Baseball Hall of Fame: Why They Can Not Reward Those Who Have Damaged the Game
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Let's say there is a university going through a rough patch.
Previously, it was viewed as one of the best schools in the nation, and it pulled in billions of dollars in endowments. Teachers who succeeded there, would go onto academic fame and be set for the rest of their lives financially.
However, a teacher's strike in 1994 had ruined the university's reputation.
The public thought the strike showed that the university and its teachers only cared about the size of their bank accounts.
When the strike was over, enrollment was at an all time-low.
Many parents had pulled there kids out of school and applications for admission, which once flowed in like the Mississippi, now trickled in weakly.
Realizing the rewards success at the school could give them, some teachers began grading easier than Paula Abdul in order to have more students get A's.
The school had never explicitly forbade teachers from artificially enhancing students grades, but teachers were expected to uphold the academic integrity of the university.
In forsaking academic integrity, the number of students with "A"averages exploded. Applications skyrocketed, and money from endowments returned to the levels seen before the strike.
The record for the most “A” students in a year was broken in 1998 and 2001.
In 2007, the all-time record for students with an "A" average over a career—once held by Henry Louis—was broken by Harry Hondz.
Later, the practices used by teachers to obtain these results was exposed.
The public split on the issue based on what people believed was the purpose of teachers and education.
Those who believed in academic integrity wanted their names erased from the record books and fought to prevent those teachers from being acknowledged as all-time greats. Others deemed that the practices did not take away from the teachers' achievements, and that a teacher's purpose was to have students obtain the highest grades they could.
MLB had difficultly getting back into the national spotlight after the 1994 strike and the steroid era helped to bring it back to national prominence.
At the time, the Summer of 1998 was seen as a great time for baseball.
Barry Bonds gave baseball non-stop coverage as he broke the single season and career home run records.
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were two of the best hitters in baseball and brought a World Series Championship to the Red Sox in 2004, which was their first in 86 years.
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Now what do we think of that era and those achievements?
We no longer look back at those times as moments of greatness. Instead, we look back and see that it was all a fraud. All the records and all the moments were products of the lab and not that of the players on the field.
The competitive integrity of the game was compromised because of those men, and without competitive integrity, baseball goes from being a sport to being just entertainment.
However, there is not universal outrage towards PED users. Instead, people are divided as to whether those players should have their names remain in the record books, and whether they should be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's three stated purposes are preserving history, honoring excellence and connecting generations.
So what purpose does the Hall of Fame serve if it inducts those who used PEDs and keeps their names in the record books?
It shows that the achievements of players who took PEDs are just as valid and deserve as much respect as the achievements of those who played in previous generations.
It shows that the achievements of those who cheated the game are equal to the achievements of those who upheld the integrity of the game. How does that fulfill the Hall of Fame's purpose of honoring excellence?
Should the destruction of the game's integrity not be factored when considering excellence?
Recently, another problem with allowing PED users into the Hall of Fame arose. Manny Ramirez failed another drug test and instead of taking his suspension, he retired from baseball.
If Ramirez was inducted into the Hall of Fame, the repercussions would be disastrous for the competitive integrity of the MLB.
Players, in the twilight of their career, would start taking PEDs to give their career new life. They would continue to take PEDs until they retired on their own, or they would retire once they failed a drug test.
Players who would have been Hall of Famers before using PEDs or those who were made into Hall of Famers by PED use at the end of their career would still get into the Hall of Fame.
Their names would still be in the record books and their achievements will be officially deemed valid. They will not be punished at all, but baseball will be punished.
Fans will grow more cynical of all achievements players make. The legacy of clean players will be tarnished because they played in the same era as those cheaters. By inducting PED users, the baseball Hall of Fame would end up promoting the use of PEDs and destroying the integrity of the game.
Some argue that erasing PED users from the record books and not inducting them into the Hall of Fame would go against the baseball's tradition of preserving their history.
The solution to that is simple: Make sure people don't forget the era. Have a wing in the Hall of Fame devoted to the Steroid Era. Show how players brought disgrace to themselves and to the game by taking PEDs. Make sure that those who are guilty are viewed in shame, and those who are not guilty are clearly set apart from the guilty.
Baseball should not run away from its darkest era.
It should should acknowledge that it happened, but it should not reward the players responsible for why it happened. It should not reward those who destroyed baseball's integrity as a sport and turned it into just a form of entertainment.
If you want to treat baseball as merely entertainment, then the fences should be moved in 100 feet, a pitch clock should be established, and metal bats should be legal.
If you want to treat baseball as entertainment, then have the teams that bring the most fans to the ballpark and arner the highest TV ratings as the only teams that make the playoffs.
If you want to treat baseball as merely entertainment, then records should not exist, let alone matter.
If you want to treat baseball as merely entertainment, then there should not be a concept of the game's integrity.
However, if you want to treat baseball as a sport, then you can not reward those who have done so much damage to it.
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