Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and the Moral Scolds of the Baseball Hall of Fame
I've been to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. It's a nice place, tucked in the middle of a small, picturesque town in a hard-to-get-to part of New York. You can get lost for hours in the museum, looking at the artifacts of the game's past, being amazed at how the game's grown, modernized.
Wait, you mean's there a cheater inside the hallowed walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame?
The actual Hall of Fame's just a small part of the facility, and it's one of the last things you come to. It's not as majestic as you think, you expect. It's just a big room full of plaques. And while you can spend hours gazing at the faces and reading the stats, the odds are that you'll search for your favorite players, read about them, remember the times you saw them play.
Here's the thing. The plaques don't mention that Babe Ruth played in a segregated era and thus didn't face some of the day's greatest players. Ty Cobb's plaque doesn't mention his racism or his gambling on baseball. Mickey Mantle's says nothing of his alcoholism or adultery. There's no mention that Gaylord Perry admitted to throwing the spitter (an admission he made while still pitching) and there's no mention of the amphetamine use of Willie Mays and Henry Aaron.
These are the greats of the game. Many of them broke laws, were creeps. Some cheated. There's no mention on any plaque of any of this, and yet the Hall of Fame does not feel diminished in any way possible the inclusion of these players.
But for some reason the moral scolds of the Baseball Writers Association of America have taken over. They say that PED use ruined the game. That PED using players cheated the game, cheated the fans, cheated the hallowed history of the Hall of Fame. And for this they must be punished.
It's funny in a way. They didn't feel cheated when they wrote glowing profile after glowing profile of these men they now condemn. The fans didn't look cheated when they paid extra money for early admittance into stadiums so they could watch Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa take batting practice. About the only time I think fans felt cheated was that time Larry Dierker was met by loud, merciless booing by his home fans for daring to walk Barry Bonds instead of pitching to him so he could hit home runs.