The Hall of Fame maelstrom of petulance has come and gone for another year. By electing no one, the BBWAA didn’t really address the problems and conflicts confronting their electorate – many of whom hemmed and hawed and voiced their collective angst over trying to make clear-minded decisions on an issue as complex (?) as this year’s Hall vote.
One has to wonder if the more entrenched members, the honorary voters who expressed a burning desire to see cheaters punished, are happy with this outcome. If the self-appointed guardians of the hallowed Halls can slap one and other on the back over a job well done. Judging by some of the columns published in the wake of yesterday’s shutout, that doesn’t seem like the case.
Ken Rosenthal, who made some eyebrow-raising comments on the MLB Network yesterday (possibly attributed to creating 3+ hours of live TV with nothing to talk about), says electing nobody to the Hall is no great travesty.
This is a one-year aberration, largely attributable to the ambivalence of many voters, including myself, about candidates who were linked to steroids. But next year, there will be so many inductees, I fully expect to hear complaints that too many are entering the Hall.
Jonah Keri of Grantland calls for change in the voting process, but also believes the deserving players will, by and large, get in before their eligibility is up.
As bad as this shutout looks right now, it likely won’t happen again for a long time. The voting populace will get smarter as new blood filters in and others leave the voting ranks, whether through natural attrition or expulsion for no longer covering the game. It might seem preposterous that Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell and Curt Schilling and Tim Raines aren’t already in, leaving aside more polarizing candidates like Bonds and Clemens. But in time, I do think the vast majority of worthy candidates will get their due, sooner or later. Even the ones who are keeping voters up at night right now.
I tend to agree. The standard voting curves sort of go out the window next year. If Bonds and Clemens do not see a massive surge in support in 2014, they might be in trouble. Waiting and seeing how the voters react is probably the right call at this time.
Jayson Stark of ESPN spits hot fire over the skewed priorities of the Hall voters, wondering who and what they’re attempting to protect in an impassioned screed.
Do we really want a Hall of Fame that basically tries to pretend that none of those men ever played baseball? That none of that happened? Or that none of that should have happened?
Hey, here’s a bulletin for you: It happened.
The ’90s happened. The first few years of the 21st century happened. I saw it with my very own eyeballs. So did you.
It all happened, on the lush green fields of North America, as crowds roared and cash registers rung. It … all … happened.
And how did it happen? The sport let it happen. That’s how.
Hard to argue with this excerpt of Stark’s greater points as well. Too many attempts at retroactive justice, too many writers attempting to re-write history they helped write in the first place. The same men who ignored Jack Morris for award recognition during his playing career and even Hall of Fame votes over the first ten years of his eligibility now express disbelief that his all-time great gets so little respect.
Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley is not a BBWAA voter (yet) but the lifelong Phillies fan writes with incredible passion about a night in which he witnessed Barry Bonds do what only Barry Bonds could do before debunking the myth that Hall entry validates the career of a player like Barry Bonds.
The Hall of Fame is not the Ministry of Truth. The emotions you felt watching these players — the excitement, the frustration, the joy — was real, and an organization of self-indulgent sportswriters will never have agency over that.
This sentiment expressed here at Getting Blanked and DJF more than once in the recent past. Honoring the players with a bust and sunny weekend ceremony is nice and all but the stuff on the field is what we remember. It is what we care about.
If there is one takeaway from this Hall nonsense, it is that people do care. Lots of people. Whether or not they agree on the terms and values and character clauses, more people care about the baseball Hall of Fame than any of the other major North American sports. The Hall in Cooperstown matters to a great number of people – all of whom love baseball. Not a bad problem to have, in the end.
And the rest
Just a single palate cleanser link – Angels GM Jerry Dipoto writers a thoughtful letter in response to a fan, assuring the nervous Angels supporter that Mike Trout isn’t going anywhere for a long while. When Dipoto welcomes the letter writer “to the club of those who love the great game of baseball” it is important to remember that so many in the game are in it for that very reason.
Guys like Dipoto could probably make just as much money with one-third the headaches in another business. But and so many like him sought a career — a life — in baseball because they couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
It is that love and passion that fuels these increasingly acrimonious Hall of Fame debates every year. Something we all would do well to remember in the middle of the name-calling and number-crunching and character-impugning.
We all want the same thing in the end: for Murray Chass to just shut the fuck up already.