The Baseball Hall of Fame is Broken

The Baseball Hall of Fame is broken. That’s a fact. This has gone on for long enough and it is time that something changes because the Baseball Hall of Fame is broken. The Hall of Fame, itself as an entity, hides behind the sanctity of their cathedral. The Hall of Fame forces the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to fight their battles for them and to play judge and jury. This needs to change to preserve whatever sanctity is left in the game. The Baseball Hall of Fame is broken but I don’t see it changing any time soon.
Baseball Hall of Fame, The baseball hall of fame is broken, Cooperstown, baseball
As baseball fans, we lived and loved the steroid era. It was the most exciting time in baseball history if you think about. Home runs went up, scoring went up and salaries went through the roof. We flocked to stadiums around the country in droves and we loved every second of it.
I have been to every major league baseball (MLB) stadium except for Comerica Park in Detroit. I have spent thousands of dollars on baseball and baseball related travel, tickets and expenses. I have been to several World Series, Championship and Division Series games-some of the most famous games in the past 30 years. I saw these games with my own eyes and watched some of the steroid eras greatest players do unimaginable things on the field. I saw it…I remember…I was there!
Baseball Hall of Fame, The baseball hall of fame is broken, Cooperstown, baseball
Yesterday, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its newest inductees to Cooperstown. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were all elected in their first year of eligibility. All three are very deserving candidates and worthy of induction into Cooperstown. That is not an opinion-it’s a fact.
Players are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a group of BBWAA writers and current living Hall of Famers. A player needs 75% of the vote to be elected and needs 5% of the vote to stay on the ballot for the following year. A player is eligible for election after he has been officially retired for 5 years and then has 15 years of eligibility if he continues to not get 75% of the vote but maintain at least 5%.
That said, the Baseball Hall of Fame, has no real rules or standards that they adhere to, they basically have nobody to answer to. That is fine but they use it in a cowardly way. There is no doubt that a majority of steroid era players used performance enhancing drugs (PED). However, baseball allowed this to go on and did nothing to stop it until the mid 2000’s. Now, the sanctimonious BBWAA writers are bestowed the responsibility of playing judge and jury on the worthiness of each individual player.
How is this fair? How do they know who did what and to be honest who really cares? The fact is, we as fans, know these guys from the steroid era cheated. But most of us don’t care. Basically MLB and the Baseball Hall of Fame are trying to eliminate all traces of the most exciting era in the history of baseball. MLB, it’s owners, the players and pretty much anyone to do with the business of baseball became filthy rich during the steroid era; which went loosely from 1988-2005.
Now, by not electing the best players from the steroid era, or better yet picking and choosing whom they elect, they are basically saying that what these guys didn’t really count. However, as a fan, I am not getting my money back for the thousands of dollars I spent on baseball during that timeframe.
I saw Roger Clemens win at least 30 games in person during that time frame. I saw Barry Bonds hit at least 10 home runs in person during that time frame. I saw Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and scores of others do the same in person-all over the country. But apparently, what they did on the field doesn’t matter to the Baseball Hall of Fame and its voters-the same guys who covered and wrote about these guys so reverently during the steroid era. This is hypocrisy at its most elevated heights.
I want a refund.
If MLB and the Hall of Fame is saying that what I saw and spent my hard earned money didn’t matter, then I want my money back. I paid money to see Roger Clemens win game 4 of the 1999 World Series. I paid money to see Barry Bonds have a torrid 2002 World Series setting all kinds of power numbers. I went to all corners of the country to watch Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa live in person during the great 1998 home run chase; which to this day is still the most exciting thing that ever happened in sports as far as I’m concerned.
I am not saying I didn’t love it, had fun and I wouldn’t do it again given the circumstances. However, if these steroid era players are not accepted by the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame as the ‘best of the best’ during the steroid era, then why does it exist in the first place?
Many of the players are still just suspected. Granted, we all know most did it, but still, most have not admitted it nor is there proof of their guilt-this is America right?! That said, who says that the men elected yesterday didn’t do steroids or PED’s. Because they don’t look like it? I am not saying any of them did it of course, I am simply saying, how do you know? You don’t!
This is the biggest problem facing MLB and the Baseball Hall of Fame. How do you pick and choose and why is it the writers that have the say? I know plenty of baseball writers that don’t feel comfortable with the responsibility of moral judge.
Of course there are some self-righteous writers that feel like God and want to get these guys. Now writers with an agenda are even worse than those who pick and choose.
So what do you do if you’re the Hall of Fame to change this flawed and broken system? That is the million-dollar question.
My suggestion is there needs to be a change in the voting. I have no issue with writers voting, however, I have a problem with them being given the task of playing moral judge and jury with nobody else to have a differing opinion or point of view.
I want to see the Hall of Fame allow some fans to vote. Not just any fans, like some idiot who goes to 3 games a year, gets wasted in the stands and makes a jerk out of himself. They should use qualified, knowledgeable fans, that can be unbiased and objective, theoretically like the writers are supposed to be.
Make the fans take some sort of aptitude test about the game, its history and the current players as well. I would love to be able to vote and I think I know more about baseball and its history than almost anyone else. You can quote me on that and I’ll go up against anyone in trivia about baseball.
Fans are passionate, yes. However, many fans are students of the game. While it’s no secret I am a die-hard Yankees fan, I am also objective, smart and pay attention to all players and teams and can tell you the qualifications of any player, no matter the team or truthfully the era. There are many fans like me.
Fans often are not jaded like writers-they also don’t know the players and have personal feelings. Current Hall of Famers have their biases as well but that will occur with any type of person or profession. The Baseball Hall of Fame is broken and the voting system needs to be changed to help fix the situation.
If you essentially try to eliminate an era of the game, especially the most modern era; which is still going on in my view, then you are cheating the game, the Hall of Fame and the generations to come after us.
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is one of my favorite places on the planet. To me, it is still a shrine and I still feel like a kid when I go there and get goose bumps when I walk in. I am nearly brought to tears, as baseball has been such a big part of my life forever. However, it kills me inside to see what is happening here with the steroid era and the way it’s being handled by the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA. It is unfair, unjust and needs to be changed.
As sad as it is, the Baseball Hall of Fame is broken and if it wants to become relevant again, they have to address the current system of voting. They need to remember that the Hall of Fame is a museum, not a church and that there is nobody or group of people that should single-handedly have the authority to judge others-especially without proof.

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  1. I love when you write about sports and I totally agree with your take here. The HOF is a joke with the way it handles these steroid guys. What do you do? I don’t know exactly but why not have smart fans vote? It makes perfect sense. I don’t trust writers any more than I trust fans. Writers are supposed to be objective but now that they are celebrities on TV, they are more opinionated and more biased for sure. How many of these guys don’t hold grudges against a guy like Bonds or Clemens?

    • Eric that’s a good point and thanks. Some of the writers, especially some on TV are the worst and most outspoken and opinionated and feel like they need to take a stand for their own reputations. others are biased to the guys they know and like. Others are simply not objective. The Hall of Fame is a strange emotional trigger with a lot of people, such as me, because it brings us back to childhood, etc. The power needs to be taken away from the writers or none of the best players in a 20 year period of time will get in. Then it’s no longer a Hall of Fame or’s a joke…as you said.

  2. How can writers vote for someone one year and then not the next? That doesn’t make sense to me but I don’t follow as closely as you do. Also, why are they limited to 10 players to vote for if players are eligible for 15 years and there’s always new players coming up for voting?

    • Steph, I don’t understand how you drop a guy like Biggio if you voted for him last year. I understand some guys came on the ballot this year more deserving of Biggio but…

      Also, the 10 man limit is stupid…I think everyone agrees on that especially with all the holdovers year to year.

  3. For me, the fact that Biggio doesn’t make it this year undermines everything about the HOF voting process.

  4. Lee, how is it fair that Jack Morris doesn’t get in. He was the best pitcher of the 1980’s and is better than several current HOFers. I think it was these “sabermetrics” that screwed him. What do you think about Morris?

    • Ethan, Jack Morris is a really interesting case study. I grew up watching him pitch most of his career including the masterpiece in 1991 Game 7. His raw numbers don’t necessarily translate into automatic HOF qualification. Thee eye test tells me he is but the argument that he was best pitcher of the 1980’s doesn’t work for me. That was an extremely weak decade for pitchers at least over the entire decade. I am not terribly upset that he didn’t make it. I am more upset that guys like Gossage and Sutter did make it a few years ago.

  5. I think all cheaters should be banned from the Hall. I don’t think they should let any of them in.

  6. How do they know that Frank Thomas didn’t use roids? That dude is massive.

  7. What about Jeff Bagwell???

    • Bagwell is another interesting case study for this era. He is by most statistical accounts, one of the ten greatest 1B that ever lived. However, he seems to be a victim of suspicion and circumstance. He has never been implicated for steroids, much like Piazza…there were and are whispers but nothing solid. How do you keep him out on suspicion alone? This is America.

  8. Either you’re a Hall of Famer or you’re not…it’s pretty simple in my book

  9. The whole process is a joke-it’s hard to take the HOF seriously. How do you let these writers with agendas be the judge? I would like a vote too!

  10. agreed! i think the most important point you make is the final one – the hall of fame is a museum. the “steroid era” was (is?!) a complicated and fraught period of baseball’s history – but it can’t be ignored. some of the best exhibits at cooperstown are those that deal with some of the ugliest parts of this nation’s history through the lens of its national pastime. p.s. as an o’s fan, wondering your thoughts on mussina. no way he’ gets only 20% of the vote if he had won all of his games as a yankee 😉

    • Amy I agree! Also, Mussina should have gotten much higher. I think he will eventually get in but it will likely take 8-10 years and will have to be a weak class year. He was a great pitcher and deserving, I believe, to be in. He never won a Cy Young, only won 20 games once but was for all intensive purposes one of the best pitchers of his generation. He never won a World Series either. He is not much different statistically than a guy like Andy Pettitte but Andy won 5 World Series…of course Andy has the PED stain so he will be an interesting case study as well.

  11. I agree the Hall needs to make a stance either tell writers to consider steroids a reason to keep people out or tell them to ignore anyone one who hasn’t been proven guilty, or just ignore it. The reason they probably won’t take a stand is what to you do with all the old timers already in the hall that used to cheat either using uppers/greenies or doctoring the ball etc…Do you kick them out? The place isn’t a convent, so why not let them in and anyone who has been proven guilty of steroid use should that cited on their plaque.

    • Mike, I sort of agree, although I feel like the greenies thing is overblown. You can’t kick them out obviously but I think the halls biggest worry is that they elect a user who it comes out later that he did it. If they elect Bonds or Clemens that’s one thing bc those guys are slam dunks. But if Bagwell or Piazza or Kent get in and then it comes out they did it-then what?!

  12. The HOF has been a joke for several years now. They have let in so many guys that shouldn’t be in going back to Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Bill Mazeroski, etc etc

    • Mel, I couldn’t have possibly said it better myself. I don’t think that any of those guys are HOFers although I can understand Tony Perez…the others should not be in especially Mazeroski.

  13. How is it possible that neither Mussina or Kent get more than 20% of the vote? Kent is best hitting 2B ever and Moose was as good as any pitcher save Pedro during his time.

    • Steven, Mussina I totally agree should’ve been higher asI’ve said. Kent is a really interesting one. Now here’s a guy that won an MVP, played in the shadows on Barry Bonds and was a notably angry dude. He also has more HR than any other 2B ever including Ryne Sandberg whom I also don’t think is a HOFer. I don’t necessarily think that position should dictate worthiness. As a player, not a 2B, Kent is not a HOFer…so I keep him out.

  14. Piazza is 100% a hall of famer. The man is the best ever hitting catcher and he wasn’t bad on defense either. he always got a bad rap for that. He is better than Johnny Bench and should have been a first ballot guy. I think there is a bias agianst the Mets.

    • Gene, I’m going to be honest here. You are dead wrong on this one and you sound like a typical Mets fan who is angry, biased and uninformed. Also, the HOF has no bias against the Mets, the Mets have only had one HOF worthy player in their history and that was Seaver who only played there for a chunk of his career. The Mets have never and have no prospects for a home grown lifetime Met HOFer…Wright is not that guy.

      Johnny Bench is without a doubt the greatest catcher of all time. That is not even a question. His defensive skills alone are legendary even if he never hit a single HR. Piazza hit more HR as a catcher that is true but he was not a better player. Additionally, Piazza’s best years were with the Dodgers-look it up!

      Piazza has to be a Hall of Famer at some point I agree but there is a lot of chatter about him and that’s why he is not or hasn’t been elected yet. he also never won a World Series or an MVP and Bench won multiple of both.

      Pudge Rodriguez would also be ahead of Piazza except I truly believe that Pudge was juicing his whole career and that may end up costing him when he comes up for election in 3-4 years.

  15. Great argument Lee, love this post!

  16. The system is very flawed, the fact that the following players received votes is ABSURD
    Hideo Nomo 6; Luis Gonzalez, 5; Eric Gagne, 2; J.T. Snow, 2; Armando Benitez, 1; Jacque Jones, 1; Kenny Rogers, 1

    • Baumer, agreed on all…I mean Jacque Jones?! Nomo 2 no hitters, Kenny Rogers a perfect game, Gonzo a 50 HR season but was on roods likely and Gagne Cy Young but again roids…all others are completely incomprehensible at best

  17. What, life isn’t fair … Man I thought it was

    How is it fair that Frank Thomas was born a huge monster with legs for arms?

    Lebron James was born with unreal athletic ability?

    Didn’t steroids just make the it fair for guys who weren’t blessed with god given gifts? Who are we to judge anybody? And now they are prob paying the consequences with deteriorating bodies, small testicles, etc…

    And haven’t the older players admitted to cheating, albeit not steroids, but if your gonna talk about integrity cheating is cheating….

    That’s it… I’m done

  18. Is Mo going to be the first unanimous inductee in 2019?

  19. I’m still waiting for Roger Maris to be elected. Oh, and Pete Rose should be in. Yeah he’s a jerk and he bet on games but that was as a manager. A Baseball Hall of Fame without the all-time hits leader is a joke.

  20. Not so much as a sports fan myself although i do enjoy a few watching of sports every now and then but i do agree with what you said. Things have changed so much. 🙁

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