Wednesday, January 9, 2013

HOF or HOW?

I enjoy the action of early January baseball moves. Bargain hunting teams are slinking through the free agent pool trying to swipe a cheap gem or two, somewhere out there a Boris client is begrudgingly accepting that he will only sign a 1 year contract for $10 million plus, and fans get to find out who is going to get elected into the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame vote always leads to groups cheering for their heroes of yesteryear, head-scratching over just who the players are that the veterans committee elected, and ultimately complaints about the whole system. Yes, with the coming of the new year brings a potential list of new hall inductees and the Herd of Whiners follow in its wake.

Some complaints are legitimate. Why do some "sure-fire" guys have to wait multiple years to get in instead of being voted in on the first ballot? A fine example and other than tradition, I have no answer. Others need to be banned. A newer complaint is based around keeping out steroid users. I can agree with that, but where do you draw the line? Steroids did not magically appear in baseball in the late '90's and it was not limited to players mentioned in the Mitchell Report. It covered major and minor league talent, pitchers and hitters, superstars and duds. Jose Canseco, an admitted steroid user and outer of many others, claimed that as many as 85% of players used steroids. That number is disputed, but he has been correct on those he has outed, so why continue to doubt him. Steroid use is not linked to lying as far as I know. If you want to keep everyone out that is fine, but are you prepared to go back and diligently research your heroes to find out if they juiced int their time, or if they will be honest? No, it won't happen. We will never know everyone who juiced in MLB. We do know players who have been suspended by the leagues steroid testing and I see nothing wrong with keeping them out of the Hall of Fame. Sorry Rafael Palmeiro.

A much older and more annoying complaint from the Herd, "without Pete Rose the Hall is a joke" or some variation. On his playing merits he belongs, that is not in dispute. However, he gambled on baseball games he was managing. He admitted doing this. He accepted that his punishment was that he was not going to be eligible for entrance into the Hall of Fame. There was no conspiracy of Bud Selig drones running round behind the scenes buying votes and silence. Gambling on baseball has been illegal since at least the 1919 White Sox. Shoeless Joe Jackson and several other players on that team were thrown out of baseball for throwing the World Series that year. Shoeless Joe was never admitted into the Hall. He has not been admitted years after his death when slights could be overlooked. Several people have come forward over time with statistics "proving" he did not join the conspiracy. Every player knew better than to gamble on their games and only one was caught since for doing it. If the likeable and deceased Shoeless Joe cannot get into the Hall, the Herd needs to accept that Selig will not seriously entertain the idea of admitting Pete Rose while Rose is alive.

This is not a matter of degree. Gambling on games you control the outcome of and taking steroids are bad for baseball. They undermine the credibility of the players, the teams, and most importantly the league. The BBWAA make their living based upon this entity, they vote for the best of the best and known cheaters have no place in their Hall. It is time for the Herd to disperse.