Hypocrisy and the Hall of Fame
The Baseball Writers Association of America just chose for no players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, making this one in only a handful of years since the voting began that no player has been selected. This is all the more unusual because there were some unparalleled players up for the vote this year, including Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Sammy Sosa, Don Mattingly, and others.
Selection for the Hall of Fame is supposed to celebrate exceptional individual merit. As look at the list of players not selected, it’s clear that the voters were not focused on celebrating the best in baseball.
Roger Clemens has won seven Cy Young Awards. Seven. That’s more than anyone else. Winning it once is an achievement worthy of recognition. Winning it seven times is simply extraordinary. Clemens has also ranked fifth among Hall of Fame All Time Pitching Standards Leaders, ranking just two below Cy Young himself, and he is the only one in the top 39 on the same list who is eligible, but has not been selected, for the Hall of Fame.
Craig Biggio is almost the only players left with over 3,000 hits who is not yet in the Hall of Fame.
I could go on. There were some truly great players who were insulted by the voters this year.
If it’s not about skill on the field, what was it about? The speculation, confirmed by many voters, is that it’s about steroid use. The voters simply refuse to vote for players who they think have used steroids. The standard for this decision is not proof of guilt, but rumor of guilt, innuendo of use. Most of those snubbed in this year’s vote had never been accused of the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED), but someone who never testified to it under oath may have speculated about it and that’s apparently all it takes.
A rumor about possible PED use is now enough to keep some of the best players in baseball from making it to the Hall of Fame. And many of those writers claiming to hold the moral high ground while withholding their votes were the same writers who covered those players during the height of their careers and said nothing about PEDs at that time. They chose to ignore the rumors then, claiming that there was no hard evidence, because at that time it was better for their careers to maintain access to those players. Doing decent reporting then would have put them on the outside of an insider’s game.
Some of the best players in the game (and their fans!) are denied the honor they deserve because the Writers chose to spread the cloud of suspicion as widely as possible. They claim they are helping the game. What they are really doing is ensuring that the ugliness of steroid rumors will continue to obscure the beauty of the game and the exceptional skills of many of its players. Most MLB players do not and have never used PEDs, and that includes the stars that bring millions of people into the stands day after day during the season. The Writers have now cast doubt on the skill of anyone who rises above the norm. They are better than the rest. They must use steroids.
Who knew that so much unfounded suspicion could be spread by such a small number of hypocrites?