They were writing about performance enhancing drugs 50 years ago. They’re writing about them more, now, because they believe that for sports to survive, there must by a mystery. For almost all members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, there’s simply not that much to do any more. The numbers have closed around them. More people can better evaluate players than ever before. The game of hero-making for a living is transparent; Jon Heyman doesn’t even bother hiding the game anymore, like playing the cup-and-ball version of three-card monte with an invisible glass, where you can see the ball go down his sleeve just before he looks you dead in the eye and tell you that were wrong, wrong, wrong.
If we needed sportswriters at any point, we certainly need them a lot less now. Games are covered from every angle, as they happen, on Twitter. The sportswriter must figure out how to make lemonade out of a fully squeezed husk; the difference between the sportswriter and the journalist is that the journalist does not pee in a pitcher and tell you his lemonade is the absolute best, because it has real lemon husks floating inside. The press box is a coddling mechanism, an incubator to keep the writers happy with the team’s CEO. In the specific case of the Hall of Fame dialogue, punishing the players for alleged PED use exonerates the owners. The “Hall of Fame” is a misnomer as it is; it’s one room at an otherwise amazing museum of baseball. Clear out the plaques, and you could put some cubicles in there, make some cold calls. It’s the least special part of a very special place. It’s the coat room at the Chartres Cathedral.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are arguably the two best baseball players ever. They do not seem to be nice people. They did really well at the end of their careers. They are famous beyond belief. They don’t need the Hall of Fame. Frankly, the Hall of Fame doesn’t need the Hall of Fame. It’s stupid and demeaning and insulting to the intelligence of anyone who bothers to pay attention. The “character clause” is institutionalized bigotry, not necessarily along racial lines, but along the lines of us vs. them. Ken Rosenthal compared attack-dog statheads to Tea Party activists, but he’s got it backward. His vote is his weapon, and he uses it irresponsibly simply because he can, for now, even as he feels he’s being marginalized to a zero point. It’s insanity, and the angry voices in the computer likely have nothing on those in his own head, telling him that what he’s doing is right. Barry Bonds played. Roger Clemens played. Baseball happened, and it’s properly represented everywhere on Earth except the one room built to do so.