|BWWAA Writers may have taken Hall vote personally||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 01, 2013
In an unscientific poll (read: bar poll) of sports fans the feelings are quite mixed. There are plenty of vocal supporters in both camps, and a large contingent of casual sports fans who frankly don’t give a rat’s rear end as to what the players did, though almost all pay lip service to delight at seeing baseball’s drug policy upgraded and the use of PEDs stamped upon.
But is that reflected in how the Baseball Writers Association of America really voted? Certainly I think so. I think most devout fans would agree that those tainted by steroids don’t really deserve a place in what is supposed to be a shrine to baseball’s immortals. But maybe those of us who write, or broadcast, and that contingent of the most devout of fans, are taking those who cheated rather personally.
Photo by Bari D, used under creative commons license.
I can’t speak for the others but as a scribe of the game, I certainly take the cheating personally. I’d like to think that it’s true as a fan even more than as a writer. In my opinion, steroids, HGH and other PEDs didn’t save the game, despite the excitement of the home run races of the late 90s and early 2000s; they threatened to destroy the integrity of the game, even more so than the Black Sox scandal of 1919 did.
Yet I have to admit that my viewpoint may well be tainted. Almost every fan of the game enjoyed those home run races. They were exciting; they were must watch baseball at the time. Yet from the very first columns I ever published I thought those same races, and especially Barry Bonds with his superhuman physique and body armor, made a mockery of the game I loved.
I was an outspoken critic of the drug policy, the players who used, the cheaters, the Union, the owners and the commissioner who allowed this all to happen on their watch. Like many of the professional writers I took a strong stand, I wrote about PEDs and baseball’s laughable drug policy, I spoke about it on television, radio and face to face. I took it both personally and professionally as wrong.
And I think that’s the case for most sports journalists. Those of us who really loved the game and didn’t just look at it as a job took it personally. But in truth, it may only have been that strong, strong core of the devout who took it so personally. And it’s that devout core who make up the journalistic corps for the most part.
Perhaps, just perhaps, we don’t really represent the average fan. That could be good, that could be bad. It probably depends on just who you think Cooperstown, and who enshrinement there really belongs to: the average fan, the slightly devout or those of us who are perhaps a bit emotionally entangled in the game.
For most serious baseball journalists, we are that group. I don’t think any of this group believes that we weren’t important in catalyzing the changes that the game has undergone by mobilizing popular support, raising government interest in the recalcitrance of the Union to give even an inch in allowing a viable drug policy to come into place.
Yes, we changed that.
And yes, we took it personally when those we know were juicing became eligible to be voted for on the Hall of Fame ballot. For those players to have been elected on the first ballot would have been an insult to everything we’ve written, spoken about or accomplished in the last decade. Hell it will be an insult if most of them get in at all.
Yeah, the writers can’t derail the old timers committee if at some point in the future they chose to elect the PED users into the Hall.
We may as journalists be biased, but the Baseball Writers Association of America has spoken. We may be biased for now at least, the Baseball Hall of Fame located in Cooperstown, New York, that shrine to the greatest the game has ever seen, belongs to us -- to the most devout fans in the game.
For the sake of the true fan, I hope that’s something that never changes.