That quote from a Hall of Famer has been recycled every few years, and with good reason.
Baseball certainly has bumbled along despite itself — from a time long before Terry’s heyday in the 1930s right up to this evening.
Start with this: What sort of sport would have two leagues, with different rules for each?
No matter how much you want to embrace the so-called National Pastime, there’s always something that’ll make you grind your teeth and say: “What in the world are they thinking?”
For instance, this week I’m rolling my eyes (again) as baseball celebrates another grand Hall of Fame induction.
No, there’s nothing wrong with the players or managers who were honored Sunday in Cooperstown. Every one of them is worthy of a plaque in that hallowed museum.
But every discussion that touches on the Hall of Fame once again points out the absurdity of the thing — and even more specifically, that members of the Hall are chosen by a crusty old bunch of hypocritical sports writers.
Here’s where we are: The Hall of Fame is now a complete joke.
There is plenty of blame to go around — and some of my colleagues in various press boxes deserve their share.
But before we call out the villains in this mess, first let’s consider an unbelievable fact: Neither the all-time hits leaders in Major League Baseball nor the all-time home run leader are enshrined at Cooperstown.
And they want to call THAT a Hall of Fame?
Pete Rose has been denied his rightful plaque for decades because one baseball commissioner (Bart Giamatti) hated the guy and found enough circumstantial evidence that Rose bet — on his OWN team — while managing Cincinnati that Pete was banned from the sport.
Um…does that punishment fit the alleged crime?
In many other sports-crazy countries — Britain among them — athletes, coaches, trainers, jockeys and others involved in an event can place legal bets.
The only restriction is that they cannot wager against themselves, which makes perfect sense.
Even in the witch hunt that took down Rose, no one EVER suggested he bet against his own team.
I mean, why in the world do we care if Pete bet a hundred bucks on a pro football game?
The guy had 4,256 hits!
To make this situation even more bizarre, Rose ascended to the hit throne by passing Ty Cobb — who’s in the Hall of Fame despite professing outright, aggressive racism for most of his life and being involved in several frightening acts of violence.
If today’s prim journalists were judging Cobb, they’d sooner see him in jail than in the Hall of Fame.
But that’s not the issue: Cobb had a lifetime average of .366 and still holds a fistful of records — including an astonishing 54 steals of home.
The Hall of Fame should be about what happened on the field.
It’s totally shameful that Barry Bonds, surely the best left fielder in baseball history (not to mention the single-season and career home run leader), should be locked out of the Hall.
We all know the accusations against Bonds, that he used some type of performance-enhancing drugs to gain additional power late in his career — though he NEVER failed a drug test.
The whole thing is crazy, on several levels.
First of all, Bonds achieved more than enough to stroll into the Hall before PEDs even reached baseball.
On top of that, he played in an era when everyone was juicing — including the pitchers — so the sport actually offered a pretty level playing field.
It gets worse.
In the decades prior to PEDs, I personally saw players openly take “greenies” — the equivalent of methamphetamines — to give themselves an extra step or a quicker bat.
Nobody really hid it, and I promise you that plenty of those “users” are in the Hall of Fame.
But the capper here is that Bonds and his peers are being judged by baseball writers whom I KNOW — in many cases — gleefully shared recreational drugs with athletes.
This system is as absurd as putting O.J. Simpson on the Supreme Court.
Who are these “journalists” to judge Bonds or anyone else?
The bottom line, though, remains the record book. What did you do between those white lines?
Baseball’s stubborn refusal to see social reality makes the Hall of Fame a laughing stock.
And for all the great players already enshrined, that’s a shame.