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Ken Burns on Bonds, Clemens, Piazza: “Those motherf***ers should suffer for a while”

Jan 9, 2013, 6:24 AM EDT

Ken Burns

I had a good conversation with my friend Norm Wamer of 106.5 The Ticket in Toledo yesterday. We talked about how, as a fan, it’s OK to feel anger and resentment any any other number of complicated emotions about baseball players who cheat. Because as a fan you’re allowed to feel emotions. Indeed, as a fan you should feel emotions. There’s nothing wrong with sports moving you on all levels as long as you don’t go crazy with it.

But I told Norm that baseball historians — like historians in every field — have to have a bit of an emotional separation in order to do their job properly. You can’t tell an objective historical story if you’re so emotionally invested that you’re creating good guys and bad guys and punishing them in your historical assessment based on your anger or sadness.

I don’t know if I’m totally right about that, but if I am, I think it means that Ken Burns, for all of the history he’s done, is no historian. Because check out this interview he gave to The Hollywood Reporter:

The Hollywood Reporter: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza are all on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Would you vote for them?

Ken Burns: No.

THR: Ever?

Ken Burns: I want them to suffer for a while … We know some pitchers extended their playing careers, we know some people hit the ball farther, but nobody hit .406, nobody had a 56-game hitting streak, no pitcher won 30 games, no pitcher won 35 games, no pitcher won 25 games. Maybe that helps you make it less onerous, but at the same time, those motherf—ers should suffer for a while.

Sorry, I can’t get on board with anyone who thinks that a legitimate use of their Hall of Fame vote, real or hypothetical, is to make “motherf—ers suffer.” And I don’t care how cute or boyish they are.

108 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. barrancefong - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    This is another reason why baseball writers shouldn’t automatically get a vote. Either you are good enough to get in or you are not. There are writers every year that withhold a vote because they think someone is HoF worthy, but not “first ballot” HoF worthy. That’s BS. Can we all agree that a guy like Greg Maddux (eligible 2014) is a lock for the HoF? I guarantee you that there will be some writer that leaves him off a ballot as some sort of statement.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2013 at 7:07 AM

      kick everyone out besides the Babe and close down the HOF.

    • millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      Based on the current standard how do we know that Maddux was not on PED?

      • jrbdmb - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        At this point if you are a BBWAA you have to assume all players used PEDs until proven otherwise. At least that seems to be the current line of thinking.

  2. volusiagirl - Jan 9, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    most of you sports writer are just jealous! They had the girls, money and most sports writers looks like you….just a friend!


  3. fiddytucker - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    Ken Burns… Boy does that Mug shot just scream,
    ” I’m a little tea pot….”

  4. brianabbe - Jan 11, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    Everyone knows the Hall of Fame is all about the writers, right? Wait, you mean it’s about the fans, players and history? Wow, and all this time and reading I was led to believe the writers were the most important part of the game.

    Could you be a little more self-righteous Burns? I don’t think you came off as arrogant enough. Let me guess. You’re short, got cut from your high school team every year and your wife wears the pants in your marriage. Clearly that means you have to develop a Napolean complex at the office. I love how you cite almost impossible to achieve standards (56 game hitting streak), and somewhat arbitrary numbers in an outdated stat (30 or 35 wins in a season). Maybe you should just say if you can’t match Cy Young’s inning (7,354 2/3), win (511), or complete game (749) totals despite the fact that Young likely threw 80 mph on a good day, you’re a worthless pitcher. Never mind that the game has drastically evolved in the past 100 years. But I guess you’re not going to be remembered by any non-family or friends after you die, so you get to decide who is and who is not remembered by the game after they die as well, right?

  5. lordd99 - Jan 11, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    I wonder if Ken Burns feels that way about Manny, Big Papi and Pedro, etc., the juicers from his favorite team? Especially since he thinks Mike Piazza is a mother f’er, when he’s never failed a single test.

  6. simonfoster231171 - Jan 14, 2013 at 5:39 AM

    I think it’s more than likely that unless the current crop of BBWAA members who decide these things die off that the ‘roiders & suspected ‘roiders most likely won’t get enough votes to be inducted. HOWEVER, that still leaves the Veterans Committee vote later on (& eventually they’ll be eligible for this avenue of induction – unless there’s something that ties vote totals in).

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