They all have something in common. They are all honors.
Not entitlements. Honors.
Unfortunately, in sports, fans and media have developed a twisted perception of Halls of Fame, and especially when it comes to baseball. And that's why there is so much debate when, really, there shouldn't be.
Induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame is an honor. It is given based on the subjective judgment of hundreds of voters using criteria stated by the Hall itself, which include "character" and "integrity." And those voters will put whomever they want to put in the Hall. Period.
The whole thing has been turned around. Likely it is the result of the collective egos of fans and media who believe they have a proprietary interest in the process. They don't. The only people who matter in determining induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame are the voters themselves.
A belief has been created that if a baseball player reaches certain statistical plateaus and/or boasts particular achievements, he's in. And if he isn't voted in, then it's some travesty of justice.
It's not. That's ridiculous. It's an honor. Nobody has a right to be honored. It's a privilege. It's a bonus. It's icing.
When the debate pertains specifically to players who are suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs for a significant portion of their careers, why would they expect to be honored? They sullied the game. If you were an actor and you brought shame to your profession, would you still expect to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Academy?
And as far as having proof, a voter doesn't need proof. It's a subjective judgment. If he sincerely believes a guy cheated, that's all he needs. It's an honor. A voter can honor whomever he wants. He doesn't need to explain.
What is especially galling is that many of these players have been rewarded many times over. They were rewarded with glory, all the excitement and adulation of playing a beautiful game and having fans and reporters swoon over their feats. They were rewarded with huge sums of money - amounts that became even larger when they put up cartoon numbers as a result of using drugs.
But apparently that's not enough. They not only want to be rewarded with glory and money. They also want to be honored on top of it.
Really, there is only one answer to such a player in this debate: You've got to be kidding me.
Black Monday firings 'fair' or 'unfair'?
Let's take a close look at Black Monday and assign "fair" or "unfair" tags to a few of the recently unemployed. It's only fair.
Fair: The San Diego Chargers' firing of head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. This team has missed the playoffs for three straight seasons. And quarterback Philip Rivers appears in decline, partly as a result of the state of the team. This franchise desperately needs a facelift, and a few nips and tucks as well.
Unfair: The Chicago Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith. Last time I looked, Smith wasn't an offensive lineman in charge of protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, or a sorely needed target for him. Smith is being blamed for a 3-5 finish when he should be credited for the miracle of a 7-1 start, even considering that those vanquished teams weren't great. He deserves a new job with a better run club.
Fair: Romeo Crennel was axed as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. If you are as good as your record says you are, then Crennel (2-14 in one full season) did a poor job, albeit under trying circumstances. No coach should have to face the tragedy that occurred involving Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend. But beyond that, the Chiefs seemed like laughingstocks from the beginning of the season, and there wasn't a hint of improvement on the horizon.
Unfair: The Cleveland Browns shove head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert out the door. This is only unfair in the sense that, despite going 5-11, the Browns showed glimpses of promise, like beating the Bengals in the middle of the season, or coming close to upsetting the Cowboys on the road. Shurmur has some skill as a coach. But the Browns finished poorly. And new owner Jimmy Haslam has a right to hire his own people. So a mixed bag here.
Fair: Andy Reid gone in Philly. Actually, I think Reid was not the problem there, and I believe the Eagles will miss him. Yet this was a bad chemistry experiment, and Reid was on the job when it blew up. Reid is an excellent coach, but if ever it was time for a change and a housecleaning with the Philadelphia Eagles, it's now.
Torii out of line with his 'gay teammate' remarks
Former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has come under fire for his comments about homosexuals in sports and having a gay teammate. In a story for the Los Angeles Times, Hunter said: "For me, as a Christian . I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right. It will be difficult and uncomfortable."
I'm not the type who believes in shouting down somebody because they hold views that are different from mine. I think everybody is entitled to his opinion, no matter how wrong or stupid it might be.
Hunter has always been one of the good guys in sports, which makes the following so difficult.
First off, this whole "biblically, it's not right" thing has to end. People cherry pick what they want from the Bible to support their own view of the world. The Bible tells us not to eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:9), not to sport tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) and not to get divorced and remarried because it's considered adultery (Mark 10:11-12). So unless Hunter is willing to publically admonish one of his adulterous tattooed teammates while he's eating lobster - and you know such men exist - he's being a hypocrite, which by the way, is also outlawed in the Bible (Matthew 7:5, among others).
Second, somebody's personal life should be none of anybody else's business. Hunter should concentrate on being a professional - which he has done throughout his career - and refrain from making a teammate feel unwelcome. Part of the job of being Torii Hunter is being a leader. An openly gay teammate doesn't have to be an issue at all - unless somebody like Hunter makes it one.
That's the really disappointing part.
Bowl game names are a joke
I'm sure that 20 years from now, one of the members of the Michigan State Spartans will want to share with his son the stirring tale of how his team prevailed in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. And the son will look up wide-eyed at his father and say, "The what?!"
I know that well into the future, alumni of the 2012 Syracuse football team will have a reunion to relive the glory of victory in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and over cocktails at the bar the most common question will be: "What was it called again?"
In 2014, we'll finally have a four-team playoff format to decide the national champion in college football. Those three extra games likely will be incorporated into the major bowls. But that won't end the real issue here: Why the dopey corporate names?
Are there no limits to this? It used to be a joke that such a game might someday be named after adult diapers or feminine hygiene products. Now I'm not so sure. Don't you think if the price were right they'd name a bowl game after just about anything? In such a case, if I'm a player involved in such a game, I pass on the goodie bag.
The NCAA and university presidents have become so lustful for money that they're allowing the game itself to be pimped out like a cheap harlot. Nothing against Buffalo Wild Wings or New Era or Beef O'Brady's or Meineke Car Care or any of the others. I'm sure they're fine products. The names just belong on their products, not at the top of a bowl marquee.
Enough already. When there's even a remote possibility that the championship game will eventually be named after hemorrhoid medication, that's when this trend needs to end.
A game of pepper:
- I'd like to see a mash-up of the Charlotte Bobcats and "The Hunger Games." Then again, in a way, maybe that's what we already have.
- Brandon McCarthy of the Arizona Diamondbacks got his driver's license renewed, but it lists him as being a female. On the plus side, he's now free to pull over and ask for directions.
- The NBA recently warned Tony Parker of the Spurs about violating its anti-flopping policy. Warned him? Did he flop or didn't he? If he indeed flopped, shouldn't he be fined? This is like faking Parker for faking.
- You know the guy who plays Bryan Cranston's brother-in-law in "Breaking Bad"? Is he coaching Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl?
- I bet a contest called "Guess The Weight of the Fired NFL Coaches" would be a challenge.
- Someday, many years from now, Mark Sanchez will be playing catch with his grandson, and he'll keep throwing the football to the wrong kid.
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelVentre44