An open letter to the Baseball Hall
Dear Baseball Hall of Fame,
When my annual membership comes up soon, I’ll not be reupping for another year.
I know my single membership of $50, or whatever it is, won’t put a massive dent into what the Hall of Fame is, but this is principle now.
Don’t get me wrong — I love the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a whole. It’s a wonderful place to visit. I’ll still probably come up and visit every so often. And, maybe, once the current feeling leaves me, I’ll come back as a member.
But for now, I can’t do it.
See, the most wonderful part of the Baseball Hall of Fame is the hallowed grounds of the plaque gallery. It is there that the plaques of more than 300 men (and women) are enshrined as the best over the history of baseball. Players, managers, executives — you get the idea.
There are people who deserve to be in. There are others who don’t deserve to be there. Usually, I can deal with things (to an extent). It still sits wrong that Buck O’Neil, then still alive, wasn’t elected as part of the special class for Negro Leaguers.
This decision of mine, though, is based on principle.
Come July, during Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, Bud Selig will be inducted with the legends of this game. His plaque will be read and it will talk about his accolades. Don’t get me wrong, everything Selig did for baseball wasn’t bad. He oversaw the expansion of the game in tremendous financial growth (though this, in turn, hurt the average fan in regard to prices) and was commissioner during a time when many aspects of the game have changed to help. Take for example the wild card for the playoffs — it’s been a good thing for the game.
But it’s hard to ignore some glaring items that didn’t seem to be taken into consideration, being that he received 15 of 16 votes from the committee.
Such as he was in charge during the strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series.
Or, how he “transformed” the All-Star game to “mean” something, which really didn’t mean anything because home field for the World Series should never be decided by a mid-season exhibition game. And yes, he was also commissioner during a time when the All-Star game actually had a tie. Yes, blue ribbons all around.
But most of all, Selig was the commissioner during the steroid era. Not just the end when things were “cleaned” up, but during the boom. There is no possible way that Selig didn’t know what was going on as baseball rebounded from that 1994 strike. When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were trading home runs in 1998 in the chase for the record, Selig had to have known what was going on. It didn’t matter, though. Baseball was coming back and, so it seemed, at any cost. Home runs were king and Selig was the man in charge. Life was good.
Steroids, as we know, helped bring the game back, but it also left an indelible black eye on the game. This era is still showing it’s face. Guaranteed, Selig’s plaque will say something how he helped clean the game. He was in charge as the steroid era was tackled and taken care of.
It won’t say how he was commissioner during the bulk of it as well, turning a blind eye to what was happening because of how the game benefited from it.
If Bud Selig is a Hall of Famer, so are many others. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Mark McGwire. Sammy Sosa. Rafael Palmeiro.
Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame. His work that he did ON the field makes him a Hall of Famer. Alas, Selig let it keep going until current commissioner Rob Manfred actually had the stones to rule on the situation.
I won’t even get into other things he’s done that are arguable about good or bad, such as interleague play.
Yes, baseball became a multi-billion dollar industry while Selig was in office. But it wasn’t without the taint of steroids — just like people like Bonds, Clemens etc. If they aren’t in the Hall, Selig shouldn’t be, either.
You can “clean up the game” all you want, but when you are part of it when it was dirty, you can’t get off without any scrapes and bruises.
Maybe in time, his credentials could be better looked at. But now? No. When George Steinbrenner barely gets a look, then it’s ridiculous. Fewer than five votes? Really? I don’t like the Yankees. I wasn’t a huge fan of Steinbrenner … but come on.
So for this year … I’m out as a member.
Hopefully, in time, the Hall will see to fix how things are done. I realize it happens a bit too often with the “vet committees” but something has to give. We have to remember — it’s the Hall of Fame. If it’s felt Selig is a Hall of Famer, others need to be in, too. Tell the story, Hall of Fame. Start calling your own shots, not just what MLB says.
We can at least hope. But for now, I’ll find other things to spend my membership money on.