While we all try to make heads or tails from the Mitchell report, I hear one question being asked over and over. “What will this do to the players reputation, especially those like Clemens, who were once shoe-ins for Cooperstown?” The question is a fair one but this question is not what’s bothering me. It’s the answer that I’m hearing from many sports writers with hall of fame votes.
“Since we will never know who cheated and who didn’t, you have to treat them all the same.” I wish I could remember the name of the writer who said that. It was a prominent one, and I’m 90% sure I remember who it was, but just incase I’m wrong, I don’t want to put it out there. Whoever it was, it was someone who made me sit up in my drivers seat.
How can you make such a ridiculous statement? You can’t treat Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux the same now. There’s no way. Sports fans like to have absolutes. That’s why many of them don’t like art or poetry. Sports fans like final scores; wins and losses. When a guy takes the field he’s either a stud or a bum. He’s either clutch or a choker. Sports fans like categories. A friend of mine made a quote about a politician once that I think applies to most sports fans. My friend said “ (he) sees the world in black and white, while I think it’s a million shades of gray.” Sports fans don’t like gray. That’s the biggest problem with this list. Too much gray, at least for this crowd.
Do you know why sports fans like final scores? Because they are easy. If you win, you’re good, if you lose you suck. Well this one isn’t easy. How should the hall of fame voters vote for Clemens? Does this change the way the vote for McGuire? Does this help Barry Bonds? Does Palmiero have new life? These are all tough questions that each writer has to decide. Which guys do we have enough evidence and which guys do we not? That has to be weighed. It has to!
We don’t set some criminals free just because we didn’t catch all the criminals. Is that really a defense? “Uh, your honor, I know that I murdered someone, but there are a lot of other guys who have murdered people and the police didn’t catch them, therefore I think it’s unfair that I be punished for doing something that not everyone who did it is being punished equally for.”
I feel badly for the any player who is on the list who shouldn’t be, if there are any. But I certainly don’t feel bad for the people who got caught. It’s the risk you take, and it’s the price you pay.
Sportwriters have to be a ballsy. They have to be intelligent. They have to do research. I know it’s a little bit difficult. I know it might be slightly time consuming. But if you don’t want the responsibility, then give it up. But don’t take the easy way out and say that everyone in this era must be considered equally. That’s as simplistic as it is asinine.
There’s a reason that fingers have pointed towards certain people. Will they very get all of the cheaters? No. But it doesn’t mean that you let the ones that you caught walk away.