Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What to do with Cooperstown

I listened to a debate this morning on the radio about baseball and how players from different eras should be viewed. It will likely always be an ongoing argument with no one making the definitive decision as to how players should be elected to the hall. As it is, major league baseball doesn't actually control the Baseball Hall of Fame nor make very many good decisions on virtually anything. As I see it, Cooperstown should not only be that, a hall of fame but should also encompass all of baseball history. It should be more than just a row of players with their plaques on the wall.

Baseball needs to show it's history through the development of the country, the good and the bad. It should include the 'live ball and dead ball' eras, high mound and low mound, segregation and the Negro leagues as well as the 'war years'. Because of how different players can be from decade to decade there is no actual way to compare Bob Gibson to Tom Glavine to Ty Cobb. Babe Ruth was an imposing presence in his day at six-foot two and 215 pounds, but compared to today's athlete he would be very, very average. I would guess he would average about .260 and hit 15 home runs per year. Those numbers help you make your way around the league as a journey-man or get you sent back to triple A.

The current debate concerns the players in the 'steroid era'. Actually, under the rules for many of those years the players were not breaking any of the rules set out by baseball and the collective bargaining agreement. If that's the case, let them all in. Mark McGwire should take his place right next to Johnny Bench. And yet, each era should be marked with the qualifiers to those eras and how they should be viewed in context. Cooperstown is more of a museum and should be treated as such. Put in the good with the bad but make it known, Black-Sox scandal and all.

But let's make no mistake, a hall of fame should contain the best players and should not be a popularity contest by baseball writers. Any writer who arbitrarily does not vote for someone on the first ballot just because they believe no one should be elected on the first ballot (or any other highly biased view) should have their voting privilege terminated.

Even Pete Rose deserves his spotlight in the hall whether you like him or not. He had the most hits in baseball history and if that stat doesn't get you in the hall you might as well tear it down. Perhaps they could bronze an ace of spades next to his name. It's all to be viewed in context.

1 comment:

  1. I wholeheartedly agree, especially about the sportswriters.

    I think your approach about defining the eras in context is excellent, and is something baseball should show everyone that they have nothing to hide, even the bad parts.

    I think you should send this suggestion to the commish, team owners, and sportswriters; hey, even send it to "Mike & Mike". You could become world famous!