Jayson Stark's new column on ESPN has a high Whining Rate about the madness of voting for inductees into the Hall of Fame (to his credit, he does vote in Bagwell):
Now, the performance-enhancing-drug disaster has officially crashed into the laps of those of us who vote this way. We live in an age when nobody who has been connected with, or even suspected of, PED use is getting elected. And if my fellow voters want to take that stand, that's their right.
But if the people in Cooperstown, the people who run the Hall of Fame, want to continue to sit back and avoid taking any stand on this issue for the rest of time, they'd better understand what that means.
Are they fans of empty podiums? Are they worried about holding induction days with no inductees to honor? Are they prepared to start throwing players out of the Hall of Fame -- players who may be linked to PED use after they've gotten elected?
All those possibilities hover over Hall of Fame voting for the next quarter century unless the folks in Cooperstown figure out how they want to deal with the mess that the steroids era is about to make of their heretofore-hallowed institution.
I hope they're wise enough to see where this is leading. I hope they're enlightened enough to take some sort of stand. But in the meantime, for voters like me, the PED nightmare is only making a mess of my ballot.
Can we stop and dab a tear at our leg for Stark? First of all, the Hall of Fame has nothing to do with the actual election of the eligible nominees. Take this quote from Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson:
"We don't elect. We induct. It's really a question for the voters."
This was in reference to the Barry Bonds exhibit in 2007. Nobody from the Hall of Fame pressures a voter. Nobody from the Hall of Fame has a vote. Would the Hall of Fame like there to be an Induction every year? Absolutely. Having just been to Cooperstown, I can't imagine what NOT having an Induction would do to the local economy. But to pass the problem of how you're going to vote off to the Hall of Fame is the same kind of "Don't-want-to-be-responsible" thinking that led the reporters and voters to this point in the first place.
Everybody contributed to the mess that is your ballot, Stark. It's not anybody else's problem, anymore. You got into this business to have the last word, so stand up and have the last word. Don't blame the Hall of Fame - who might have the least to do with the "steroid problem" in baseball - for messing up your morals and ideals. Those should have been sorted out a long time ago.