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My friend and I regularly ask, “are you dumber than a bag of hammers?” Of course, we’re kidding. After all, he’s a friend and hammers – as inanimate objects – are incapable of intelligence. Yet, after watching Major League Baseball and its Hall Of Fame voters operate the last handful of years, I have the following question for Bud Selig and his band of merry purists: Are you dumber than a bag of hammers?
Throughout the 90’s and into the 2000’s, baseball turned a blind eye to the dirty little secret most outside of it were already aware of. After all, you can only watch records, in addition to physical stature, grow exponentially for so long before smelling the rat that so obviously exists. You knew it, I knew it, even baseball knew it prior to the somewhat laughable Mitchell Report, but Bud Selig and MLB couldn’t resist the allure of the increased popularity generated from a rash of inflated statistics, and ate wholeheartedly the apple the “talking snake” was selling via Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and any of the others implicated in the era now known as “Steroids.” That’s right, the “Steroid Era” brought us a new home run record, countless farcical all-stars, and ultimately a minimized level of standards used over time to define greatness. It was the preeminent get-rich-quick-scheme, and it was a short-term success for the players, and a shot in the arm for the game in need of just that.
But now it’s gone (for the most part) and in its wake are the villains it created, and a game unwilling to acknowledge the accomplishments they in part are responsible for.
Alex Rodriguez is a performance enhancing drug user. He’s failed tests, lied about the extent of his use after-the-fact, and now has allegedly been caught using again. His career is likely over, his legacy has been tarnished forever, and he’ll never be remembered as the player he so desperately wanted to be remembered as. I say these things not as an attempt to smear the once-great player, but more so as a reminder of the damage he and players like him did to themselves, and the way in which they’ll be discussed by future fans of the game baseball purists continually try to kill.
That’s right, Bud Selig and the “purists” responsible for caring for America’s past time, are once again doing what they far too often do: Tripping over what’s best in an effort to do what’s right.
Since their eligibility, suspected users such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens have all been denied entry into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. They are just a few of a bucketful of potential Hall Of Famers either eligible or soon-to-be eligible covered in the stench left behind from a shameful period in baseball’s history. Their statistics say they’re in, but voters say they’re out due to a pious mindset based on the benefit of hindsight. It didn’t matter what they did then, but what they did then now matters when it comes to how they and their achievements on the field are to be judged. And the game is the real loser in baseball’s attempt to punish the era’s guilty parties.
With every story about A-Rod, every story about PED’s, and every story about Player-X, Y, or Z not getting into the Hall Of Fame due to suspected steroid use, fans of the game are reminded not of what’s great about baseball, but rather what isn’t regarding a period in time made possible by the same people abhorring it today.
If you want to protect the game, quit trying to erase what’s already done, and instead qualify the achievements relative to the era in which they were achieved.
Baseball’s historically evolved over time, and as such, its eras have been labeled accordingly. There was the “Dead Ball Era” from 1901-1919, the “Live Ball Era” from 1920-1941, the “Integration Era” from 1942-1960, the “Expansion Era” from 1961-1976, and the “Free Agent Era” from 1976-1993, so why not the “Steroid Era” from 1994 til the early 2000’s, and an explanation of such regarding the players and their numbers relative to their peers? This ends the discussion of who should and shouldn’t get in, and rids the sport of the type of negativity responsible for overshadowing what should be a celebration of the game.
I think we all know Barry Bonds was a Hall Of Fame player, as well as Roger Clemens and likely Alex Rodriguez. PED’s didn’t make these guys great, they just made them greater during a time when “great” really wasn’t all that good. When judging their careers in regards to the Hall Of Fame, voters should merely compare them and their numbers versus the players of their time, and not against the standards set by previous generations. Doing so would give voters the guidelines they desperately need, and the game of baseball the much needed opportunity to move beyond a past, doing nothing but inhibiting its future.
Bud Selig is not a dumb man. You don’t make that kind of money, own a Major League Baseball franchise, and become commissioner of this country’s native game without at least a reasonable degree of intellect. But as long as he continues to allow what’s wrong with the game, to overshadow all that is and has been good about it, he’ll be doing it a disservice, and leaving me with this unavoidable question: Are you dumber than a bag of hammers, Bud? Because you certainly are acting like it.
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