Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A pox on baseball

The cartel known as Major League Baseball makes me want to puke. I grew up the hugest of baseball fans from around my 11th birthday right up until the 1994 season (and World Series) was flushed as billionaires and millionaires fought for more loot. That was it for me. Baseball just wasn't fun any more.

And for a couple of years after that, you couldn't pay me to watch a baseball game. Once my youngest son became a baseball fan around 1996, I would watch games with him. But that was it. Baseball was dead to me.

A lot of baseball fans shared these feelings with me. A lot. And then everything changed. Why? Because Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa staged a home run race for the ages in 1998. Suddenly I was reading the box scores again, just like in the old days. I was back. A lot of fans were back. That historic home run race saved baseball's bacon.

McGwire had been one of my favorite players on the A's during their late-80's heyday, and I always liked how he was the anti-Canseco. So naturally I rooted him on. He was my favorite player of the late 90's, and when he retired, so did I. I reverted to my pre-1998 form; baseball was again dead to me.

When McGwire retired, it was obvious that he had played a Hall of Fame-worthy career. 583 career home runs tend to get noticed by Hall voters.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Hall of Fame. The steroids scandal broke. Players suspected of being "users" were paraded before Congress in yet another of their "try to make tonight's media soundbite" useless hearings.

McGwire came away from the hearings damaged. It was said that he was evasive and didn't answer questions posed to him by the crooks in Congress, making him look guilty. McGwire became the poster child for the steroids era. Mind you, there is no legitimate proof anywhere that McGwire ever purchased or used any illegal or banned product during the course of his career. No matter. The lazy a-holes who write sports columns for a living had their sacrificial lamb, and they flogged him relentlessly in their columns.

These are the same writers, mind you, who RAVED about how McGwire and Sosa saved baseball in '98. Hypocrisy anyone?

You might say, "So? Who gives a rat's posterior what those mouth-breathers think?" The problem is - those mouth-breathers are the voters for the Hall of Fame!

McGwire has been dissed on every vote since he became Hall-eligible about 4 years ago. The most votes he has received has been 128. It takes 405 votes (75%) to enter the Hall. So, out of 539 Hall of Fame voters, less than 25% will vote for a player who ranks 8th on the all-time home runs list, just because of the STILL UNPROVEN taint of steroids associated with him.

Since McGwire became Hall-eligible, these are the players elected to the Hall.

2007 - Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken
2008 - Goose Gossage
2009 - Ricky Henderson, Jim Rice
2010 - Andre Dawson

Gwynn, Ripken, Gossage, and Henderson are legitimate Hall of Fame players. But Rice and Dawson? Are you effin kidding me? Neither of those guys could hold McGwire's jock!

To add insult to injury, Bowie Kuhn, the Commissioner who nearly killed baseball in the 70's, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008. Bowie Kuhn???? WTF?!?!?!

Those who vote against McGwire say he cheated. Excuse me, but Gaylord Perry admitted in his tell-all book that he threw an illegal vaseline ball for most of his career! That's cheating...but Perry is in the Hall.

They counter that by saying that McGwire set a bad example for our youth by using steroids. You want bad examples? Babe Ruth was a drunken womanizer, as were Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb were virulent racists. Each of those individuals is in the Hall.

The latest bit of idiocy put forth as a valid reason for denying McGwire the Hall is priceless. A talking head on some stupid ESPN show (is that redundant?) said that McGwire wasn't Hall-worthy because "he only really had 6 exceptional seasons." Really? Sandy Koufax had 4. He's in the Hall. It could be argued that Jim Rice only had 5. He's in the Hall.

Hall voters, your idiotic and flimsy excuses for excluding McGwire are growing tired. Baseball is tired. Both of you should go away.

Congratulations, Hall voters! You're the recipient of the newly unveiled Wiener Award!