Again, James’s future eludes reality. Rose maintains his sympathizers not because he came clean (á la Alex Rodriguez) but because he never bet against his team. Meanwhile, Jackson was acquitted of his crimes, and managed to bat .375 in the eight-game World Series. But it would be foolhardy to say those who used performance-enhancing drugs did so with the pennant in mind. To them, numbers were the endgame, and juiced egotism reigned supreme.
Nonetheless, by 2040, James says, the Hall will fall. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will open its hearts to the (purportedly) poor, broken souls who have suffered long enough through the decades of purgatory. This claim, though, is nothing more than a toss-up.
By the middle of the century, those allowing the players in will be arguably the most aggrieved faction the Steroid Era. The Millenials and Generation Y’ers, looking back on the game they were raised on, will remember a false time filled with empty moonshots and surly, numbers-hungry money-grabbers. They will feel used, tricked by the arrogance of the Era’s “greats.” In all likelihood, once this generation comprises the bulk of the BBWAA, they will keep Cooperstown shut, repaying the vitriol and disdain with which many of their childhood “greats” played.
The rosy, forgiving future that James sees won’t come. A dour outlook, certainly – but a fair one. In spite of a future crop of baseball players speaking on behalf of their outlawed teammates – James’s fourth point, by the way – an entire generation of Americans will yoke steroid usage with Hall banishment.
But it won’t be easy enough for these writers to simply say “no.” They will have to unearth the Will Clarks, Frank Thomases, and Edgar Martinezes of the Era, those whose remarkable numbers were never buoyed by steroids and whose accomplishments were constantly overshadowed. Those who never earned the honors they deserved. Those who never cheated. On this sub-point, James is correct.
Still, in a final display of twisted logic, James puts forth a belief that those who cheated, well, actually didn’t. “Is it cheating,” James writes, “if one violates a rule that nobody is enforcing, and which one may legitimately see as being widely ignored by those within the competition?”
I’ve read this sentence dozens of times, and I’m still confounded. Perhaps it is because I’m still in the thralls of academia, but I can’t help but picture a fellow student using this excuse with his professor: “But, sir, you left the classroom, and since there was no way you could see if I had snuck notes for the test or not, well, it’s not really cheating, is it?”