The HoF: A Distorted Image of Baseball Validity


Everyone has an opinion on the Hall of Fame. But not everyone has one that counts. That prestigious honor is preserved for baseball writers. The Baseball Bloggers Alliance, of which Blog Red Machine is a member of, received Hall of Fame votes. And though you’ll care very little, I voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

September 07, 2012; Sugar Land, TX, USA; Clemens reacts after getting the final out in the third inning against the Long Island Ducks at Constellation Field. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

I’m not a contrarian. I don’t just say things for the sake of being different and controversial. That’s a tired method, and with millions of bloggers in the world, you can easily find one of those. The Hall of Fame, to me, means you as a player had the power to change the game. You had the power to make any fan in the ballpark find their seat or get to the nearest monitor. You made any channel surfer stop and watch your at-bat, or watch you pitch. Is anyone going to make the argument that Clemens and Bonds didn’t do this?

No. But you may counter with the obvious steroids plug. And I couldn’t care less. You say it’s cheating, I say it was normal. So many more players were taking them, yet so few are actually on a HoF ballet. If steroids can really give someone the power to become infinitely better, then you’d think we’d have seen many more guys than Barry Bonds knocking 73 home runs in a year. In an era defined by steroids, you’d think you’d witness more seven-time Cy Young winners than Roger Clemens.

Why did steroids turn these guys into super humans and not the hundreds of others? Is there anything to be said of actual raw talent?

The Hall of Fame is a glorified Old Boys Club. It’s voted on by baseball fans, like you and me, only, these fans get paid for their opinions.  There’s hardly anything objective about the process. For example, nine writers didn’t vote for Babe Ruth in 1936. Nine writers chose not to vote for Hank Aaron in 1966.  How could any normal spectator of this game not vote for either of those two?

The player with the most hits ever in the history of the sport has to buy a ticket to get into Cooperstown. Pete Rose isn’t acknowledged as one of baseball’s legendary icons for something completely unrelated to his play.

Does the Hall of Fame really tell the story of the greatest to play this game? Maybe. A slightly skewed one, told by hundreds of writers, all with different, subjective opinions, none of which matter any more than the next guy’s.  Almost like a game of telephone, only, with a result that can immortalize someone.

I was stoked when Larkin got into the Hall, but that’s only because he was my all-time favorite player. Guess I’m just lucky that others writers liked him too.  But what about your favorite player? Is it reasonable to suggest he’s not a Hall of Famer because not enough fans, er, writers agree?

Child, please.

The Hall of Fame process makes even the BCS look structured.