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Why Do You Care About Cooperstown?

Seriously. Do you have some vested interest in the players that may or may not join an exclusive club of elite and semi-elite baseball people? Perhaps you really like the town (or village, hamlet maybe?). Maybe you are big into overpriced museums in the middle of nowhere.

Have you actually visited Cooperstown. If not, then please understand that getting there is the logistical equivalent of attempting to summit Everest without sherpas. It's a minimum 51-day investment of time and resources that starts with inoculations and the kind of mandatory quarantine one would expect before departing for Mars.

Step two requires arranging hot air balloon transportation to a rather lux cave outside of Montreal where you'll meet up with a facilitator named "Rafi" who looks suspiciously like Gary Carter. He'll walk you through the process of hiring a barge operator before switching to a steamboat and then a canoe followed by a raft and finally a woven basket to finish your trip down the St. Lawrence.

After you recover from scurvy and most likely food poisoning in some exotic locale like Rochester, you'll need to hire someone truly sketchy for the overland trek into New York's Bermuda Triangle roughly defined by Syracuse, Binghamton, and Albany. If you undertake your expedition during the monsoon season, then you'll need to prepare accordingly. I advise trekking during the Winter due to the seasonal availability of fur traders and Iditarod hopefuls still in training.

Note that if you discover an angry red rash on your extremities, back, front, or inside a nostril, just know that it's perfectly normal and will go away in 7-10 days with an anti-fungal treatment and some fire.

Once you arrive in glorious Cooperstown, feel free to make yourself home at any one of the dozens of barns that farmers rent out at an exorbitant rate. They discount for those bartering with certain furs, so again the Winter excursion tends to be the better deal.

Overnight accommodations made, you can focus on selecting the most appealing of the mediocre yet overpriced restaurants in the bustling metropolis that surrounds you. I highly recommend anything in the vicinity of the Hall of Fame museum for the convenient proximity to the Bassett Medical Center Emergency Room.

If after all the transportation cost, bartering, and healthcare expenses you can still afford to visit the Hall of Fame museum, then bully for you. That'll be $23 per adult which really isn't a terrible price to pay for the opportunity to see roughly 2.4% of what the museum actually has available for display.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I took a 3-month sabbatical from work in 2007 to make this trip actually happen. The 5-week boot camp was worth it though, and it certainly helped me cope with chronic dehydration during our first ever family Summer death march. Strategically planning to visit Cooperstown the year AFTER the Cardinals won the World Series paid off. The reigning WS champs had a substantial set of displays (2) dedicated to just the previous World Series. It was an embarrassment of lack of riches.

As museums go, I think the Hall of Fame is pretty good - somewhere between the bowling hall of fame and the awful "Hall of Fame" song by The Script. It's like baseball's Smithsonian but at a much smaller scale and without all the cool monuments. If museums are your thing and you're interested in baseball history in general, then it's great. If you aren't big on museums or your interest is primarily confined to one or two teams, then it's probably not for you. Having seen what individual teams can do with their own Hall of Fame/museum ideas, I feel less compelled to make the trip to BFE, New York to see the bat that once belonged to some guy who died 110 years ago encased in glass.

Maybe I'm not sentimental enough to embrace what others cherish, or maybe I don't really understand the fuss about Cooperstown, baseball's Hall of Fame, or the associated museum.

The Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle of mutual admiration societies with membership decided by voters who may or may not actually follow the game of baseball at any level. How much legitimacy can be associated with a voting process that results in Placido Polanco receiving 2 actual votes?

Some gatekeepers don't take the job seriously. Some take it far too seriously. And a few are just simply self-important cogs in the circle jerk machine that is the Hall of Fame. That's the circle jerk machine that comes complete with the occasional empty ballot and no criteria for pretty much anything. PED users? Totally eligible but with the caveat that nobody seems to know how to treat them. From what I can tell, here are the rough guidelines for handling PED users on the ballot:

-Convicted PED users should be treated like serial killers.

-Convicted PED users should be treated like serial killers unless they gave good interviews.

-Suspected PED users should be treated like convicted PED users.

-Exception: Some suspected PED users should be treated way worse than some convicted ones.

-Players that only admitted use after they retired are fine and their achievements honored, because they were already good before they started using, and we obviously know exactly when they started using, because baseball is SOOOO good at catching them.

-Ignore the PED issue altogether, because we don't really know that they help anyway.

-Assume everyone is using PED's and some are simply better than others at using.

Sure, these aren't actual guidelines, but in the absence of actual, useful guidelines I'm prone to making up things to fill in the gaps. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that.

The Hall of Fame somehow maintains a place of exaggerated importance in baseball, and I find that disturbing. Receiving 75% of the vote further legitimizes careers that really need no extra boost while those falling below the cut line are relegated to something lesser. Perhaps I'd feel differently if the membership represented the best ever associated with the game, but Harold Baines made it in thanks to a ridiculous committee, so that's that.

The Hall of Fame is an unnecessary after-market accessory that the game does not need. Would the game be any worse without it? Doubtful. Would writers, fans, and players survive the long Winter without all the gnashing of teeth? Probably. Hall of Fame discussions are like alternate road uniforms and throwbacks - conceived at least partly for the purpose of extracting a toll in both time and money from idiots like me.

Enough is enough. I'm taking a stand against the glorification of Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame by caring less and minimizing time spent engaging in related conversations. I openly invite the 2-3 people on this planet who agree with me to join me in my quiet revolution by doing little or nothing at all.

So why do I care?

Well, I no longer do as of the time I hit the "Publish" button.


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