Interesting post, YF. It’s going to take me some time to digest and formulate my disagreements (ha ha), but at first glance I think we are on the same page on many items here. I have to sink into Stark’s column, but I have a few questions and thoughts (and forgive me if these are answered in that column, I will get to reading it soon), in no particular order:
1. In re: attendance. Are the calculations made as a percentage based on capacity, or on pure number attendance? There’s a big difference between the two, and I would love to know what MLB’s trends are in both categories before assessing the grade.
2. Regarding “on-field play”: I am not sure how to qualify this. Certainly there seem to be more great players now – internationalism has done wonderful things for the game. But for every Ichiro there’s a Sammy who has a cloud of illigitemacy floating above his head. The testing for steroids is a joke, and when about 60 players test positive with no effect (MLB’s policy is an embarrassing joke) the cloud gets bigger. Also, for every Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez there are four or five Mike Maroths, the pitching talent in baseball is super-thin, expansion has forced premature call-ups (and by extension, horrible injuries) for too many players not ready for prime time, and the lack of oversight of the umpires along with lesser pitchers has made too many games tedious, sometimes unbearable. Plus, there is still a DH. So, my grade, like yours, is not quite as generous as Stark’s.
3. Owner unanimity: Not sure why this would even be a gradeable category. No commissioner will ever get a “unanimous” set of Owner opinions, nor should one ever want one. Owner differences are good for the game, not bad, they help distill large market/small market issues, they even help expose some owners as hypocrites or gentlemen, depending on the situation. Frankly, the only time I want owner unanimity is when they are agreeing on a labor package to avoid the suspension of the game, not to lock players out. On this front, I can’t offer an assessment, I think it’s a fruitless task to aim for any kind of consensus by the owners on almost any issue.
4. Where do you stand on all those others who have violated baseball’s cardinal rule, the only one posted on every clubhouse door, who can’t offer penance, who died before MLB was enough of an entertainment industry to be able to offer them hypothetical high-profile socially redemptive front-office or PR positions in order to cleanse them of their sins? Where do they fit in? Rose should remain forever banned, his storied efforts and all those dirty uniforms in the HOF are surely enough to carry him into the game’s long history and our collective memory for ages. But enshrinement into the Hall? No, not ever.
More later, but I have to get back to the kitchen – got a braise going that needs some attention.