No Hall of Fame for PED-abusers

Posted: January 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on No Hall of Fame for PED-abusers

No Hall of Fame induction in 2013

Last week they annouced the Baseball Writers Association of America‘s results for the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot

, and while few were surprised by individual results, it was somewhat shocking to see that no single player had received enough votes to make it into the Hall this year.

English: Barry Bonds' 756th home run ball in t...

Barry Bonds’ 756th home run ball in the Baseball Hall of Fame, with the asterisk branded on it by Mark Ecko. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, this year’s is not the first ballot to be tainted by players from the Steroid Era. With Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and others retiring years earlier than their contemporaries, we have seen how the vast majority of Hall-voters agreed with public opinion; that those who assailed baseball’s greatest records should not be rewarded and enshrined for their deplorable behaviour. In fact, I’d say it goes so far that I have a lesser opinion of a given writer when they disclose that they did vote for McGwire or Sosa to be immortalized. Sure, the writers did not sign-up to be the arbiters of public opinion and infamy; they became writers because they love the sport and covering the game is as close to playing the game as some of us will ever get. That said, the responsiblity for the message sent to young children and struggling players everywhere should be shared by anyone who can cast a vote, and should not be treated lightly.

To those who advocate for Hall of Fame selection based on stats, devoid of any character requirement, I say why not get rid of the writers entirely and go for a computerized system? If a player’s career stats place them within the top n% of all players up to that date, let them in, if not, don’t argue for their relevance. Of course, that would mean that some great players who toiled on sub-par teams end up getting cut off because they ranked just outside that metric.

Barry Bonds is already in the Hall of Fame in some regard by virtue (ha!) of being the current Home Run record holder. What I can’t stand, though, is the mockery that his enshrinement would make of the accomplishments of those men who held the title before him. Think of Ruth, how he almost single-handedly saved the game after the Black Sox scandal in 1919. Think of Hank Aaron, fighting the bigotry and ugliness that America lobbed at him relentlessly as he marched towards history. Think of Roger Maris and what he encountered as he challenged Ruth’s single-season record. Maris’s entry was marked with an asterisk simply because the season had more games in 1961 than it did in Ruth’s time.

Sure, we have an enourmous tendendcy to exalt our sports figures, especially in baseball where we have records of greatness going to back to the start of the previous century. At one point Ruth and Aaron and all the others in the Hall were just guys anyone could pay to see, but in their continued representation in the Hall of Fame, we are actively telling future generations to look at them, consider not only their careers but their story as a whole, and see what we hope each individual can aspire to.

For this reason alone, I can’t imagine ever voting for Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, or even Roger Clemens. That last name strikes a bitter cord with me, because as a life-long Yankees fan, I’ve loathed The Rocket as a foe, and celebrated him as our ace on the mound for years. To go from such respect, to now see the man who lied before Congress about his cheating, I can’t imagine teaching my nephews to look up to him.


Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, this opens the question about what we will do with the last few standings. Both Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez have admitted to steroid use, then continued to test clean and perform at a major league level. Hell, A-Rod won 2 MVP awards while playing in New York, and Pettitte is the all-time winningest post-season pitcher, with 245 wins in the most demanding division in all of sports, but their use of PED’s early in their careers will surely weigh against them when their time comes. I’ll be personally conflicted, and cannot honestly say how I’d react if I wasnt a Yankees fan. Can we condone those who admit to it and continue to perform while still indiciting those who lied, cheated and stole for their entire careers?

I think the best action for the writers this years would have been to elect a single player who could stand as an example of the way the game should be played. Someone like last year’s Barry Larkin, a firm solitary figure who could stand alone on that wall and be a shining example of good sportsmanship amoungst a dark era.

After all, Amercia still needs it’s super-heroes, especially when there’s so many villains.

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