As pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the Baseball world is still talking about the Hall of Fame debacle. Over the last few years, the Baseball Hall of Fame has courted plenty of controversies. This year the Hall of Fame voting got no new inductees. It was a new low for the annual stupidity that is Hall of Fame voting.
With controversial candidates such as Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling, maybe it was no surprise that no one got an invite to Cooperstown. More hand-wringing followed as the sports media digested the news. In all of that hysteria, a question emerged: Should personal conduct play a role in a players’ induction? Baseball’s hundred-plus history owns plenty of shady characters; it’s time to examine.
Why It Should
Cooperstown is the ultimate goal for any ballplayer. It is a monument to the legends that defined Baseball from the dead-ball era to the present day. The opportunity to rub shoulders with Ruth, Mantle, and DiMaggio is the highest honor that a player can get. The Hall of Fame is a living, breathing epitaph to America’s Pastime. That is why personal conduct should get considered when voting on new inductees.
One must ask themselves whether the new candidates represented Baseball to a gold standard. That is something that should get considered when voting. For example, should Curt Schilling’s political views stop him from entering the hall? No, while his statements are outlandish and divisive, Schilling said a lot of that post-retirement.
His playing career was nothing short of exceptional. Three World Series titles, six-time All-Star, and World Series MVP are all awards that Schilling owns. The Bloody Sock game is one of the great playoff performances in modern MLB history. In two decades playing in the bigs, Schilling represented excellence in Baseball. A never-say-die attitude with outstanding pitching in the biggest games. Yes, Schilling is an unlikeable human being; nonetheless, his playing career saw him represent the sport the right way and was a special pitcher.
Steroids and The Hall of Fame
Personal conduct should get considered for the duration of a player’s career. The Hall of Fame isn’t the arbiter of an individual’s political beliefs or opinions. It is purely a judge of a player’s services to Baseball in a playing capacity. That is why Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark Mcgwire cant go in. Their personal controversies negatively impacted the game. Yes, the Long Summer of ’98 rebirthed the game after the strike.
Sadly, it had a more detrimental effect as more players started juicing. The home-run ball became king, and strikeouts became much more commonplace. The steroid-era harmed Baseball.
Players that admitted to or were suspected to use performance-enhancing drugs during their playing career shouldn’t get a Hall of Fame consideration. They tried to cheat the game. On the other hand, one could argue that they deserve a commemorative plaque or monument somewhere. The steroid era left an indelible mark on Baseball, for better or for worse.
Why It Shouldn’t Get Considered
Some would argue that the Baseball Hall of Fame is documenting the history of the game. In history, there is plenty of good and plenty of bad. Cooperstown is a museum of Baseball history. In all historical monuments, there must be documentation of both good and bad.
For example, the Black Sox scandal was a dark time for MLB. Although the scandal is world-famous, it is still fascinating to read about today. Pete Rose is arguably the greatest hitter in history. Baseball keeps him out of the hall due to his betting history. Unlike steroids, Rose’s betting never directly impacted the game.
Personal conduct should not get considered because no-one will ever erase controversy out of Baseball. Players will always look for an advantage, whether it’s pine-tar or stealing signs. Services to the game should be the primary consideration for Cooperstown. Great players, regardless of what they did, captivated the imagination of fans worldwide. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Pete Rose thrilled fans and spread Baseball to all corners of the world. That is an invaluable legacy to leave on a game that’s 100-years-old.
What Next for the Hall of Fame?
The Baseball Hall of Fame voting requires a complete overhaul. It needs fewer journalists with clear voting criteria. The moral clause should get thrown into the Hudson River. The method can get simplified; did the individual’s actions directly impact the game. If not, then it is ok; if they did, then it is a complete no to induction. And that must be unanimous across the voters. Baseball will always attract controversy; the key is how it impacted the game that is as American as fireworks on July 4th.