As the Baseball Hall of Fame congratulates itself today, let’s talk about how it just boned baseball players. Yesterday, it was announced that the eligibility rules had been altered from 15 years, to 10. So, once he becomes eligible, a player has 10 chances to have the magical 75 percent of precious votes bestowed upon him. This means Mark McGwire now has two years of eligibility left instead of seven. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa—all three of whom first became eligible in 2012—now have only eight years of eligibility left.
It may not seem like a big deal, especially for the last three, but consider Bert Blyleven. He was elected in his 14th year of eligibility after a steady, years long push to get him in despite similarly minimal support initially. Now, maybe it took 14 years because urgency built as he approached his cut off. But the baseball landscape also changed drastically in those 14 years, as we learned more about evaluating players. Time was a friend to Blyleven.
The cases of McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens are a little different—no one can argue the numbers—but still time is what matters. How many voters withheld their votes previously for these guys because it was useless right now to vote? How many thought maybe as enough time passed, things would change. The old wounds would heal and in, say, 15 years, sanctimonious writers would realize their sanctimony and would finally vote appropriately.
That’s why this rule change is so dirty. It ‘s taken away the time for consensus to change and accept the guys who need it most. Not to mention the retroactive application. This is not just a rule for players newly eligible. It is being applied across the board in the hopes of ending the debate once and for all, and preserving the sanctity of the Hall.
Things might be different for current players, but the so-called Poster Boys have gotten fucked again. La Russa may be a snake, but he’s right when he calls bullshit on how only the few big names have been villainized, while everyone pretends they were the only ones to use, or be accused of using, PEDs.
This new rule makes that de facto perception de jure and it’s just about the most transparent attempt of whitewashing the steroid era from baseball since Bud Selig morphed into Mr. Clean once Congress took him behind the woodshed.
But there it is, eligibility is now only 10 years as opposed to 15. Now the only problem baseball has to worry about is how to delineate between guys who took more than 10 years to get elected from the rest.