On Wednesday, while taping an episode of “CenterStage” for the YES Network, Commissioner Bud Selig said this to Michael Kay: “You can’t change records, because once you get into that, it would never stop. It would create more problems than it would solve.”
Selig should have stuck with his instincts. Just days after that comment, he has put baseball on the slippery slope he had wisely wanted to avoid. Melky Cabrera is no longer eligible to win the batting title, which on the surface seems like justice. Really, though, it pushes baseball into the fantasy whitewashing world of the N.C.A.A., which vacates accomplishments by pretending they never took place.
Er, slippery slope? Baseball has been "whitewashing" its records for years. The author of the article even mentions one.
This episode recalls the 1991 decision, by a special committee of the Hall of Fame, to essentially bar Pete Rose from enshrinement in Cooperstown. Rose retired in 1986 and was banned for gambling on baseball three years later. Just as he was eligible to be voted on by writers, the Hall of Fame announced that any player on the permanently ineligible list would be excluded.That rule seemed like damage control, pre-empting the controversy that would have accompanied Rose’s possible election, and so does this. But at least the Rose rule was made permanent. For now, the change to Rule 10.22 (a) applies only to 2012. Baseball must push to make this a permanent rule, too.Even so, it smacks of the historical revisionism that baseball had smartly avoided. Most fans will overlook the nuances of the revised rule — which hinges on a single missing plate appearance — and simply see baseball stripping a cheater of an honor. From there, as Selig himself said, more problems are created than solved.