Cooperstown.jpg

Nobody for the Hall

For the first time since 1996, nobody was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Many had thought there would be some backlash for possible PED use for first-time candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but none?  The outrage from the players and from the public has been loud.  And the problem in Cooperstown is that they may throw a party in July and have nobody show up.

I’ve been fortunate enough to do some research at the National Baseball Library, which sits behind the Hall of Fame Museum pictured here.  The museum and library are owned not by Major League Baseball but by the trust of Stephen Clark, a Cooperstown lawyer who wanted to build something for tourism and put the museum in an old gym on Main Street.  It’s a private organization, and the trust empowers the Baseball Writers Association of America to conduct the election of players to the Hall.  His granddaughter now chairs the trust.

So if you were running a private museum and wanted to maximize your visitors to the museum, would you or would you not want steroid users enshrined in your building?  Or to put it another way, would you want sportswriters to choose who gets a ceremony and a plaque?  

(I assume some Ricocheti will want to discuss the candidacies of individual players, and that’s fine; I would have voted for some of those on the ballot and not left it blank as, for example, Howard Bryant of ESPN did.  But I’m interested in what readers think of the process rather than what you think of this particular outcome.)

  1. Bill Walsh

    I’d have voted for Tim Raines. Twice.

  2. Cutlass

    Did ya hear? Nobody got into the Hall!

    Well it’s about galldarn time! Nobody was a swell right fielder.

    Who?

    Who finally got in?!?

    I just told you – Nobody! Nobody got into the Hall!

    I know! You also said Who got in!

    I already told you WhoNobody! That’s It, and that includes I Know.

    Okay, so the new members are Who, Nobody, That’s It and … what the hell kind of name is I Know for a ballplayer???

  3. Cutlass

    I find it very hard to come to a firm position on doping, statistics and who deserves to be in the Hall (another thing I love about sports is that I can remain ambiguous on some issues; well, besides the fact that the Red Sox and Mets [stink]!!.

    Clearly the use of dangerous drugs cannot be tolerated in baseball, and I understand the reluctance to celebrate players whose statistics may be padded because of them. However, unfortunately, rampant drug use was rampant for more than a decade in the MLB and all of the statistics of the era could be considered tainted. There are non-steroid using pitchers who have more wins and hitters with more RBIs because Bonds and other juicers were on their teams, etc. That was, unfortunately, the condition of the game – just as outfields were once deeper, etc. Unless you want to airbrush the past 20 years you kind of have to work with the numbers on the book.

    That said, I’m fine with punishing Bonds and Clemens by putting off their admission. Also, I hope voters will take the inflated stats into account when considering non-doping players on the bubble.

  4. Cutlass

    Oh, and for God’s sake, can we just let Pete Rose in already??? It seems silly to even discuss Bonds, Clemens, et al while Rose remains banished.

    Whatever his “crimes,” at least we know that all those runs he put up were pure sweat and hustle.

  5. John Hanson

    Not quite true that noone was admitted, veterans committee voted three “veterans” in to the hall, though it is true that all of them are dead, since 1936? I believe.

    I’m OK with noone getting in from the current crop, if that were not possible then the hall would not be worth much.  Use of PEDs is tricky because when many of these players were using, baseball had not specifically banned them, did not have policy of drug testing etc. and practice was unfortunately widespread.  

  6. Skyler

    The problem is that 1996 simply isn’t that long ago so what’s the big deal?

  7. Tony Martyr

    Cricket One-Day International series, Australia-Sri Lanka starts Friday, after a cracking Test Series, hot on the heels of an even better Test series against South Africa, and at the same time as the finals of the 20-20 Big Bash

    Just in case any of you want to get on board with a proper summer contest of bat and ball – you’ve just missed the retirement of Mike Hussey, all round good guy and (drug free) legend, and the best calendar year batting performance by Australian captain Michael Clarke…. but there’s still time to get with the strength, people.

  8. Larry3435

    Jake Beckley. Chief Bender. Dan Brouthers. Jack Chesbro. Sam Crawford. Never heard of them? They’re all in the Hall of Fame. But not baseball’s all time leaders in hits, home runs, MVP awards or Cy Young awards.

    Vicious thugs like Ty Cobb. Boozers and womanizers like Babe Ruth. They are in the Hall and they should be. But political correctness has taken over the Hall, as it has the Nobel Peace Prize and Time’s Man (pardon me, person) of the Year. The Hall of Fame is a joke.

  9. Vance Richards

    They should hold an induction ceremony for the Human Growth Hormone.

  10. skipsul
    Cutlass: Oh, and for God’s sake, can we just let Pete Rose in already??? It seems silly to even discuss Bonds, Clemens, et al while Rose remains banished.

    Whatever his “crimes,” at least we know that all those runs he put up were pure sweat and hustle. · 2 hours ago

    You beat me to it.

  11. skipsul
    Larry3435: Jake Beckley. Chief Bender. Dan Brouthers. Jack Chesbro. Sam Crawford. Never heard of them? They’re all in the Hall of Fame. But not baseball’s all time leaders in hits, home runs, MVP awards or Cy Young awards.

    Vicious thugs like Ty Cobb. Boozers and womanizers like Babe Ruth. They are in the Hall and they should be. But political correctness has taken over the Hall, as it has the Nobel Peace Prize and Time’s Man (pardon me, person) of the Year. The Hall of Fame is a joke. · 27 minutes ago

    Just a point on Cobb, much of his reputation comes from a slanderous biography that the author spun out of whole cloth.  Character assasination after Cobb and anyone who knew him was dead.

  12. WeighWant

    I don’t like the idea they chose sports-writers to elect who goes in.  It’s time to change it.   They can be too biased (and now too stupid, racist, political and full of themselves, from the way they’ve been this year).   Maybe professional umpires who have completed at least 8 seasons doing MLB should be voting.   They see the real sights and sounds, without being identified with one team or city.

  13. Joseph Paquette

    Craig Biggio should be elected.  He’s a beacon of clean team player in a sad era.  He had speed, lots of singles and doubles, stolen bases, played two positions as an all star. 

  14. Joseph Paquette
    skipsul

    Cutlass: Oh, and for God’s sake, can we just let Pete Rose in already??? It seems silly to even discuss Bonds, Clemens, et al while Rose remains banished.

    Whatever his “crimes,” at least we know that all those runs he put up were pure sweat and hustle. · 2 hours ago

    You beat me to it. · 49 minutes ago

    Rose, Bonds, Clemens, and those who have documented cheating or rule breaking, should be elected to the HOF, but only after their deaths.  They shouldn’t get to stand up in front of the building and have a party.  But their accomplishments should be ackowledged. 

  15. Monty Adams

    I find the process deeply flawed. It gives writers too much power over players’ legacies, and I don’t think writers always have players’ or the games best interest at heart.

    A lot of writers probably resent the lifestyle and adulation these players get. Most players live an adolescent and decadent existence with tons of money, women, and night life. Many are not very bright and are oblivious to the world outside the game. It would be tough as a fairly well educated and talented writer to cover these guys with what is, lets face it, a pretty meaningless physical skill, and have to pander to them on a daily basis.

    I’ll bet many writers see this as their chance to balance out the scales and show players they aren’t the center of the universe. I also think a lot of writers just like to get on a soapbox and give into the temptation to be self-righteous about the purity of nobility of something they love. This turns the hall into something of a hallowed idol and elevates the inductees who do get in to a status that they aren’t due, in my opinion.

  16. King Banaian
    C

    Quick question: Would electing Rose to the HoF increase or decrease the price of his signatures that he sells in Las Vegas? http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:7925114

  17. Jim Chase

    My instinct is to take the purist position, in which only those players who excelled in the game (by evidence of stats), played by the rules (no cheating), and otherwise earned a significant consensus of acclaim deserve to be in the Hall. 

    Still, I wonder whether this approach is best for the game, and the Hall.  The Hall ostensibly celebrates the game, and the men who played it well.  Baseball is a game that attracts the gentleman and the cad alike, both competitors seeking to master a game like no other.  Yes, I think the Hall is rarified air, and should be reserved for only the best of the best.  But adding a sort of morality clause to the game’s list of unwritten rules to use as a bar for Hall induction takes away an important facet of the game.  The game is played by men, men with faults.  Their crimes aren’t as much against baseball, as against its fans. 

    So what do you do with the PED class?  Asterisks?  Exclusion?  Scarlet Letter?  I don’t know.  Greats are greats, be they cad or gentleman.  Maybe the game, and the Hall, should have room for both.  Somehow.

  18. Monty Adams
    King Banaian: Quick question: Would electing Rose to the HoF increase or decrease the price of his signatures that he sells in Las Vegas? http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:7925114 · 15 minutes ago

    Do you find him selling his signature and memorabilia unseemly, King?

  19. Whiskey Sam

    Unless we’re going to strike their names and records entirely, any museum of the game should include Rose, Shoeless Joe, and the steroidians, but it should be explicitly stated why they were sanctioned by baseball.  I’m not a fan of the process either.  Sportswriters hold grudges, and each one has his own “objective” standard.  Then you wind up with nonsense where a guy is on the ballot for years and finally gets elected.  How does that happen?  His numbers don’t change from one year to the next, but suddenly he’s now a Hall of Famer?  It’s too arbitrary.

  20. Mr. Dart
    skipsul

    Larry3435: Jake Beckley. Chief Bender. Dan Brouthers. Jack Chesbro. Sam Crawford. Never heard of them? They’re all in the Hall of Fame. But not baseball’s all time leaders in hits, home runs, MVP awards or Cy Young awards.

    Vicious thugs like Ty Cobb. Boozers and womanizers like Babe Ruth. They are in the Hall and they should be. But political correctness has taken over the Hall, as it has the Nobel Peace Prize and Time’s Man (pardon me, person) of the Year. The Hall of Fame is a joke. · 27 minutes ago

    Just a point on Cobb, much of his reputation comes from a slanderous biography that the author spun out of whole cloth.  Character assasination after Cobb and anyone who knew him was dead. · 1 hour ago

    Thanks Skipsul.  I always feel like a lone wolf defending Ty’s honor against the lies of Al Stump.  Sadly, even the MLB Network is showing the horrible Cobb movie.  In the last couple of days the great Cobb’s name was slandered repeatedly in the discussions of Bonds et al.  The true story of Ty Cobb is so much more interesting than Stump’s lies too.