9:35 AM CST, January 9, 2013
History, it has been said, is written by the winners.
But sometimes, writers write history, and I’m hoping those with Hall of Fame ballots do that today.
When the names of the newest inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced, I hope there are no names announced.
It won’t make me happy. I’ll take no joy in the national embarrassment of the erstwhile national pastime that I grew up loving. But it will make the point that I would’ve made if I had a ballot.
Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro -- don’t come on down. Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and others only suspected of using steroids, human growth hormone and any variety of performance-enhancing drugs probably will be told to stay away, too. In the future, heads up, Pudge Rodriguez.
It might not be fair, but blame Bud Selig baseball for the wink, wink, nudge, nudge as legendary records suddenly were getting shattered. Selig was baseball version of "Casablanca’s" Captain Renault: "I’m shocked -- shocked -- to find that steroid use is going on in here."
If I had my choice, though, I would let the roiders into the Hall. In fact, I’d let a lot of people in: Jack Morris, Tommy John, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines.
I could take the cheap shot that if Bill Mazeroski can get into the room reserved for only the very best, then you might as well make it festival seating for everybody else. But it’s not about Maz or taking that kind of shot. It’s about being inclusive.
Sports are about people, no matter what the decimalheads have done to it. People have stories. The stories help fill out the fabric of the game. That how I interpret the "fame" part of Hall of Fame, even if that fabric is the heat-treated carbon steel forged to make a syringe.
Fame can mean greatness. Fame can mean notoriety. Steroids produced both, which makes the era of the injection a massive part of baseball history.
Steroids helped save baseball. Isn’t that the first thing people say about the Sosa-McGwire home-run race in 1998?
Steroids helped divide baseball. Didn’t more people hate Bonds with greater intensity as he approached and then broke Henry Aaron’s record?
There is an argument that Sosa shouldn’t get a bust the same as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. That argument ends as long as a monstrous piece of racist, cheating manure such as Ty Cobb remains honored.
Fact is, the Hall should stop making busts, period. Sorry, but that time has passed. Everybody gets a nameplate, and that’s it. OK, a nameplate and a picture. Heck, I’d settle for a piece of tape with the first initial and last name scrawled on it with a Sharpie the way you see over a locker stall. Here’s the guy, here’s his story, here’s his place in baseball history, thanks for coming.
If a player gets voted in based on his story but refuses to go along with having the full measure of his story told, then he can refuse to accept induction. Sorry Rocket, no fairytales.
Don’t like the rules? Don’t like the truth? Don’t show up.
The Hall of Fame should evolve. Everything else has, other than Tom Ricketts’ ability to play politics, I mean. The Hall of Fame might’ve been about the best when it was created, but it’s not even close now and has been that way for a while. See Ray Schalk and George “High Pockets’’ Kelly for details. Maz and Red Schoendienst, too. A bunch of ‘em.
Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and Palmeiro should be in the building. Wise up, people, the Hall of Fame isn’t Disneyland. It’s about history, even bad, embarrassing history.
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