The Soccer Hall of Fame may be trapped in the Phantom Zone, but that doesn't mean there aren't players to enshrine. So, let's look at this year's ballot!
Oh, okay, the Fed has the list. The new faces this year are Cobi, Pope, Carlos Llamosa, Jason Kreis, Chris Armas, and Danielle Slaton.
....okay, Cobi and Eddie Pope. See you next year.
Gosh, I was hoping this year's discussion would have been more exciting.
Wait...Eddie is a lock, isn't he? It's one of those things where, hell, Agoos is in, you have to put in Eddie Pope, right?
But wait, Earnie Stewart hasn't been voted in yet. Yikes.
It's fairly ridiculous to say that Danielle Slaton shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as Mia Hamm. I just did it, after all, didn't I? It's not hard. "Mia Hamm is in the Hall of Fame, and Danielle Slaton won't be." Another easy sentence. I don't get that expression.
Llamosa, Kreis and Armas probably go into the elite MLS limbo from whence Agoos and Preki only recently managed to disentangle themselves. Will they, or anyone else, join Cobi and Pope?
Let's go down the list. It's not like I've been writing a bunch of tediously overextended posts this year already.
STEVE TRITTSCHUH - it's possible that in a different era, like this one, he'd have been more appreciated. Instead, he helped put in the early cracks in the European wall that Harkes, Reyna, Bocanegra and Dempsey eventually broke through. The Veterans came through for Mike Windischmann and Fernando Clavijo, so that might be his better bet.
MIKE BURNS - Guarantee you the Veterans will vote him in. The media sure as shootin' won't.
PETER VERMES - see Trittschuh. I've been voting for him all this time, and what a thankless task that's been.
CHRIS HENDERSON - part of that generation, but come on, he didn't even play in a World Cup.
These next categories are inspired by Andy Mead, who described Hall of Fame voters as falling into three categories.
(1) Those who won't vote for women.
This category has a point this year.
CINDY PARLOW, and SHANNON MacMILLAN - out of context, they should be locks. (TIFFANY ROBERTS and TISHA VENTURINI-HOCH, less so.) But - okay, look at the Golden Generation team, from 1996 to 1999. Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Carla Overbeck, Carin Jennings-Gabarra and Mariel Margaret Garciaparra are already in. Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly will be elected by acclamation. So should Tiffeny Milbrett and Briana Scurry, despite not being quite as popular. That's ten players right there, direct contemporaries of Parlow, MacMillan Venturini and Roberts. (That's not counting Markgraf and Rampone, who can also expect serious Hall of Fame consideration, but weren't crucial to the 1996 and 1999 teams.)
Were the '96-'99 teams so freaking amazing that nearly every player should be inducted? Or are MacMillan and Parlow getting as much attention simply because there's a gap in retirements?
I say Parlow yes, MacMillan no. Naturally, Mac got nearly twenty more votes than Parlow last year, and is the holdover candidate most likely to make it this year, along with Stewart, so what do I know.
Andy's category (2) - those who won't vote for foreigners.
MARCO ETCHEVERRY, MAURICIO CIENFUEGOS, CARLOS VALDERRAMA, PETER NOWAK, and RAUL DIAZ ARCE would be your victims here - I'm listing them roughly in order of unjustly ignored. Apparently MLS success isn't enough for some people. But then, Jeff Agoos and Preki had US national team careers barely more successful than these guys.
If you must have a lot of caps on your c.v. to be considered, then that will leave all these guys out, plus Armas, Kreis, and ROBIN FRASER. Well, I'm voting for all of them. Screw you too. Eh, okay, maybe not Diaz Arce. And Jason Kreis...well, geez, he never won anything except an Open Cup. (Fraser won lots of trophies with the Colorado Foxes. Although come to think of it, at some point I'd like to go a year without voting for the Chivas USA coach.)
Category (3), according to Andy? Those who won't vote for ROY LASSITER.
And I am their King.
That's the thin gruel we're asked to accept - a man whose national team achievements were dwarfed by Roy Wegerle, and whose only remaining MLS milestone is an ongoing testimony to how much fun forwards can have against nine expansion teams. His career MLS goal-scoring records have been obliterated, and if we elect guys to the Hall based on one great season, then bring on Carlos Ruiz. If Stern John had stayed in MLS, for example, would Lassiter even have the single-season record today?
I'm voting for Herculez Gomez before I vote for Lassiter.
Well, I'm glad I got that off my chest.
Meanwhile, there's Llamosa, EARNIE STEWART, JOHN O'BRIEN and JOE-MAX MOORE, guys who actually played for the US national team.
Stewart probably makes it this year, finally. Dooley covered more ground last year, from roughly over half the votes to over 70%. Which is very good news for Earnie, and other former players who have so far been granted the Order of the Flipped Bird.
We may be seeing a shift towards more traditional Halls of Fame voting patterns...where one year a player isn't good enough for the Hall, and the next year he is.
Yeah, I guess that is pretty stupid, when you think about it. It implies every year a certain amount of voters saying "Alas! What an imbecile I was, not to appreciate the glory of Jeff Agoos!" or whoever. I realize there's an honor in being a "first ballot" Hall of Famer, but shouldn't they all be?
I mean...what has Earnie Stewart done this offseason, to make his playing career better? Just as much as Thomas Dooley did.
Dooley's resurgence is good news for Moore, who has the magic 100 caps number. His MLS career was indifferent, but so were those of Wynalda and Harkes. My problem with Joe-Max is that even in his national team prime, he was overshadowed or injured. Of course, Steve Sampson was the coach during his prime, so that probably didn't help. To me, he's as much a borderline case as Shannon MacMillan is for the women...but the women won lots and lots of medals.
Llamosa - well, if you were wildly in love with the 2002 World Cup, and the early DC United teams, then here's your man. Tony Sanneh will be around in a year or so too. If you do like Llamosa, keep in mind he has fewer caps than O'Brien. And if O'Brien had played in MLS instead of Holland, he'd have been a six-time All-Star, minimum.
Baseball writers have it so much easier. At least those guys all played in the same leagues. Unless they made the unwise decision to be born black before 1930, of course.
Then there's VICTOR NOGUEIRA. I never saw him play, but I have a pretty good reason:
We can dispense with his NASL career - a zero-time all-star in six seasons. That leaves his indoor career. And it's not an indoor Hall of Fame.
So who am I voting for?
Well, this is my ballot:
Have at it, fellow history-minded partisans.
The Hall also announced Veterans and Builder nominees, but I'm trying to cut down on the length of these posts. HA HA HA HA ah the gift of laughter.