THE WEEK THAT WAS
Jim Rodriguez: Baseball's Hall of Fame needs to embrace everyone
If you’ve ever been to the quaint hamlet of Cooperstown, NY, you know what I’m talking about. In that town is a living, breathing monument to baseball, The National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Soccer may be the beautiful game but baseball is the pure game. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying pure as in innocent. Not saying pure as in without fault.
I mean pure as in the Merriam-Webster definition: “containing nothing that does not properly belong.” That’s baseball. That’s America. The good and the bad of it.
So as the Hall welcomes in six new immortals: Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Jim Thome, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris... I ask where are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and so on. You see, these guys “properly belong” in Cooperstown.
After all, what is the Baseball Hall of Fame? It’s a museum. It’s a place of education. It’s a place where a Roberto Clemente and a Ty Cobb can be under the same roof. It’s what truly makes America great.
Swing the doors open so Alex Rodriguez can be remembered for his 696 home runs AND his admission of using performance enhancing drugs.
I would build an exhibit explaining the steroid era of baseball. What did ‘the clear” do? What about “the cream?” Tell them about Jose Canseco and his needles. Tell them how it didn’t help guys hit balls 500 feet but how they could now play in Seattle on Wednesday, fly all night to New York and hit two homers on Thursday.
Tell people that from 1961 through 1994 three players hit 50 or more home runs in a season. It happened 23 times from 1995-2008. The top six home run seasons of all-time happened during this era capped off by Bonds’ 73 homer campaign in 2001. The man Bonds passed to be crowned baseball’s home run king, Henry Aaron, never hit 50 home runs in a season.
Tell them Sammy Sosa hit 66, 64 and 63 home runs in a season during this time. This was baseball’s Guilded Age.
Embrace the past so it may not happen again. Let the people know and decide what was real and what was lab built.
Don’t let them fool you with talk about integrity of the game. That went out in 1919 with the Black Sox and again when the World Series was cancelled in 1994.
I love baseball. I love all of it. The pretty and the ugly. They say that the real penance for guys like Bonds, Clemens and ARod will be exclusion from those hallowed halls.
Guys like that will never be erased. They don’t deserve to be forgotten. They deserve to be remembered for what they did.. the good and the bad.
In the end, it’s baseball. The pure game.