January 10, 2013

Cooperstown Joke, Part II

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

The first blog post I ever had – back on my Blogspot blog called Running The Point – was about how much of a joke that the baseball hall of fame had become. That was posted in 2007. In fact, today happens to be the six-year anniversary of that post. You can even read it right here. I’ll even give you a second.

Welcome back. Firstly, I know, it’s not very polished. I was still in college at the time so you must forgive for that. Secondly, that’s not the actual blogspot blog, but the upgrade that my good friend Alex deisgned – he even threw in a Leafs picture in the banner to piss me off.

For those who didn’t click back, that post was about how a player like Cal Ripkin Jr. could not get 100% of the votes to enter the Hall – even though he is certainly worthy – simply because nobody had achieved that before.

This time it’s something, but equally outrageous: Despite having the all-time leading home run hitter, arguably the greatest pitcher ever, one of eight players to hit 600 home runs in his career and one of the best offensive catchers ever on the ballot, nobody received the mandatory 75% of the vote for election into the Hall.

That’s right, apparently Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza weren’t good enough to get three out of four votes from the apparently pious writers at BBWA.

I can understand that these players have all been accused of taking PEDs during their careers, but that is all they are: Accusations. Nobody tested positive conclusively and if Bonds or Clemens ever did, they would be in jail right now for perjury.

How can baseball go about having their shrine to the best players to ever play the game and forget such amazing performers? When you include the fact that Pete Rose – who never bet against his own team – isn’t in the Hall, then Cooperstown absentees include baseball’s hit leader, home run leader and the best pitcher of a generation.

Isn’t there a way to meet halfway between the purists who think that nobody from the steroid era should be in Cooperstown and the realists who know that basically everybody was on something during that period, making it a level playing field?

Why can’t those inducted with a shady record or some asterisk simply have that on their plaque? Why not create a new wing for guys that played under the shroud of the steroid era? Each year that Bonds and Clemens aren’t inducted, this debate is going to rage on. Does MLB really want another 15 years of debate about whether they deserve to be inducted? It casts a negative light on what should be a high point for the sport.

The worst part about having no one inducted in this class is one that many won’t think about. How bad must Paul Hagen feel? Not sure who he is? Well he is the 2013 winner of the J.G.Taylor Spink Award which is essentially like making the Hall of Fame for baseball writing. He’s going to be the lone living man being feted at Cooperstown this year. I’m sure you already knew this, but the Sun’s own Bob Elliott won the award last year and got to share the podium with a man he covered for most of his career, Roberto Alomar Jr. What an experience that must have been and it’s a shame that Hagen won’t be able to experience the same.

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