The Hall of Fame is not church

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The Hall of Fame is not church

With the Hall of Fame candidates released today by the Baseball Writers Association of America, Canada, Japan, Various Hispanic Nations and All The Ships At Sea, the moralists are back in full flight and plumage.

Oh, hurray.

The debate that always seems to happen on this subject is thus resumed, with no resolution or even advancement in thought on either side expected. In other words, let the apoplectic shouting resume.

In fact, let me add to it by pointing out something to those voters who prefer to make their annual petulant stand on performance enhancing drug use and Hall of Fame something they may have forgotten in their annual blood pressure spike.

YOU DON'T WORK FOR BASEBALL! YOU ARE NOT GUARDIANS OF THE GAME! IT IS NEITHER YOUR JOB, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY OR EVEN YOUR RIGHT TO KEEP THE GAME PURE OF MISCREANTS WHEN IT SHOWS EVERY DAY THAT IT DOESNT WANT TO BE!

And might I add:

YOU SILLY SELF-DELUDED BASTARDS!

I just needed to get that last one off my chest. Sorry.

All the other arguments about whether Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, et. al., deserve inclusion have been exhausted, to no effect. People long ago stopped listening anyway, which is why shouting is the only way to even get any aerobic exercise on this topic any more.

So let us deal with the new round of explanations and rationalizations in the only way that seems to make even a ripple by shouting. And in no particular order:

THE HALL OF FAME IS NOT CHURCH. IT IS THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL, FOR GOOD AND ILL. IF IT ISN'T, THEN WHY ARE THE MEN WHO DEFENDED THE COLOR LINE IN THE HALL? WHY IS TY COBB IN THE HALL? WHY IS KENESAW MOUNTAIN LANDIS IN THE HALL? THERY ARE PART OF THE HISTORY, TOO. REMEMBER?

Next:

GIVEN THAT THE OWNERS HAD BEEN WARNED ABOUT THE DANGERS OF STEROIDS IN PARTICULAR BACK IN 1988 AND DID NOTHING ABOUT IT FOR MORE THAN A DECADE, WASN'T PED USE THE INDUSTRY STANDARD FOR MORE THAN A DECADE? YES, IT WAS. THEIR RULES, NOT YOURS.

And then:

WHEN DID JOURNALISTS START DEFENDING THE ERADICATION OF PEOPLE AND FACTS TO ACHIEVE A DESIRED END FOR THE BENEFIT OF PEOPLE THEY ALLEGEDLY OBJECTIVELY COVER? IF YOU CAN ANSWER THAT WITH A WORD OTHER THAN NEVER, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY QUIT YOUR JOB.

Not to mention:

HOW IS IT DEFENSIBLE NOT TO VOTE FOR JEFF BAGWELL BASED ON A SUSPICION, AS YET NEITHER PROVEN NOR EVEN EVIDENCED, THAT HE MIGHT HAVE DONE SOMETHING AT SOME POINT TO EXPLAIN HIS ACHIEVEMENTS? YOURE COMFORTABLE WITH THAT LEVEL OF INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY?

And might I add:

SINCE WHEN IS CRAIG BIGGIO'S CASE FOR INCLUSION ENHANCED BY THE NOTION THAT HE HAS NEVER BEEN SUSPECTED OF PED USE? IF I SAID OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD THAT I THINK HE USED BRAZILIAN WOMBAT EXTRACT FOR SIX WEEKS TO HELP HIM TRANSITION TO THE RIGORS OF SECOND BASE IN 1992, CAN I KEEP HIM OFF MY BALLOT? DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO YOU AT ALL?

By the way, I'm voting for Craig Biggio, so don't try to misconstrue that last one.

WHEN WERE YOU HIRED TO DEFEND THE MYTHICAL PURITY OF THE GAME? WHO PAID YOU TO DO THIS? YOUR WHY DO YOU HAVE A STAKE IN DISTORTING HISTORY, OR DEFENDING NUMBERS? WHY IS REALITY NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?

And might I add a corollary:

ISN'T IT BETTER FOR YOUR CASE TO VOTE IN PLAYERS YOU KNOW OR THINK USED PERFORMANCE ENHANCERS SO THAT BASEBALL CAN LIVE WITH THE SHAME THAT COMES FROM LOOKING THE OTHER WAY ON WHAT WERE ACTUALLY FELONIES? I MEAN, IF YOU HAVE A STAKE IN CLEANING UP THE GAME, WHICH YOU SHOULDN'T, ISN'T REMINDING THE INDUSTRY OF ITS OCCASIONAL SYSTEMATIC FAILURES PART OF THAT JOB?

And finally, because my voice is giving out:

VOTE FOR WHOMEVER THE HELL YOU WANT. LET A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM, AS THAT GRAND OLD BALL FAN MAO ZEDONG ONCE SAID. JUST DON'T TELL US YOU DID IT BECAUSE THE GAME DESERVES TO BE REPRESENTED BY THE FINEST CALIBER PEOPLE. BASEBALL IS ALL CLASSES OF PEOPLE, MISCREANTS, NOBLEMEN AND ALL POINTS IN BETWEEN, AND THAT'S WHAT IT DESERVES. YOU CAN'T CHANGE THAT, AND CASTING A VOTE WITH THAT IN MIND DISTORTS WHAT YOU SEE AND WRITE ABOUT.

And if you think baseball should reward only clean players and punish PED users, please remember this:

MELKY CABRERA JUST GOT A RAISE FROM HIS 2012 CONTRACT. IF BASEBALL IS FINE WITH THAT, WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR STANDARD FOR THEIR HALL SUPERCEDES THEIR OBVIOUS POSITION ON THE MATTER?

Okay. I'm going to melt down some cough drops and shoot them directly into my larynx now. I did the best I could. Plus, I called a lot of people I know and like silly, self-deluded bastards in print. That, to me, is a very good days work.

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

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AP

Frank Deford's longform storytelling made him worthy of our attention

Frank Deford’s death over the weekend did not mark the end of longform sportswriting as we knew it; he had long ago become part of the electronic commentariat that has reduced longform’s place in the public’s attention span.

But there is still longform writing and storytelling to be found in many places, and it is still worthwhile. It has more production value, as the TV folks like to blather, and the words have to fight for their place between the cracks left by the pictures and the mutated graphics, but longform lives, and it should, lest we all agree as one people to further desiccate that attention span like a grapefruit left in the sun.

Deford’s death, though, reminds of when longform was the zenith of the storytelling art. It could, and still can, give you access and depth and breadth that a TV crew simply could not, and cannot. Even extended TV features are by their very nature so contrived by all the equipment that nothing is natural, nothing is a surprise, and the act of writing is almost an afterthought.

Deford knew this. He more than merely dabbled in TV himself, playing the wizened old raconteur who was as much character in his pieces as storyteller. He was also a star and a starmaker with The National, a daily sports network in newspaper form that was long on talent and ideas but short on delivery and distribution. It lasted 17 months, until mid-1991, but it led to grander attempts decades later, and could if you squint your eyes hard enough be the natural parent of Grantland and The Ringer and Vice and SB Nation and dozens of others – all bigger ideas, positioned in the post-typing world. Some lasted, more didn’t, but capitalism is like that – making fuel to keep the fires burning and the engines churning.

Deford could have thrived in such a world, to be sure. He was not, in the hideous phrase, “a man of his time.” Indeed, he was a crossover figure years ago in ways that other longform writers attempt to resist even now. They want to be Deford at the height of his powers at a time when the instruments for their gift are either dying or veering away from anything that hits the 600-word mark.

But his passing did not kill the art of clever writing and incisive storytelling. There are far too many people who can do that still, even if the market for their gifts is neither as pronounced nor as eager for the product as it once was. It did remind us not only that he was a giant, but that there are still giants among us should we deign to take the time to seek them.

Thus, Deford’s death marked his passing but not the thing that made him worthy of our attention. Storytelling, longform and otherwise, remains the heart of why this is still worthwhile to a culture, and when the generation his work spawned starts to die off, I suspect we’ll still be saying the same thing then. Notebooks are smartphones, photographs are streams, but the human eye and ear and hand still remain pre-eminent.

That is, until the robots take over, at which point reading won’t be worth it.

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.