“It’s a dirty game, is any man worthy a fame?” –Nas
I say this. You just can’t leave the Hall of Fame to people. It can’t be done. It shouldn’t be done. How are you going to ask people, I mean, people for Christ sakes, to judge the merits of their peers? Are you kidding me?
People **** at judgment. There’s this great word floating around Webster’s defined as hypocrisy, a label that at least 97 percent of the population falls under. To be a hypocrite is a great and noble thing, because you fit in. I’d be a liar if I didn’t cop to my own hypocrisy at times. How are we supposed to judge a person’s career properly if we fail in even judging ourselves?
You know something? I admire the guy that submitted an empty ballot. Sure, it’s a scummy move that cheapened the supposedly sacred voting process in the name of publicity, but he really had the right idea. Why should sportswriters be allowed to decide something so utterly important? 80 percent of them should have submitted empty ballots, sparing themselves of the mental gymnastics required to actually make a real decision. Decisions and judgments are entirely different things. A decision is a singular reaction to circumstance. It’s personal. It’s your call. A judgment is an exploratory rumination regarding external factors. It’s somebody else. To fire a coach, to criticize a player, to recoil at a fan base, this is second nature to many sportswriters. But, when forced to make a decision in their careers that they can actually be held accountable for, certainly a reversal of fortune, some these guys are exposed as laughably incompetent. I say some, because there are great sportswriters out there. Unfortunately, for every Gammons or Verducci, there’s a tag team duo of Skip Baylesses countering their noble efforts, and that’s just the way it is.
Honestly, how the **** is Goose Gossage not a Hall of Famer? I mean, is there a valid, concrete reason for the decisions of these voters?
Or do we just get spineless rhetoric, empty, yet emphatic sentiment, questioning the “dominance” of a particular player? Joe Sportswriter opines that Jack Morris wasn’t the “dominating” pitcher of the era. Well… allow me to retort. That is complete bull. When a sportswriter ponders the “dominance” of a player, all they are doing is admitting that this player, for whatever reason, didn’t appeal to their tastes, didn’t forcefully forge a conclave in their memory. It’s solely a matter of opinion. Hey, Bill Simmons: just because you wouldn’t buy a ticket to see Cal Ripken play doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great player, ok? He changed the shortstop position, forever. I’d say that’s a greater accomplishment than acquiring the hard earned admiration of the Sports Guy.
****, Randy Velarde was my favorite player back when I was 5. I thought he was awesome. Does that mean he really was? Of course not, and guess what, no matter how much I would pretend Velarde was kicking *** and taking names around the American League, it wasn’t really happening. Perception isn’t reality.
Bert Blelyven isn’t in the Hall because some random guy 20 years ago decided he was good, just not great. Who was the guy?
No one knows.
But one thing is for sure. Whatever guy it was that started such a completely unfounded, untrue idea, must have been plenty influential, because his blueprint is still being followed to this day.
See, there are no plausible, sensible reasons.
This can apply to the positively wacky Hall of Fame voting, where Dante Bichette can grab a couple of votes just for kicks, or any other affair in this wide world we live in.
There will always be a segment of the population that follows the crowd. Never mind if the crowd is stupid, kind of just shuffling around and mumbling about the good ole’ days, if there’s enough them, than by God, they will be followed.
Should steroid guys be elected into the Hall of Fame?
What about relievers, becoming more and more valuable by the season, and whose merits need to be acknowledged?
These are complicated queries that our future voters just will not be able to analyze with an even hand.
Mass stupidity will surely ensue.
A slugger will get elected to the hall of fame, on the basis of a spotless record entwined with strong statistics.
15 years later, one random night on an empty country road, his car will be pulled over by the local police department, after weaving erratically all over the road.
The cops will investigate his car, only after he pukes all over them of course, and discover steroid vials in his trunk, right next to his Hall of Fame plaque and an empty bag of Doritos.
Only one thing can be certain: the fallout will be mind numbingly stupid.
Talk radio callers will dial into “Mike and the slightly annoyed, yet too old to really care about anything anymore Mad Dog.” They will demand the slugger’s name and accomplishments repealed from the Hall of Fame. They will wallow in the tragedy of lost greatness. They will bemoan their kids, who have nobody to look up to anymore, not like they did, when President Rodriguez broke the home run record clean and was a role model to the youth all across America.
Confusion will reign.
When the dust settles, and the slugger is removed from Cooperstown, quoted in a Sports Illustrated column that he doesn’t really give a **** about the fans and “I’ll still be eating a steak dinner tonight”, nobody will learn anything.
There will still be glass heroes, paper villains, and empty morals to uphold.
My question is: why bother with all the nonsense?
Turn that beautiful building in Cooperstown strictly into a museum.
Put an end to the hypocrisy entrenched in the voting process, and the fairy tales it produces, where Ty Cobb is a Hall of Fame person and player, and Mark McGwire is not.
Give Big Mac one thing: he never killed anybody.
Acknowledge Baseball’s entire history, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We need to stop pretending. We need to embrace reality, and learn from our mistakes, instead of masking them with simplicity.
Life is complicated. People do the wrong thing, sometimes. Their errors shouldn’t be in vain.
The Hall should proudly exhibit Baseball’s best drunks, juicers, and amphetamine users.
Have a plaque of Raffy Palmeiro, pointing his finger in defiance.
Have a plaque of Barry Bonds, with an enlarged dome.
Have a plaque of Mo Vaughn, eating a sandwich.
The Hall of Fame is a great idea.
Allowing the “experts” to vote players into it is a great idea.
Safeguarding the game’s legacy from the ugliness imparted by steroids is a great idea.
But in life, there are ideas, and there is reality… and both are kind of messed up sometimes.
Live and learn.