The Future is Unwritten

One of the things I absolutely detest about baseball and football Hall of Fame voting is when people say "They need to wait a year or two." A player either is or is not a Hall of Famer. You're not going to see anything more out of them. "Yeah, but I need to see them not play for another five years or so before I know for sure." "Yeah, but I don't want that guy to accidentally get in on the first ballot, so I'm going to make him wait." Asinine. When I become Dictator of Halls of Fame, people who do that will be first against the wall.

Except I'm doing it myself with Cindy Parlow and, starting this ballot, Shannon MacMillan. I need to see them not play for about five years or so.

Weak defense first - baseball and football Halls make you wait five years before you're even on the ballot. ("You" of course being the former player. Hey, you were awesome. I was a huge fan.) The Soccer Hall has you wait only three. And since retirement is based on calendar year, it's much more like two. Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy probably still haven't cleaned out their lockers. So we already don't have the distance from playing careers that allow us to put their achievements in perspective.

The other problem is that Parlow and MacMillan are women.

I stared at the screen for about five minutes just now, thinking "How funny would it be if I didn't elaborate? If I just posted, and walked away to have breakfast?" No controversy like cheap controversy.

In all seriousness, there is no historical perspective in women's soccer right now. The national team began in 1985, for heaven's sake. The United States of the 1990's was unquestionably a terrific dynasty - but what do we have to compare it to?

So far, apart from Hamm and Foudy, we have Michelle Akers, April Heinrichs, Carin Jennings, Carla Overbeck, and Shannon Higgins. Still out there as cast-iron, rock solid deserving locks are Joy Fawcett, Brianna Scurry, Kristine Lilly, and Brandi Chastain. Probably Abby Wambach will make it no matter what. I'd throw in Tiffeny Milbrett as well. Then of course, there are Parlow and Shane-o-Mac.

That's an absolutely astounding number of contemporary players to make a Hall of Fame. And these are the women who are already in, or are 90%+ likely to. At this rate, effectively every player who started on a World Cup winner or Olympic gold medal team will put on a red jacket.

That might be fair. That might be a completely accurate representation of how good each of these women were, and they would be stars in any generation. There's no way we can know right now. If World Cups continue to be hard to come by, and if WPS flops again, then there's no question. But if what Parlow and MacMillan achieved turns out to be merely very very good, instead of all-time great, then we'll just end up on the women's side of the Hall what we have with the men - a bunch of guys with really meh qualifications getting in because very similar players also got in.

Of course, if the standards for women's players slip that far, Tracy Ducar should start practicing her speech.