Thursday, January 10, 2013

BBWAA Hall of Fame Votes Itself Into Irrelevancy

This is a rant.

As most everyone knows, the BaseBall Writers Association of America decided that none of the eligible candidates, which included first-time eligible candidates Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Shilling, among others, were worthy of induction.  Everyone who is NOT in the BBWAA who knows anything about baseball responded with a heart-felt "What the Fuck?"

Yes, you've heard the arguments, and they hinge on the "character" clause, which apparently is interpreted to mean any damn thing the BBWAA voter wants it to mean at that moment.  The reason no one, apparently, was inducted into the BBWAA HOF was because of steriods.  That has to assume that steriod, or other PED use, was emblematic of insufficient character to warrant induction.  It takes, of course, no more than a moment of reflection to realize that this line of reasoning is full of holes.

The use of steriods is cheating.  Not always, but at some point the use of steriods and other PED was determined to be illegal under the rules of baseball.  So apparently it is the cheating that has been determined to be emblematic of insufficient character.  Except that, this doesn't seem to be a very constant point against eligible players.  Gaylord Perry was inducted into the HOF in 1991.  Mr. Perry was known to have altered the baseball with which he pitched on numerous occasions.  That clearly is cheating, but he was elected.

Baseball lore, in fact, love cheating.  The game is full of stories about everything from how pitchers doctored baseballs to how players stole signs, to tales of Andre Dawson hiding extra balls in the ivy at Wrigley Field so he could retrieve one if the ball in play bounced into the ivy and he couldn't find it.  Andre Dawson was inducted into the HOF in 2010.  So it is not really cheating that is the problem, apparently, it is the degree of cheating, or perhaps the type of cheating.  But it can't really be the degree of cheating, because no one can tell if PED usage ups your stats, or your competence level, by 5%, 20% or any other number.  So the line of reasoning has to be the type of cheating.  Use of PED is cheating and this specific type of cheating is an indication of specific character (insufficiency?  flaw?) to allow a brilliant player to be inducted into the BBWAA HOF.  That is, even if you really knew, which in many cases, you (BBWAA) do not, no matter how much you think you do.  That is why they have a court system in this country, so that smart-ass members of the public with half-assed information don't get to arrest, judge and execute people.

Here are some of the types of character flaws that are not considered detrimental to induction in the BBWAA HOF:
unrepentant racism
taking other drugs
cheating except for PED
moral turpitude
wearing a uniform six sizes to big.

So, one thing I noticed is that Craig fucking Biggio got about twice as many votes as Barry Bonds.  Is any one of these clowns fucking serious?  [here is the part where I drop any pretense of a structured argument and just bitch]  I know Mr. Biggio had a long and productive career, and he played several positions, but, REALLY?  Wasn't about half his OBP because of uniform shirts HBP?  I suggest that the BBWAA just drop the HOF and dedicate the building to themselves.  That way, they can put "BaseBall Writers Association of America" in bigger letters, because they have decided to make it about them and their silly, old, white notions of what integrity is all about.  They can re-label the part of it that has players in it "Former Baseball Players of Mention, or, at least, that We Like."  Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, just to name two, were among the greatest ballplayers ever, regardless of whether they took PED or had upstanding moral character.

Some of my fellow blog authors may remember one fine day sitting in the Candlestick bleachers as they put up the line score from a Boston-Seattle game.  Specifically, it was April 29, 1986.  As I recall, the collective sentiment was, "Who the fuck cares about an American league...holy fuck, 20 strikeouts!"  Well, then there's this:


M.C. O'Connor said...

I expect ignorance, prejudice, half-assed notions, and just plain nuttiness from fans. In fact, I welcome it. From professionals (what sports-writers are supposed to be) I expect insight, historical detachment, and a developed critical sense. What I get instead are smug blowhards who get paid to spew the same nonsense you can hear at any bar or in any bleacher section. This is why I gave up on sports-writers in general (and the BBWAA, specifically) years ago. This is why we write RMC, is it not?

Step away, my friend. Let it go. If BBWAAers want to jerk off with each other and call it "writing" I say let them. It has no impact on me, my love of baseball, or my joy in watching the Giants.

nomisnala said...

I say, we start our own, unauthorized Hall of Fame. We can start with Bonds, Rose, and Clemens. I hated Clemens as a player, but I cannot deny his spot as an all time great.

Ron said...

As we all know, the 'steroids era' took place with both the explicit & implicit collaboration of the highest authorities running the game of baseball. The biggest insult & hypocrisy of all is that, upon retirement, Bud Selig will be inducted into the Hall-of-Fame with much fanfare. He is the one who should be indicted on various charges & perhaps imprisoned. But, as we all know, he will end up in the Hall-of-Fame.

Brother Bob said...

I find an irony in the rampant self-righteousness regarding steroids. Cheating is usually a way of doing something the easy way- but steroids enable you to work much, much harder. In other words allow you to work out past the point where others would be exhausted and/or in pain. The shit works, my friends. When Bonds chose the cream and the clear he knew what he was doing and just hoped he'd get awy with it. He just barely kinda-sorta did get away with it, but everyone knows better. So maybe he gets lumped in with Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose. They will all be remembered.