My Baseball Fandom Was Built on a Lie

1-26-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Yesterday it became official.

Most of the guys that this former kid looked up to and looked forward to watching will not be elected to the Hall of Fame. No Bonds, no Clemens, neither Sosa or McGwire, all deemed cheaters, all out for the foreseeable future.

I’m not here to argue about it. They cheated, and this is the result. I don’t care about the perceived hypocrisy either, if I could find 5% of voters who elected Gaylord Perry then turned around and voted no on Bonds, I’d be shocked.

No, my point really is we’ve taken an entire generation of fans and told them your foundational fan moments were all built on the backs of cheating. A big lie that baseball allowed to go on long enough to have the issue effect Hall voting for over two decades by time all is said and done.

When I went to Cooperstown with my Dad way back when, I remember his real and vivid memories he shared about watching Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Roberto Clemente, Joe Morgan, and so many more. Now, my dad isn’t even what you’d consider a sports fan, but he knew I was, and he pushed aside his own awful upbringing to understand what going to the Hall would mean for me.

I’m not completely on empty myself. I have guys like Pudge, Junior, parts of Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith, ya know, it’s not all bad, but it’s also hard to look at who’s not in and pretend the hall still represents what I considered great as I grew up. It’s hard to take your kids there and share memories that don’t involve those guys, even if I’m talking about someone who did get in.

See, it was easy for me to be callous about Pete Rose. He wasn’t my hero, he wasn’t someone I grew up watching, he was also just one guy. So when I heard people a little older than me gnashing teeth and seeming physically pained that he wasn’t going to get in, I guess I just kinda thought, well, that’s what he gets for gambling on the game or whatever.

Now it’s the guys I grew up with, and some of the people that still hold onto Rose are completely fine with this crop being left out. Almost like it’s just deserts for never understanding their pain.

I really think it’s generational. Let’s say Greenies were brought into the light and everyone you grew up watching in the 70’s had to go on trial as to whether they ever took them, or knew people who did. Have books written about how rampant it was in every locker room. Former trainers talk about how out of their minds some would get on them. And ultimately keep them all out of the hall.

Imagine the better part of a decade, where even players who somehow slipped through at least had a hint of suspicion attached to them.

That’s the scene for a 90’s kid, and I am already bracing for how the league handles anyone who played for the Astros when they come up.

Again, I’m not here to argue about it, or crap on the voters. I’m not here to pretend roids didn’t effect the game or help players in any way. I don’t need to pretend that everyone was doing it, in an effort to say it should be overlooked. I’m simply saying for a game that is so dependent on history and nostalgia, it’s mortifying to have entire swaths of players banished from the lexicon, even while the records they shattered still stand.

I don’t think there’s a fix for this, and I don’t think that there needs to be. Sometimes just talking about the emotions that this brings to the surface is for the sake of therapy alone. I do wish some of the voters would at least recognize it’s not something to take joy in, it’s certainly not something to be rubbing in the face of fans. It’s a painful, and I’d argue willful stain on the game that everyone from player to owner participated in and or turned a blind eye to. That doesn’t scream the need for gleeful self adulation about your vote one way or another.

Part of me is happy that the clock has run out on most of these guys now, at least it won’t be the prominent topic it’s been come next year. A bigger part of me is just sad that what I rooted for, grew up with and cherished are little more than punchlines for tweets and talk show fodder.

None of this makes me want to go relitigate the past inductees mind you. I don’t need to judge their moral fiber and hold them up to the social standards we’ve adopted today. Society has changed, but that’s happened slowly. Things that were completely acceptable a century ago, aren’t today. Things that are fine today won’t be in a hundred years.

I guess what I’m really saying is, I get why it is, but accepting it doesn’t mean I have to pretend it makes me happy. I have a feeling I’ll die believing Barry Bonds was the best baseball player I ever saw in person, and he’s not in the Hall of Fame. Why and how don’t really matter beyond that, and it simply sucks.

Sometimes that’s enough. Not everything has to have blame, or workarounds, solutions. Sometimes a situation just stinks. For me, this is one of those times, and I hope my generation is the last to feel it.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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