Baseball Hall of Fame: The steroid question
My brother sent me a great email over the weekend. He came up with fascinating point about the Baseball Hall of Fame voting.
“On March 17, 2005, Mark McGuire repeatedly said to the Congressional committee: ‘I’m not here to talk about the past.’ (In recent Cooperstown voting) the baseball writers looked at their ballots, sent them in blank, and in essence wrote at the bottom: ‘we’re not here to talk about the past.’”
Here’s what I like about that. While McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro were overwhelmingly rejected for Hall of Fame induction, there remains a faction of the baseball community that believes the Hall of Fame should include them in some manner. And here’s their theory: You can’t rewrite history. Those home runs and awesome statistics happened. You can’t ignore them.
But here’s my response. We are not rewriting history in baseball. Yes, those home runs happened and those statistics were recorded. Tainted by doping. And much to baseball’s credit, they were not wiped out. Those records still stand. Bonds is baseball’s career home run leader. The games and the titles won by those ballplayers have not been stricken from the recordbook. This is not the NCAA, which dares to spit in the face of fans by “vacating” victories and championships, which is an affront not to the guilty, but to the public which funds collegiate sports.
The difference in baseball is this. While those things happened — those home run hits and those strikeouts recorded and those ballgames won — we are not compelled to honor them. Not compelled to commemorate them.
That’s what the Baseball Hall of Fame is. It’s a place to honor its past. It is NOT a place to record its past. Baseball’s history is well-documented in literally thousands of places. Cooperstown is not the Library of Congress (at least not its Hall of Fame side).
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