Human touch works
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As you may have inferred from the results of baseball's Hall of Fame balloting, they're apparently still leaving everything up to the humans.
To many of the game's seriously interested observers, this makes no sense at all.
Why expose the fate of statistically self-evident superstars such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, to all the prejudices and imperfections and suspect biorhythms pin-balling around in the human brain, much less the brain of a person who has spent a minimum of 10 consecutive years carrying around a Baseball Writers Association of America card?
In the age of designer software downloaded at warp speed to your DownrightBrilliantPhone, some rudimentary algebraic formula for fail safe Hall of Fame induction is ridiculously available. This many hits, that many wins, this many homers, that many saves, this WHIP, that WARP, and solve for HOF.
I could get a freshman at CMU to have it ready for me by Friday.
And frankly, that would be fine with me. I mean, I don't know why I have to be involved. I've been watching baseball pretty intently for more than 50 years, but many may find that not so much a qualification for Hall of Fame voting as a shocking admission of time misspent.
But apparently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has been perfectly satisfied with the voting of similar humans, as not a peep of protest has emanated therefrom over any perceived injustice visited upon the likes of Tim Raines or Dave Parker or Gil Hodges, all fine players found in some way unHallworthy by the humans. Similarly, I don't expect the Hall to start a peepin' now that Bonds and Clemens and Sammy Sosa and their PED-addled co-conspirators have been found uninductable by the voting humans. So long as the Hall insists that candidates be judged on character, integrity, sportsmanship and contribution to their team(s) in addition to their playing record, I presume humans will do the balloting.
So Wednesday someone from the Baseball Writers Association of America should have called Bonds and told him he was in the Hall of Fame, and someone surely would have except that Bonds put his destiny in jeopardy with prior phone calls to any of several drug mules including Greg Anderson, whom he let rot in jail for years while pretending he didn't use performance enhancing drugs.
Bonds was so good at this that there are still people who believe he didn't use performance enhancing drugs.
To review just briefly:
His head grew.
And his feet grew.
When he was in his late 30s.
That ever happen to you? Do you remember waking up one day and saying, "Honey, is my head bigger? My feet sure are." And with his head and his feet grew Bonds' production numbers to preposterous levels.
C'mon, are we children?
To me, the fact that Bonds would have no compunctions about getting over on his non-PED-abusing opponents for the express purpose of buttressing his own statistical portfolio compromises the integrity of the game and disqualifies him under the character/integrity/sportsmanship language of the official voting instructions.
Clemens? Sammy Sosa? Mark McGwire? See above.
McGwire recently told a Fox station in Los Angeles that even he wouldn't vote for Mark McGwire.
"I understand everything about what the Hall of Fame is all about, and I totally respect that," said this former St. Louis Cardinals player who trashed Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998. "It's something I did and something I have to live with for the rest of my life. It's a mistake I've made. I've owned up to it and moved on."
As more and more steroid and HGH users arrive on the Hall's yearly ballots, the scrutiny on Hall voters nearly has come to rival the scrutiny on real voters. There is exit polling. There is soul searching.
T.J. Quinn, whose baseball and investigative reporting commands admiration, wrote a vastly distributed column explaining why he just can't bring himself to vote any more. Other distinguished commentators have pointed out that people like me are the same people who didn't question McGwire's numbers while they were piling up and are now exercising -- what is the term -- retroactive morality.
I guess what that means is that, even though I now know that McGwire cheated his way to record-breaking performances, I have to put him in the Hall of Fame anyway because I should have known it at the time.
My bottom line argument is simple. These guys cheated. They went well out of their way to cheat. They knew they were cheating. They embraced cheating.
If I say, "Go ahead, you're in the Hall of Fame anyway," what am I saying to the next generation of players and to kids who are being pressured to compromise their own health for athletic glory?
I would be telling them the same thing the Toronto Blue Jays told them by signing disgraced San Francisco Giants steroider Melky Cabrera to the fattest contract of his career -- $16 million for the next two seasons, and it's that cheating pays. I hope they go 0-162.
But sure, I could be wrong.
I'm just another human.
Today on Page A-1
• Hall of Fame pitches shutout for 2013; Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both snubbed on first try at Cooperstown as steroids issue takes center stage.
ALSO: The voting, Page C-7.
"I understand everything about what the Hall of Fame is all about, and I totally respect that. It's something I did and something I have to live with for the rest of my life. It's a mistake I've made. I've owned up to it and moved on."
First Published January 10, 2013 12:00 am