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Without Sosa, the Hall's a farce

  • Former Cub Sammy Sosa isn't getting into the Hall of Fame this year, and maybe not ever.
Former Cub Sammy Sosa isn't getting into the Hall of Fame this year,… (Ben Margot/Associated…)
January 09, 2013|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

If Sammy Sosa isn't worthy of the Hall of Fame, then the Hall of Fame should not exist.

Wednesday's announcement that no eligible players were selected for enshrinement says more about the fallacy of the Hall and the people responsible for deciding who gets in than it does the players who weren't elected.

After all, the Hall is not a church, and baseball players are not saints who are held to a higher moral calling than the rest of us. It is a shrine devoted to players who outshone their peers, transcended the game for any length of time and made the impossible seem, well, possible. If we're not going to put people who fit that bill into the Hall, then it is meaningless.

Sosa is rumored to have tested positive for steroids back in 2003. Others on the ballot were connected to performance enhancing drugs in some way, shape or form. Those who weren't fell victim to the fact that even though they never tested positive for anything, they played in an era where PEDs were a part of the locker room culture.

The idea of sportswriters as arbiters of moral purity has always struck me as patently absurd. Many who are lucky enough to have a vote wrestled publicly with the idea of whether they should vote in players who had an unfair advantage to inflate their numbers.

Here's the thing—every generation of professional baseball players has enjoyed some sort of advantage that pumped up their numbers. Guys like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb didn't have to play against African-Americans. For decades, amphetamines were as commonplace in clubhouses as water bottles and uniforms, designed to give players an extra boost on the field.

That didn't stop writers from electing players up until now based on anything but the numbers they put up.

What Sosa and others in his era are alleged to have done is morally deplorable, but penalizing players for putting up big numbers in the Steroid Era is equally ridiculous.

The fact of the matter is though, based on numbers alone, he is one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. On paper, he's just as worthy—if not more so—than beloved Cub legends Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson.

And if the Hall is going to deny entry to a guy who hit over 600 home runs and was a defensive force in right field who led some of the greatest Cubs teams ever, it shouldn't exist to begin with.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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