First things first: I’ve accepted that this is a hopeless case. Abraham Lincoln won’t make it into the Hall this year, or any year. The pointy-headed math-geeks who have hijacked our culture have no time for an Honest Abe; they glance over his stat sheet, note the blank spaces with a sneer, and conclude that the rest of us ignoramuses are suffering from a sad delusion. No matter how much we might revere the guy, the numbers reveal the truth: the Great Emancipator just didn’t put up the “value” of a Tim Raines or an Alan Trammell or whatever sabermetric darling they’re mooning over lately.
Well, I’ve got news for the geeks. Unless you watch this glorious sport of ours with your nose buried in a slide-rule — and that, I’ll maintain till the day I die, is not watching at all — the numbers aren’t, and never will be, everything. The numbers don’t tell you how the heart of every Yankee soldier skipped a beat when Abe stepped on the field at Antietam. The numbers don’t have much to say about the resounding poetry that left his lips that day at Gettysburg. And the numbers are plain useless when it comes to telling of the cloud that darkened the Union after that fateful evening at Ford’s Theatre.
Consider these other intangibles:
– As the first Republican president, and the first to be born outside the 13 original colonies, Lincoln forever changed the political landscape.
– Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is the most quoted speech in American history.
– Lincoln remains the only President to hold a patent.
Here’s a question, then, for the statheads. If the rest of us are suffering from a delusion, then what of the two million souls who proudly voted Lincoln into office in 1864? What of the three million slaves who were given their dignity back, in one fell swoop, by his magnificent Proclamation? What of the countless scholars who have rated him, over the years, as the greatest of American Presidents? Were they equally deluded? Are we to chuck out their cherished beliefs like last week’s potatoes, simply because they can’t be captured by “the numbers”?
The Old Railsplitter won’t make it into Cooperstown in my lifetime. I’ve resigned myself to that fact. But no matter what his Wins Above Replacement says, when the Union is on the line, there’s still no one I’d trust more with my country. And I’d suggest the geeks resign themselves to that.
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