Now that the football season has come to a halt with the Ravens’ victory in the Super Bowl over the 49ers, a young man’s fancy can turn to baseball. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training within a few days, while position players will report within a week or so. For some reason, I really can’t get that excited about the start of our national pastime. A couple of months ago, the game’s Hall of Fame voters chose not to enshrine any players for induction, even though Baseball’s all time home run champ (Barry Bonds) and one of the great pitchers to ever take the mound (Roger Clemens) were in their first year of eligibility.
Both men should have been easily elected to the Hall of Fame, but there was a dark cloud hovering above both men; a cloud of accusations of using steroids and illegal growth hormones to improve their performance. Former Cubs’ slugger Sammy Sosa was also on the ballot and he too was not voted in.
In addition to the reports of illegal, performance enhancing drug use, both Bonds and Clemens were also charged with lying to federal juries. Clemens was actually acquitted of those charges, but members of the voting panel have chosen to trust their own instincts. So, instead of voting another player or two into the Hall Of Fame for 2013 induction, the panel chose to exert its own power and vote no one in.
I agree with the decision of the panel to refrain from voting Bonds, Clemens, or Sosa into the Hall of Fame, but I totally disagree with their choice of no inductees whatsoever. I have been a long-time supporter of former Braves slugger Dale Murphy, former Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly and the late Yankee home run slugger Roger Maris to be enshrined into the Hall. This would have been an excellent opportunity to vote three real gentlemen with very deserving stats into the Hall of Fame. Heck, it would have been great to finally let Pete Rose in. The voters chose to do nothing. No player on the ballot received more than 36% of the votes. We can elect a man or woman to the office of President of The United States, with a mere 50% of the vote, but it takes 75% of the votes cast to be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I have loved baseball as long as I can remember. I played Little League, Babe Ruth League, and American Legion baseball. I was never very good, but I loved the game as much as anyone ever has. It is very hard for me to sit and watch a Major League Baseball game on television now. I would prefer to watch a good college or high school game. I continue to love the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves and will watch them whenever I can, but to just sit down and watch a baseball game no matter who is playing just doesn’t interest me anymore.
I love the purity of the game as well as the great traditions surrounding it. I love the great characters that played the game many years ago; not for the money but for the unselfish and unfailing admiration of the sport. I will always love baseball, but I draw the line at loving the players who cheat and I draw the line at loving Hall of Fame voters who cast their ballots by judging what they perceive to be a man’s character. When the game can regain some of its lost appeal or at least pretend to honor its fans, then a young man’s, or even an old man’s fancy can then turn back to baseball.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).