Baseball HOF: Don’t Look to the Writers to Fix It
Photo by Kevin Rushforth
No surprise: MLB announced that no players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2013. Also not a surprise in the outpouring of posturing, mostly about the writers being sanctimonious and that the stats aren’t being erased…”SOMEBODY hit all those HRs”.
Timeout. As Jayson Stark put it in his article this whole steroids/HOF candidacy situation is a mess. However the whole discussion has been what the writers should do to fix this mess…acknowledge the best players of the period and wave ‘em in. I don’t believe that’s the writers’ job nor should it be.
Let’s look from the baseball writers’ perspective. As a group they love the sport, treasure the history and are trying to do the right thing. But MLB and the Hall is putting them in a terrible situation to have to opine:
- When you have star players who did superhuman deeds (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa) and cheated the game, how do you square that with history?…and with current inductees who oppose the cheaters’ inclusion?
- How do you judge a Clemens whose career was basically over at 35 as a marginal HOFer (as I previously wrote) and then climbed Pitching Mt. Rushmore on PEDs?
- How do you judge alleged users (Piazza, Bagwell) who might not be major leaguers without PEDs? (as Jose Canseco described himself). Or big leaguers who never would have approached a HOF career (McGwire, Palmeiro) being clean?
- How would you feel if you voted for a guy…especially a known suspect…and later found out he was a juicer?
- What happens if the 2003 bad boy list comes out?
- How will all this be viewed in hindsight in a few years as we know more?
I believe writers are doing the logical and right thing in essentially doing nothing. Nobody with a blemish on their baseball record is entitled to a 1st ballot wave through the velvet ropes. And no doubt PEDs is a baseball blemish. Let’s chill, all of this will be clearer with more information and hindsight.
Jayson Stark also discusses deciding what the Hall is…museum or cathedral, with ‘museum’ being a chronicle of history and ‘cathedral’ implying a sacred place for the morally upright. He suggests it should be a ‘museum’. But a museum presents art and doesn’t judge the artists, it doesn’t tell us who are the greatest. ‘Shrine’ is more like it, a place to revere the history and the greatest players. Rightly or wrongly Shoeless Joe Jackson isn’t in the HOF, same for Pete Rose, is the Hall diminished by that or is that just part of the history?
This problem was created by willful neglect by 1) Bud Selig, 2) the owners, and 3) the Players’ Association. To dump this on the writers is a further act of willful neglect by MLB brass. What should happen? The Commissioner and Players’ Association should come clean, make a statement about what happened, reveal all and how these players should be viewed historically (especially for HOF purposes). Maybe a hypo needle on the plaque, maybe a separate wing, maybe just a permanent exhibit about the PED era. I don’t care. But this is their mess and they should clean it up, not dump it in the writers’ lap.
We know that’s fantasyland. When inevitably Bud Selig’s name comes up for Hall of Fame consideration I can only hope he gets McGwire-type support (17%)…at least McGwire had the self-awareness to say he wouldn’t vote for himself for the Hall of Fame (he even came clean to his young kids), the 1st one here to take full responsibility.
Who’s on deck? Bud? Anybody?