We’re a few short days away from 2017 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2016. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.
This is the most recent entry on our list, and it’s the sort of “a thing that happens every year” story that doesn’t necessarily make for big news. But Bud Selig being inducted into the Hall of Fame, as he was in early December, may have some repercussions that are bigger than the event itself.
As for the facts: there was no surprise whatsoever that the new version of the Veterans Committee — The Today’s Game Committee — elected Selig. Selig sat on the Hall of Fame board for years and the Hall of Fame has a vested interest in keeping Major League Baseball happy. It was certainly going to elect Selig in as soon as possible and it did just that.
It did that despite the fact that Selig was an accomplice to a literal criminal conspiracy that harmed people’s livelihoods and, in turn, compromised the product on the field. Despite the fact that he launched a disastrous, cynical and greed-inspired labor war that cost us the 1994 season and World Series. Despite the fact that willfully turned a blind eye to steroid and performance enhancing drug use in the game and then turned around and vilified and scapegoated the players who used those drugs in a comically grandstanding and self-serving manner. He may have been baseball’s best commissioner ever, but that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to make the Hall of Fame. The guy did a lot of harm to the institution he was tasked with leading. That baseball’s revenues helped make people forget about it all doesn’t change what he did.
But, as I said: repercussions. At the moment it appears that two figures who have long been shunned in Hall of Fame voting — Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — are seeing a big uptick in their support among BBWAA voters, who will cast their ballots by the end of week. The reason many are stating for changing their votes in Bonds’ and Clemens’ favor: Selig’s election. If the man whose negligence and turning a blind eye to PED use in baseball until it became a PR problem for him is in Cooperstown, why should we bar the door to PED users themselves?
Seeing Bud Selig get inducted to the Hall next Cooperstown is going to bug me a bit. But if that makes it possible for two of the best players in baseball history to get their overdue inductions sometime down the road, it’s worth it.