It wasn’t the end of the world

by Bill Chuck on January 10, 2013

It wasn’t the end of the world as we know it yesterday, it was simply the eighth time that no one was selected for the Hall of Fame.

Scott Miller of CBSSports.com has a brilliant column this morning.

Here is his opening –

Outrage?

I’ll tell you what’s an outrage: That 20 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America did not vote for Ted Williams in 1966 (out of 302 ballots). That 11 whack-jobs decided Babe Ruth was not worthy of their votes in 1936 (226 ballots). That, somehow, 36 writers bypassed Jackie Robinson in 1962 (160 ballots).

That the first strong wave of the Steroid Era washed back out to sea Wednesday without anyone establishing a beachhead on the shores of Cooperstown is not an outrage.

It is to be applauded on many fronts (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa). It is to be constructively criticized on others (Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Tim Raines).

But what it is not is a disaster, or catastrophe, or the coming of the apocalypse.

Miller is spot on here. What did you all expect? Did you honestly believe that after all the acrimony, all the testimony, all the books, all the trials, all the lies, all the yelling, all the crying, all the embarrassment, all the denials, all the admissions, all the vitriol, all the words exchanged that this was going to be different today?

Really, what did you expect?

Did you think that the stain on the fabric of the game could be stopped that simply? When these players were using PEDs players all around them were suspected of using, why should their stench stop now?

The Hall of Fame yesterday paid the price for the bill rung up by a commissioner who heard and saw no evil; a group of owners who not only lit their cigars with $100 bills, they lit their $100 bills with other $100 bills as they watched the seats be filled with fannies watching home run derbies on a daily basis; the Major League Baseball Players Association and Donald Fehr who were uncompromising on the subject of drug testing with no concern about the health risks and damage to reputations caused by PEDs; the agents who rubbed their hands together like Snidely Whiplash; the members of the media who pay attention to every nuance in every game, pitch, at bat, pre- and post-game, yet somehow for so long stared in awe and missed this story; the good guys, the clean guys, the players who knew what was going on who kept the code of silence and are therefore complicit in this; and finally the fans who gorged themselves on the home run buffet until we couldn’t swallow another bite.

Everyone is guilty and yesterday the Hall paid the piper and it feels right.

Do you know Cooperstown’s full name?

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 10.33.45 AMIt is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I mention this because I look at both parts of its name. I’m uncomfortable enshrining Barry B*nds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmiero into a Hall of Fame. On the other hand, I have no problem with their accomplishments being recorded into a Hall of Records in the Museum.

A Hall of Records and even a permanent exhibition entitled the “Steroid Era” would fit in well with some of the others currently in the Museum:

  • Taking the Field: The 19th Century – Featuring baseball’s formative beginnings, it is an engaging interpretation of baseball’s early years.
  • 20th Century Baseball Time Line –  An exploration of baseball’s history by generation, it details baseball’s notable players, legendary teams and historic moments, including special exhibit space given to important stories including:
  • Babe Ruth Room – One of only two exhibits in the Museum honoring a single player – it looks at the game’s most recognizable star.
  • Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball – This space salutes the roles women have played in baseball at every level.
  • Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience – An exhibit detailing the history of African-Americans in baseball, from the Civil War through major league and beyond.
  • ¡Viva Baseball! – Opened in 2009, this interactive exhibit is dedicated to baseball in the Caribbean Basin countries.
  • Today’s Game – Capturing memories and milestones from the last several years, it features a locker containing recent artifacts for each of the 30 major league teams and a display with items from the most recent baseball season.
  • FENtennial: Fenway Park’s First 100 Years – temporary exhibit

Aren’t there known “bad” guys already in the Hall?

Whitey Ford scuffed, Gaylord Perry dripped, Mickey Mantle drank, and loads of players were green not with envy but with amphetamines. These are misdemeanors compared to the felonies of PEDs which proved to a weapon of mass destruction.

There are racists, misogynists, fascists, anti-Semites, homophobes, cocaine users, gamblers, gypsies, thieves and who knows what else already in the Hall. These are terrible human beings, but they did not change the game by their human fallacies. PED users did change the game. They altered the game when they played, they altered its history, and their effect continues for players like Jose Bautista who spends most of his interviews explaining that he is not an abuser of drugs.

Should someone who had a “Hall of Fame career” before steroids be enshrined?

Find me a United States Marines Hall of Fame that has honored Lee Harvey Oswald.

Can a known steroid user ever be enshrined?

As adamant as I am on the issue I think we have to allow redemption.

Here’s what I was thinking, if named players admitted their use and apologized that they hurt the game, hurt their opponents, hurt their teammates, hurt the history of the game, proved to be a negative role model, and vowed to do what ever they could to prevent the use of PEDs including cooperating with the authorities and agencies, they would then be worthy of a second chance of reconsideration for the Hall.

Nothing bad happened yesterday. There will be many players deservedly honored for many years to come. It’s hard to believe but the person who summed it up best was Curt Schilling who wrote:

“Perception in our world is absolutely reality. Everybody is linked to it. You’re either a suspected user or you didn’t do anything to actively stop it. I fall into the category of being one of the players who didn’t do anything to stop it. This is part of the price that we’re paying.”

 

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