Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We No Longer Need A Hall Of Fame

The steroid and Hall of Fame discussion was happening on sports radio tonight. I'm not sure the various sides put their arguments all that well.  One group would say that when we really, in our hearts, know someone was juiced, like a Barry Bonds, we should not consider them for such a high honor.  Another faction would say that such knowledge is along a continuum, not an either-or, and we have no way of reflecting that in our eligibility requirements. Actually they wouldn't say that, but they should, as it's clearer.

So why have a Hall of Fame at all, then?  Why not close the membership as it stands, not as a protest, but as an expression of a particular era.  One of the main reasons the Hall was founded was to preserve the memory of great ballplayers, so that later fans will have some idea of what came before, and what the historical context is for baseball events now.  (From the very beginning it has gotten many things,wrong, BTW, enshrining players who were merely above-average and neglecting highly-deserving candidates who played in more obscurity.)

That context is no longer needed.  Historical information about baseball is now enormously available, and literally thousands of people make comparisons across eras for general discussion.  In the 1930's and 40's, not only did not know about players in other eras unless they were on their home team (or one from New York), they could not easily even get that information. That has been true until quite recently, actually.

We no longer need a baseball Hall of Fame, except as a repository of records and symbolic gathering place. It can become the Hall of History now. The "honor" of nomination and election doesn't carry the weight it once did.


james said...

Perhaps a hall of fame for pharmacists?

Sam L. said...

When they are voted in by sportswriters, one has reason to wonder. Fallible, incorrigible, heavily opinionated if not completely prejudiced.