The Hall of Fame: it's all about the money

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Next time you hear Hall of Famers spout off about how the steroids cheats should be kept out, keep in mind that it may very well be more than the alleged integrity of the institution that they’re
protecting. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame can mean lots and lots of cash:

On the day Mr. Gossage’s election was announced, in mid-January
2007, I spent several hours with him and his agent, Andrew Levy. Their
cellphones never stopped ringing. Mr. Gossage bantered with George
Brett, Joe Torre and other baseball friends who called to offer
congratulations. Meanwhile, Mr. Levy furiously fielded business offers.
“Until now, he’s been getting between $7,500 and $10,000 per speech,”
Mr. Levy told me. “Today, his price just tripled.” The Goose had laid a
golden egg . . .

. . . In recent years the money pot has grown as the Hall of Fame,
which produces and markets its own line of merchandise, has been forced
to give 30% of the profits to its inductees. According to Marvin
Miller, very likely the world’s greatest expert on baseball economics,
this helps explain why the Veterans Committee, composed of Hall of
Famers, consistently refuses to exercise its mandate to elect
previously overlooked old-timers. “Nobody wants to dilute the value of
his stock,” Mr. Miller told me.

And it’s not as if it’s only the people on the inside who are treating
this like a business. As the article notes, the most famous of those on
the outside looking in — Ron Santo, Bert Blyleven, the estate of
Shoeless Joe Jackson and Davy Concepcion — all have what amounts to
professional lobbying and P.R. representation working for them.
Jackson’s heirs, the article tells us, can expect a boost of of a half
million bucks a year in marketing opportunities if and when he’s ever
inducted. Joe Morgan isn’t even the craziest guy out there campaigning
for Concepcion: “The government of Venezuela hired Washington lobbyist
Tim Gay to mount a Hall of Fame campaign for Hugo Chávez’s favorite
shortstop, Dave Concepcion.”

Given this weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, you’re going
to hear a ton about this allegedly august institution. About who is
outside looking in. About who deserves to be there and who doesn’t.
About how allowing Barry Bonds and his fellow travellers in would
simply corrupt the place. Don’t take it seriously. Because while the
Hall of Fame is a great museum, the Hall of Fame induction game is a
business like anything else, and it’s owed just as much reverence as
Wal-Mart, Google, Congress or any other useful yet ultimately
self-interested institution.

(Thanks to Neate Sager for the link)

Madison Bumgarner began his rehab assignment yesterday

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Giants ace Madison Bumgarner tossed three no-hit innings yesterday in his first minor league rehab start with the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League team. He struck out two and walked a guy, while sitting in the 88-91 m.p.h. range on his fastball.

Bumgarner, who is coming back from a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder suffered in a dirt bike accident in April, will return to San Francisco to throw a bullpen session and then go back on the road for more rehab games. That’s a lot of traveling, but the Giants obviously want to monitor his progress. At the moment he’s expected to build up his strength for the next several weeks and, hopefully, return to the Giants’ rotation some time after the All-Star break.

Of course, there shouldn’t be too much of a rush. The Giants have lost five in a row and 12 of 13 and currently sit in last place, 24.5 games behind the Dodgers. At this point Bumgarner rushing to rejoin the Giants is like an Australian soldier getting a wound dressed to hurry back to the Gallipoli Campaign.

Is it really that weird that Cody Bellinger does not know who Jerry Seinfeld is?

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Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been tearing through the league so far this season, blazing a 50-home run pace despite not even making his debut until April 25. His Dodgers are winners of 10 games in a row, sit in first place and have the best record in the National League.

But not everything is rosy in Cody Bellinger land. He’s now at the center of controversy after he revealed on SportsCenter on Friday night that he doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. Or, at the very least, that he could not put a face with that familiar-sounding name and that in no event did he know why he was famous.

People have been going crazy with this, acting as if he’s from Mars or something for not knowing who starred in one of history’s most popular and influential sitcoms. His teammates, especially, have been getting on his case:

I dunno. On the one hand, sure, the show was amazingly popular and has been in heavy syndication for like 20 years so it would be hard to miss even for a young guy like Bellinger. And, of course, the catchphrases and bits of the show that has seeped into the popular culture have given it a longer shelf life than most TV shows ever manage.

On the other hand the thing ended when he was not yet three years old. For him, “Seinfeld” was like “The Beverly Hillbillies” for someone my age or “M*A*S*H” for someone born in the early 80s. Those shows were just as popular — actually, they got higher ratings and were seen by a larger percentage of the population than “Seinfeld” ever was — and they were just as heavily syndicated for the decade or two after they went off the air. We don’t get on the case of players born in the 70s or 80s for not knowing who Alan Alda or Buddy Ebsen are. And if it’s about the catchphrases, substitute in “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” each of which created a cultural footprint larger than the show itself. Would we freak out if we found out that Jayson Werth — born in 1979 — had never heard the phrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” or “Sit on it?”

And that’s before you acknowledge how much more fragmented pop culture and entertainment is now. I was 12 in 1985 and back then I had little choice but to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns at 7pm while I was waiting for prime time. It was either that or “Wheel of Fortune” I guess. As a 12-year old in 2007, Bellinger could’ve easily avoided “Seinfeld” reruns. He could’ve avoided TV altogether and just been online. My son is 12 now and he hasn’t watched an actual TV show in years. It’s all You Tube and stuff. The idea that there is any one thing or even a handful of things that, culturally speaking, we can all agree upon or which can serve as a common touchstone is an increasingly obsolete idea.

Maybe “Seinfeld” is different. Maybe this is not the same as not knowing “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “M*A*S*H”. I floated this whole idea on Twitter yesterday and people were outraged, so perhaps something else is going on here that I’m missing. But personally speaking, I feel like we should all calm down a bit about Cody Bellinger and the “Seinfeld” thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the stuff we like is not going to be culturally prevalent forever. And that young kids like Cody Bellinger are going to be the ones to inform us of this inescapable fact.