Baseball’s biggest joke became even more of a circus show this past week, as it is the time of year that the inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame get announced. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America can vote up to ten players per ballot of those who are eligible to be inducted.
The saddest part about what should be baseball’s greatest moment is that each year, the story becomes the voting process rather than those selected.
This year was no different, with a loaded ballot full of players deserving to have their plaques in Cooperstown. It started before the results were even announced, when MLB.com’s and Los Angeles Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick revealed that he did not vote for Greg Maddux, or anyone else other than Jack Morris. His reasoning, one shared by a handful of other voters, is that they refuse to vote for anyone who played during the “steroid era”.
I do not know Ken Gurnick, nor have I ever read anything he has ever written. I had never heard of Mr. Gurnick, and based on his most recent decision, I have no desire to read anything he tries to spew out into a mass audience. Let’s keep in mind that Morris pitched 2163.1 innings and had 147 starting in the same year that steroid whistleblower Jose Canseco’s rookie year. Also, Gurnick left Morris off his ballot in 2011, when he voted for Bert Blyleven and Lee Smith. The following year, he added Morris with Smith to his ballot. Then the following year, he voted for more, and left Smith off the ballot. This is one of your Hall of Fame voters.
Many of the voters who submit absent ballots as a result of the steroid era are the same writers who were covering these players throughout their careers. They knew what was going on, but continued to turn their heads as long as the paychecks were coming in while they covered a sport that grew in record numbers as a result of inflated stats due to PED use. Now, they want to be righteous about it.
Dan Le Batard was suspended by the BBWAA for one year and lost his voting privilege for life because he gave up his vote this year to Deadspin, who allowed the fans to vote. This, apparently, is far worse than the voters who gave a Hall of Fame vote to Jacque Jones, Kenny Rogers, Armando Benitez, J.T. Snow, and Eric Gagne. Yet, when BBWAA vice president Jose De Jesus Ortiz posted in his blog an open invitation back in 2007 for fans to meet up with him at a restaurant to help him fill out his ballot, nothing was made of it.
The problem isn’t with the process. If the process was being upheld, it would work. The problem is with those whose responsibility it is to uphold that tradition of electing those into baseball’s most prestigious place. Gurnick was not alone in his failure to do this. There is nothing lazier than a writer submitting a blank ballot, and it is even more irresponsible to submit ones that have just Jack Morris, or any of the names I mentioned before while leaving off Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, or Craig Biggio.
The BBWAA apparently wants to be the authority of moral high ground, the judge, jury, and executioner of the character of baseball players. Keep in mind, this is the same organization who defended writer Bill Conlin after Conlin resigned from his newspaper following accusations of child molestation. They not only kept him in “good standing”, but actually defended the man who recently passed away after disappearing from the public eye.
The steroid era was a black eye for baseball’s history. The Baseball Hall of Fame has become even worse in the big picture of Major League Baseball. Baseball continues to try and run from the problem they created. Each year, the Hall of Fame brings a reminder of that by failing to give an accurate history of the game. Until that changes, the Hall of Fame will continue to be a punchline.
Follow Chris on Twitter @midwaygasper