Happy Tuesday. It had not occurred to me until Sam shared it on Sunday, but we are now closer one the calendar to spring training than we are to Game 7. That's a strange thought because there's a very big part of me that's not ready to let go of winning the World Series just yet.
Either way, spring training is coming, and game tickets went on sale just a few days ago. And with that came the new ticket prices and saw that, in some cases, they had practically doubled. This did not stop many from lining up to buy them, however. There's been little grousing over this, and that's hopefully because enough of us recognize that the Cubs are a different product than they were even just a few months ago.
I won't lament this uptick in the prices of spring training tickets because it's not an argument worth having when lines are forming in the wee hours of the morning to snatch them up, but I will make a recommendation.
I went last year for the first time, and for as much as I enjoyed the experience of going to Sloan Park and watching the games there, I found that I greatly preferred walking to the back fields that are just beyond Sloan. Thanks largely to John's spring training guide last year, I was aware of what was available back there and knew to take advantage when I trekked to Arizona last March.
For all of the fun and pizzazz that is Sloan Park, the back fields are a toned down, simplified, no-frills chance to watch a lot of very good baseball. The players designated to minor league camp play back there, and there is often more than one game going on at a time. Last year, I was able to go and watch both the Double-A and Triple-A teams play at once. I stood next to Carl Edwards, Jr. I sat on metal bleachers next to a large group of Cubs minor leaguers and watched their compatriots play. No announcer, no scoreboard, no vendors, no distractions. Baseball was the whole show.
And it's all free. There's no charge other than the walk around the players' building.
Of the things I experienced while with my son at spring training last March, that's the part of it that stands out. It was simple and unadorned, and I loved it. So for whatever it's worth coming from me, make it a point to head to those fields if you're going this spring.
But we have miles to go and time to wait until we get there. Maybe it's a good memory to have, though, as it's still very early in January and I'm watching the cruel reemergence of one of baseball's most frustrating traditions: Hall of Fame voting.
I have no beef with the men who do the voting in general, and I think I've been plain that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong the the Hall. It's the moral posturing of some of the voters that gets to me. I noted some of my feelings on this when Bud Selig was inducted last month, but recently, it's one voter in particular who has my ire up.
The man turned in his ballot completely blank. And to make it more insufferable, he noted on the bottom that it was intentionally so. And then to make it even more insufferable, he wrote a blog post rationalizing his decision. Well, sort of. What he really did was complain about Selig getting in and lament the impact it will have on the rest of the Hall.
I won't take shots at Chass, but the thinking that drove him to turn in his ballot entirely blank is deeply flawed. Without defending the actions of players like Bonds and Clemens who used PEDs to augment their careers, what Chass has done is more damaging to the rest of the players on the ballot. He's burning down the forest to spite a couple of trees. The rest of the players, guys like Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez, need a certain percentage of votes to remain on the ballot, and he threatens that because of feelings regarding the actions of entirely different players.
Voting---or not voting---based on perceptions of a player's character is slippery anyway. To suggest that what Bonds did is morally reprehensible to the degree that he should be denied entry to the Hall of Fame in spite of holding the single-season home run record and the career home run record is madness when you consider some of the players already enshrined. Holding them all to a nebulous moral standard will only create more problems than the one people like Chass think they are solving.
And finally, voters like Chass are happy to cast stones because of the supposed moral unfitness of a few baseball players, but I wonder who many of his ilk would be able to comfortably apply the same moral standard to themselves.
A Hall of Fame without players like Bonds and Clemens tells and incomplete story and might not be one worth visiting. I'm comfortable with allowing for some separation of the man and his performance on the field. I can respect his handiwork on the mound or with the bat without needing at the same time to feel like he was a good person. Embrace what's good about the game, like spring training back fields, but accept that baseball is not---and never was---a bastion of morality.