Someone asked me over e-mail what I thought about the fact that the Baseball Writers Association of America elected no one to the Hall of Fame this year. Unexpectedly, I found myself rambling on and decided, especially because I haven’t blogged since the World Series, that the e-mail would make a reasonable blog post. So without further ado, my answer to “So, relatedly, how do you feel about no Hall of Famers this year?” [The "relatedly" part is that I made a Pete Rose joke when asked to enter a pool on when I thought the Mystery Hunt would end.]
The concept of no Hall of Famers in a year doesn’t bother me per se — it happened in 1996 for no real good reason. I don’t think they should be forced to induct someone if no one got the votes — and the Veterans Committee put Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert, and Deacon White in, Paul Hagan gets the Spink award, and Tom Cheek is getting the Ford C. Frick award, so it’s not like there will be no induction ceremony. But really what you’re asking me is my opinion on the steroid issue, right?
And speaking of Pete Rose, I think they ought to be consistent about Bonds/Clemens and Rose.
All three are unquestionably three of the greatest players to play the game on the basis of stats, all three knowingly cheated the spirit of the game, all three got caught, and all three lied about it despite an overwhelming amount of evidence against them.
So when Rose has his ban lifted, Bonds and Clemens can get in. But Bonds and Clemens are likely going to get in in the future without Rose — also the 8 people who voted for Clemens and not Bonds need to have their heads examined. (Or maybe living in San Francisco where Barry is still beloved has rubbed off on me a little.) Likewise the person who voted for Aaron Sele, although if I had a vote I might have thrown one to Todd Walker just to be a bit of a troll and keep people on their toes. Plus, Walker hit his first Major League homerun on my friend’s 15th birthday and we always kind of irrationally loved him for that.
As for the guys who didn’t get caught and are only suspected of steroids on the basis of “they had muscles,” then I’m a little more lenient. After all, players in the 70s were all pepped up on greenies and Doc Ellis threw a freaking no-hitter while tripping on LSD. (If you don’t know that story, or even if you do, you need to watch this.) Not to mention that most steroids weren’t technically banned by baseball until 2002.* Also a friend of mine once told me that his high school football coach more or less made all the starting players take androstenedione, which is what McGwire was caught taking in 1998. And if high school football coaches were coercing their athletes to take the “supplement” (*cough*steroid*cough*) in the late 90s, perhaps we ought to place a little less blame on the athletes who took it and a little more on the entire sports culture that told them they had to take it.
[* Posnanski style addendum because I fact checked myself: Apparently commissioner Faye Vincent sent a memo to the teams saying steroids were illegal in 1991, but it was never enforced. A drug policy was enacted in 2002, but one of the terms was that first time offenders would be sent to treatment and their names not released. The current drug policy was enacted in 2005 after the whole BALCO scandal.]
Also Jack Morris, god love him for the greatest game 7 in World Series history, is not quite up to Hall of Fame caliber. He’s close, but I don’t think he’s there and I don’t think he should get in on the basis of one game. I say this even though I own a Jack Morris bobblehead doll that I once did this with (he’s the one that keeps morphing into Tom Kelly).
And at this point, I just want to point out that [Harrison] asked.