Friday, December 26, 2014

Hall Monitors

The main problem with the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is not the fact that the voting membership contains a significant chunk of people who don't write about baseball. It is not the fact that rampant hypocrisy about PED issues has subsumed the debate over Hall-worthiness. It is not the fact that Dan LeBatard gave his ballot to Deadspin last year (and Deadspin readers did a pretty good job with it), or that voters are only allowed to vote for 10 guys a year. It's not even the annual inanities of guys like Pedro Gomez and Dan Shaughnessy, whose self-righteous self-regard for their roles as Keepers Of The Sacred Flame Of Cooperstown (self-appointed) carries with it the unmistakable stench of bullshit.


It's that the discussion has gone from who should get in to who should be kept out. Keep out the steroid guys because steroids. Keep out the guys who played with the steroid guys because they might have done steroids, too. Keep out Jack Morris because his advanced numbers didn't add up. Keep out Bert Blyleven because his non-advanced numbers didn't add up. Keep out Fred McGriff for missing 500 dingers by 7, keep out Pedro for not enough wins, keep out anyone and everyone and the whole debate is about tearing down players's credentials, rather than admitting that the building's not going to implode on itself if the occasional Jim Rice gets a plaque.

(For the record, I thought Rice was a terrible choice, But that's besides the point.)

Hall of Fame stuff used to be fun. It used to be about making a case for a guy that you liked, even if he didn't actually deserve it - yes, I heard fellow Phillie fans trying to make a case for Larry Bowa. It was aspirational, the hope of seeing a guy you were a fan of make it in, borne up on the wings of your fannish approval.

Now, it's adopted the worst aspects of a usenet slap-fight over whether the U.S.S. Enterprise could take out Babylon 5. (Answer: No) All the discussion is negative. All the evidence presented is about why one guy or another doesn't measure up, and letting him in would cause Gozer to run amuck in the Finger Lakes Region. It's tiring, it's unpleasant to read, it's catty, and most of all, it's not fun.

Yes, it's possible to make a reasonable case, reasonably, for why a guy shouldn't be elected, but the key word there is reasonable. The nastiness, the ad hominems - seriously, can we stop with the "nerds in mom's basement" meme now? The nerds OWN THE GODDAMNED TEAMS THESE DAYS - the spiteful denigration of a player's body of work just to score sick burn points on another unhorsed knight of the keyboard - they accomplish the precise opposite of what any discussion of the Hall of Fame should.

Bring back the fun. Bring back the positive. And if you don't have anything nice to say about a player, even if it's Curt Schilling, then at least say the unpleasant thing nicely.
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