Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Tragedy of the Blank Ballot

Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a column today declaring that he chose not to mail in his Hall of Fame ballot as a protest against the steroid era. From the moment I read his column, I felt the need to write some sort of response.

At first, I wanted to call Telander a fool. I wanted to strip him of his ballot. Several hours have passed since I first read the column, however, and I no longer think that way. Instead, I'm sad for him -- sad that he's given in to such a deep level of paranoia about performance enhancing drugs that he no longer is willing to cast a vote for a player like Goose Gossage, or Andre Dawson, or Bert Blyleven, or Andre Dawson . . . and so on. I'm sad that a man who obviously has contributed so much as a writer has now lost the will to even try to carry out his responsibilities as a Hall voter.

I understand Telander's anger and frustration with the players who used, with the trainers and coaches and management figures who looked the other way or even participated, with Bud Selig and Donald Fehr for pretending there was no problem for so long. Further, I have no good solution for how to deal with players from the modern era, although I'm inclined to push forward and elect players based on the numbers they put up, with an understanding that the whole era is tainted and the numbers are not comparable to those of previous eras. Heck, I'm even willing to consider the possibility of completely excluding a player who is proven to have used for a long period of time (and even though I'm on my way to becoming a lawyer, I wouldn't require the kind of proof necessary in a court of law).

Telander's choice -- to vote for no one, presuming that everyone was dirty as the worst amongst them -- would kill the Hall of Fame. We could close the doors forever on new members, and voters like Telander could be pleased to know that no steroid era members were included. This is not a solution, however. In fact, it's the opposite of a solution -- it's simply giving up. I understand Telander's arguments for not voting, but I reject them. I can only hope that someday, he will remember why he loves this sport, and opt back into the process.



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