The Irony of Baseball History

My favorite college professor, Rev. Mark Massa, introduced me to Reinhold Niebuhr’s classic The Irony of American History more than 20 years ago. Niebuhr posited that irony was the best lens through which to view American history. And not Alanis Morissette irony, real irony. For example, it is truly ironic that a land settled by religious pilgrims became the first nation to explicitly separate government and religion. Nearly every year that passes something happens in the US that proves just how right he was.

The most recent is the HOF voting being by the Baseball Writers Association of America. You see, election to the Baseball Hall of Fame is akin to sainthood to some of the writers who bear the responsibility of voting on the Hall. Drunkards, philanderers, cheaters or racists are all expressly forbidden. So writers have decided to punish known and rumored users of performance enhancing drugs by keeping them out of the Hall.

The result is, ironically, a less-important Hall of Fame.  Every time the honor is withheld for these reasons, the honor itself becomes less valuable as do the votes these writers cherish. The very act of using the HOF votes as a weapon weakens them. Mr. Niebuhr’s thesis is proven once again.

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