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Leitch on the Hall of Fame arguments: “it’s like watching politicians”

Dec 31, 2012, 4:02 PM EDT


Will Leitch of Sports On Earth loves the Hall of Fame, but fears that the nature of the Hall of Fame debate — which, given how intractable everyone is being is less of a debate than a shout-fest — has ruined the whole thing:

This is the Hall of Fame. This is the ultimate sports debate. This is how we’ve always classified guys, how we’ve organized the world of baseball for years … It was supposed to be fun. But not now. The discussions about the Hall of Fame, and the actual ballots, are turning into the fiscal cliff debate, with people operating in bad faith, abusing their power, making decisions for reasons that have nothing to do with how good of a baseball player a certain guy was. It’s like watching politicians. And sports should never, ever be like watching politicians.

He’s got a point. And even though I get a more or less approving mention at the outset of the piece, I realize that I’m part of the problem too.

In my defense, I care far less about any one voter’s choice and I complain far less about this guy or that guy getting in than I used to. Same goes for whether someone uses old school or new school analysis. I don’t think I’ve cited WAR with any bit of seriousness or conviction in my life, for example, and I’ve mentioned several times that I won’t lose much sleep if Jack Morris gets in or Barry Bonds is left out or whatever. I have my opinions on those matters and others have different ones and if all we have when it comes to Hall of Fame talk is a difference of opinions in that regard, fine. Let’s shout about it some and then have beers later.

What does bother me, however, is inconsistent and dishonest reasoning employed by those who are supposed to be the foremost experts and authorities we have. The double standards, the intellectual laziness, the personal vendettas and the grandstanding that passes for baseball analysis and, ultimately, historical judgment.  You want Jack Morris and Dale Murphy in and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds out? Fine. Say you think the former were better (or at least more worthy) baseball players than the latter, cast your vote and stand by your judgment.  But don’t ignore or invent history to do so and don’t pretend history and evil-doers are forcing you to vote in such a way and that you feel powerless and depressed about it.

That’s the hill I’ll die on. Not the “this guy should be in or that guy should be out and you’re a moron for thinking otherwise” hill. The “think rationally, be honest and take responsibility for your actions, even if they’re unpopular” hill. It’s a concept that is always worth fighting for, be it in baseball arguments or in stuff that actually matters in the real world.

  1. Charles Gates - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    We’re a sac bunt away from a BBWAA writer circulating a pledge document to keep all those suspected of PEDs out of the Hall.

  2. okwhitefalcon - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    The HOF debate is nearing the depths of the yearly awards voting with the condenscending Saber crew and the stodgy old school voters.

    The electorate has become the story in both cases – the self importance and need to make personal statements are overshadowing the honors themselves.

  3. crankyfrankie - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    If you look at Bonds status before , alleged, juicing he is a hall of famer. Not a nice person or a swell fellow but a H.O.F caliber player. The problem is the ire he brings out by taking away Aaron record. People who remember watching Aaron break Ruth’s record are just bothered by not seeing him at the top of the list.I’d vote for both Bonds and Clemens and not vote for Murphy and Morris. Sorry they just weren’t good enough to get in.

  4. crankyfrankie - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Damn it statistics not status.

  5. Ben - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    This post is forming part of the day one discussion in my upcoming course on Baseball and American Culture.

  6. randygnyc - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I blame the cheaters for creating the toxic voting environment.

    • Ben - Dec 31, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      and this comment will serve to illustrate the inability to think about the issue amongst some but by no means all (or even most) baseball fans.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 31, 2012 at 9:13 PM

      If the above was serious, please advise as to the level of blame the following groups also deserve in the whole “steroid scandal” and thus any toxic voting environment as you put it:
      1) league and team officials who knew very well what was going and did nothing about it
      2) the media members/ reporters who should have either known or suspected and investigated but did not–especially ones that are now HoF voters
      3) the legions of fans who made turnstiles spin in record numbers starting in 1998 and have never let up, who ignored the report in 1998 that McGwire was openly using androstenedione (then classified legally as a nutritional supplement but is a steroid and was even then on the list of substances that would get an Olympic athlete disqualified)?

      I personally say all 4 share some blame, although the fans get the smallest portion. With that, and I’ve posted this before, I find BBWAA voters to be somewhat hypocritical when they seek retribution upon players, especially ones for whom there is no evidence of use, when they themselves were part of the problem.

  7. Baseball Beer Burritos In That Order - Dec 31, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    I can’t take Leitch seriously since he publicly agreed with the EDSBS guy that “Bill Hicks was never funny.”

    I would much rather debate about Bill Hicks than Jack Morris.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 31, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    “be honest and take responsibility for your actions, even if they’re unpopular” hill”

    Craig, you just gave out my address 😀. Happy New Year and enjoy the night with the kids. It’s what guys like us do on NYE.

  9. BigBeachBall - Jan 1, 2013 at 3:23 AM

    Let them in or keep them out… I have a solution… Just invent another hall of fame called, “hall of insane” and stick everybody else in there… Including pete rose.

  10. charlutes - Jan 1, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Why play games anymore, let’s just scream at each other about the hall of fame and see who can feel the most important. Craig’s winning.

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