Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez Should be in the Hall of Fame

This was a big, and extremely controversial, week for MLB.  Manny Ramirez surprisingly retired rather than face a 100 game suspension for testing positive during a random drug test and Barry Bonds was found guilt of obstruction of justice and now awaits sentencing in court. 

With all of that going on the usual debate has popped up and has dominated much of the discussion of both Bonds and Ramirez.  The debate of course is whether or not Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  To me this shouldn't even be a debate as both Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez 100 percent belong in the Hall of Fame and here is why:

If you go to the Baseball Hall of Fame website they quote their slogan in the top right hand corner of the home page.  The slogan reads, "Preserving History - Honoring Excellence - Connecting Generations."  In the top left hand corner of the same home page the official name of the Hall of Fame is written, "National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum."  Based on the slogan and the official name of the Hall of Fame both Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez deserve inclusion.

If the point of the Hall of Fame is to preserve the history of baseball then how can Bonds and Ramirez not be included?  Just because they cheated does not mean that they don't have their place in the history of the game.  No one in baseball history has ever hit more home runs than Barry Bonds. How is that not integral to the history of baseball? Just because fans and writers don't like him doesn't mean he should be excluded from baseball history.

The same can be said for Ramirez who historically is one of the greatest right handed hitters in the history of baseball.  His numbers are right up there with such baseball legends as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson.  To deny him entry into the Hall of Fame would be the exact  opposite of preserving history, it would be ignoring.

The most important word to focus on is 'museum.'  If the Hall of Fame is actually going to be a legitimate museum for the game of baseball then how do you exclude players for taking steroids?  That would be the same as the German National History Museum excluding the Holocaust.  While it does make the country look bad it is still an important part of their history and to try and sweep it under the rug like it didn't happen is ridiculous.  The same goes for players who took steroids.  Baseball can try and pretend like it didn't happen but fans know and it makes the Hall of Fame look ridiculous for trying to exclude those players.

Nowhere on the Hall of Fame website does it have the word 'moral' written.  The point of a Hall of Fame isn't to induct players based on moral character and personality.  If that is the case then why is the Hall of Fame currently filled with blatantly open racists, alcoholics, drug users and convicted felons?   Character and personality should have no bearing on whether someone is inducted into the Hall of Fame or not and if it does have some bearing then the word 'museum' needs to be removed from the title of the organization.

Then again this is nothing knew for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In the past they have refused to include some of the more polarizing figures in baseball history.  Pete Rose, the man with more hits than anyone in baseball history, is not in the Hall of Fame because he bet on baseball.  The list of records Pete Rose holds is astounding including most hits ever, most games played, most career at bats, most singles, runs/doubles/walks/total bases by a switch hitter and most consecutive seasons of 200 or more hits: 10.  Yet despite his amazing playing career he has been excluded from the Hall of Fame and more than likely will never be inducted, which is one of the greater tragedies in sports if you ask me.

'Connecting Generations' is also listed as one of the principle values of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  If that is the case then how will you connect the 80s to the late 2000s without showcasing the "Steroid Era" of the 90s and early 2000s? How do you know for certain who was on steroids and who wasn't?  Maybe everyone was and only a few people got caught.  A few years ago there was a reported list of over 500 players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs yet only a few names were released.  Who else was on that list and why haven't their names been released? 

If the selection committee is going to deny Bonds and Ramirez, with Bonds never actually testing positive, then how can they induct anyone from that era?

The most common defense for not inducting someone like Pete Rose or Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame is, "they are excluded because they cheated." This is a not a valid argument for exclusion in my eyes.  The Hall of Fame is currently filled with pitchers who admitted to using illegal pitches throughout their careers.  Guys would use sandpaper or a nail file to wreck the shape of the ball making it harder to hit and of course there is the infamous spitball used by pitchers such as Gaylord Perry and Don Drysdale.  The pitchers that used these pitches broke the rules of baseball and yet still find themselves in the Hall of Fame.  If they are included then why can't Barry Bonds be inducted as well?

By blatantly ignoring the purpose of the organization and the '"values" it supposedly stands for, the Baseball Hall of Fame has become a popularity contest.  Players whose careers were far less impressive than someone like Rose's or Bonds' are being inducted.  You're telling me Bert Blyleven is more important to the history of baseball than Pete Rose and Barry Bonds?

Excluding players such as Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa because they broke the rules of the game is a blatant contradiction of what the Hall of Fame is supposed to stand for. Why can these players not be inducted and then on their plaque have an inscription that states they tested positive for steroids?  Is that really such a big deal?

Until the day that Barry Bonds, Pete Rose and Manny Ramirez are inducted into the Hall of Fame I will never look at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum as legitimate.

Random YouTube Video


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