When the Baseball Writers Association of America voted no one into the Hall of Fame yesterday, my initial reaction was a complete lack of surprise. But as I've read articles quoting more and more writers about their voting (or lack thereof), my level of outrage has risen.
At this point, there's just one conclusion -- the voters of the BBWAA are a bunch of sanctimonious blowhards.
Let's get two points correct straight out of the box:
First, the Hall of Fame is a building that houses a museum in upstate New York. It is not a holy shrine. There's no magical light that shines when you enter. Enya music doesn't greet you upon opening the door. You pay your entrance fee, just like any other museum, and you walk around and learn about the sport of baseball. Part of that involves learning about the men who have played the game at the highest level of the game. Because those men are human beings, the museum includes racists, drunks, drug abusers, gamblers, cheats, womanizers, and fighters. In fact, I have no doubt someone in the Hall of Fame had something to do somehow with the annihilation of some small struggling country somewhere halfway around the world. In other words, the building is filled with a litany of outright assholes. But, it's not a building that is about cataloging the best human beings to have ever played professional baseball. It's a building that catalogs the best baseball players.
Second, baseball writers are just that -- people who are paid to write about baseball for a living. They are not moralists. They are not ethicists. They are not drug warriors. And they certainly aren't paid to protect children from the vagaries of life. They are paid to describe and analyze a game that grown men play with a bat, a ball, and a glove. Some are chosen to vote for members of the Hall of Fame. But they are not chosen to impose their morality on a game that has a history as crooked as any institution out there.
To fail to vote into that museum in upstate New York some of the best players who have ever been on the field is absurd. Ask anyone to list the best pitchers ever, and the short list will undoubtedly include Roger Clemens. Ask anyone to list the best hitters ever, and that short list will include Barry Bonds. There may be a Venn diagram that overlaps with the list of biggest assholes and cheats to ever play the game that has both of those names right in the center, but that's of no matter. They played the game at the highest level, and there's no reason to keep their names out of a museum that catalogs that. Putting them in does nothing more than acknowledge what they did on the field. They can still be, just like countless others cataloged in that museum, horrible human beings.
And folks like Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, who have never been linked to steroids? They're kept out because they played in the same era? Completely and absolutely absurd. If that's the standard, then kick out everyone who played before 1947, when competition was artificially deflated because of the racists who ran the game and kept some of the best ballplayers out of baseball because of the color of their skin. The entire era was tainted, so keep the players who played in it out as well.
And then how about anyone from then until the mid-80s? Greenies were everywhere, and I'm sure many players were using cocaine on a regular basis. And then how about anyone who has received a cortisone shot to enable them to even take the field with their balky bodies? Or used some high-energy caffeine product to get over the effects of playing 162 games in just about 180 days, while traveling all over a massive continent? Drugs that enhance performance -- by the very definition!
But now we're getting absurd, which isn't necessary to reach the only conclusion that's available here -- the baseball writers are taking on a job that they are neither fit for nor charged with doing. They are acting like sanctimonious blowhards who want a greater sense of their own jobs and a greater sense of the institutions they are a part of.
Get over it. You are writers and this is baseball. You are, and this is, nothing more.