Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The straw that stirs the shit

There's something unsettling about the fallout from Reggie Jackson's comments in Sports Illustrated regarding Alex Rodriguez and the Baseball Hall of Fame. In pondering the legitimacy of A-Rod's statistical legacy in light of his acknowledged use of steroids and questioning the credentials of relatively recent Hall of Fame inductees Gary Carter, Kirby Puckett, Don Sutton, Phil Neikro and Jim Rice, Jackson was weighing in on a legitimate debate that millions of baseball fans engage in on a regular basis, but the reaction from the baseball establishment was over the top. The Yankees, whom Jackson serves as a special advisor, banned him from the team indefinitely for supposedly disparaging Rodriguez, who's done a more than adequate job of soiling his own reputation over the years. Wally Backman, a former Carter teammate with the Mets, called Jackson's comments "a disgrace."

Publicly debating Hall of Fame credentials may have been lacking in tact for someone of Jackson's standing, but who better to take the measure of a ballplayer than a Hall of Famer himself? And with players from the Steroid Era coming up for eligibility en masse, shouldn't it matter what someone who's been around the game for 45 years and earned his way to Cooperstown thinks?

The Yankees, Wally Backman and anyone else are free to disagree with Jackson, but he should be just as free to give an honest opinion on a relevant topic without being subjected to semi-hysterical censure.

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