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Gumbel: the Hall of Fame risks making a mockery of itself

Jul 17, 2012, 1:35 PM EDT

Barry Bonds first pitch NLCS

Bryant Gumbel’s latest installment of Gumbel to Gumbel, wait, sorry, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel airs tonight. And in his closing remarks he simultaneously defends Reggie Jackson — who I’ve lambasted over his comments on the worthiness of his fellow Hall of Famers — and argues for the inclusion of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, which I strongly support.

Darn you, Gumbel! I shake my fist at you for making provocative and intelligent arguments that challenge my dispositions!

Anyway, here’s his close, which makes a lot of sense, even if I still think that guys like Don Sutton and Phil Niekro belong in the Hall:

You see Reggie was basically right in contending that the hall should be special and its doors should not be opened just because someone stuck around long enough to collect 3,000 hits or 300 wins. Yes, the numbers are proof of some very good players. But as the former star pitcher Jim Kaat has often noted so astutely, Cooperstown’s supposed to be a Hall of Fame – not a hall of achievement.

If the voters are really so obsessed with honoring guys with the numbers, they’d be wise to start rethinking the exclusion of those megastars linked to steroids, and do it quickly. Because the next Cooperstown ballot will, for the first time, include among others, both the seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and the seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens. And while both men have a suspect past, it’s going to be hard to argue they don’t deserve a bust in Cooperstown. After all, a hall of fame that somehow excludes the game’s homerun king and its most honored pitcher and its all-time hits leader, would really be making a mockery of itself.”

  1. pmcenroe - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    “don’t deserve a bust in Cooperstown”. A bust? Come on Gumbel.

    • kopy - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      I don’t understand all the thumbs down. Does Cooperstown not use plaques while Canton has busts?

    • thedripfeed - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      Dont speak ill on Gumbel you smelly Canadian

  2. cur68 - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Wowie. Bryant Gumbel said that? I’d make some crack about a blind hen finding corn every once in a while, but I think I used that one already. Golf clap for Gumbel, then.
    clap. clap. clap..

    • wlschneider09 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      Try the one about a blind beaver finding wood.

      • cur68 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        Blind Beaver’s need no help finding wood. They find it all the time. They sniff it out. Tragically many blind beavers are killed becasue of bad positioning. Usually the wood falls on them after they chew through the base too far and are in the path of the collapsing shaft. Not sure how Gumbel’d fit into this cautionary tale of wood gnawing…

      • wlschneider09 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        Which raises a totally esoteric question: if a tree falls on a Gumbel and nobody posts it on Twitter, did it really happen?

      • cur68 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        oooo, good question, brah. But we can reduce this existentialism to: “if a tree fell on Gumbel, did Gumbel really happen?” Now I find reductionism tiresome and an often needless dumbing down. However, given that this is a dumbingdownism, in Gumbel’s case its probably apropos.

  3. Jason @ IIATMS - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    But they cheated! Asterisks! Asteroids! Hemoroids! Hemoglobin!

    What will the kids think?

    Attendance is up!

    Human Elements, FTW!

    If they cared about the fans, they wouldn’t hold the HOF ceremony in the middle of July, when it’s hot.


    • paperlions - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      You forgot “Argle bargle”

    • southofheaven81 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      Rabble rabble! Rabble, I say! Rabble!!!

      • umrguy42 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        Harumph! Harumph!

  4. randall351 - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Isn’t it already a bit of a mockery for not including the all time hits leader?

    Might as well add the home run leader and most honored pitcher to that list.

    • bigharold - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      Rose isn’t in the HOF because he willingly and repeatedly broke a rule that he damn well knew the consequences of breaking. He compounded that by initially lying about it then continuing to lie about it for about 30 years. In short he put himself in his current situation then dug himself deeper.

      It would be a mockery to have a rule that unequivocally forbids players from gambling, clearly spells out the consequences and then not to enforce it in such an egregious example as Pete Rose. And, for the record I was a great big Pete Rose fan growing up. Using PEDs to suggest that Rose should be in the HOF is a specious argument at best.

      • paperlions - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        Actually, Rose is banned from baseball for those reasons, the HOF is a separate entity.

        He’s not in the HOF because the HOF created an arbitrary rule after Rose was banned from MLB that states that a person banned from MLB is not ineligible (there was no such rule before that). Considering the things that won’t get you tossed off the ballot (or from consideration), the reason for this rule is not clear other than they just made it up to punish Rose, which is petty.

  5. buddyadwell - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    If people truly remember watching bonds hit, they should know that regardless of the steriods, which seems to have been more common than people know. If he came back today he could probably be league average. Not likely but would you let him in then. He still is one of the most talented hitters in baseball history.

  6. bigleagues - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    You see Reggie was basically right in contending that the hall should be special and its doors should not be opened just because someone stuck around long enough to collect 3,000 hits or 300 wins . . .

    or, say . . . 563 HR’s?

    • braddavery - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      My thought exactly. Reggie was a one trick pony who should take his own advice and release himself from the HOF due to being a compiler. The dude is the all-time strikeout leader who hit .262 for his career and he has the nerve to blast other HOFers for being stat compilers.

      • bigleagues - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        To be fair, he’s also 23rd All-Time in RBI . . . but you are spot on my brother!

        Everyone conveniently forgets that 20 years ago Reggie Jackson’s HOF candidacy gave birth to the debate about whether or not 500 HR is an automatic ticket to induction.

        Why? Because virtually every other facet of his game was average or below average.

        Here’s part of the breakdown I posted last week:

        The Yankees had won 3 Games in the ’77 World Series in spite of Reggie, who, entering Game 5 was batting a robust .206 for the playoffs:

        Games 1-3, he had absolutely ZERO impact on the games . . . other than being pinch hit for twice . . .

        Game 1: 1-2, no RBI, pinch hit for by Paul Blair
        Game 2: 0-4, 2 K’s now sporting .167 playoff AVG
        Game 3: 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 Runs, Lifted for Paul Blair, again.

        Game 4: What was more important in this game? Reggie’s solo HR to put the Yankees up 4-2 . . . or Louisiana Lightening throwing a Complete Game 4-hitter?

        Game 5, Jackson hits another solo shot in the 8th Inning to make it 10-4, Dodgers. Big whoop.

        Game 6 – where his legend was born and remains. Mike Torrez throws a CG, allowing 4 Runs (just 2 Earned). And Reggie, who entered Game 6 batting .242 for the ’77 playoffs with meaningless hit after meaningless hit, finally shows up and because he showed up for ONE game . . . he (thanks to a backhanded compliment by a TRUE Hall of Famer, Thurman Munson) is forever known as “Mr. October”.

        To hear Yankees fans and Jackson fanboys tell it, Reggie Jackson placed the Yankees on his back and single handedly won the 1977 World Series. Not that 3 CG Wins combined by Torrez and Guidry had anything to do with locking down that series.

        Mike Torrez: 2-0, 2.50 ERA, 18 IP, 2 CG, 15 K, 5 BB and Reggie shows up for ONE game and walks away with the World Series MVP.

        Torrez was the true Mr. October in 1977 and Jackson winning that Series’ MVP would NEVER happen in this day and age.

      • bigleagues - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        I would add that the Jackson HOF supporters love to highlight his Ages 21-36 seasons as his most dominant.

        To which I counter the following:

        Is the following player (also using his Age 21 Rookie season thru Age 36) more or less HOF worthy than Reggie Jackson?

        2009 G
        8545 PA
        2010 H
        476 DBL
        469 HR
        1489 RBI
        1226 R
        .280 AVG
        .383 OBP
        .546 SLG
        .930 OPS

        The above player was never connected to or had any PED speculation surrounding him. He’s also unlikely to ever sniff even 10% on the HOF ballot.

        For comparison purposes, here are Reggie’s 21-36 totals:

        2171 G
        8944 PA
        2099 H
        379 DBL
        464 HR
        1386 RBI
        1270 R
        .272 AVG
        .363 OBP
        .512 SLG
        .875 OPS

      • seanmk - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:38 PM

        carlos delgado!

      • bigleagues - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:40 PM


  7. randygnyc - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Regardless of how you feel at Pete Rose and if he should be in the HOF, what Gumbel did in his closing remarks was deceptive. The last paragraph was specifically about reevaluating players that enhanced their performance, yet Gumbel slipped in Rose, without naming him, and without referencing that he gambled on baseball and accepted his own lifetime ban.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      Good luck getting that by people here. There are plenty who think Rose did nothing wrong and Bonds/Clemens are the worst evils in baseball history.

      • mybrunoblog - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:21 PM

        It’s not that many fans think “Bonds/Clemens are the worst evils in baseball history”. That’s far from the truth. The idea is that Bonds/Clemens used PED’s and changed the outcomes of hundreds of games, altered history and broke hallowed records while getting artificial help from the PED’s.
        As for Pete Rose? Yes, I agree he should have been kicked out of baseball but I have yet to see once ounce of proof that he altered or threw any games he played or managed in.

        The PED guys rewrote the record books, changed the outcomes of games and Pennant races, world series etc….Rose just broke baseballs golden rule. Which is worse?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        altered history and broke hallowed records while getting artificial help from the PED’s.

        Plenty of players in the 60s and 70s also had artificial help and were able to break records due to PEDs.

        but I have yet to see once ounce of proof that he altered or threw any games he played or managed in.

        It doesn’t matter though, does it. We can’t prove the specific affects steroids/PEDs have on players, but we have no problem saying they are the reason certain players were able to do the things they did (Sosa/McGwire for example). Never mind all the other players who took ‘roids and were absolute crap (Alex Sanchez, Jeremy Giambi, etc).

        The point is, baseball had a rule that was posted everywhere you went. Gambling is wrong and will get you thrown out of baseball. Rose knew it, broke it [repeatedly], and then lied about it for years. Far too many people still give Rose the benefit of the doubt, somehow. He got what he deserved and now he’s 15 year eligibility is long gone.

    • paperlions - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      The more deceptive thing was the HOF creating the rule that made banned player ineligible for the HOF AFTER Rose accepted his ban. At the time Rose accepted the life-time ban, there was no such rule. Just the HOF “leaders” pandering to MLB and being petty.

  8. number42is1 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    ” Gumbel to Gumbel,”

    Well done sir..

  9. deathmonkey41 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    The correct title is “Gumbel 2 Gumbel: Beach Justice”. Don’t make a mockery of Bryant’s work by not knowing it’s name!

  10. steeler999 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Bonds, Clemens & Rose all need to be in the Hall. As far as Bonds & Clemens, wether or not they did steroids, it’s obvious by now steroid use was widespread. They played a big chunk of their careers in the steroid era. Note this on their plaques. Same with Rose. He was banned for betting on his team. Put it on his plaque. Like it or not, they are part of baseball history. It is utterly ridiculous for them not to be included in baseball’s shrine to it’s history.

    • chadjones27 - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      It’s not a Baseball Hall of History. There are no “astericks.” It’s the Hall of Fame. It’s based on performance.
      If the Hall does decide to not include players scketchy steroid pasts, they better be willing to remove players who get in and then are found to have taken steroids.

      • steeler999 - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        What about players that threw spitballs or took amphetamines? Should we now remove them? Do you really think everyone in the Hall of Fame right now is above reproach? It’s about history & performance.

      • chadjones27 - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        So you’re argument is that because others have cheated in the past, then anyone who cheats now should be allowed in?
        Pine tar, corked bats, stealing signs, spit balls, have all been part of the game, good or bad. I don’t recall anyone not making the Hall of Fame because he used too much pine tar. However, if the Hall is keeping people out because of steroids, they should be willing to remove people who are later found to have used them.

      • nategearhart - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        Chad, I think he’s saying that by YOUR argument you have to take out anyone who broke a rule. No more Schmidt, Aaron, Perry, Greenberg…You’re the one who said retroactively take out the cheaters.

      • chadjones27 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        It depends on where you draw the line on what cheating constitutes being kept out. If the Hall doesn’t want ANY cheaters, then yes, those players would then be removed. (For the record that’s not what I would want and I’m in no way saying remove anyone who ever broke a rule.) But there’s all this talk about keeping out guys out because they had taken steroids. And if that’s the case, if that’s where the voters draw the line on cheating, then they should be willing to remove anyone who has gotten before word gets out that they used steroids during they’re career. If they keep guys like Bonds out, that’s what they are saying, he used so he doesn’t get in.

  11. mybrunoblog - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    The BB HOF has a mess on it’s hands. If the PED players start to get elected many of the current HOFers said they will no longer attend induction ceremonies. It would look pretty sad if say Barry Bonds is standing on a stage in Cooperstown with like maybe only 5 or 10 of the 50 odd living HOFers there.
    Another of Bud Seligs sad legacies.

    • nategearhart - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      I agree it’d be a bummer. BUT I think it’d be better to induct him and have no one sitting behind them, than to not induct him.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      And they’d be hypocritical as most of them used some form of PED or another during their days. It’s also hypocritical because guys like Gaylord Perry, who admitted cheating during his day, are in the HoF.

      Also, HoFers like Mike Schmidt have said he’d have probably used if given the opportunity because guys were always doing whatever they could to get better. I have a lot more respect for that honest opinion than the grandstanding from others.

      • ezthinking - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        and Whitey Ford and Nolan Ryan who both admit to cheating – Whitey doctoring balls and Nolan for pitching in front of the rubber – and Mantle who with Ford bet on baseball.

  12. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    The Nixon Presidential Library has information about Watergate. The Clinton Library has info about “the intern.”

    A museum of any integrity should not exclude those items that could cause controversy; in fact, they should seek to shine light on these controversies and the way they led to change.

    “The Onion” had an article a while back about how, once you remove all of the steroid suspects for contention, Craig Counsel becomes the greatest player of his generation. It was satire, but it does illustrate the problems facing the HoF and the current trend of enforcing the “morality” aspect above baseball accomplishment. (what does Kaat’s comment mean? I don’t get it.)

    • wlschneider09 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      Are you kidding me? There’s no doubt Craig Counsell was a roider, did you see the size of his ears?

  13. psunick - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    5 or 10 people in the audience at Bonds’ induction ceremony, Bruno?

    The way he treated people, I’m not sure that he could draw even that large of a crowd.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Michael Jordan was a far bigger asshole than Bonds ever was, and plenty still showed up for his HoF induction.

      • ezthinking - Jul 17, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        was a gambler too

  14. braddavery - Jul 17, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    You can’t have it both ways. You want players enshrined for fame and not numbers, then call for players who lost the majority of their fame due to cheating enshrined because they have great numbers? Explain how that makes a lick of sense.

  15. moogro - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    How do you quantify fame? You have to look at numbers. Someone like Paul Konerko may likely “compile” far better numbers than recent HOF inductees at a small fraction of the fame.

    I love me some Jim Kaat, but that’s a road you can’t drive on.

  16. randygnyc - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Granted, betting against your own team, which rose did not do, is worse. But, betting on your own team still carries consequences. We don’t know if Rose over used/abused players, particularly pitchers, in his pursuit of gambling. Who’s to say Rose didn’t sacrifice his teams chances of winning a series, whilst pursuing a particular game he wagered on?

    • largebill - Jul 18, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      “randygnyc – Jul 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Granted, betting against your own team, which rose did not do, is worse. ”

      How do you have any idea whether Rose bet against his own team? Are you taking his word on it? Before you take his word you need to recall that he is the guy who vehemently denied better on any game. Then after admitting on betting on baseball, he strenuously denied ever betting on games involving his own team until he admitted he did bet on the Reds. We know some of the games he bet on during a very limited period. We have no way of knowing which games/teams he bet on outside of the limited period for which the Dowd investigation was able to obtain bet slips.

  17. raysfan1 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    The HoF also excludes the #3 all time batting average leader who, unlike Rose, was never convicted of anything.

    • jon623 - Jul 17, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      One of the largest misteps in professional sports history. Truly unbelievable. Shoeless Joe Jackson should be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  18. randygnyc - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    I don’t recall rose being convicted of anything. Rose agreed to his lifetime ban.

    • largebill - Jul 18, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      If Rose was never convicted, why did he spend 5 months in prison? I’ll save you the bother of Googling it. He was convicted for tax evasion.

  19. cackalackyank - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Well if the MLBHOF is about special players, please explain how it is that the guy that “Tommy John” surgery is named for is NOT in the hall? While others had the surgery before him he was the first one that really came back and had an impact in both leagues. To date he languishes waiting for the veterans committe to put a gutsy competitor in his rightful place.

  20. hushbrother - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Speaking of the Hall of Fame making a mockery of itself, perhaps its lowest point, in a history with many low points as far as inducting unworthy candidates is concerned, occurred in 2006 when it allowed in 17 – that’s 17 – Negro Leaguers at once, mostly no-names, while somehow omitting Buck O’Neil and Minnie Minoso.

    In fact, that’s not cause for mockery, that’s cause for anger.

  21. raysfan1 - Jul 18, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Referencing my comment above, Rose pled guilty to tax evasion and thus avoided a trial that might have brought into the open things that could have been more embarrassing than not paying taxes–the sources of that income, for example. Pleading guilty of course = a conviction.

  22. randygnyc - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Yes, both of you are correct, Rose was convicted of tax evasion. I had mistakenly thought the reference was pertaining to Roses gambling on baseball. If I recall, rose’s problems occurred when he did not declare income from signing memorabilia.

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