Green Room

Whither Cooperstown?

posted at 10:09 am on January 9, 2013 by

The tradition of MLB’s Hall of Fame continues today, with an announcement due on the Class of 2013.  The Steroid Era’s biggest figures — pun definitely intended — are now eligible for enshrinement.  Names like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens are on the ballot.  However, my friend Paul Mirengoff points out that sportswriters and baseball fans are in a catch-22 that may end Cooperstown’s luster once and for all:

Regardless of the outcome, the Hall is in an untenable position. What sense does it make to have a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include the most successful hitter (Bonds) and the most successful pitcher (Clemens) of the past 50 years? Both players presumably would have coasted into the Hall of Fame based on performance that preceded the period during which they are believed to have been on steriods.

On the other hand, it seems like a breach of good faith to bestow baseball’s ultimate honor on cheats. That, at least, seems to be the sentiment of a number of Hall of Famers who have said they will boycott its ceremonies if Bonds, Clemens, or Sosa is admitted.

In my wasted youth (i.e., up until the age of 45), I used to spend hours pouring over baseball statistics trying to determine, say, the top 20 second basemen of all time. Who in his right mind would indulge in such a hobby now, when we don’t know (1) which players from the 1990s and early 2000s gained an unfair advantage through drugs, (2) the precise period in which they gained it, or (3) the extent of the advantage?

If the game didn’t care enough to maintain the integrity of its history, why should we care enough to obsess about that history or even to worry who makes the Hall of Fame?

I lost my enthusiasm for baseball in the Steroid Era.  I’m pretty sure that was not a limited phenomenon.

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