Photo Credit: MLB.com

Beeston and Elliott On Committee That Elects Jack Morris and Alan Trammell To the Hall of Fame (But Not Marvin Miller)

The Hall of Fame is bullshit, and it’s for that reason that a long time ago I stopped writing about it.

The idea of a sacred space that’s so protected by petty, self-interested actors is, frankly, absurd. And yet the Hall as an institution and a Thing To Be Believed In is precisely that, and transparently so.

What made me stop caring about the whole enterprise years ago was the grandstanding of writers who had suddenly found religion re: PEDs and, in effect, if not intent, whitewashed the story of the PED era. Through their votes they were singling out and punishing players for suspicions of use — sometimes strong ones, other times not — as though there wasn’t a PED culture throughout the game, widespread, known about, and understood — though maybe not fully, and not the dirtiest details — by executives, coaches, managers, players, and writers — often cheerleading ones — alike. Baseball had a steroid problem. It went much deeper than the players themselves. And yet it’s certain players, through the prism of the Hall, who bear the brunt of the criticism and vitriol directed at the era the problem emerged in.

Whether your reflex is to reductively shout “CHEATER!” at the players caught up in this, or conversely you’re able to be a reasonable person about it, we all ought to be able to agree that the process is fucked up. And if the process is fucked up, the results become meaningless.

At some point in the years since I stopped giving a shit this nonsense was compounded by the election of Bud Selig to the Hall. Selig, of course, is not just a collusion-era owner, but a man who bears a lot of responsibility for the cancelling of the 1994 World Series, and who presided as commissioner over the so-called Steroid Era, doing nothing about the supposed scourge until the howls became too great to ignore. Hey, but he made the owners a whole lot of money, so I guess that trumps whatever stains he may have left on the game.

Given all that it is perhaps unsurprising that the Hall has managed to move even more steps closer to the abyss over the last few weeks — and hoo boy, they’ve done just that. First, with Joe Morgan’s ridiculous letter, and today with the announcement that the Hall’s “Modern Baseball” committee has elected Alan Trammell and Jack Morris for enshrinement, and that only seven of 16 member group — which included two Toronto connections, Paul Beeston and Bob Elliott — voted for pioneering MLBPA head Marvin Miller, denying him enshrinement yet again.

The Morris thing is… whatever. I mean, fine, if you really want to lower the standard that much — which you’re going to do with Omar Vizquel anyway — go ahead and put Jack Morris in your shitty Hall of Fame. I can no longer be arsed to get upset about such things.

I guess I can’t really get too upset about the other things, either, but Jesus. Morgan openly campaigned for a Disneyfied museum, literally imploring voters to think of the children as he justified whitewashing not just the modern history of the game, but that of his own era — when greenie use was common, if not rampant, and hardly the only way players tried to get an improper edge. And the rejection of Miller is nothing short of an embarrassment. (Just read his Wikipedia page if you don’t yet know why.)

Cooperstown shouldn’t be a museum to the owners’ vision of the history of baseball, it should be a museum to the history of baseball. If it can’t be that, why in the world should I, or anybody else, care? Just fire it into the sun already — that’s where I’m at.

But if you’re not like me, and you do actually care… well, if I were you I would love to hear the two Toronto figures cop to how they voted, as well as some explanation for it — particularly from the guy who, we learned during the Dan Duquette saga, counts Jerry fucking Reinsdorf among his best buds in the game.

  • DoubleHappys

    These kind of complaints about the Hall of Fame are as tiring as the decade’s long debate about whether Morris should be a member. I can understand criticism about the process for admission and the murky rules and regulations that create no end of problems for voters who have to evaluate players. But change is afoot, the induction of Raines and Trammell in back to back years should be proof enough of that. The process is flawed, but old coots like Morgan won’t be around forever waving a fist at people wiser and smarter when it comes to the history of the game.

    Beyond that, the HOF is not just about an annual vote for induction. If you take the time to actually visit Cooperstown it’s clear that the Hall is far more than an elite private members club. As Jonah Keri has pointed out numerous times, the best part of the Hall is that’s it’s a museum and archive of the history of baseball and a treasure trove of historical moments and characters who shaped the game. The work the HOF does to promote and protect the history of the game shouldn’t be discounted, warts and all

    All of this is also mildly ironic given how much time is spent on here discussing statues outside the Rogers Centre. I’d far rather have an interesting discussion about the history of the game and who the greats are than about replacing one hallow statue with another outside the Rogers Centre. Who cares.

    Go to Cooperstown, it’s amazing.

    • Trevatron

      The point Andrew is making is that the Hall as “a museum and archive of the history of baseball…” is a failure because of how it executes this mission. The fact that they dont include Miller, one of the most important non-players in the history of baseball and all of professional sport, is absurd.

      • DoubleHappys

        There is no question it is absurd, but the anger and criticism about keeping him out will eventually get loud enough where he gets in. But this baby with the bathwater argument doesn’t really help right the problems, it just assumes the place is rotten to the core, which I do not believe is true.

        • Teddy Ballgame

          Amen. Stoeten, for a guy who used to be part of a website that was a lot of fun, more often than not you’ve been a dead misery lately. I sometimes wonder if I’m reading in the hopes the DJF spirit returns. You’re becoming dangerously close to a cranky old baseball writer yourself.

          The Hall is clearly imperfect, but it’s still a fantastic celebration of a wonderful game. If you’re looking for a standard of perfection, I daresay you picked the wrong game to cover.