Why the Baseball HOF Is a Completely Irrelevant Joke

Art WellersdickContributor IIJanuary 10, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds waves as he leaves federal court following a sentencing hearing on December 16, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  Bonds was sentenced to 30 days of home confinement and two years probation after a jury found Barry Bonds guilty on one count of obstruction of justice and was a hung jury on three counts of perjury for lying to a grand jury about his use of performance enhancing drugs.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a joke, period. It's a worse joke than the one your third cousin told about your sister's bi-racial boyfriend at Christmas two years ago when he was hammered out of his gourd on cheap booze and an exotic combination of Olanzapine, risperidone and Seconal, which left him staggering around the house in a stupor and a pair of urine-soaked corduroys.

Every year the fraudulent, ego-driven, crippled-by-delusions-of-grandeur cartel known as the Baseball Writers Association of America vote on who should get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year, no one made it in. 

Now, this isn't entirely alarming or important or relevant, really. When taken into consideration who the actual voters are, the "honor" of making it in suddenly becomes much less honorific. This is the same group of people who apparently felt that Christy Mathewson and Phil Niekro somehow belonged in the same room.

And how can anyone take the opinions seriously of a group of people who have never unanimously voted in a player, ever. To treat Hall of Fame membership as an honor means to place a large amount of validity and importance on the opinions of people who didn't think Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Walter Johnson and Stan Musial were worthy of selection in their first year of eligibility. Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Derek Jeter and many other recent greats will also have people within this "esteemed" group of writers voting against them. It's a farce.

Why would a writer not vote for a player like Sandy Koufax or Willie McCovey? I'll tell you why. It's that writer's idea of making a statement, of finally using their privilege to turn the tables on the athletes they envy in some warped attempt at instilling some significance into their otherwise pathetic lives. Why else would someone vote against inducting Roberto Clemente? The sort of mindset behind someone not voting Mickey Mantle in on the first ballot is simple: the vote is not about the players, it's about them, the writers. In their ill-functioning mind, this is their time to finally shine.

Many of the voters aren't even deserving or qualified to vote in the first place. These voters simply don't belong in the same category as esteemed, well-respected sports writers like San Francisco Chronicle's Bruce Jenkins or Henry Schulman.

Or how about first-time voter John Canzano of the The Oregonian, whose title to his latest column plainly states that the vote is a message? What sort of message, John? That the BBWAA gets to decide what form of cheating is tolerable and what isn't?

Because that is what the overt message really is, regardless of the intended message. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and many other players cheated in their day when they used amphetamines to enhance their performance. Forget about how much the use of illegal stimulants—which were and still are barred under MLB guidelines—actually enhances performance. Many of the BBWAA voters are wholly unqualified to vote for the Hall of Fame, which is supposed to be their area of expertise; they are infinitely more unqualified to determine the actual effectiveness of various forms of cheating on the performance of the human body. The fact is that using amphetamines was cheating at the time and it still is.

The argument that amphetamine use wasn't that big of a deal and shouldn't keep a guy out of the Hall of Fame especially does not hold water when considering that the all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, is barred from baseball for life for gambling on his own team. He laid down money that his teams would win and he is barred for life. It's as victimless a "crime" against a baseball as there is, and yet it is treated by MLB as something significantly more damaging to the game and its reputation than the use of amphetamines by previous generations was. Those players got a pass, Rose did not.

The same can be said for Gaylord Perry, who wrote a book about his cheating ways. Why is he in the Hall of Fame and the cheaters on this year's ballot were kept out? Is the BBWAA simply saying that some forms of cheating are okay as long as they don't work too well?

Is Alex Rodriguez going to get a reprieve because he allegedly only used human growth hormone a couple of times to return from injury? Is some steroid and HGH use okay, as long as the players don't cross some contrived, arbitrary line that a bunch of people who mostly never played sports beyond junior high set? And if so, where is that line?

Because, as I see it, right now there is amphetamine use on one side of the line and steroid use on the other. They're both dangerous substances that should be kept out of MLB clubhouses, lest a bad example for children be set. Incidentally, there is actually way more evidence showing that amphetamine use is dangerous to human health than the use of large amounts of testosterone.

And let's not brush over the entirely hypocritical, meaningless section in the voting criteria that addresses moral fiber and all that B.S. Yeah, that's right. A Hall of Fame whose voters are instructed to weigh "integrity, character, sportsmanship" and so forth has within its hallowed ranks scores of criminals, woman-beaters and racists, including one, Kenesaw Landis, who did everything within his power as commissioner to keep any and all minorities out of the game. Yes, that Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the one who the MVP Award is named for.

Or what about Ty Cobb, whose idea of sportsmanship was sharpening his spikes prior to each game to make it easier to intentionally injure his opponents? Or how about guys like Bob Gibson, who openly threw at hitters' heads and literally put their lives at risk for the sake of the inside corner? So those jerks get in and a woman-beating piece of garbage like Barry Bonds is kept out? I can live with Bonds being kept out for cheating or for being the violent misogynist he was made out to be during his perjury trial last year.

Just don't tell me that this year's vote was about maintaining the integrity of the game or the voting process itself, because it has none to begin with.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated that Lisa Olson "has turned in a completely blank ballot every year since she became eligible to vote." Olson has not turned in a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. This has since been corrected.