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Sunday, January 13, 2013

DEFENDING THE HONOR OF BASEBALL

For only the eighth time in the history of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the BBWAA voters declined to elect any new members to the Hall of Fame. While there were hints that this was going to happen, there has been a lot of shock throughout the community of baseball fans. There seems to be a great divide. One side feels vindicated that the PED users have been kept out of the Hall, while the other side is outraged that players have been convicted in the media, and that they have been robbed. While I certainly have a strong opinion about these players, I will not sit in judgment of these players here in this post. Instead, I would like to offer a different perspective.

There is something very sacred about the honor and integrity of competition, regardless of the sport. As I often like to say to the commissioners of my fantasy sports leagues, “It's not fun if it's not fair!” When players commit infractions against the rules of the sport, they are penalized through either fines or suspensions. However, when you violate the honor and integrity of the sport, penalties become much more severe.
Think Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints and his one-year suspension from the NFL, or the damage that Lance Armstrong has done to the sport of bicycle racing. In regards to the Hall of Fame voting, many writers talked about how they struggled with this year's vote. The tension was deciding between the merits of players' records and the responsibility of defending the honor of baseball.

It is obvious that this year's voting was a referendum on the whole PED issue, and the writers spoke with their votes. I mean, how else do you explain 7-time Cy Young Award winners and 7-time MVP's holding lifetime and single-season records in home runs getting only half the votes they needed for entry?  It so happens that they are the faces of the PED issue. Now, I can already hear the counterarguments: "There is no concrete proof that these guys ever used anything! They’re being tried in the media, and being labeled as having committed a crime for which they've never been proven guilty!" I will go one further and say that even if they had, technically they never broke any rules. The rules banning steroids did not take effect until 2004, well after many of them completed their most notable achievements. The problem here is that a referendum is a vote on an issue, not on a person. They happen all the time in politics – people get upset with one party and they vote for the other guy, regardless of who's running. This is exactly what happened with the Hall of Fame voting. They took a stand against the players who were associated with PED use. While we cannot change history and the stain left on baseball by the “steroid era”, its presence in the Hall of Fame can be minimized. Justly or unjustly, the voters decided to make some judgment calls and they certainly made a powerful statement.

Is it fair to the players who may not have used PED's that they are kept out despite having made major accomplishments simply because they played in the wrong era? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, I still defend the result of the vote and I'm one of the few. Baseball's honor must be defended, and there must be credibility in the membership of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Can I prove that Mark McGwire used steroids? No. But he cemented his legacy in the minds of many fans when he repeatedly refused to answer questions at a Congressional hearing about his own purported use of steroids (Read HERE.) Same goes for Barry Bonds when his name was found on BALCO's records (HERE.)

Now the results of the voting are a matter of historical record. I am glad that the writers struggled with the vote, and that they took their responsibilities seriously. I am glad they defended the honor and integrity of baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. While many will disagree with me, as far as the voting goes, they got it right. That's my opinion... what do you think? Comment.




--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row


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