With Hall of Fame voting results in, I can state as certain fact that the same sports moralist class that gave Kevin Brown all of twelve votes is irredeemably full of shit. The lead in the balloting, after all, went to Roberto Alomar, who got the votes of nine of ten veteran baseball writers despite having been accused by two different women, one of them his wife, of having knowingly concealed his HIV-positive status from them as prelude to unprotected sex.
I don’t know if Alomar has HIV, or whether or not he lied about not having it so as to not have to use a condom. I hope he doesn’t and didn’t. I do know that two different women have said so, one of them in a divorce filing, and that the accusation is thus on an entirely different level of credibility than the rumors and Dr. Frist-style diagnosis by image that have done in Jeff Bagwell. I also know that this is rather more serious than the issue of whether or not a given player was snorting powdered monkey testicles.
Not being a sports moralist or much of a fan of the Hall of Fame’s character clause, I’ll still allow that there are lots of things a player might do, even after his career is over, to bar himself from election. If Greg Maddux is found to have been financing a sex slavery operation in Romania, for example, I will argue that no one should vote for him. If he were to be seriously accused of having done so—if there were charges filed, or he was named in a civil suit, or if there were a ten thousand word takeout on his involvement in sex slavery in the New Yorker—I would argue that no one should vote for him until the facts were in.
Alomar obviously hasn’t been proved to have done something unconscionably evil, and I can understand why someone would say that in the absence of criminal charges he just isn’t going to pay this any mind. Given that literally millions of words have been written about whether this or that player did or didn’t do something that at absolute worst is orders of magnitude less malicious than deliberately exposing someone to a fatal illness for which there is no cure, though, you would expect that the issue would at least have come up.
Since it never did, there are only so many possibilities. One is that no one was aware of it; I don’t believe that. Another is that veteran baseball writers think that it’s worse to have perhaps taken steroids than to have perhaps essentially tried to kill someone; I don’t believe that, either. Another is that many veteran baseball writers assume that these are just the fevered ravings of gold digging bitches; I do believe that, but I don’t think it’s sufficient to explain the stifling silence around all this.
Probably there are two things at play here. One is that HIV is still an uncomfortable subject for a lot of people and they would prefer just to not think about it or mention it, thinking that even discussing the possibility of someone having it is tantamount to accusing him of having done something wrong. As someone younger than most voters, who never viewed it as a plague visited upon people for doing bad things like having sex or taking drugs but just a hideous disease—I had family friends who had it when I was growing up, interned at GMHC and so on—I don’t have that hang up, but I understand how some do.
The other is that sports moralists tend to behave mysteriously, like eusocial insects operating according to the dictates of unseen waves. Where the hidden center of consciousness deeming that the use of certain classes of illegal performance enhancing drugs is bad while the use of others isn’t is located I have no idea, but some accusations of wrongdoing are simply deemed worthy of ‘takes’ while others aren’t through some process that works along the lines of Chomsky’s manufacture of consent and which I’ll never understand so long as I live. IC reader Dave theorizes that those who set the narrative have to do so capriciously because the entire power of the gatekeeper is in his ability to grant exceptions rather than simply follow the rules, and I think there is a lot to that. I am even more sure, though, that anyone who drones righteously on about dope without saying a word about a possible case of purposeful would-be HIV infection is not making judgments based on a strict moral code.