SLAYER’S SPORTS AND STUFF!
Hi Everybody! Welcome to another edition of Slayer’s Sports and Stuff! All I can say is DAM, it’s hot! It’s like a thousand degrees here in New York and sweat is glistening off my brow and dripping in between the spaces of my keyboard which will eventually give me some sort of electric shock. You know it’s bad when I hear a splashing sound when I type. Anyway, we have very important topics to cover today. I say important because we’re going to talk about serious issues such as international terrorism, the quest for world peace, and the Baseball Hall of Fame (know to insiders as the HoF). So let’s get to it!
Let’s take a look around IP Sports!
Our NHL guy finally has something to write about and he’s back! Welcome back Omar!
Dr. Gauss is back! and talks about Joan Rivers!
Eugene Tierney never left us God bless his heart, and continues honoring us with the Knowledge!
Steve Price concludes his marathon of great car racing columns. And he actually admits to getting tired!
THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
How do we start this? I guess I’ll begin by saying I hate the Hall of Fame. No, no,no. Hate is a strong word. I don’t CARE for it. That sounds better but it isn’t strong enough. It’s more that I couldn’t care less about it but when people talk about as if it is some sort of holy cathedral, it hits a nerve causing anger and resentment. Yes, that’s more like it. Now, I was gonna write about this back in Spring, but That Bootleg Guy decided to do his HoF Top 100 and I held off as even though it would have been completely coincidental, I didn’t want to take away anything from his great series of columns. Yes, yes, I know. Respect and courtesy in IP? What a concept! Hey, I do have an ethos to keep and while sometimes that ethos is inconsistent and other times just downright hypocritical and self-serving, it is something I try to maintain. Or to shorten things up, just because some people here are assholes doesn’t mean I have to be one myself. Anyway, back to the Hall of Fame. Here’s the deal about the place itself.
It’s really cool.
Yes, Cooperstown is really cool. Cynics call it “cute”. Optimists call it “the Mecca”, but between these two words is the truth. And the truth is it is really cool. If you love baseball, make a stop to Cooperstown. Just imagine an entire little town in the middle of nowhere that eat, breathes, and lives baseball. The restaurants, bars, the three thousand little league games going on, it’s really a fun weekend. And coming back from Cooperstown, you are going to be smiling from ear to ear as Cooperstown really gets those happy juices flowing and you’ll feel….mushy. Within this town is of course the actual Hall of Fame on 25 Main Street. Like the town, it’s really cool. But let’s call a spade and spade and say what it is. It’s a museum. At the end, that’s all it is. Don’t believe me? Well, in reality there are TWO Hall of Fames.
The MLB Hall of Fame was created in 1936 when they began to exploit their history. The first inductees were legends such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and a few other guys that were popular back in the day, but now you wouldn’t have heard of them. Ok, ok, that was a tease, they were Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. Anyway, there was no actual building. It was sort of like the WWE Hall of Fame. Just a three day media buzz for baseball and a trip down memory lane for their fans.
So now we have a place called Cooperstown. Cooperstown was famous before the Hall of Fame. In fact it has been famous going far back as the war of 1812 as local brewers made beer for the troops. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Cooperstown was one of the major Hops Hubs of America. Then prohibition hit and kablooie! Honest hard working wasps lost their gig to the Jews, Italians, and Irish. Then the depression hit, and double kablooie! Whatever industry was left was now decimated and it became just another barely populated village in the middle of nowhere. However, there was ONE business in Cooperstown that was still healthy. The Singer Sewing Machine Company. In an effort to bring back some money to their fledgling town they built a baseball museum and called it the Baseball Hall of Fame. MLB could have probably sewed them, but instead they actually did a smart thing. They went into cahoots with the board members of the museum and their official inductees became fixtures of the museum and quite possibly the museum’s most popular attraction. While the two “Hall of Fames” are basically indistinguishable in today’s rhetoric they are in fact still two separate entities. For example, Pete Rose and Don Mattingly are not “members” of the Hall of Fame and are not part of that ‘Walk of Fame’ in the museum but there are displays in the museum that celebrate their feats. Regardless of the semantics, it was a success and The Hall of Fame became extremely popular. Both Cooperstown and MLB even exploited a lie that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown (a lie that was given credence by creating a false display on it!). However, that notion has more or less been disproved from an investigation a couple baseball writers undertook in the 1980s. However, Cooperstown still exploits it!
But when we speak of the Hall of Fame, we are talking about the “members”. The elite of baseball, the Top Gun of Hardball. Today, there are 212 players, 56 broadcasters. 26 writers, 23 executives, 17 managers, and 8 umpires inducted into the Hall of Fame. While that may seem like a bunch, 342 out of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people involved in baseball is quite an elite percentage. And debates have raged on for years on who should get inducted with this magnificent honor and who shouldn’t. Some say the Hall of Fame is too selective and they have ignored many players who deserved this honor. Some say it is not selective enough and the Hall of Fame should only induct first tier elite players, not second and third tier.
I don’t care.
I never did, never will. Why do other people care? Because they are under the false notion that being inducted into the Hall of Fame immortalizes a player. This is of course completely wrong as I can name you 50 Hall of Fame players you never heard of. Don’t believe me? Go to a website that has a list of all the players in the Hall of Fame and you will not have heard of at least 25% of them, and I’m just talking about the players here. Don’t feel bad. I haven’t heard of some of these people either. And when seeing their display in the Hall of Fame, you know what you’re gonna do? You’re gonna do what I did. And walk right past it. The truth of the matter is Baseball is a regional sport like no other. People love their teams over the sport itself. Should Don Mattingly be in the Hall of Fame? It doesn’t matter because his number is retired and displayed in Monument Park. If Don Mattingly got inducted to the Hall of Fame, 50 years from now people would walk right past his display to get to Lou Gherig and Barry Bonds. However, 50 years from now, young little Yankee fans will ask older Yankee fans who #23 was. The same even goes for inductees such as George Brett in Kansas City or Nolan Ryan in Houston and Arlington. 50 years from now, no one will care about them except for fans of their respective teams. This basically goes for about 90% of the Hall of Fame Members. Yet ironically enough, non-inductees such as Joe Jackson, Roger Maris, and Pete Rose will live in Baseball Infamy.
But it’s not just that I can’t stand. It’s the Hall of Fame’s atrocious history which makes the Doubleday tale seem like a childish white lie. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
First, we got Fred Merkle, one of the best players in the first half of the Twentieth century. Not a first tier elite player, but definitely second tier. The problem is early in his career when he played for the New York Giants, he made a base running error in a sudden death game against the Cubs which the Giants would end up losing, costing them the pennant. Was it his fault they lost? No. But he didn’t help. Anyway, despite a great career afterwards, he became known as “Merkle Boner” and could never get away from that error. Why not? Because of the stupid New York sportswriters. Back then, when the Yankees were an awful team called the Highlanders and the Brooklyn Dodgers were considered nothing more then a small time club, the New York Giants were the crown jewel of Baseball playing in the historic Manhattan Polo Grounds (which would ironically become known as one of the worst baseball stadiums in history as the decades rolled on). Even though the Giants would win plenty of championships in this era, the writers never forgave him for his error and to this day he is still not part of the Hall of Fame. To make matters more unfortunate, Merkle’s most vocal proponent is Keith Olberman and since the writers hate him too, they are not inducting him just for spite.
Another example is the BBWWAA (baseball writers) vs. the Veterans Committee. In the 1960s, The Baseball writers were getting criticized for favoring those who played for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. So, back in the 1960s and the 1970s, they gave some power to the Veterans committee. However, this committee made mostly of Giants and Cardinals decided to elect their friends into the Hall of Fame. They were not second or third or even forth tier elite players. They weren’t elite players at all. Just good journeymen that are found in every baseball team. Many people screamed bloody murder and the veteran committee had its right to elect hall of famers relinquished. But then in the 1990s, the baseball writers started doing the same thing, electing players that they either grew up with or were friends with during their beat days (and for even more irony, this new crop of writers were anti-big market teams). To offset this controversy, a few years ago the veterans committee were given back their right to induct hall of famers, but there are about 15 conditions a player has to meet for them to be elected by the Veterans committee and so far they haven’t elected anybody. It is doubtful they ever will. But the point is, whether it be veterans trying to give their buddies some historic rub, big city writers over-estimating their players, or small town writers with a chip on their shoulder, it’s the same crap. Instead of being objective, fair, and earnest, they are voting in who they like.
Finally, there are the Negro Leagues. Today, these players are within the same room as the regular hall of famers, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that Ted Williams made it one of his primary public issues, the stars of the Negro league would be in a separate display. In 1971, they finally combined the two but would not induct another Negro League player until 1995. And many baseball writers and veterans were still against it because as amoral as it sounded, they insisted it was still two separate leagues. So there you go, the people who run the Hall of Fame have prioritized their romanticism of Major League Baseball over giving respect to the players who never had the chance to prove themselves. That’s for lack of a better word…sick.
So there you go, this is why I don’t care about the Hall of Fame. It’s fake, it’s a sham, it’s self-congratulatory minutia.
But I would still recommend a weekend in Cooperstown. It’s really cool!
So, according to some news reports, Osama Bin-Laden had a plan to spike Cocaine with poison which would have killed hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Americans. Despite offering the Columbian cartel hundreds of millions of dollars, the drug lord decided that it would be bad for business. All I can say is that was a close one! Or else I wouldn’t have come back from my three day binge in Atlantic City. Man, as if that stuff doesn’t get you paranoid already.
Relax, I’m just kidding. I’ve never been to Atlantic City.
Alright, everybody. I know for many of you it’s vacation time, so enjoy them if you’re taking one. And if you’re not, take one anyway!