The longer he goes without getting the call from the Hall of Fame, the easier it is for Ron Santo to rebound.
The former Cubs third baseman led the balloting by the Veterans Committee but still fell nine shy of gaining the necessary 75 percent of the votes by the 64 living Hall of Famers.Santo received 39 votes, or 61 percent. No one on the ballot came close to getting in, the fourth straight time the Veterans Committee has failed to elect a member.
"I thought it was going to be harder to deal with, but it wasn't," Santo said by phone from his Scottsdale, Ariz., home.
"I'm just kind of fed up with it. I figure, hey, it's not in the cards. But I don't want to go through this every two years.
It's becoming a sad tradition around the Santo household every two years, at least since he first appeared on the Veterans Committee ballot in 2003.
Santo gets his hopes up, hears everyone tell him this time it's going to happen, and then sits and waits by the phone for the call that never comes.
As much as he tried to downplay it beforehand, the optimistic Santo was buoyed by the fact he fell only five votes shy in the most recent election in 2007.
"Everybody felt this was my year," he said. "I felt it. I thought it was gonna happen, and when it didn't ... what really upset me was nobody got in again.
"It just doesn't make sense.
"It'll be eight years now that they've voted and not let anybody in. And personally, I feel like there's a lot of guys that should've been in, not just me."
The Cubs organization was upset over the snub and shocked that it happened again.
"I was hoping and praying today would be his day," manager Lou Piniella said. "There was a gasp in the room when [it was announced] it was a no-go."
General manager Jim Hendry called it a "terribly devastating day" for Santo.
"Hopefully he can take solace in the fact that those of us who know him know he should be in," he said. "I think the city of Chicago and all the Cubs people and all [the media] have always acknowledged that. I feel terribly for him."
Santo would like to see a change in the system, with a vote taken every year instead of every other year, and perhaps a smaller voting committee.
If they continue to have elections and no one is getting in, what purpose does the Veterans Committee serve?
"They have to change it," he said. "They're going to still have a Veterans Committee, but it should go back to where it was [in the '90s] when Bill Mazeroski got in. I think they should have a committee of maybe 12 guys that vote, that's the way to do it.
"Evaluate everyone, but instead of having all the [Hall of Fame] players vote, maybe just a couple players, a couple broadcasters, a couple writers ... a much smaller group. That's how [Joe] Gordon got in."
Gordon, the former second baseman with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, was voted in by a Veterans Committee group considering players from the pre-1943 era.
Only 12 people are on that committee, and Gordon received 10 of the 12 votes.
Santo is resigned that he may not get into the Hall of Fame.
While most fans seem to believe he's worthy of the honor, they're not the ones doing the voting.
"It wasn't going to change my life," Santo said. "I'm OK. But I know I've earned it."