I agree with everything Buster Olney says in today’s column (sorry; ESPNInsider only).
In it he talks about how one cannot simply define a Hall of Famer anymore by reference to who is in and who is out of the Hall of Fame. It’s not about good players. It’s not about good clean players. It’s not about good clean players with certain benchmarks. It’s not necessarily about good clean players who were likable good citizens. It’s really a mess.
Olney is too polite to say so, but the fact of the matter is that one cannot define Hall of Fame players by reference to players themselves anymore because it ceased to be about the players a few years back. It has become about the voters and their hangups and prejudices. About how they think it’s about themselves and their moral judgments with respect to a topic about which they cared little and reported about less until 2002, when Jose Canseco decided that he wasn’t as famous as he thought he should be and decided to write a book.
Which isn’t to say that PEDs isn’t an important topic. It’s just to say that the people who now lecture us about how important that topic is now and who cast Hall of Fame votes based on that criteria totally and truly did not care a lick about it before then.
Anyway, Olney winds up with this thought, and it’s hard to find a problem with it:
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a baseball museum. It’s not a house of holy. Those inducted haven’t had to be saints, and it’s time for the Hall of Fame and the writers to understand that, because if we cannot define the honor of being a Hall of Famer, then the honor is in jeopardy of losing its relevance.
There is a better way: Give the best players a plaque, and if there is important PED-related information related to their time in baseball, put it on the plaque.
Then let the patrons of the Hall of Fame decide for themselves what it means, not writers caught in the morass of voting rules that are either antiquated or Machiavellian.
This advice will be ignored and, in its place, we will either get self-important rants from baseball writers about how they are protecting the children from some horrible thing or else silence and dissembling about why they didn’t vote for the best baseball players.