Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Brilliant Idea for the Baseball Hall of Fame

Of course "brilliant" is a subjective term and my thought on this is so small that it might not qualify as an "idea" but I didn't think anyone would read the more accurate headline of "Here's a nuance the HOF should consider".

Anyway, here is what the Baseball Hall of Fame should do. They should simply clarify and publicly communicate the institution's role in some formal way.

Such clarity is needed because many, like me, see it as a museum about the history of baseball where one can learn about the game's past and see interesting artifacts associated with some of the game's greatest plays, players, and seasons. Others see it as an institution of honor that exists to confer the highest degree of notoriety on the game's most deserving contributors. In reality, it should be and could be both.

The mechanism to cover both roles is simple. As a museum, its content should be broad and comprehensive from the greatest glory to the darkest scandals. It should document the formidable career of Pete Rose, the storied seasons of Barry Bonds, and the sordid affair of the Chicago Black-Sox. For anything that is baseball history and meets a threshold for importance, one should be able to go there and learn about it.

As an institution of honor, it could continue to function in its current subjective, haphazard, whimsical, capricious, debate-stirring, manner of using crotchety, old, liquor-addled, grudge-bearing writers as an induction committee. Those who pass through the "system" (a term I type while rolling my eyes), get included.

The nuance is this: not everyone who might be "included in" the HOF would need to be "inducted into" the HOF. There could be players whose careers would be annotated inside who would not be "members" of the institution. While everyone is eligible to be a part of the historical narrative, only a select few get "enshrined" with a bust and a ceremony commemorating their induction.

I guess it is just a matter of recasting the public perspective and operating as a baseball museum that houses a special inner sanctum (call it the hall of fame) for a select few who played well without steroids and never bet on their team to win.

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