I had a good conversation with my friend Norm Wamer of 106.5 The Ticket in Toledo yesterday. We talked about how, as a fan, it’s OK to feel anger and resentment any any other number of complicated emotions about baseball players who cheat. Because as a fan you’re allowed to feel emotions. Indeed, as a fan you should feel emotions. There’s nothing wrong with sports moving you on all levels as long as you don’t go crazy with it.
But I told Norm that baseball historians — like historians in every field — have to have a bit of an emotional separation in order to do their job properly. You can’t tell an objective historical story if you’re so emotionally invested that you’re creating good guys and bad guys and punishing them in your historical assessment based on your anger or sadness.
I don’t know if I’m totally right about that, but if I am, I think it means that Ken Burns, for all of the history he’s done, is no historian. Because check out this interview he gave to The Hollywood Reporter:
The Hollywood Reporter: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza are all on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Would you vote for them?
Ken Burns: No.
Ken Burns: I want them to suffer for a while … We know some pitchers extended their playing careers, we know some people hit the ball farther, but nobody hit .406, nobody had a 56-game hitting streak, no pitcher won 30 games, no pitcher won 35 games, no pitcher won 25 games. Maybe that helps you make it less onerous, but at the same time, those motherf—ers should suffer for a while.
Sorry, I can’t get on board with anyone who thinks that a legitimate use of their Hall of Fame vote, real or hypothetical, is to make “motherf—ers suffer.” And I don’t care how cute or boyish they are.