By Colin Dunlap

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Barry Bonds.

“He should be in! He’s one of the best ever! The Hall of Fame is a farce!”

or

“He’s a cheater, he shouldn’t be in! He is a scumbag! He cheated the game!”

The debate rages, it persists and endures with seemingly no end and people drawing a clear and distinct line and living on one side of it.

It is that time of year again, the time when a bunch of curmudgeonly sports writers and people who should have positively no business deciding who should be immortalized get to pick, well, who gets to be immortalized. Whatever, I guess.

For the record, I think Bonds should get in – but I also lean very heavily toward a “who cares” attitude when it comes to all sports halls of fame. Know why? At this point they are diluted. They are watered-down. There are too many people in them. Admission seems, to me at least, to be oh-so cheap.

Let me explain a little bit…

When these cathedrals (in all the sports) were thought up and devised and then the bricks were stacked to build the buildings honoring the Hall of Fame players, coaches and contributors, I don’t think the founders had this in mind. Am I making a guess? Sure. But I think when these Halls of Fame were conceived, the design was that they should be a place to honor and celebrate the very best of the best. I’m talking about the most heralded players — beyond any question. The people who, when their name is mentioned, every single person quickly and without any hesitation says, “Yes! They are a hall of famer.” People like Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan. People like Orr and Gretzky and Montana and Jim Brown.

It isn’t that way, however. These have all become filled with upper echelon players and, by extension, far too many players. To me, the people enshrined in the football, baseball, basketball and hockey Halls of Fame should be cut in half. If not more.

Just take for example some of the men in the baseball hall of fame.

There is no reason Bruce Sutter should be in. None. He isn’t one of the very best of all time. When you think of the very best to play the game — ever — do you think of some guy who was a six-time all-star as a relief pitcher? Sorry, I don’t. He never comes to mind for me.

And it is sacrilege in Pittsburgh to say this, and everyone will throw some defensive metrics at me, but Bill Mazeroski shouldn’t be in, either. He hit .260 with 138 home runs in over 2,100 games.

The same goes for Jim Rice, a man who played a long time at a solid level, and Phil Rizzuto, a man who was just OK but was surrounded by greatness — those men simply don’t deserve a spot in Cooperstown if it was truly reserved for the very best of the best.

So as everyone wants to banter about on what writers should do with Bonds and Roger Clemens and guys such as that, I largely ignore the talk. It doesn’t move the meter for me all that much. The reason is simple: The Hall of Fame — in all sports — is a place that doesn’t really carry the reverence and veneration it was originally designed to.

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