1/04/2007 Add a comment

Not to get all Becker-Posner on our dear readers, but here's my counterpoint to Will's previous post on McGwire. Will, feel free to respond.

The fundamental problem is that Simmons' counterfactual, where we let McGwire into the Hall of Fame but put a note on his plaque which says he gained 125 pounds in three years, admitted to using Andro, and refused to testify about steroid use, is simply an impossibility.

History is written by the winners. The point of the plaques in Hall of Fame is not to reflect the sentiments of an era but rather to reward the most successful players for their achievements. Just like Ty Cobb's plaque has no mention of the fact that he was a racist of the highest order or tried to intentionally injure every shortstop by going "cleats-up", there is no way that McGwire and his family would allow a plaque of that nature into the Hall. That's simply not how it works.

Given the choice of a laudatory plaque on McGwire with no mention of his misdeeds and none at all, I choose none at all. Same goes for Sammy Sosa, if you think this is simply Chicago-bias. Simmons is being fundamentally dishonest when he proposes a non-existent alternative.

And his article doesn't sway me one bit in my opposition to letting Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame. The only thing that distinguishes professional sports from professional wrestling is the belief that the games aren't rigged. If we were to lose that, sports as we know it would fall apart. Maybe I'm naive, but I think betting on your own team is the cardinal sin and can never be forgiven by the baseball establishment. ben


  1. Blogger William: Ok. You are right on Rose. He stays out. I was swept up in sentimentality following a defense of my favorite player. And I don't necessarily agree with Simmons on the writing on the plaque. But I do agree with the general notion that the HOF shouldn't sweep history under the rug. You should be able to see the good and the bad. McGwire does represent a certain moment in time for baseball, and I don't think baseball should hide from that.

    Also, I had that Bash Brothers poster and thought it was cool.