Failing to induct a single candidate of the 2012 MLB Hall of Fame class, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America assumed the most egomaniacal position in the history of sports.
“Not in our game,” their collective decision screams. And it infuriates me to the point of laughter.
Let’s start here: I am a baseball nut…I love the game, respect the game, and tirelessly root for the game. I think the statistics of the game of baseball tell a more complete story of a player’s overall effectiveness than any other professional discourse. But I am so exhausted with the sacred treatment of baseball’s stat line.
Major League Baseball statistics often prove as much a sign of the times as legitimate measurements.
Baseball’s history book (and HOF) is filled with men who played when African Americans could not – men who played when Hispanics could not. Strike shortened seasons, growth to a 162-game season, the dead ball era, World Wars – just a few snapshots in time. Oh yeah, and then there’s this not-so-little fact: EVERY BALLPARK HAS DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS!
I’m pretty sure the 315 foot porch in County Stadium’s left field helped to boost a few Brewers’ home run totals. I’m sure the lack of foul ball room at Wrigley Field has kept a few hitters alive at the plate over the years. Venues are labeled “hitter’s or pitcher’s parks” based on the decided statistical advantage afforded that respective side, but let’s not talk about that. Imagine if Candlestick was 105 yards this weekend when the Pack arrived to take on San Fran.
Moving on (‘cause I could keep going on that forever), BBWAA…please explain to me what you believe to be a performance enhancer. Okay, ‘roids and HGH…obvious. But what about the dudes who popped uppers back in the day? The guys who took a cortisone injection just so they could get on the field that day? What about the dude who burns one in the parking lot because it helps him relax at the plate? How do we handle drugs that, at present, are not banned, but later we discover that they are indeed giving guys an edge and they are subsequently banned? Complicate the mere questions with the broad brush of association with which you have painted dudes like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza – not linked to anything but guilty because their fellow ballplayers have been pinched. And then there’s the case of guy like Ryan Braun. Wanna go there BBWAA? What about a kid who might take something his rookie year, gets nailed, learns a valuable lesson and proceeds to put up 3,100 hits over the next 18 years…cleanly. Is he not worthy? Do his stats not count?
The most laughable aspect of their collective decision is this, however: the BBWAA made clear that PED perception does nothing to boost the accomplishments of those perceived clean. The guys who are close to their standards (whatever that means) are no more impressive in the BBWAA’s eyes, despite the fact that they have judged the playing field unlevel. Outstanding job, as always, BBWAA.