Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Worst Hall of Fame Ballot You Will Read About (Hopefully)

Bob Brookover offers his thought process for his Hall of Fame vote, and boy is it a doozy. Brookover gets really hung up on the "integrity, sportsmanship, character," clause, even going so far as to break out his dictionary to get some defininitions for the terms. 

Without that clause, he acknowledges he would fill up his ballot, with Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza, McGriff, McGwire, Schilling and Palmiero. Instead, he winds up voting for Dale Murphy. 

Obviously, this is mostly about PEDs. Regarding Bagwell, he acknowledges the lack of evidence, and Bagwell's denials, but ultimately concludes "I'm just not sure I believe him, and the reason is because I've watched players lie in front of Congress. If they can lie there, they can lie anywhere about anything." So, because other baseball players have lied, Bagwell must be lying. That's all it takes for Brookover to justify a character assassination. Make no mistake, that's what this is. Brookover is saying that nothing Bagwell says can be trusted, because he played baseball in the 90's. Despite having no objective reason to disbelieve the denials, Bagwell does not meet Brookover's "integrity, sportmanship & character" standard.

Believe it or not, it gets worse. Schilling once lied about his use of smokeless tobacco, and some teammates disliked him. That's apparently enough to fall short of Brookover's standard. He doesn't go into Biggio, but apparently something Biggio has done, or something Brookover imagines he might have done, must keep him out. 

So he's down to Murphy, the paragon of virtue. Murphy, who has apparently never lied about anything ever. Murphy, whose playing career was apparently not enough to justify Brookover's vote in the past, is the only player who meets this new standard, where playing career is subordinate to your personal virtue. 

This can all be read as a protest vote, as he calls for the Hall to get rid of the integrity clause. In reality, its a cop out. Instead of coming to terms with the steroids era, and its place in baseball history that is filled with imperfect men, doing anything they could to get ahead, he passes the buck. There are liars, cheats, murderers, crooks, racists and drug abusers (greenies, definitely, steroids, probably) already in the Hall of Fame. It doesn't need Brookover to keep it pure. By only voting for Murphy, he helps ensure that no one will get in this year. The Hall will be left trying to promote a bunch of dead veteran comittee inductees, instead of having fans of the best players of the 90's flock to Cooperstown. By protecting the Hall, he just might destroy it.