The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is a history museum. It exists to tell the story of baseball. It’s a living document that is ever changing, growing and evolving.
But it still doesn’t tell the entire story.
We’ve been practicing revisionist history in Cooperstown for quite some time now, and in my opinion, it needs to stop.
It’s time to tell the whole story, warts and all.
So far, we’ve only told the story that we’re comfortable with. That makes us feel all warm and cozy…but that’s not how history works. History includes horrible things and in order to learn from history, we have to be able to tell the entire story of what happened.
This is no different for baseball.
The 1919 Black Sox, Pete Rose and the PED era players are a part of baseball history. They are a bad part of the history, but a part nonetheless. So excluding their part of the endless story of baseball is, quite honestly, revisionist history.
The games they played, the stats they accumulated and the accomplishments they earned all happened. We saw them happen. There’s nothing we can do to change that. So we have to stop pretending that we can.
The Baseball Writers Association of America is full of people that don’t belong. From folks that only used to cover baseball to folks that never covered baseball at all, there are far too many people with Hall of Fame votes. Add in the amount of old fuddy duddy voters and we see the main problem.
Voters need to stop making the vote about themselves and make it about the game and the story.
Too often in sports, we as fans try to compare eras head-to-head and I think voters are doing the same, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Each era of the game is vastly different from the last. It’s the Hall of Fame’s job to show us those differences, whether we like them or not.
As I said before, these games still happened.
Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs, Roger Clemens won over 300 games and Pete Rose still has more hits than anybody in the history of Major League Baseball. Those things happened, we saw them and they still exist in the record books.
So tell the entire story.
Have, as part of Rose’s enshrinement, the entire story of what he did wrong, how he handled it wrong and why he was banished from the game.
Have an entire PED era wing that shows the period from the late-80s to the early 2000s and how PEDs were rampant and still enshrine the players who rose above the fray and became the greats of that era.
We don’t need asterisks, we need the story…the entire story.
Part of that story is already enshrined in Cooperstown. There are already cheaters of all kinds in the Hall of Fame.
Most notably, former commissioner Bud Selig.
Selig was the commissioner of baseball for some of the worst things to happen to the game. He was in charge when the World Series was cancelled in the strike shortened season of 1994, he was commish for the entire PED explosion in the late-90s and even ran the league when we had an All-Star game end in a tie leading to the asinine “this one counts” campaign.
Selig is enshrined at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was complicit in the entire PED era, and benefited off of it immensely. After the strike, Selig needed to get folks back into baseball and he was more than happy to ride the wave of the home run race in ’98 with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. After all, it put butts back in seats.
Yet, in Cooperstown, Selig’s plaque only tells part of the story as well. It boasts about the expansion of the game on and off the field, about labor peace (after the strike), expanding the playoffs, centralizing the umpiring and retiring Jackie Robinson’s 42. It says nothing about enabling rampant PED usage and benefiting from it.
So again, it’s time to tell the entire story.
The PED wing should be named for Bud Selig and he should be the first exhibit. Followed by McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and the rest.
It’s due time to stop only telling the story we’re comfortable with and start telling the whole story of our National Pastime.
Baseball deserves it and so does the future.
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