I was planning on writing about something pithy and funny today. Something like random links found on the internet. Or cute cat pictures. Or internet memes. Then the baseball Hall of Fame ballot results were announced.
It’s an embarrassment. A huge embarrassment on many levels. It makes me angry and sad and makes me wonder if baseball–as an organization surrounding the sport itself–realizes just how much it is a part of the fabric of our communal history.
It’s an embarrassment to baseball as an organized professional sport because they couldn’t even manufacture one inductee for this year, and it could be reasonably argued that at least four or five of those guys deserve to be in the Hall for one reason or another: Craig Biggio because he was a very solid player who was stuck on a mostly lousy Astros team forever, but showed great character by playing for the same team for most of his career. Jack Morris, primarily because I’m a homer and think he deserves in just on the strength of game seven of the ’91 World Series alone, but he had one hell of a career on top of the most exciting World Series game ever. Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling: all great players who deserve recognition on some level. But none of them got the nod.
It’s a horrible thing that no one will be inducted this year to the shrine to the game–yes, it’s first and foremost to the players, but overall, the Hall of Fame celebrates the entire history of baseball–and that’s a slap in the face to what it represents. And refuses to acknowledge the passion of the fans.
It’s an embarrassment to the players. Four guys on the list this year live under the cloud of steroids, and maybe rightfully so they didn’t get in. Some of the others have reputations as difficult and even unfriendly players to the media (Morris, Schilling). Some didn’t get in because they were overshadowed by the crappiness of the teams they played on and didn’t have strong enough numbers to be recognized as a great player on a lousy club. But this result should show all players that they aren’t just recognized as players, they’re recognized as people and for how they conducted their careers.
Jenni’s probably yelling at this point about our ongoing argument about “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Pete Rose: I think Jackson should get in and Rose shouldn’t. She says if one gets in, both should because the same standard should apply to both. And maybe after this, she’s right: Jackson, whether he knew it or not, appears to have been paid for his role in throwing the series in 1919; Rose bet on his own games. If I can argue Jackson deserves getting in based purely on his numbers, Rose certainly deserves it too.
It’s an embarrassment to the process and the Baseball Writers of America. The annual vote is widely acknowledged to be nothing more than a beauty contest. The writers have favorite players, based on accessibility, skills, popularity, and the like. And this probably reflects that more than any other vote: Morris had a great career, won multiple World Series rings, and had the ego of a great pitcher to go with it, making few writers like him as a person. And I know that most of them probably looked on this vote as a chance to put the four steroid-related players in their place for a bit, but still, even then Roger Clemens might deserve something.
But most of all, how could the writers’ association be so stupid as to actually not elect a single person this year? It really is nothing more than a backhanded slap to the fans that says “we don’t think any of these players, any one of whom many of you loved and adored, deserves recognition. So there. Pfft.” Their singular statement as a group by leaving the incoming class empty acknowledges that they believe their knowledge and appreciation of the game is better than anyone else’s. And that’s flat-out wrong.
I do look forward to the announcement of the incoming class because it’s a celebration of the game, and specifically a celebration of the game that’s past: these guys all played 5, 10, or even 20 years ago. And it’s fun to recall watching them play and feel like I did watching Jack Morris pitch into the 11th inning in 1991, or even the excitement of the home run chase between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa. But this just looks at those memories and refuses to acknowledge them for the history they are.
See you tomorrow.