievements that didn’t quite make the cut.
Fall of some year at some tournament someplace: Pat King cutting downfield catches a lead pass near the endzone when some douche bag covering him makes a gratuitous layout bid, threatening to take out (and possibly break) his ankles. I’m in the end zone and make my classic near corner break for the goal, but Pat, desperately trying to keep his legs away from the defender who is now attempting to roll both of his ankles simultaneously, doesn’t see me. We (Pat and I) arrive at the front corner of the end zone almost simultaneously, at which point I express my concern for his safety by saying “how about a little less dancing and a little more looking.” Now that’s a teammate.
Nationals of some year someplace: looking through the program to help calm his pre-game nerves, rookie Mike Palmer-Poroner reads the line describing KABOOM! as an enigma. He sheepishly asks, “What does enigma mean?” Taking the poor, frightened soul under my wing, I reply “It means you’re a fucking idiot.” Now that’s leadership.
Some place at some time somewhere: I’m covering Phil “Guido” Adams in the end zone when he breaks to the corner and the pass is thrown. I’m in perfect position for the layout block, but somehow, while we’re both diving, he reaches around me (Yes, I’ve heard the rumors about Guido, too.) to make an astonishing grab. I land on his arm in such a way as to obscure the outcome of the play from everyone but me, and then rip the disc from his hand. He rightly calls strip, and I contest the call. Now that’s spirit.
My point here is that those of you playing the game now are playing at a time when the Hall of Fame is a reality. My generation played not only when it wasn’t a reality, but when it wasn’t even deemed necessary, possible, reasonable, called for, insert your own phrase indicating how ludicrous the idea would have been to all of us running around in our short shorts way back when. Today’s player has the benefit of knowing that some day he or she will be judged by the HOF selection committee, and they will place a high premium on spirit, fair play, and the image the player presented for the sport. We judged ourselves on only two questions: how hard did you party, and could you still win? So it is that, somewhat ruefully, I submitted my application to the Hall. I am deeply sorry for my past transgressions, and wish I could go back and right some wrongs. I’m hopeful that my numerous spirit violations won’t keep me out of the most hallowed institution our sport can claim, but I am prepared to suffer the consequences of my actions humbly and without recrimination.
Oh, and one more thing: I’m NOT sorry!