Solution for Hall of Fame – PEDs Dilemma
The Baseball Hall of Fame voting results will be announced at some point today. No doubt there will be some people disappointed by the news, since the voting process makes it very difficult for a player to “enter” the Hall.
More to the point, there is the major dilemma of the PEDs issue — specifically in regard to Rafael Palmeiro, who failed a test, and Jeff Bagwell, who some feel was a PEDs user. The “can of worms” was opened a few years ago when Mark McGwire appeared on a ballot, but as the years go by it becomes more and more of an issue that can no longer be ignored. With each new year, and new ballot, more and more players from the “Steroids Era” are eligible. Who knows whether Bagwell cheated … or Roberto Alomar, for that matter? For all we know, some players already voted in were cheaters … we have absolutely no idea for sure.
This dilemma makes the voting incredibly difficult — and will continue to be more and more difficult for the next ten years at least. But what to do?
I have a solution: end the vote.
That’s right, you heard me — end it. No more voting. No one gets “inducted” into the Hall of Fame for the rest of eternity. Before you go nuts, consider the concept of being “inducted” into the “Hall of Fame” in the first place — it’s rather silly. Why must someone be “inducted”?
Consider this: the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is a museum. Do you know of any other museum that requires “induction” to be part of it? For example, was the Tyrannosaurus Rex “inducted” into the American Museum of Natural History? Was the Star of India? Did the Mona Lisa wind up in the Louvre because a bunch of newspaper art critics voted her in? Of course not. So why must we vote for, and induct, individuals into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Instead, why can’t players — and their individual achievements — be accepted into the Hall of Fame by the museum’s curator, or curator committee, or whatever is the standard process of bringing pieces of history into a museum. There’s such a thing in place already; if you go to the Baseball Hall, you’ll see many, many baseballs from historic homeruns, fielding gloves, uniforms, bats, etc., that were donated to or otherwise acquired by the Hall to commemorate an interesting event in baseball history. Why can’t it be the same way with players? It would be a heckuva lot easier, and there would be no more debates about whether or not Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, or Roberto Alomar “deserve” to be in the Hall. Create displays for ALL of them, as well as other players who marked baseball history in one way or another. Raines can go in with a display detailing his incredible stolen base prowess; Blyleven can be decorated for his shutouts and knee-buckling curveball; Alomar can be recognized for his ability to play second base and hock loogies for record-breaking distances in postseason play.
There are already some players “in” the Hall for one reason or another — such as Roger Maris for his 61 homers, Mark McGwire for his 70, and Barry Bonds for his asterisk-marked #756 ball. If there is no vote, there is no longer any concerns about whether or not a player “used” or not — if they did something noteworthy, they and the event / record / etc. goes into the Hall of Fame inside a glass display case, for all current and future generations to see. If it’s necessary to note that whatever they did happened during “the steroid era”, so be it — it’s part of history, and that’s ultimately, all that matters when it comes to a museum.
No one would have kept T-Rex out of the museum because he was a carnivorous dinosaur. Similarly, no one would have prevented The Starry Night from entering MOMA because Vincent Van Gogh painted it under the influence of opium and absinthe. Who cares what the person did or didn’t do to accomplish what they did? The point of a museum is to accurately present history. Showcase the events and “records”, provide all the related information, and let people draw their own conclusions. And, put a stop to judging whether or nor individuals “deserve” to be “inducted”. If the person is part of baseball history — its good or bad — then they should be inside the walls of the Hall.
For a very long time, being a “Hall of Famer” was something that could literally change a person’s life — mainly, financially. If a player was an HOFer, that meant he could charge much, much more for his autograph, for example; he could charge a significant premium for speaking engagements and appearances; his baseball card would be worth a ridiculous amount of money. But as players from the late 20th and early 21st centuries appear on the ballot, the financial ramifications are lessened considerably. As a result of doing steroids, Rafael Palmeiro went from a singles hitter to a cleanup hitter, and cleaned up at contract time, earning around $100M in his career. Do you think he “needs” to be a “Hall of Famer”? Even benchwarmers from the late 1990s and early 2000s made more money than you or I will ever see, so the HOF label no longer matters, monetarily speaking to those players — its only value, to them, is to feed their ego.
We don’t need the Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize who are the “greatest players of all-time”. We have the internet, and we can easily list the “best” based on whatever stat you wish to use. Conversely, we can argue it out on blogs and forums. We don’t need newspaper writers to tell us who they deem “Hall of Famers” — we can decide for ourselves. Heck, newspapers are dying and will be long gone in a decade or so — and then who will be voting for potential inductees? ESPN columnists? Fantasy site operators? Bloggers? Fans? See, the vote is already moving toward something more communal.
It’s the easiest way to end the hemming and hawing over who “deserves” to be in and who doesn’t: end the vote, completely. God doesn’t want us to be judgmental, anyway.