Anyone who doesn't think Hall admission isn't a lucrative line on the retirement resume should spend an induction weekend in Cooperstown, where the autograph mart is open, dawn to dusk.
As a young reporter for other newspapers, I was never comfortable when ballots were passed out for all-tournament teams or came in the mail for league most valuable player and other such awards. After a while I ignored them or asked to be removed from the voting list. There were a lot of smart people who worked for the NBA when I covered it for the New York Post and the Daily News. They were perfectly capable of deciding who deserved a new car, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird.
The standard trade maxim that journalists should never be part of the story has been a longtime red flag in the process, especially in baseball, but never has it carried such weight in the age of players tainted by performance enhancement. If the exclusion of Pete Rose has more or less been a matter for the Commissioner's office to legislate, why leave it to reporters to determine what to do with the likes of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds?
It's baseball's club and reporters shouldn't be part of the clubiness. Let the Hall get together with MLB to figure out what to do about the mess the sport created with its willful ignorance when steroid use was rampant and not even tested for, indisputably altering statistical measures for enshrinement. And speaking of shrines, that's another thing the media should not be engaged in, elevating the general perception of Cooperstown to something more mystical than it really is.
The Hall is no sacred site any more than it is a morality stronghold; it is a museum of history, both personal and collective. It will not change as a destination of achievement or entertainment should the Hall take control from reporters. No asterisk will be required to say that Mickey Mantle got in one way and Ken Griffey Jr. got in another.
As I do with other sports, I am happy to offer my opinions after the choices are made by the committees of folks empowered to do so. I have always believed it to be a joke that baseball pretends that Rose, its all-time leader in hits, does not exist. And I don't quite get how the collective records of teams in the steroid era -- including the Yankees and Red Sox, both known to house a fair number of important players linked to PEDs -- can be accepted as legitimate while individual achievement is kept out.
Voting no one in this year is a good way for the writers to bow out for good. Or be called out by the Hall.