The Baseball Hall of Fame is Broken

Jonah Keri on the lack of Hall of Fame inductees in 2013:

So if we’re talking intent, amphetamines and the substances grouped under the broad heading of steroids are the same. Players want an edge, so they take ‘em. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Mike Schmidt took amphetamines during their playing days. I have yet to read an argument by anyone, anywhere, advocating for kicking those four legends out of the Hall.

Jonah does a tremendous job breaking down the problems with the Hall of Fame voting process as it is now, and suggesting solutions. I have a lot of problems with the Hall of Fame process, but two of them stand out.

The first, I will steal from Bill Simmons, who has long said that the Hall of Fame is a museum, and should be treated as such. Museums should represent what was, not just what we want people to remember. Slavery hasn’t been removed from our history books. We don’t pretend the Civil War didn’t happen just because what we were fighting over was so ridiculous and unfathomable in retrospect. We did remove Adolf Hitler from history books because he did lots of horrible things to million of people.

So why do not include people in the ultimate baseball museum just because they were accused, or admitted to things after they finished playing? Simmons has always said they should be there, and on their plaque it could point out they were accused (or admitted) cheaters.

Meanwhile, what about Major League Baseball? They haven’t vacated the record books or removed the home runs that Barry Bonds hit. Pete Rose was banned from baseball, and while I don’t agree with the banning part of that agreement was acknowledgement that he was the all-time hit leader. But Bonds and Clemens and others haven’t been punished by Major League Baseball. In their eyes Barry Bonds still has 762 home runs. How can the all-time home run leader not be in the Hall of Fame?

It’s pretty ridiculous when you stop and think about it. Roger Clemens was very likely the greatest pitcher of the last 40 years. Barry Bonds was one of the best hitters of all-time. If Major League Baseball tells us we have to ignore all of that, then they don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Until then, the process is broken.