National Baseball Hall of Who Cares?

Pete Rose. MLB Hall of Famer. - Andy Lyons

Never has so much been written by so many about so little worth caring about. And here I am adding to it. I am such a hypocrite.

Do you like smashing your face into your desk once?  How about twice? Three times?  You do?  Then caring about who gets elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame is for you!

I decided to stop caring about this anymore.  Look at all the...uh..."cares" I give.

Look.  First of all, the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a lie to begin with.  Baseball did not begin in Cooperstown.  It's a creation myth.  Rounders was actually bitten by a radioactive spider somewhere near Hoboken or something.  We all know the Cooperstown thing is bogus, and we ignore it, or at least wink at it and move on.  This kind of lie is cute and folksy.  PED users' "lies" are life and death, though.

SUBTLE SEGUE.

The second lie is that all the greatest players are there.  They aren't, and we are all painfully aware of it.  I could see a "greatest" team of guys who are not there beating a team of the greats who are there.  Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Tim Raines...I don't even have to resort to putting Jack Morris on the team for grit and guts - the Missing Links could win on straight talent alone.

Another massive lie is that baseball writers are somehow uniquely qualified to determine who gets in.  Before the mainstreaming of the Baseball Enlightenment of the last twenty years or so, sportswriters were natural gatekeepers.  It's hard to blame people from, say, forty years ago for ignorance any more than you can blame people in the 1400's for not understanding germ theory and disease vectors.

In modern times, however, it is clear now that at least some writers are an actual impediment to picking the best players for the Hall of Fame.  We demand instant replay to get every play right, but the history of the game is decided in part by people who are the equivalent of blind umpires.  And there is no Disciplinary Board for bad Hall of Fame voters to face.  No malpractice suits.  No, they get to keep on going until they fall over dead or get accused of bouncing their nieces on their laps a little too vigorously at which point they...disappear quietly.

I decided a long time ago that I don't need Murray Chass or, formerly, Bill Conlin to tell me which ballplayers are great.  I have this.  And this.  And my own brain.  Giving a damn about what the outcomes are from a clearly flawed Hall of Fame voting process is just a way that I cede power over my emotions and reason to incompetent boobs whom history has passed by.  Why on earth would I give an on-ramp into my brain to people who could plausibly vote Jack Morris into the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

Do I care which players are the beneficiaries of currently fashionable morality as opposed to equally (or better-talented) players whose "character" is shady?  Or maybe "cheated"?  If we exclude cheaters or people who benefited from wrong-doing, maybe we should throw out everyone who played in segregated baseball, at least on the white side of the equation.  Let's throw out any player who may have bullwhipped his own son.  Lets throw out owners who colluded to suppress salaries.

I'm tired of the whole cat-and-mouse game represented by the current National Baseball Hall of Not Infamous, Except for Drunks, Drug-Addicts, Serial Philanderers, Virulent Racists, All-Around Sociopaths, and Bobby Cox.  Again, I don't need a baseball writer to lecture me on morality.

Basically, I'm done with the whole thing.  Maybe I'll wake up someday 20 years from now, and most of the old guard will be dead or retired, and a new generation of smarter writers will correct injustices.  The Veteran's Committee will, too.  And if they don't, I still won't care.

I'm not going to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  I'll never be a voter.  All the time and effort I would otherwise waste fretting and grumbling about the voting process or the outcomes is time and effort that I could redirect to more fruitful endeavors, such as bitching about the Phillies' self-defeating reactionary approach to managing their franchise.

Resolved: Until the Hall of Fame is moved to Hoboken, Pete Rose is rightfully inducted along with Barry Bonds into the Ty Cobb titanic asshole wing, and Murray Chass is given a shiv by someone like Rob Neyer, I am going to ignore the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Baseball is a great game.  Acknowledging that Pete Rose is among the greatest players ever will not diminish baseball.  It would make the National Baseball Hall of Fame less of a lie.  It would likely offer a great "teaching moment" to the world about the recognition that the game is a human construct, and as such, it is flawed. What better way to ensure its future relevance and vitality than to recognize its imperfection and need to evolve?

Until that day, and until the rearguard of the Supreme Soviet of the Baseball Writers Association of America goes the way of the ABC's of Dead Russian Leaders, I'll just skip to the next story when I see more wind and words wasted on ballots good or ill.  I'd much rather just watch the game than inflate the egos of the writers who make a hash of what could be a neat little museum.

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