The Hall of Fame of Apathy

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It’s a byproduct of the times we live in that not only does the vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame have to be counted, but we have to endure the detailing of the vote like the slaughtering and cleaning of a chicken before it winds up on our plate, grilled and placed over salad with a nice vinaigrette.

Or like a sausage. Sausage is a good analogy. The Hall of Fame voting exemplifies why, prior to choosing to eat it, we don’t want to see how sausage is made because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to take a bite. But combine the sausagemaker and the chef being careless about hygiene—disgusting even—and showing the world step-by-step why and how they’re coming to the conclusion that being filthy is the logical progression and for the diner, the response degenerates into an immense powerlessness and disinterest that, in the final analysis, will make us sick.

The noxious process of voting for the Hall of Fame might always have been as it is now, but we didn’t get to watch it and hear it ad nauseam until reaching this inevitable end.

I used to care about the Hall of Fame. As a kid, I wanted Phil Rizzuto to be inducted. It was mostly because others told me he should be inducted without providing viable reasons for this position, but what was the difference? Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese were contemporaries and inter-city rivals of New York, it suited the narrative if they went into the Hall together. They didn’t and that served the clashing of civilizations even more. Ted Williams supported Rizzuto’s candidacy. Writers didn’t. Eventually, the Rizzuto supporters—many of them friends on the Veterans Committee—let him in. Whether or not he “belongs” became irrelevant. Today would either Rizzuto or Reese have a chance of getting into the Hall? No. But that argument was part of what once made the debate interesting. It’s no longer so.

The dirtiest aspect of a conspiracy are those who are left to take the punishment after the fact while others walk away and join the chorus to punish the “guilty” for acts they made possible and participated in by direct involvement or by looking the other way. There are the disposable minions whose job it was to run interference for their charges (Greg Anderson for Barry Bonds; Brian McNamee for Roger Clemens) and take the legal consequences while the people they worked for walk away free.

And there are the players. The players who allegedly used the drugs or are suspected of using the drugs are serving the sentences for the people who were running baseball, allowed and cultivated the performance enhancing drug culture in the interests of making themselves more money and reviving a game that was on life-support after the canceled World Series of 1994 and evident avarice that led to that cancelation.

The media voting for the potential inductees? They’re showing a combination of righteous indignation and contemptuous dismissal of dissent that can only stem from an out-of-control egomania. As self-appointing “protectors” of the game, there’s an unstated similarity to what Max Mercy said in The Natural that his job as a reporter is not to tell the story of the game, but by creating an image that he—in an unabashed treatise of omnipotence—deems as proper and salable. We’re now getting a Hunter S. Thompson, “gonzo” voting bloc. Every reporter feels as though he not only has has to cast his ballot, but get in on the action and make public his choices, explaining why he did or didn’t select a certain player.

Mike Piazza didn’t get votes not because he was caught in a PED drug test in any context other than rumor, but because of the era in which he played and that he had acne on his back. This is presented as a reason. Not “feeling” that Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer, or that Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio don’t pass the smell test as PED suspects (Bagwell) and stat-compilers (Biggio) is equated as an excuse of why they’re not garnering support.

There’s no more conversation. No altering of hearts and minds. Perhaps there never was. But today, there are battle-lines and no hope for settlement, so the fight rages on without end in an immovable object vs. irresistible force aura of uselessness.

Like a Tim Tebow pro-life ad, each side sees it their way and takes it as a worthwhile cause to promote or an infringement on the liberty of others to behave in accordance to the laws of the land. Rather than accept it for what it actually is, a commercial, and understand that because Tebow took part in the ad and it was shown during a football game that it’s not an insult to the beliefs nor a threat to the freedoms of those who disagree, there’s a lunatic stimulus reaction. All this while no one says a word if they don’t have the money or the inclination to run out and purchase a Lexus when those commercials run non-stop during the NFL playoffs. There’s truly no difference.

Until a Hall of Fame voter has the supposed epiphany that George A. King of the New York Post claims to have had when he decided that Pedro Martinez wasn’t a worthy candidate for MVP in 1999 and hears from “people he respects” justifying the exclusion with the argument that pitchers have their award and the MVP should go to an everyday player, this will not stop. And that’s the point. As much as we can argue that King, as a Yankees beat writer and resident apologist, was simply punishing a reviled member of the arch-rival Red Sox, nothing can stop it from happening. The votes are what they are; the voters are who they are.

There’s not going to be a Skull and Bones society of enlightened and objective stat people with impressive degrees from Ivy League Universities, meeting in far off lands to determine the fate of the baseball universe, deciding that the logic of keeping Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa and anyone else from the Hall of Fame is a travesty considering who’s in the Hall of Fame and what they did to get there. Nor will there be a return to the old-school and how things were before Twitter, Facebook, blogging, glory-hunting, attention-seeking, and making a name for oneself by being outrageous as per the mandate like Rob Parker did with Robert Griffin III and lost his job at ESPN because of it.

There’s no going back.

Gaylord Perry cheated and everyone knew he was cheating. He admitted it. He wallowed in it. As a journeyman whose stuff wasn’t quite good enough, he extended his career by 20 years because of it. He’s in the Hall of Fame and there’s a smirk, wink and nod as to how he accomplished the feat of gaining enshrinement. There are drunks, recreational drug users and wife-beaters in the Hall of Fame. There are racists, gamblers and individuals who would accurately be described as sociopaths in the Hall of Fame.

None of that waned my interest in the proceedings as much as having to view the sausage being made; to endure the media throwing themselves into the fray as if they were just as important to the process as the process itself.

I paid attention to the election results in a vacuum of neutrality. That is not attached to an affiliation or deep-seated belief as to whether the players should or shouldn’t be elected, but because of pure apathy that has accumulated over a number of years as a side effect of the arrogance inherent with the doling, reporting and counting of the Hall of Fame vote. It grows exponentially with each writer who not only feels he has to vote, but feels the need to explain the vote as he makes it in the me-me-me self-involvement that’s become prevalent. It spreads with every player whose public agenda and lies insult my intelligence; with every owner or baseball official who crusades against that which they allowed and encouraged to happen.

No one was voted into the Hall of Fame for 2013. And I just don’t care.


Admirable And Bizarre

Media, Players

In case you were unaware or thought it had disappeared, the Barry Bonds perjury case is still going on.

From a logical (and non-legalese infused) perspective, one would think that Bonds’s lawyers could have plea bargained to end this. Realistically, if he’s convicted, how much jail time—if any—do you think he’ll get? And would he be in some hard core federal lockup or a country club/halfway house?

People don’t care anymore.

And for those that say, “he broke the law and deserves to be punished”, well, technically this is true; but realistically, is the world going to be a safer place with Barry Bonds incarcerated? If Bonds is convicted, is it going to preclude others from lying under oath when it suits them? When they think they’re infallible and untouchable? When they’ve become so accustomed to getting their way because they can hit a baseball, run fast or perform feats of athletic derring-do?

Of course not.

For most of their lives people like Bonds were allowed to slide because of who they were and that they had a rare talent; naturally he and Roger Clemens felt they could do whatever they wanted and would have it taken care of in the aftermath.

But the BALCO case and Clemens’s own PED problems are causes célèbres—they won’t go away because those prosecuting and presiding over the cases can’t let them go away despite the implicit knowledge that they’re wars of attrition with no good coming out of them for anyone.

But the Bonds case is still moving forward and in today’s New York Times, this piece focuses on former Bonds trainer Greg Anderson and his continuing refusal to testify in the case.

Regardless of what you think of PEDs and whether or not they were a stain on the game perpetrated by baseball’s bosses, the players or the flunkies like Anderson and Brian McNamee, there’s something admirable about Anderson taking the bullet and keeping his mouth shut.

You can be cynical and suggest that Bonds or others protecting Bonds have told Anderson that he’ll be taken care of financially if he takes the heat; you can accuse Anderson of a misplaced sense of right and wrong; but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Anderson has kept quiet; he’s refused to betray the people for whom he worked and is willing to face the consequences for that act.

Considering how quickly people sell out and do what’s best for them individually, it’s somewhat respectable in an ethical—if not legal—way.

As for the Bonds case, if the reporting in the article is accurate, I’m not sure how they’re going to get a conviction given the witnesses they plan to call in lieu of Anderson. This again lends credence to the question of what the point of all this is. Is it crusading for self-aggrandizement or is it going to serve the public good to try and convict Bonds?

The most bizarre testimony will come from Bonds’s former mistress Kimberly Bell.

(Judge Susan) Illston said she would allow testimony of Kimberly Bell, Bonds’s former mistress, that related to the physical and psychological changes she saw in Bonds.

Prosecutors said those changes would include how Bell noticed the shrinkage of Bonds’s testicles and the worsening of his sexual performance, which the government says indicate steroid use. The judge also will allow Bell to describe an incident in which she has said Bonds grabbed her by the throat and threatened her.


And the physical and psychological changes in Bonds are related to what exactly? Because Bonds was acting like a jerk to his mistress that’s easily connected to drug use? Bell noticed changes in Bonds’s physical body? And what proof is that of anything? I’m no lawyer, but as a layman, this goes far beyond the scope of circumstantial evidence and enters the realm of the bizarre. What’s one thing got to do with another? And how would she know what the changes meant if she didn’t see Bonds shooting or ingesting the drugs?

What’s the baseline for Bonds’s sexual performance? Was there a template? A ratings system? Who’s to say that Bonds’s performance didn’t decline because he got bored with Bell and was behaving in a perfunctory fashion? It’s the same leap of logic.

As for the grabbing “her by the throat and threatening her”, did Bonds ever need a drug to act like a jerk? He was accused of physical abuse by his first wife when he played for the Pirates, was skinny and looked like a member of New Edition rather than when he was with the Giants and took on the visage of a linebacker for the 49ers.

What’s one thing got to do with the other?

This is all a waste of money and time and both sides should’ve made it go away a long time ago.

The government is representing the people; and the people don’t care.