D Whit - Hall of Hypocrisy Pt. 1


I’ll open this by saying that if you view the Baseball Hall of Fame as some sanctified shrine where only the elite of the elite belong well you might to skip this article. Cooperstown hosts an amazing museum of baseball history. It features busts of some all-time great players, but it’s not the Olympus of baseball immortality. Because much like Santa Claus, that belief is a myth.

A myth created by our romanticism of the game we love. A myth created by the media, fans, players, and the human need to categorize, quantify, and examine things-in this case baseball players. Performance Vs Statistics, The Heart Vs The Mind, Memory Vs Reality, and Mays Vs Mantle, these ongoing debates are a fun way for us fans to get involved with the national pastime. We become participants, interacting with numbers and names that make up MLB’s past, present, and future.

It’s fun, but not a great way to define the greatest ballplayers of all-time because you can’t. Sure, a half century ago it was possible, maybe even thirty years ago it was too. But now as 2014 approaches, induction into the Hall of Fame as a litmus test for the true value of MLB baseball player or contributor to the game is a quaint, outdated notion.

If you’ve read this far without exiting the page while screaming a string of expletives or angrily texting friends to flame the comment box below than thank you. Now I’m not saying that we should stop the honor of inducting players into the Hall of Fame or that Mookie Wilson was the Willie Mays of his time. I’m saying that it should be largely viewed as a ceremonial appreciation bestowed by a subjective group, the BBWA, voting with their own biases and favorites. To say nothing about the ignominious acts of the Veteran’s Committee in the early 1970s when the first glaring taint on the polished busts in Cooperstown came courtesy of these two men:

Frankie Frisch

Bill Terry

Hall of Famers in their own right, Frisch, Chairman of the Veteran’s Committee, along with Terry and their cohort, retired St. Louis sportwriter J. Roy Stockton lorded over the selection committee in the early 1970s. In 1971 alone, a staggering seven players were inducted. Frisch and Terry seemed hellbent on inducting every former teammate they had on the Giants and Cardinals in the 1920s. Who knows it’s quite possible that only Frisch’s untimely death in 1973 kept Pepper Martin from having a plaque in Cooperstown.

Just think about that for a minute. Seven players inducted at once. I’m not here to debate the cases of Dave Bancroft, “High Pockets” Kelly, Ross Young, or any of the other former Giant or Cardinal voted in under the Fordham Flash’s Veteran’s Committee watch. Suffice it to say that 4 of those magnificent seven from 1971 were an ex-Cardinal or Giant. I realize this is the Veteran’s Committee and that they’re responsible for over half of those elected to the Hall of Fame. But 1971 was a travesty. There were seven nominees, all overlooked during their time on the ballot, inducted at once.

Yet in 2013 not one player was worthy of a regular induction into those “hallowed halls”? I know the BBWA and Veteran’s Committee have different voters and criteria, but that’s not the point. The same has happened before, most recently in 1996. Of course, the reason for no one being elected in 2013 is the “Steroids epidemic” which plagued MLB for over a decade. Players are being penalized for their indiscretions, even those like Craig Biggo (who seems be guilty by association only). Shouldn’t those who run the game as well as those who oversaw these players face the same scrutiny? Should Bud Selig get a free pass? What about the owners, the managers? It’s easy to point the finger of blame on the athlete, but if you’re going to be sincere in a belief that steroids tainted baseball it needs to go further than singling out the easiest target. Otherwise isn’t it hypocrisy of the highest order?

We found out the answer to that question last month.

As if on cue, after the BBWA punished those steroid junkies, the Veteran’s Committee followed up several months later by inducting Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox. Managers of players like  Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, David Justice and many others named in the Mitchell Report. I rarely agree with anything Rick Reilly has to say or write but he’s dead on when he writes:

“In all, the three managers being inducted oversaw at least 34 players who've been implicated as PED users and never noticed a thing wrong. You could build a wing with the admitted and suspected drug cheats they won with: A-Rod, Roger Clemens (Torre), Jason Giambi (Torre and La Russa), McGwire, Jose Canseco (La Russa), Melky Cabrera (Torre and Cox), David Justice (Torre and Cox), Andy Pettite (Torre), Manny Ramirez (Torre with the Dodgers) and Sheffield (Torre and Cox.)

“If we get really lucky, maybe disgraced HGH pitcher Darren Holmes will show up. He played under all three of them!”

“It's just another year in the Hall of Farce, where the codes of conduct shift like beach sand; where the rules for one set of men are ignored for another; where PED poppers can never enter, but the men who turned their backs to the cheating get gleaming, bronze plaques.”

He’s right. It stretches belief that these managers didn’t know what was going on in their locker rooms and clubhouses. They run the team and every manager has their own inside snitch or snitches on the squad to be their eyes and ears. At this point, the PED argument should be null and void because you’ve created a double standard. Think about this too, are we as baseball fans naïve enough to believe that the steroid problem in baseball started in the late 1980s?  

Here’s a quote featured in an article from a prominent national sports magazine:

“The pill, capsule, vial and needle have become fixtures of the locker room as athletes increasingly turn to drugs in the hope of improving performances. This trend—one that poses a major threat to U.S. sport even though the Establishment either ignores or hushes up the issue.”

 “The case history of the anabolic steroids, drugs that 10 years ago were almost unknown to American athletes but now are used and/or gossiped about in virtually every sport, serves as a classic example of how drug fads spread.”

What year did that article appear:

a) 1989
b) 2009
c) 1969
d) 1999
e) 1979

(I’ll have the answer in part 2 where I further discuss the flaws and double standards of the Hall of Fame and its voting process)


Mack Ade said...

Just another example of why following Mack's Mets brings you closer to the game

Mack's Mets © 2012