It sure is cold in Chicagoland this time of year, downright frigid. Just imagine if that "chilly" feeling extended its grip all the way into summer, and not based on climate but on economic possibilities for your city or town, even with some positive signs that the recession is starting to turn. Such is the case for Cooperstown based on Mark McGuire's recent piece, Where the stars won't shine, in the Times Union (timesunion.com).
McGuire's article points the finger directly at the "steroid" era for the downturn in attendance, and possible future slowing down of visitors to the popular Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) located there. Citing a slew of baseball "cheats," Mark McGuire, Rafael Palmerio, Bonds, Sosa, Clemmens, Alex Rodriguez, whose "unreal" accomplishments will likely keep them out of Cooperstown's Hall, at least if the current voting trend continues.
It is through the eyes of several sports memorabilia shop owners that the reality of so many big names being "banned" admittance to the Hall of Fame that Cooperstown's economic future seems so uncertain.
"All these players you named, none of them are going to be inducted. None of them," said Barry Renert, store manager at Seventh Inning Stretch. July 2013 "would have been a huge induction." [Bonds, Sosa, Clemmens become eligible in 2013]
"We are a Memorial Day to Labor Day business. It kills our economy," said Andrew Vilacky, the owner of Safe at Home Ballpark Collectibles. "Christmas is our Induction Weekend. That is our Christmas business. "It's going to rip our guts out."
"It takes a lot to move a needle," Russo said of the village's economic vitality. "But unquestionably, the absence the next several years of the bigger names will have an impact."
According to Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson:
"The induction classes are significant. Hall of Fame Weekend is when the spotlight shines the greatest on Cooperstown. The names of the inductees and where they come from determines how much traffic we have, certainly."
So it is easy for any layperson to see that, for most, the general feeling of the town might be to "Let 'em all in," their economic survival just might depend on it.
However, that is part of the problem when individuals (in this case athletes) make unethical choices solely based on the self-serving concept of "winning at all costs." Decisions like this give very little consideration to the long-term impact of that decision both as an individual and more globally - as in the case with Cooperstown.
I know the simple "economic" solution would be to ignore these mistakes and hold these athletes less accountable, however, what message does that send? Is that what you really want for baseball?
You need to think long and hard about this since the impact will be felt for years to come.