Friday, January 8, 2010

Their Own Private Idaho.

I've always said this blog is a stream-of-consciousness mish-mash of helter-skelter random thoughts drawn from whatever is bombarding my mind. It's often been about what's happening in Washington, or it's been about what's said about what's happening in Washington by amplified idiots. I'm a political and news junkie. But lately I've been thinking about much better games, and this week I've been thinking a lot about baseball.

I'm a baseball junkie, too.

Maybe it was the football overdose. The pigskin has always ranked lower than the horsehide in my mind, and while I follow and watch that senseless, clock-driven violence, I don't love it. Such is not the case with the Perfect Game.

We've just turned the calendar on a brand-new year, but I'm dreaming of spring training. The annual Baseball Hall of Fame election announcement always does that to me.

Av Sinensky is an attorney, but that's about all I know about him. I came across his blog post today on the Huffington Post. His take on a possible solution to the on-going dilemma of cheaters and their fitness for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame isn't new to me; I've often thought similarly. But he took the time to write it down and flesh it out and I didn't.

I don't believe in heaven or hell--or purgatory. But I do believe in reality, and I think the idea of redemption is as secular as it is religious. So--Biblical metaphor notwithstanding--here's an excerpt. Maybe he's on to something:

Here's what I propose: a Hall of Fame purgatory. Create a room off to the side of the main plaque room, with a big sign that says: "In this room we honor the accomplishments of some of baseball's greatest players who because of off-the field wrongdoings were denied entry to the main Hall of Fame." Each player would have a plaque in the same way current Hall of Famers do. It would describe his career and achievements, but the plaque will also very noticeably detail the transgression that's keeping them out. On their ballots, writers will now be given three options: "yes", "no", and "yes if not for suspected steroid use or other off the field activity that renders the candidate ineligible."

Through this we can solve many of the arguments about whether these players should be in the Hall. "But they were only great because of steroids." Well, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were clear Hall of Famers before steroids, so we know that they're good enough. The only reason to keep them out is to punish them for their crime and to send a message to deter others from making their mistakes. Well, we're still doing that. Players want to be in the room Babe Ruth is in, not the one Pete Rose is in. "But what about the children? What lesson does it teach them?" It teaches them that if you break the rules, you get punished. As of now, if you were to take your child to Cooperstown, there would be no mention of these players, essentially. As far as the Baseball Hall of Fame is concerned, they never existed. This is the type of sweeping under the rug that I expect from organized religion, not sports. Baseball can embrace its history, good and bad, and still come out looking good in the aggregate.

But there's an even greater lesson that we can teach: redemption. Remember, it's the Hall of Fame purgatory, not Hall of Fame hell. You can get out. And these players have a lot of pride, so they will desperately want to. You know what else they have? Money. And, after they retire, lots of time. So let's put that to use. Let's create a community service program that allows these players to give back to the game of baseball in order to redeem themselves for their mistakes. Make them sponsor, organize, and coach little leagues, particularly in inner cities and poor neighborhoods where baseball is dying. Let's force these guys to become the game of baseball's greatest ambassadors. Their reward: they get to be in the Hall of Fame. As for lessons, how about this: it teaches our children that even though baseball players are tremendously gifted athletes, they're not gods; they're human beings just like the rest of us. They can accomplish great things, but they can also make mistakes. Most importantly, by working hard to make up for the mistakes that they've made, they can be forgiven. Anyone have a problem telling that to their kids?

In the words of The Office's Michael Scott, this measure would be a win-win-win for everyone involved. For the players: they get to be in the Hall of Fame. For the league: they get to turn a bad situation into an opportunity for positive growth. And finally, for the fans: we all get to put all this drama and controversy behind us and we get to see our generation's great players where they belong. Because honestly, does anyone want to take their kids to a future Hall of Fame that doesn't have Barry Bonds in it? I know I don't.

Thanks, Av. Between the Steroid Era and your plan, the Hall could forever recognize infamy as well as greatness and put Cooperstown's construction guys back to work building that cheater's wing at the same time.

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big Mac's admitting steriod use won't help any body get into the hall that isn't squeaky clean. I actually respect him for his admission of juicing since it probably does eliminate him from ever entering the hall. Well unless there was a bigger bomb about to drop and he's acting preemtively.