It was announced today that Barry Larkin was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 86% of the votes, easily clearing the required 75% needed for election. I'll be honest in saying that sadly, I'm kind of apathetic about the whole thing. When I was a kid, the Hall of Fame election used to be something of mythological proportions. The Hall of Fame was a place containing the names of men who transcended beyond normal greatness to the level of legendary. And the great thing about baseball history is that statistics have been so meticulously kept over the years that certain benchmarks developed, statistical heights when reached, secured your place in baseball lore: 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 300 wins, etc.
So where did the magic go? I think it disappeared with the cynicism of the steroid age. A whole generation of players not only met those historical benchmarks, but shattered long-held records in the process. But a cloud hangs over the whole era. Some players were caught, some confessed, but even the others seem to be stained with the guilt of their peers. And the greatest players of the generation--McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez--will forever remain in some sort of baseball limbo, their names in the record books, but with an accusatory asterisk to the right, always. I know that I'm not the first person to ever write about the tragedy of the steroid era, nor will I be the last, but it makes me particularly sad on a day like today.