Hey, baseball fans! Did you know it's Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown? With names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling on the list of potential inductees for this year's Hall of Fame class, the weekend is certain to be one for the ages.
This year's Hall of Fame class includes...um, well…Hank O'Day and, uh, Jacob Ruppert and…Deacon White. It's a veritable who's who of Hall of Fame inductees, as in "who's getting into the Hall of Fame this year? Who?!"
Instead of spending the weekend reveling in the Hall of Fame speeches and talking about Bonds and Clemens and a host of players who were far and away the greatest of their generation, most baseball fans are ignoring the Hall of Fame entirely to talk more about…A-Rod.
Which got me thinking maybe Rodriguez, with a little help from Clemens, should open up his own Baseball Hall of Fame, where he can be enshrined after he retires, or is retired.
Yes, steroids and PEDs are, at least for this year, officially more popular than the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's not difficult to connect the dots between the likes of Clemens, Bonds and Rodriguez, but it's unfortunate that on a weekend baseball usually sets aside to celebrate the game, there's more dirt to uncover than ever before.
With Ryan Braun the first to accept a plea deal to serve his suspension in the wake of Major League Baseball's Biogenesis investigation, the attention has clearly shifted to Rodriguez, who seems to be doing whatever he can to get back on the field with the Yankees while steadfastly refusing to cooperate with MLB's investigation.
Can you blame him for not wanting to cooperate?
If Rodriguez, 37, is facing a ban for life, how is it sensible for him to take a two-year ban in lieu of life? Anything beyond the 65 games Braun received would be asinine for Rodriguez to accept. A one- or two-year ban, without pay, for a 37-year-old player whose team is looking for any excuse to void his contract is a career-ending death sentence.
The only difference between agreeing to a one- or two-year ban is that maybe, at some point, he could come back and work in the game like McGwire and not be a card-show freak like Pete Rose.
Still, would that give Rodriguez any shot at making the Hall of Fame? Never.
Rodriguez is trapped inside the same window as Bonds and Clemens: They are among the game's greatest players, who, by their own doing and the voters' collective (and selective) moralizing, will likely never make it into the Hall of Fame, admission of guilt or not.
So why don't those players start their own Hall of Fame?
Seriously (not seriously, but seriously), if Rodriguez gets banned from Major League Baseball, the first phone call he should make is to Clemens, his old teammate in New York, to chip in on a deal to open up their own Baseball Cheater's Hall of Fame.
It's not like Rodriguez and Clemens can't afford to put together a museum that looks at baseball's entire history of cheating, rule circumventing and drug use all by themselves. For star power, at the very least, they would have to include Bonds in the groundbreaking ceremony. Bonds, after all, should be inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year as Clemens.
(Jose Canseco would surely want to be involved, but if it were up to me, I'd leave him out of it. That guy can make anything into a circus.)
The group could call this new museum the Baseball Hall of Cheaters, Suspected Cheaters and Clean Players Sullied by an Era of Cheating.
Or, to make it easier to fit on the sign, Baseball's Hall of Fame and Shame.
Look at all the great places for sale or rent right across the street from MLB's offices on Park Avenue in New York City. Forget schlepping up to Cooperstown every year for the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame and Shame would be right where it should be—as close to Bud Selig as humanly possible.
Buying that space is entirely possible. See, for example, that one apartment is only going for $1.65 million. (Holy cow, real estate is expensive in New York City.)
Surely Bonds, Clemens and Rodriguez could afford to buy a 100-year-old building with 123 units that would each sell for between $400,000 and $2 million.
Hell, that building right across from Bud Selig's office would only run about $100 million to buy outright, which is still $175 million less than A-Rod's current contract, should he play out the entire deal without being banned.
That's pocket change for the chance to stick it to Selig every day of the year.
And now that we've figured out a dynamite concept, chosen a catchy name and spotted a prime location for this all-encompassing baseball museum, let's dive into figuring out some of the wings.
Certainly, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Shame would include multiple wings for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. I'd even suggest a different wing for each different style of drug, from injectables to ingestibles to topical preparations. Victor Conte, if he's not in prison, could give daily demonstrations on how to beat MLB's drug tests.
Talk about interactive!
The Hall of Fame and Shame would not be just about the drug users and drunks, mind you. There could be an entire wing dedicated to gamblers. There could be a wing for those who corked their bats, or used spitballs, Vaseline or nail files.
Pete Rose, who recently said PED users are messing with baseball's record books, would have a permanent seat in the lobby to sign autographs.
The museum wouldn't just be a place to honor baseball's cheaters, it would be a place where the history of the game isn't whitewashed to gloss over the bad side of the game while only celebrating the good. This could be a true history museum of baseball.
Where are the syringes and soda can Brian McNamee allegedly kept after dosing Clemens? Can we get the supposedly tainted urine cup from Braun's failed but overturned tests?
Over the last 10 years, that kind of baseball memorabilia has proven to be far more intriguing to see in a museum than a record-breaking home run ball for a mark more than half the baseball universe has decided to ignore.
The gatekeepers of baseball's history decided to make a collective statement this year with their Hall of Fame vote. By inducting no one, making the three "Pre-Integration Era Committee" choices the only members being inducted this year, the Hall of Fame voters have made it very clear how they feel about the steroid era in baseball.
It seems short-sighted and reactionary to have a current Hall of Fame full of so many damaged, imperfect players who combine to make up the very best of a game that has never been perfect.
If Bonds and Clemens never get into the Hall of Fame, that says more about Cooperstown than it does Bonds and Clemens. If Rodriguez never gets in either, well then the greats of the game left locked out of their expected place in history should create their own museum, one that Major League Baseball could not ignore. Seriously.
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