Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

January 10, 2013

Hall made the wrong call

EFFINGHAM — The Baseball Writers of America pitched a shutout Wednesday, and in turn, came one year closer to defeating the Baseball Hall of Fame.

With the ballots being released for the Hall of Fame Wednesday afternoon, the BBWAA did the unthinkable -- they looked at the most stacked ballot in years and elected no one.

Everyone knew it would be a contentious ballot. That much has been clear as the clock ticked down to this day for the past five years.

But to elect no one shows off the three major problems with the Hall of Fame and its voters; namely, an electorate that specializes in logical inconsistency, self-righteousness and irrelevance.

I'll take the steroid users and suspected steroid users quickly. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell should be in, plain and simple. It was part of the era, it wasn't illegal at the times they were using or apparently using and if baseball wanted to punish them for their alleged transgressions, it should have been before they accumulated Hall of Fame statistics.

The idea of keeping the Hall clean is a joke anyway. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were admitted amphetamine users, and both got in with flying colors.

As for PEDs, it's simple probability to assume someone who cheated got away with it and is in the Hall.  A 1973 Congressional investigation said that anabolic steroid and amphetamine use was rampant and could "only be described as alarming" . It's simply naive to think none of the HOFers from that era were not a part of that alarming group.

On top of that, Washington Post columnist and voter Thomas Boswell said he witnessed a currently enshrined HOFer taking steroids during his career, as of 1988. The Hall is not clean, but the BBWAA has taken it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner of morals and ideals they did nothing to uphold when steroids were running rampant.

On to the supposedly clean (because who really knows). This is where a lack of logic really shows off.

Astros 2B Craig Biggio accumulated 3,000 hits in his career , was by all accounts clean, but still missed the HOF with a leading 68 percent of the vote.

The knock on Biggio? He wasn't dominant enough for his era.

What? Compared to who? The guys who didn't get in because the voters think they cheated. So Biggio did it "clean," but because he didn't produce like the cheaters, he waits a year.

Moving down the ballot, Tim Raines received 52.2 percent of the vote. One of the stars of the 1980s, Raines mixed speed, average, power and on-base abilities.

But he only totaled 2,605 hits, leaving him short of the 3,000 hit benchmark -- which Biggio reached and didn't get in.

This is a travesty to baseball fans. Now, after they've all been made eligible for voting, for one reason or another, the Hall of Fame is missing the all-time leader in hits (Pete Rose), home runs (Bonds) and one of the greatest pitchers ever (Clemens) for reasons that can only be described as self-righteousness and a delusional sense of protecting an already tarnished hall.

I understand the time is hopefully coming for players like Biggio, Bagwell and Piazza, that they will inch toward the Hall until the voters break down.

The Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the history of the game. My father and I always talked about going, but sadly, we never made it. It's still something I'd love to do with him.

As for me and any kids I may be lucky enough to have some day, I almost don't see the point. The Hall should be inclusive, a place where one can walk around for hours, days or however long it takes and learn basically everything one needs to know about the history of baseball.

But without players like Bonds, Rose and Clemens, how could you truly say the Hall captures the history of the game?

Swing and a miss, BBWAA. Let's hope you at least get a single next season.

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