COMMENTARY – It’s going to be the topic of conversation once the 2017 Hall of Fame Class is formally inducted into Cooperstown. How long before Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens hear their names called to the hallowed fraternity? The numbers are getting larger and the controversy is growing even bigger. Now that two of the biggest names in the steroid era have traction in their pursuit of Major League Baseball’s highest honor, what kind of solvent will be used to remove the tarnish off votes that would allow alleged cheaters into baseball immortality?
The announcement of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez may not have been the story on Wednesday night. While all three are worthy of such distinction and Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero narrowly missing entry, I immediately looked for the transparency of numbers – ballots that now mean everything to the fan who believes in the purity of the game.
Admittedly, this is difficult for me. Major League Baseball announced its Hall of Fame Class of 2017 and for the first time, there was talk over who voted and how. I’m still against the Designated Hitter and the notion of advanced instant replay. Somethings are sacred, No I feel the right to be jilted by numbers. Ironically, the game of baseball is the most statistically sacred of any sport in the world.
While there are players who should have already been part of the fraternity (Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson) we all know the game played is not the same we loved in sandlots and parking lots when fireflies determined when we retired for the night.
I want a gentler, easier game where Tom Seaver battled Mike Schmidt in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied and two outs. I can dream, can’t I?
“The world is changing into a better and more transparent place. Now, finally, Hall of Fame voting is changing with it. Anyone want to propose a toast? I'll definitely drink to that,” writes Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. I am one of the contrarians. While everyone is quick to “tell all” and tattle like a child on a school yard, voting on the Hall of Fame should be as sacred as well, voting for President of the United States.
That’s a conversation for another day and another political forum.
“You probably missed this blockbuster news. But it came down last month, when the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted 80-9 to make every voter's Hall of Fame ballot public starting in 2018. The only reason for the one-year delay is 2017 Hall voting had already begun. It also gave time to iron out a few technicalities that will carve out the rules and mechanisms to make this happen.
“Once this change does happen, never again will you have to wonder who the three voters were who left a player as great as Ken Griffey Jr. off their ballots. Never again, theoretically, will you have to wonder what the heck they were thinking,” Stark adds.
It also opens the flood gates. Our baseball society challenges everything as is the case in any sport’s venue. It also means Joe Voter must explain why he did what he did, to stand up to the establishment, the fans and the player and explain his conscience.
It is only a matter of time before the game’s all-time home run hitter is allowed entrance in Cooperstown. The same can be said for one of the most dominant pitchers to ever stand on a mound. But after these two, who’s next. Will Mark McGwire see his way to New York? Despite the backlash and accusations associated with Rodriguez and Mike Piazza last year, baseball conscience – the voters – found it in their hearts to extend them the invitation of a lifetime. Will baseball soften its stance on Rose and Jackson? How are their crimes any more detrimental? Easing times means easing the stance on such offenders.
If the baseball community enshrines Bonds, Clemens and their cronies, the remainder of the crew must be excepted. This game is once again evolving – causing us diehards and purists to rethink how the game is being appreciated. In this case, if everyone isn’t being offered the same kind of repentance, no one should be allowed in, no matter how good they may have been before the accusations started in the first place.