It’s that time of year again, where the list of hopeful inductees for the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 are announced, and the chatter starts to boil and trouble into a miasma of babble, burble, banter, bicker bicker bicker, brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo…it’s only talk!
But I’m not referring to the Baseball Hall of Fame…rather, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
There are more similarities between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame than there are differences. Baseball purists proclaim that stats and awards make Hall of Fame selections more objective; well, musicians have stats and awards, too.
And while we’d all like to think they matter when it comes to Hall of Fame induction, the fact of the matter is that selection is much less objective than advertised, for either Hall. The Baseball Hall of Fame ballot of 2013 pretty much validates this as truth.
As I wrote earlier this year, fame is a component of opinion; seldom established by metrics. It is more often established by a single action that determines one’s repute, and more often than not supported by random acts of objective glory. MVP awards and Grammys don’t speak to Tier 1 or Tier 2 talent, and they don’t measure the fields of influence, true talent, and impact upon the game, the industry, or the world at large.
The Hall of Fame is just that, a validation of subjective declarations of Fame, not of discrete individual performance criteria…whether that Hall of Fame enshrines athletic or musical discharge is beyond the point of discussion.
Perhaps you’ve been so busy reviewing the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame candidates, and haven’t had a chance to even think about this year’s Rock Hall hopefuls. I’m here to help.
In order to provide a basis for comparison, I’ve listed this year’s Rock Hall nominees and provided a Baseball Hall counterpart as a high-level frame of reference. Just like most of you, I’ve long ago given up any efforts to prognosticate “who goes in” and “who doesn’t,” and can only speak to empirical analysis as a last resort. Remember, fame is a practical application of media theory; media controls the idea of fame as another extension of our human senses.
In other words: don’t take this too seriously!
CHIC > MIKE PIAZZA
Chic (and more specifically, their core membership of Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards, and Tony Thompson) are credited by some as being the group that “rescued disco in 1977.” Of course, the people who asked for disco to be rescued at that point in time have long since mysteriously disappeared. Similarly, Piazza rescued the disco-like flair of being a catcher who can also hit with savage abandon…and like Chic, he always looked fantastic while he was doing this. Good Times, indeed.
THE REPLACEMENTS > TIM RAINES
The Replacements never had a hit single but the Rock Hall places them in between the Clash and Nirvana as an act that kept the “heart and soul” of indie music alive for some, while the rest of the world flirted with metal and rap. Everybody likes the Replacements, and everybody likes Tim Raines, as well…that being said, their chances of getting into the Hall are slim to none because they are so well-liked. Nifty and interesting career, but no big hits.
THE ZOMBIES > MIKE MUSSINA
The Zombies, like Mussina, are often wrongly classified as “Good, Not Great” in Hallworthiness discussions. The Zombies may have earned more respect if they weren’t emerging in the same wave of British talent that included the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Yardbirds…the same can be said about Mussina, who collected six top-five finishes in Cy Young votes but was overshadowed by the likes of Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez during that time frame. Not exactly one-hit wonders, but a little too close to being so.
YES > JEFF KENT
Making things look more awesome than they really are! Chris Squire’s boots, Jeff Kent’s mustache. Kent reached his peak batting behind Barry Bonds, Yes reached theirs batting behind Rick Wakeman.
N.W.A. > JACK MORRIS
Vocal support as well as vocal opposition for enshrinement in the Hall is the key to this comparison. Impressive numbers, memorable performances, enough character to fill a cup of pop-culture joy. However, those who believed N.W.A. played to (the) score will always chirp the loudest.
THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND > EDGAR MARTINEZ
The name is deceptive, for sure…purists will argue that the Paul Butterfield Blues Band played something other than, yet wholly inspired by, the blues. By the same measure, Martinez’ career is similar…he had “great stuff” but is only known for playing one position. The same camp that disputes the inclusion of the blues as rock tend to eat lunch with the same camp that disputes the designated hitter as a position.
DEEP PURPLE > MARK McGWIRE
This brutal British combo was part of the conspiracy that created the genre known as “Heavy Metal,” just as McGwire was part of the conspiracy to bring the appeal of Baseball back into the hearts of the young after the 1994 Baseball strike. The question is: would they have been as formidable without the drugs??
PETER GABRIEL > GREG MADDUX
Gabriel transcended his career as “the strange front man of Genesis” and forged a path of his very own. Maddux did the same as he voyaged beyond “that really good pitcher for the Cubs” as a four-time Cy Young winner and 18-time Gold Glove winner (more than anyone else in MLB history), regardless of what team he ended up pitching for. Can you separate the individual success of the performer from the rest of the group? Well, yes you can.
THE METERS > LEE SMITH
The Meters were from New Orleans, LA; Lee Smith was from Jamestown, LA (just outside of Shreveport). The Rock Hall calls the Meters “one of the tightest and hardest-grooving ensembles R&B has ever seen.” Lee Smith was one of the tightest and hardest-grooving pitchers a lot of people had ever seen. Think about that whatever you like, but you know it’s true.
CAT STEVENS > MOISES ALOU
An otherwise pedestrian career, mired in a single act of controversy. Everyone jump on the peace train!! [clap clap clap]
LINK WRAY > ERIC GAGNE
Influential, established new boundaries, a skilled talent renowned for wielding a single instrument in a dangerous fashion for a concise moment in time; a performer who despite all those accolades, only enjoyed success briefly enough to serve as an answer in a trivia contest. Once you get past the hair, what else is there?
LINDA RONSTADT > DON MATTINGLY
Clearly, there is a reasonable line of demarcation between Tier 1 and Tier 2 talent. AC/DC sells out the most unreasonably sized amphitheaters, can Linda Ronstadt do that, even with her string of hits and awards? Can Def Leppard do that? Sure they can! But they aren’t in the Hall of Fame and AC/DC is! What the heck is my point? My point is that many may consider Ronstadt as Tier 2 talent, and they might be right…Don Mattingly might be considered the same. Just think about him as the Linda Ronstadt of the New York Yankees. When will I be loved?
LL COOL J > LUIS GONZALEZ
2001 World Series! Game 7! MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT!!
NIRVANA > CRAIG BIGGIO
The band spent their entire career as a band from Seattle that made the world forget about hair metal; the man spent his entire career as a Houston Astro that made the world forget about what position he was playing at the moment. Just look at a picture of Nirvana, for a moment. It’s OK, I’ll wait until you’re done. Now, look at a picture of Craig Biggio. Looks just like Nirvana.
KISS > JEFF BAGWELL
Frankly, if you had a machine that could turn a man into a rock band, Bagwell would certainly emerge as KISS. KISS exposed their flair and firepower fully from day one, and always could be expected to show up any place, any time, as KISS. What you see is what you get. Some critics question the effects of their use of makeup and costumes, and how those unnatural means may have contributed to their success. We all know the truth…KISS went on to shed both, remain successful (if not more so) and proved to the world that they were clean, and had been the whole time. So if you’re giving Bagwell a hard time, just stop doing that right away, thank you.
HALL AND OATES > BARRY BONDS
Showed promise and power early in their careers, critically acclaimed yet forgotten on the charts. They used hairspray and Chess King fashion sense to increase their potential to succeed on a higher level, were successful in doing so right off the bat, and the hits just kept on coming. AND NOW EVERYBODY HATES THEM!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Otherwise known as “The Baseball Enthusiast”, Stevo-sama is a scorekeeping addict who scores every game he watches and/or attends, and typically posts these scoresheets on his blog with a game story of one sort or another. Stevo is a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and a self-proclaimed proponent of the Scorekeeping Revolution. You can follow him on Twitter at @yoshiki89.