It didn't take long to receive my first hate letter of the new year. Honestly, I'm excited by the possibility of more.
I don't place much - if any - merit on it, though. Heck, I've already provided its author too much of this valued ink as it is.
But, I'll share, since it is the first.
It's in reference to last week's "Behind the Desk" column in which I shared my views on the fact that both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in baseball's Hall of Fame. Their induction, I believe, should be based on their play within the white lines and not the speculation that is rampant beyond it.
I'll say it again for those who perhaps failed to read it the first time - it's never been proven that either player used any performance enhancing drug during their playing days.
OK, here's the letter:
I did not agree or appreciate your comments on the hall of fame voting. Many other readers didn't either. Enclosed are some comments by legitimate hall of famers.
That's it, nothing more. It was handwritten. It was in all capital letters. And the word legitimate was underlined.
And best of all - it was unsigned. Not surprising, honestly.
It was anonymous, but not from that anonymous.
My column also was attached - thanks, I was looking all over the newsroom for another copy (note the sarcasm). And the words "Editor strikes out" were written above the headline.
Also, a small clipping from an unknown publication was part of the mailing. It was two paragraphs long, and included a quote from hall of famer Goose Goosage, in which he says "If they let these guys in ever - at any point - it's a big black eye for the Hall and for baseball. It's like telling our kids you can cheat, you can do whatever you want, and it's not going to matter."
First, let me address all the haters of the US Post Office. My column appeared in Friday's edition of this fine publication. So this letter was dropped in the mail sometime Friday or Saturday (I applaud its sender for his/her dedication to his/her belief) and was on my desk Monday morning. Impressive USPO. Impressive.
There are many ways to approach the subject again, but I'll do so simply by providing readers with some names of baseball greats.
Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Among that group are known racists, one charged with attempted murder, known alcoholics, womanizers, and gamblers.
And all are members of baseball's hallowed halls.
Want more? Here you go . . .
This group includes a sex addict, recreational drug users, one arrested for smuggling marijuana and one with a self-admission to doctoring baseballs.
And again, all elected members of the Hall.
There's more, but really there's no need to continue. Are baseball's past greats with their indiscretions any more deserving of a place in Cooperstown than the greats of today (Bonds, Clemens, et al)?
Look, once Bonds left Pittsburgh, I no longer was a fan. And do I really care if either actually are granted induction? Let's just say it never will cause me a lack of sleep.
I just want the rules to apply the same across the board.
Apparently the Hall has a rule that includes a "character clause" that voters are to look at in determining their ballots. Along with the ability on the field, voters are to look at the "integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."
I'm not sure when the rule was enacted, but apparently many voters looked beyond it when electing prior greats.
Never would I ask the voters - baseball writers - to shove any truths under the rug, but speculation is speculation.
Perhaps the Hall needs picked up and shook out. A spring cleaning, if you will. That will never happen, of course. What's done is done.
But if Bonds and Clemens are denied Hall admittance because of speculation then all others associated with the "Steroid Era," in even a small way, should also be on the outside looking in.
(Jim Mackey is managing editor of The Review. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)