The Baseball Hall of Fame; A.K.A., Writers Do-Over
Well, by now its official. For the first time since 1996, there will be no one enshrined in Cooperstown this year.
On the ballot are six of the greatest players of the 90s, but realistically, only two of them will probably be enshrined. Good news for Astros fans. Biggio and Bagwell aside, the Hall of Fame has become a way for writers to strike back at the players they once lauded. You’ll see a lot of talk about the integrity of the game, and how these players deceived, lied, and cheated their way to the top. Smarter writers have pointed out how silly an argument that is because there are players enshrined who doctored the ball, stole signs, and took antihistamines, caffeine pills, and any assortment of performance enhancers that we don’t know about.
Some of those players enshrined played baseball when only white players were allowed. Sounds like a competitive advantage to me, but no one’s screaming about how it ruins the integrity of the game to have Ty Cobb in the hall of fame.
The truth is, had the baseball writers been better reporters, we wouldn’t even have this controversy. Look at the hypocrisy of some of these guys. NY Daily News sportswriter Mike Lupica wrote a book about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s epic summer of 98 entitled The Summer of ’98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America, a heartwarming story of how that summer and baseball enabled him to connect with his son.
Twelve years later, after McGwire apologized for using steroids (something I might add is what all sportswriters were calling for him to do), Lupica wrote an article entitled “Mark McGwire’s Apology for Using Steroids is All Apart of the Worldwide Lie” where he bashes McGwire for coming forward. Great lesson to teach your son Mike.
Some of these writers aren’t mad about steroids; they’re mad that these players duped them. But the evidence was blatant! These players were ballooning up like cartoon characters while producing at an unheard of rate. All the sportswriters wanted to talk about, however, was how these athletes were training harder than ever before and at an entirely new level. Wouldn’t that tip you off as well?
Look at Roger Clemens.
The guy was in his late thirties, somehow bigger than he’d ever been, and was amazingly working out like he was twenty-three? And that’s all because of his trainer Brian McNamee’s workout regimen? I know hindsight is 20/20 but COME ON. Dig a little bit deeper into that, please! Most baseball writers during the nineties were like the town of Springfield in this clip:
Worse than that though are the writers that ban anyone who played during the 90s just for the fear that they may have somehow been tainted by steroids. That’s how guys like Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Curt Schilling found themselves on the outs despite being deserving candidates. There are also the writers who feel that no one should get in on their first try, and the writers who won’t vote for one of the best DH’s ever (Edgar Martinez) simply because he played DH. If he’s one of the best ever at his position, he should be in the HOF.
There is hope, though. In a few years, the guys who have spent their time learning the advanced metrics of the game will start to vote, and they’ll leave things like morality alone. It should only matter what happened on the diamond, not the theatrics that helped move these sportswriters’s newspapers. I’m excited for the day when baseball writers value numbers over their gut and instinct. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about advance baseball metrics, and I don’t pretend to (VORP is a sound my stomach makes after too many burritos). Still, I’ll take the word over a guy who has pored over stats and numbers and has factored every aspect of a players worth, than the guys who love watching dingers and spitting on the players who hit them.