Stain on the Game – The Empty Baseball HOF Class of 2013
For only the eighth time ever and the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected no one to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And it’s a travesty.
As the baseball writers submitted ballots last month, Jon Alba, one of my campus media colleagues from Quinnipiac made a thought-provoking statement. As people debated on his Twitter feed – myself included – he stated that the game itself is “built on lies.”
For instance, when you ask most people who invented the game of baseball, even reputed scholars will say that it was mythical figure Abner Doubleday. In fact, it was Alexander Cartwright back in 1848 who first thought of the concept of having nine men on the diamond. Tactics that involved pitchers altering the baseball using spit, Vaseline, and even thumbtacks is simply noted as a rough period in the live ball era. Anyone in that era who didn’t know about such actions simply wasn’t paying attention.
With this empty class vote, writers who didn’t care to ask questions, former players who watched their teammates juice up day in and day out, and front offices that looked the other way want to invent a morality clause to be inducted to Cooperstown for this era.
Even with the BALCO scandal unfolding in the early 2000’s, baseball as a whole was content to have muscularly bloated superstars smack majestic 450 foot bombs so long as nobody asked any questions. Pitchers who couldn’t scratch 85 miles an hour with a nail on a clay wall could suddenly throw 96 miles an hour with movement and the players’ association sold it to the public as the product of early development and intense lifting programs. Yet to protect the “integrity” and “sanctity” of Cooperstown, even a hint of suspicion keeps out players like Mike Piazza, a 12-time All-Star catcher, and Jeff Bagwell, a .297 career hitter, both of which could very well be clean.
The same Hall of Fame that is too good for those in the Steroid Era houses a KKK member (Tris Speaker), a commissioner who fought the hardest against integration in the game (Kenesaw Mountain Landis), and one of the most notoriously dirty pitchers in history (Gaylord Perry). That doesn’t make sense to me either.
I don’t know how to fix it, but I do know this: it just isn’t right.
The game should be ashamed.