” Are you kidding me? This guy should NOT be voting for the Hall of Fame. He is a joke. ”

Dave wrote on Jan 7, 2009 9:09 AM:

” Morons like this should have their votes taken away. “

There’s much more in this vein. (One of the more eloquent, from a commenter who dubbed him/herself “SimpsonSucks”: “Cork is a dork.”)

So…what’s it like to see your vote—and a column whose traditional audience is generally limited to retirees—met with such Web-based outrage?

Not so bad, actually. “It doesn’t bother me,” Simpson told me, “because, one, I’m too old, and my skin is too thick, and I’m a stubborn old mule from Missouri.”

And also because Simpson simply doesn’t spend much time on the Web, he says, so is pretty much immune to the heated rhetoric that often permeates its (virtually anonymous) conversations. “I think of the literature on the Internet in the same way that I think of the literature on the walls of public bathrooms,” Simpson says. “With the exception that the literature on the walls of public bathrooms is a little higher class.”

Simpson readily admits that the Henderson omission was an oversight (but: not a snub!). “I picked eight guys,” he says. “My mistake is that I could’ve picked two more, and I didn’t. And had I really used my brain, I would’ve picked two more guys, and I would’ve put Rickey Henderson on there for sure.”

Still, though, Simpson thinks, the anger directed at him is ridiculous. He’s just one guy, he says—his vote isn’t going to keep Henderson out of the HOF, so why make such a big deal about it? “No one in the history of baseball has ever gotten into the Hall of Fame on a unanimous vote,” he notes. “I mean, we’re talking about Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson—nobody. And if anyone out there thinks that Rickey Henderson can carry one of those guys’ shoes, he’s crazy.”

And he laughs off charges that the Henderson omission was a publicity stunt. “You couldn’t possibly sit down and say, ‘How could this ballot be controversial?’” Simpson says. His Rickey-less slate was a simple slip-up, nothing more. And the attempts to read more into it—publicity, senility, whatever—only validate, as far as Simpson is concerned, his take on the Web: “The Internet is like a sewer. It’s very necessary, but you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time there.”

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.