This week, I am going to visit a discussion that I’ve had w/ my brother and a couple of buddies over the previous few days, and that is the election of zero living players to the Baseball Hall of Fame. For those that haven’t been paying attention, this is especially ground breaking b/c some of the more seminal players of the recent past (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, etc.)
all became eligible. This was the first time we got a shot to see how the Hall was going to handle those accused of using steroids.

And handle them they did.

Before offering my own two cents though, I am actually going to quote liberally from the Sports Guy, one of my favorite writers working today. His take pretty much mirrors my own, and probably does so much more eloquently, so I hope you don’t mind me borrowing here.

He wrote (edited/pared down by me)…

“These people have now become the self-proclaimed moral arbiters of baseball. […] They rush to tell you that they can't vote for McGwire because their conscience won't allow it. San Jose Mercury News columnist Ann Killion wrote that she can't […] because she wouldn't be able to explain it to her kids.

She concluded her column with this: “All I can do is cast my own vote judiciously. And be able to look my kids in the eyes when I do it.”

Ann, I'm glad you're such a thoughtful mom. Seriously, that's great. But […]part of our country's problem is the shortsighted way we “protect” our kids from life's harsh realities. Janet Jackson's nipple slip was such a traumatic moment for Americans that some live sporting events now run on tape-delay, and Howard Stern fled to SIRIUS to escape the clutches of the
increasingly fascistic FCC. Meanwhile, […] anyone can be slandered anonymously on a blog or message board.

Look, our country is screwed up. Whether we like it or not, people will always gamble, use illegal drugs, drink and drive, cheat on their spouses, cheat on tests, lie and steal, ditch their families, swear and fight, use performance-enhancing drugs. Banishing [users] from Cooperstown isn't going to make any of that go away. Let's stop pretending that the Baseball Hall
of Fame is a real-life fantasy world — a place where we celebrate only the people and events we can all unanimously agree deserve to be celebrated — and transform it into an institution that reflects both the good and bad of the sport. Wait — wasn't that Cooperstown's mission all along? Shouldn't it be a place where someone who knows nothing about baseball can learn about its rich history? Isn't it a museum, after all?

If that's the case — and I say it is — then how can we leave out Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader and most memorable competitor of his era? And how can we even consider leaving out McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, the three most memorable hitters of the 1990s? We're supposed to stick our heads in the historical sand and pretend these people were never born? Imagine if the rest of the world worked like this. Word is, JFK cheated on his wife. Should we change the name of the airport and remove all his memorabilia from the Smithsonian?


I hate to break the news to Ann Killion's kids, but people have been cheating in baseball for decades. They've fixed games, stolen signs, corked bats, slimed balls, popped greenies and, yes, injected steroids and rubbed HGH cream. We're told that baseball is America's pastime, the implication being that it mirrors real life. And you know what? It's true. A long time ago, Babe Ruth showed us that athletes, like everyone else, are imperfect. More recently, Rose hammered home the point for any of us who might have forgotten it. What did McGwire make clear? That human beings are always searching for an edge, and when they find it, they use it.

If we really want to do the right thing, let's vote in Rose and McGwire as soon as possible, then inscribe on Rose's plaque that he's a dirtbag who bet on his own team, and inscribe on McGwire's that he almost definitely used performance enhancers and wouldn't answer questions about it under oath. And if that information is too sobering for your kids, well, don't
take them to Cooperstown. Take them to Disneyland.

It's a fantasy park.”

I could not agree more. Is what these men did repugnant and despicable in every way? Absolutely. But let history reflect that, don’t try to pretend it never happened. Just as things such as genocide are put down in painstaking detail for generations to remember, so should the darker chapters of sports. 

I think the point I appreciate the most here is one I’ve been making for quite some time now, and that is this notion of moral policing our society seems so intent on performing these days. Now, thanks to the likes of Twitter and facebook, every single person has a public platform and not the slightest qualm in screaming bloody murder every time something offends their
innate moral compass. 

For that reason, I think these players should be inducted, even if under the auspice of Infamy more than Fame. At least that way parents can still take their kids and show them what sports used to be like back before everyone got a trophy just for showing up.

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