Some time during the next five to 15 years, the recently-retired Buster Posey will be inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Skeptics will crow that Posey has produced fewer wins above replacement than any Hall of Fame catcher of the last 60 years and that he has fewer total hits than career journeymen like Yunel Escobar or Martin Prado and that Posey has really only had eight-ish good years when you really think about it and that the Baseball Hall of Fame is one of our nation’s most storied and hallowed institutions or whatever. But that’s dumb—Posey is the most decorated catcher of his generation, winning NL MVP in 2012 and three World Series rings as part of the San Francsico Giants’ dynastic early 2010s teams; he should absolutely be in the Hall of Fame and the fact that there’s any debate over his “worthiness” is proof of how broken the discourse around the Hall of Fame has become.
And Barry Bonds should also be enshrined—and so should Pete Rose and CC Sabathia and Roger Clemens and even failed video game developer/trash person Curt Schilling. Screw it: let’s put Bobby Abreu in there too.
All of this is to say that the Baseball Hall of Fame should be bigger. Lost in all the sanctimony and cobwebbed gatekeeping, is the basic fact that the Hall of Fame is supposed to be fun. Even if the whole enterprise has been cloaked in the syrupy importance of being a custodian of the history of America’s Pastime, the Hall of Fame’s primary function is to give fans the chance to celebrate their favorite players.
In this sense, the Hall of Fame voting bloc essentially functions as the fun police. While this isn’t to say that they should be as permissive as the Veterans Committee (who basically just induct guys they were friends with), there’s no need for the selection process to be held hostage by made-up rules that only make sense in the ink-soaked brains of long-time beat writers.
Why are patently great players like Scott Rolen withering on the vine? Why are some of the best players in baseball history forever condemned because they took the wrong kind of medicine 25 years ago or lost a parlay in 1989 or had asshole teammates in 1919? Why are obvious Hall of Famers forced to wait several years to gain entry like they’re waiting for their deli number to be called? Why would you not give the people what they want?
Some people wrongly argue that the exclusivity of the Hall of Fame is what makes it special and that any uptick in permissiveness would disrespect the legacy of the Hall’s members. And this is true—if you’re incapable of holding more than one thought in your mind at a time. No serious person actually believes that letting in Buster Posey and his meager 1500 hits actually undermines the accomplishments of the 32 members of the elusive 3000 Hit Club. Besides, this strict statistical originalism doesn’t hold much weight once you realize that the all-time leaders in hits and homers are shut out because of some Boomerific moral panic.
If this is the Museum of Good Baseball Players, more good baseball players should be in it.