Goldman: The Cooperstown case for David Ortiz and DHs

From SABR member Steven Goldman at VICE Sports on December 2, 2015:

David Ortiz’s announcement that he would retire following the 2016 season was an opportunity, and we pretty much blew it. Here was a chance to celebrate a terrific hitter and an even better personality, a player who was a key part of taking a franchise that had won fuck-all since the First World War to three World Series wins in 10 years. There was a lot to talk about, but instead we got a wearyingly familiar Hall of Fame discussion, which centered—as such debates tend to do—on negatives.

There are two perceived demerits on Ortiz’s docket: his purported presence on a list of failed PED tests and his primary position, designated hitter. Both, it is worried, will disqualify him, not to those of us who watched him with such pleasure, naturally, but to the revanchist weirdos that decide who gets to be in the Hall.

“Love the museum, hate the debate” doesn’t have the same resonance as “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but there are only so many ways to talk about how strange the Baseball Hall of Fame has made itself. That it may well exclude one of the best hitters of a generation because of PED conjecture and a refusal to accept the DH—which turns 43 next year—just about sums this up. So does its decision to shiv the perspective that time brings by reducing ballot eligibility from 15 years to 10, the better to scoot players it perceives as embarrassing, like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, out of view.

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Originally published: December 3, 2015. Last Updated: December 3, 2015.