Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is it 2004 again?

I opened the newspaper this week (to look at the pictures, obviously - this whole "reading" thing is beyond me), and what do I see? The Cubs acquire Greg Maddux, and the whole world is urging Sosa to admit to steroid use in the wake of a Mark McGwire announcement.

This is a paper from 2010.

First of all, let's get our facts straight. Here's what matters:

#1. Sosa did roids. And corked bats. And vampirism. If there's a way to illegally gain a competitive edge and be a fucker at the same time, he's got it.
#2. McGwire did roids.
#3. The universe now assumes that any effective baseball hitter is doing steroids.
#4. Wil Cordero beats his wife.

That said, who really cares anymore? Baseball's image is at a weird state right now - you've got the rose-tinted glasses nostalgia thing going on, and you also have the "let's get on with our lives" phenomenon.

Look at it this way - comparatively speaking, did anyone - anyone at all - give a shit when McGwire confessed? No! We knew about the andro, we knew that Canseco gave him a flaxseed oil enema, and we knew that the whole era was BS. Coming out and admitting it way after the fact doesn't really change the public opinion of anyone or anything (oh, and LaRussa - you're so full of shit. In order for McGwire to get the job, you made him confess. Slick).

Thats said, who doesn't look back at those times with fond memories? Those last couple of years in the 90's changed BASEBALL. I'm not talking about the whole "Barry Bonds" part of things, but the McGwire/Sosa race was one of the most exciting things to happen to baseball in a long time, and we loved it. For those of us that were just getting interested in the game because of it, we can view it as a fun sideshow, like the "smallest person alive" at Coney Island: you feel terrible once you get up there to see this tiny woman sitting on a chair, but you still remember it and talk about it all the time.

Are we at a point where we say "Oh, McGwire was the best and he should go into the HoF"? I doubt it. I propose something entirely more radical:

The Hall of the Game

Think about it - how many people have evolved the game over the years and have introduced public interest to what is arguably one of the most boring sports to watch for a newcomer? Pete Rose got people to care. Sosa and McGwire got people to care. Bonds got people to care. Jim Abbot? Hell yes. These people, like it or not, had a huge impact on the way we play the game. Are these players our "Hall of Fame" of greatness? Of course not. But they should be remembered and memorialized none the less.

I nominate the following players for 1st-Ballot HoG induction:

Joe Jackson
Pete Rose
Mark McGwire
Jose Canseco
Barry Bonds
Sammy Sosa
John Rocker
George Steinbrenner
Mark Fydrich
Babe Ruth
Ty Cobb
Jackie Robinson

Say what you want, but THESE are people that shape the game. Nad Hanlon and Bid McPhee? Who the fuck are those guys? These players have long been out of the game, but looking at that list, I'll bet you can identify each of those names and remember how they affected the game for YOU. We need to embrace our past, and move forward WITH it instead of trying to bury it.

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