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A decade later, the eyes suddenly have it for the Hall

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  January 10, 2013 11:34 AM

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Just like it’s not going to affect my day-to-day life that “Skyfall” didn’t receive one Oscar nod on Thursday, nor does Wednesday’s Baseball Hall of Fame shutout announcement inflict any sort of emotionally-altering scars. It’s not like I’m Tim Kurkijan.

Let ‘em in or don’t let ‘em in. Whatever. When’s lunch?

But if the members of the esteemed Baseball Writers Association of America felt they were sending a message to the PED duo of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, playing judge and jury in the face of having their collective heads buried in the sand for so many years, they were once again, not surprisingly, drastically late to the party.

Consider 2001, the year Bonds hit a Major League Baseball-record 73 home runs, the definitive moment when every baseball follower without a clear agenda opened his or her eyes and admitted to a clear-cut performance-enhancing problem in the game. Bud Selig and the players union hid, and the BBWAA aided and abetted the issues, proclaiming “no proof” as if it were the organization’s new slogan. But we knew. If you didn’t, you either lived in Pollyanna or simply didn’t want to rock the boat.

BBWAA members voted Bonds the MVP that season. It was the first of four consecutive trophies Bonds would receive even as rumors turned to fact. They awarded Clemens the Cy Young Award in 2004 at the age of 41. “Nothing to see here,” they chastised anyone who raised an eyebrow to the validity of such an accomplishment.

So, it’s no wonder I find it rollickingly amusing that the same BBWAA members who told you they needed “facts” are the same ones who voted for this year’s class of the Hall with the “eye test.” That, my friends, is hypocrisy in a nut shell, wrapped with a bow, and delivered hot out of the oven.

The same writers who derided anyone who accused a ballplayer in the height of the steroid era over a lack of physical evidence are the same writers who are altering the game’s illustrious museum based on their inability to discover anything concrete about certain players. Craig Biggio got the most votes Wednesday, with 68.2 percent of the ballots. Biggio hit four home runs in 1990, four home runs in ’91, six home runs in ’92, and, oh, 21 in ’93. He would hit double digits in home runs in 12 of the next 14 years, and just happened to play with Ken Caminiti.

But, he’s clean, right? The eye test. Jeff Bagwell had big arms. Doesn’t pass the eye test. Have to look scrappy for that.

How stupid is all this? The BBWAA touts its morality clause as reason enough to not vote for Clemens and Bonds, yet noted drug-user Tim Raines got 52.2 percent of the vote. Clemens received 37.6; Bonds 36.2. We’re not even going to get into the idiocy of giving Aaron Sele a Hall of Fame vote because we can only assume Sele got a hold of a ballot somehow and that there can be no other explanation.

Sorry, the message is far too late, and the implementation of an eye test simply spits in the face of everything the BBWAA preached while its members were singing about gumdrops and lollipops during the early part of last decade, insisting to romanticize the game that has always - always - had its share of villainy. Only when they could no longer deny did they judge.

It’s really not important, except to the people and businesses of Cooperstown, denied a profitable weekend this summer, who does or doesn’t get in. But nobody should be buying the sanctimonious excuses handed down to you by the BBWAA, as fraudulent a group as they ever were.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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