Like Punxsutawney Phil, who will be dragged out of hibernation in about 4 weeks time in order to see his shadow under the klieg lights, thereby ensuring only 6 more weeks of winter, this blog is waking from its deep sleep, if only temporarily.
Turns out that today’s New York Times has a piece that suggests the Baseball Hall of Fame voters are going a bit squishy on whether or not to admit Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into the Cooperstown shrine. David Waldstein reports that:
baseball writers who vote to decide who should be inducted into the Hall, and who should not, appear to be backing away from their punitive approach to Bonds and Clemens, and perhaps others as well.
It appears that some of the writers feel that if Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner who did precious little (read: nothing) to address the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, and Tony La Russa, one of many managers whose teams benefited by players using such drugs, can somehow be enshrined in the museum, then Bonds and Clemens should, too.
All of it “just kind of struck a nerve with me,” said Kevin Cooney, a voter from The Courier Times in Bucks County, Pa.
“To me, it would be hypocritical to put the commissioner of the steroid era and a manager who had connections with the steroid era in and leave out the greatest pitcher and the greatest hitter of that time,” Cooney said in explaining why he had now decided to vote for Bonds and Clemens.
As another sportswriter puts it:
Steve Buckley of The Boston Herald said he pictured himself sitting in the audience at Cooperstown for future induction ceremonies and looking out at Selig and La Russa and others who he said benefited from the steroid era and wondering why the two best players of the time were barred.
“I’m not saying Bud turned a blind eye to it or that he knew it was happening,” Buckley said of the drug use under Selig’s watch. “I’m simply saying that Clemens and Bonds and others took the performance-enhancing drugs and did the steroids and all those evil things, and at the end of the day, the game did prosper, and they are on the outside looking in, and I have an issue with that.”
Ultimately, though, from my perspective, the issue is pretty cut-and-dried. Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun-Times sums it up well:
[Wittenmyer] recalled that before his first vote a few years ago, when another tainted slugger, Mark McGwire, was still on the ballot, he described the voting process to his son, who was 12 at the time. Wittenmyer described each player’s biography and what he had seen from them up close as a writer. Then he explained the steroid issue.
“His response was, ‘Well, Dad, isn’t that cheating?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it was,’” Wittenmyer said. “If that’s the easy conclusion a 12-year-old draws, it really is that simple.”
If I had a vote, I’d vote the way Wittenmyer votes. Without the steroids, Bonds’ and Clemens’ accomplishments would not have been nearly so great, and very likely wouldn’t have elevated them to Hall of Fame status (though that is an entirely debatable point, I’ll concede).
So instead of electing these players to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I propose that an entirely new organization be set up — The Pharmaceutically Induced Sports Superiority Hall of Fame, or PISSHOF (pronounced “piss off”).
Best of all, this could be for all sports. So there would be a baseball division, professional cycling, football (both real football, which you know as “soccer,” and the American sport), track and field, and of course weightlifting and body building (of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a charter member). That’s the Hall of Fame we need. And Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would be perfect candidates for that honor.
Oh, and for those who are still wondering, this blog coming out of hibernation right now has no effect on how long winter lasts. So get ready for 10 more weeks of cold, snowy weather (unless you live in warmer climes).