Monday, January 14, 2013

The Hall Of Fame is a Stupid, Meaningless Farce

I vividly remember Robin Yount's 3000th hit. I was lying on the brown carpet of my mom's house with my brother, eyes fixed on the TV watching for my grandparents in the crowd. I had no idea what the hall of fame was, or it's merits, or the gravity of accomplishing 3,000 hits. I liked Robin Yount a lot and I was excited to tell all my other eight year old friends about the game and brag about how my grandparents were there because when you're eight that sort of thing makes sense. I LOVED Robin Yount and going to baseball games and eating candy and I couldn't give a shit less about stats as long as the Brewers won and I saw some fun stuff.

As time went on and the kids in my grade developed in to their own individual people, I was quickly bracketed in to the nerd group of kids. I was very sensitive, not very athletic, extremely gawky and maintained an interest in dinosaurs long after they stopped being cool to everyone else my age. I'd say that by the time I was 10 or 11 years old my love of baseball had all but fallen by the wayside. Spare some random games I caught with my grandparents I had zero interest in the sport. I couldn't tell you who Jeff Cirillo was or what he played or who was our ace or who was our best bat off the bench, nothing. Further alienating me from my interest in baseball, or sports in general, was that I had accepted by proxy of some aggressive bullying that kids who liked sports all had to be macho, musclebound shit heads. So there I was, puny and disenchanted with athleticism.

And here I am now. About a week after the complicated circumstances surrounding the hall of fame ballot proved to an inept body of voters that not a single person on that ballot was worthy of entering the sanctified hall of fame. Almost all of the reasons for this sanctimonious display of priggish horse shit and incompetence were intangible platitudinous concepts like "integrity". The self congratulatory stance held by much of the voting body was just gross. Behind the cacophony of squabbling over whether or not some juicers or suspected juicers belong in the holy confines of the hall of fame was the quiet news that former MLB outfielder Milton Bradley is facing thirteen years for abusing his estranged wife. This story broke only a couple weeks after former Braves star Andruw Jones was accused of dragging his wife down the stairs of their home by her neck.

You could look at Bradley and Jones' careers and say they are not Hall Of Fame caliber, and you'd probably be right. I'd also venture to guess that it's most people's opinion that cheating the game of baseball by enhancing yourself physically is not half as repugnant as racism, or beating your spouse. Using this logic, you'd think that the journalists responsible for voting in a candidate worthy of undeservingly esteemed hall of fame, the same journalists who absolutely fetishize the concept of "integrity", would perhaps shift their focus from the hall of fame to the very real and pandemic problem of abuse that exists in the lives of athletes so many young people come to admire. Instead no, we focus on whether or not Barry Bonds is allowed to join the ranks of athletes like Cap Anson and Ty Cobb in the prestigious fucking Hall of Fame.

Of course, Anson and Cobb wouldn't want the likes of Bonds in the hall, but it has nothing to do with steroids. These two enshrined gentlemen would have denied Bonds based on the color of his skin. If it were up to them they would deny known amphetamine user Willie Mays on the same racist basis. Mays wasn't denied based on those amphetamines, but fellow greenie user Pete Rose was. Rose was of course denied for betting on baseball. Wow, good thing we kept that scoundrel out! Wouldn't want him tainting the same establishment that honors known wife beater Babe Ruth.

Get the point yet? The Hall of Fame is a museum for the greatest players in baseball history. Honor, personal integrity, and how a person attained whatever stats got them in the discussion should not enter in to it.  If we are using the hall to honor the merit of players historically then we need to expunge a huge number of the pre-existing entrants for being scum. If we are using the hall to recall baseball history, we should not use journalists to vote players in based on their merit. If those journalists are so concerned about merit, steroid use from the early 2000's should maybe be less of a concern than the pervasive drug, alcohol and spousal abuse that exists amongst the athletic community. Maybe if athletes were condemned more for these abuses than the comparably trifling notion of cheating the game, young people prone to aggression and bullying would be assuaged by the examples made of their heroes.

Intelligent, critical sports analysis is what appealed to the geek in me and let me fall back in love with baseball. It's my opinion that any disgusting, awful person who played the game well should be enshrined in the hall of fame in all of it's meaningless glory. Baseball's history is too rich and interesting to determine subjectively who belongs and who doesn't. Let them in, and treat them fairly.

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