Fred McGriff is a hall-of-famer. That’s good; McGriff was an ideal participant, and simply as importantly, a cool one. The lanky slugger raked for a bunch of groups, and seemed fabulous in each uniform—in some way even the Satan Rays’—and had a rad nickname and reached 500 homers and loved a late-career energy surge of the type that occurred loads within the ’90s and early ’00s however not often earlier than or since, however no one likes to speak about that final one. In electing the Crime Canine, who hovered round 20 p.c on the BBWAA poll (earlier than receiving a sentimental however finally symbolic 40 p.c on his tenth and ultimate poll), the Corridor of Fame Veterans Committee righted the writers’ unsuitable. That’s ostensibly all the level of the committee.
However should you had hoped the committee would proper sure different wrongs, you hoped in useless. The 16 former gamers, present and former executives, and media members who make up the Up to date Period Committee delivered a decisive blow to the HOF hopes for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the standard-bearers for steroid-era greatness.
McGriff was named on all 16 ballots as the one candidate to achieve the 75-percent threshold mandatory for election. Outcomes of the Up to date Baseball Period Gamers Poll: Fred McGriff (16 votes, 100.0%); Don Mattingly (8 votes, 50%); Curt Schilling (7 votes, 43.8%); Dale Murphy (6 votes, 37.5%); Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro every obtained lower than 4 votes.
Numerically, it’s possibly not fairly as grim because it appears: Voters had been solely allowed to listing three gamers on their poll, and dialogue among the many voters little doubt made it clear that Bonds and Clemens didn’t have vast sufficient help, so these three votes had been higher spent on gamers with greater probabilities of reaching the 12-vote threshold. But it surely’s additionally not more likely to get higher anytime quickly. The present iteration of the Corridor’s committees has “Up to date Period” gamers (1980–current) up for consideration each three years. That’s sufficient time for loads of borderline instances (thanks at the least partly to the steroid-era visitors jam on the BBWAA poll) to hit the veterans’ poll, and if Bonds and Clemens couldn’t scare up actual help this time, they’re not more likely to acquire a lot floor, if any. The composition of the committee might change barely through the years, however that is the primary time I’m confronting and accepting the probability that Bonds, Clemens, and ultimately Alex Rodriguez merely won’t ever make to Cooperstown.
You’ll be able to in all probability guess my tackle that: it stinks! However it’s at the least a bit humorous that the steroid guys’ second-chance hopes rested on escaping the writers, who disliked them for assorted causes, and as an alternative counting on the Veterans Committee, who very famously have all the time existed to reward their buddies and train their grievances. And so Bonds and Clemens, who steadily constructed help amongst BBWAA voters to achieve 60-something p.c on the poll, are again to sq. one, as a result of no one holds grudges like a former colleague can.
Thesis assertion: Baseball takes itself too critically. Reverence just isn’t all the time a foul factor, particularly for an establishment that depends on its historical past as a big a part of its enchantment. However any try to deal with a sport as a hallowed and inviolable temple as an alternative of what it’s to the skin world—an leisure product—has diminishing returns, to the purpose of sucking the enjoyment from it and leaving it a chilly monument as an alternative of a residing, respiratory, flawed and messy pageant. Baseball, to me, is enjoyable, and needs to be enjoyable, and the enjoyable is in watching cool gamers do cool issues, and the way these cool issues make you are feeling, and not likely worrying an excessive amount of concerning the extent to which biochemical help impacts free company market charges, or numbers in report books. That is admittedly a simple-brained approach to benefit from the recreation, however I’d additionally argue it’s a pure one. There’s a motive Bonds and Clemens steadily constructed help among the many BBWAA as voter rolls had been purged and youthful writers who haven’t but had the enjoyment of watching baseball overwhelmed out of them joined the citizens.
It wasn’t all the time this manner. Baseball used to embrace its characters, and its villains, and sure, even its cheaters. Go on the Corridor of Fame web site proper now and simply to the aspect of the banner story on McGriff’s election, you’ll discover an obituary for Gaylord Perry, who died final week on the age of 84, and whose title is synonymous with the spitball. Perry gained 314 video games over 22 seasons, and by his personal admission cheated for 20 of these seasons. He’d load up his baseball with no matter was at hand—spit, sweat, mud, rosin, vaseline, capsolin—and it could do nasty, unholy issues on its approach to fooling batters. He spent years experimenting to seek out the fitting mixture of drugs, and, crucially, how one can disguise it. (He was caught and suspended simply as soon as in his life, which was another time than Bonds or Clemens had been for his or her sins.)
“I needed to learn to load it up,” Perry stated, “how huge a load the ball would carry, the place to drop the load, how one can grip the ball, and how one can launch it in addition to how one can management And possibly most essential of all, how one can disguise it from 4 umpires, three coaches, a supervisor and 25 gamers on the sphere in addition to spying executives up within the field seats.”
Perry was not shy about his dishonest, and baseball adores him for it. He titled his 1974 autobiography/confessional, written and launched within the prime of his profession, Me And The Spitter. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, when requested about Perry’s guide, would say solely that he “loved it.” Opposing gamers and managers had been understandably not so charmed by Perry’s aggressive benefit, however they proved to be on the unsuitable aspect of historical past. The spitter is firmly a part of Perry’s lore, and of the game’s. Perry was elected to the Corridor of Fame in 1991.
If there’s a place in Cooperstown for Gaylord Perry, there’s a place for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Whether it is comprehensible that those that performed in opposition to them or needed to cowl them maintain grudges, it must also be understood that these grievances solely inform part of their story, and ignores the far stronger, and to my thoughts extra important plot thread of cool gamers doing cool issues and making the sport extra enjoyable to observe. The Corridor of Fame, on this accounting, just isn’t a shrine and never even actually a museum, however quite a story of baseball. That narrative, as skilled by those that love the game, ought to have room for its important characters, as ambiguously unheroic as they might be.