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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

BASIC BIITTNER : Is anyone here telling the truth?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wednesday February 13, 2008 will go down in history as the date that Major League Baseball and one of its legendary players took another giant step in dragging their glorious sport even further into the muck and mire - a process which seems to have been going on for decades now. That was the date, of course, on which Roger Clemens and his former trainer and friend, what's-his-name, testified before a congressional committee. Both witnesses told their side of the story in regard to Clemens' alleged use of steroids and Human Growth Hormone under oath, and their stories each contradicted the other side's story by about as much as they possibly could. I'm not a lawyer, but I think somebody is telling a lie here. This was also the conclusion reached by the congressoinal committee and most other observers. No one seems to know whose story was accurate, however. Fact is, we may never know. But, as Pontius Pilate said centuries ago, "What is truth?"

The next question is what happens to Clemens, his reputatiion, his legacy,and Major League Baseball in general following the riveting session in Washington that produced no real answers? One thing I'm pretty sure of is this : What was once called "America's Pastime" was supplanted as such by professional football many years ago, and in recent years NASCAR, and college football basketball have moved past as well. Major League Baseball - and it really pains me to say this - has become a "niche" sport - something sports fans watch "if nothing else is on."

Move over, hockey, tennis, boxing, track and field, the NBA and WNBA - there's a "new (old) kid on the block." Baseball, like those sports, will soon be viewed on television and in stadiums only by die-hard fans of the sport - people who like to see the best athletes play their sport, don't care about what the athletes do off the field, and treasure the records and great players of their particular sport, both now and in the revered past. Those of us with our heads in the sand, in other words.

If the legacy of Clemens, Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, Palmiero, etc. becomes one tainted with the suspicion of drug use which may or may not have played a part in their on-the-field accomplishments, perhaps the time has come for the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York to establish a new wing - the Hall of Shame.

I mean, as it stands now, the current Hall of Fame will not include among its members the career leader in games played, at-bats and hits (Rose); home runs, walks, and a six-time NL MVP (Bonds); a 7-time Cy Young winner who won 350+ Major League games, who set the single - game strikeout mark of 20 then tied it a decade later (Clemens); the man who first broke Roger Maris' single-season home run mark (McGuire); and a guy who posted the second-highest career batting average of all time (Shoeless Joe Jackson). All of these men definitely deserve to be in the Hall of Fame based on their on-field exploits, but in all likelihood will be shut out because of off -the-field incidents, most of which were just allegations and were not proven by lab results or court convictions. That's why I propose a Hall of Shame wing for anyone who meets the criteria of "having outstanding careers which would have most likely gotten them elected to the Hall by the baseball writers, but ..."

Along with Rose, Bonds, Clemens and McGuire, the late Billy Martin might qualify for induction into the HOS, along with possibly Sammy Sosa (although that would be up to the special HOS committee to decide) and maybe others. Each member would have a plaque like the HOF members, except that on their plaques, in addition to their career highlights, there would also be a summary of why the person was inducted into the HOS rather than the HOF.

Just an idea...

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner