Is the Hall of Fame a victim of silly idealism?

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post was asked about the Hall of Fame cases for baseball’s black sheep in a Q&A today: Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez.  His answer says an awful lot about why the Hall of Fame discussion has gotten so rancorous and complicated in recent years:

I haven’t voted for the Hall in about 10 years. A wise Post decision not to allow us to do it. I’d never vote for Bonds, Clemens, McGwire or now Manny.

But I think it’s obvious that the baseball Hall of Fame will never be what it once was — a kind of perfect otherworldy place that you visited with no complex feelings, just childlike pleasure. That’s gone. I thanks the players union for that, with Selig and the owners a fairly close second.

A “perfect otherworldy place that you visited with no complex feelings, just childlike pleasure?”  Really? When?

While not a voter himself, my guess is that Boswell is not alone in holding the Hall of Fame and, by extension, candidates who become eligible for induction, to so impossibly high a standard. It’s exactly that impossibly high standard that has caused Hall of Fame voters to tie themselves into knots in recent years.

How about this: the Hall of Fame is an outstanding museum that has a room in which guys who excelled at the game get honored. I won’t say that it’s nothing more than that — there is some emotional/historical weight to it beyond any other part of the museum — but it’s not something upon which your youthful idealism should be pegged.

In no event, however, is it fair to the candidates, nor does it reflect particularly well on the voters, for the voters to lay their childhood baggage on the institution.