The 2nd Annual Bro-cademy Awards: The 10 Best Films of 2017

Welcome to the 2nd annual Bro-cademy Awards, the 10 best films 2017 had to offer.

There was a plethora of average, poor, or complete garbage films released in 2017, and good movies were seemingly hard to come by. That’s why when audiences were blessed with actual competent and well made films, they went and saw them again and again. While actual Oscar caliber films didn’t get wide releases until January (*hence why some of those critically acclaimed awards season films have been excluded in this list*), it’s time to count down the best films 2017 had to offer by honoring them in the 2nd annual bro-tastic film awards ceremony, the Bro-cademy Awards.

 

10. Baby Driver

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Sure, it’s the hipster incarnation of The Transporter, but Baby Driver is a thrilling new spin on the action genre that features tremendous action, witty and funny dialogue, great performances, and a killer soundtrack.

 

9. Ingrid Goes West

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Ingrid Goes West is one of those “oh you didn’t hear about it?” films that slips under the cracks and goes somewhat unfairly unnoticed. Not here, as Ingrid Goes West‘s dark humor in relation to our society’s obsession with social media and surface level connections in place of personal ones makes it perhaps the most #topical films of 2017.

 

8. Lady Bird

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A quirky coming of age story for young women and a close examination of mother-daughter relationships, Lady Bird is a delight. Its terrific performance from up-and-comer Saoirse Ronan showcases she’s a force to be reckoned with, and is a perfect film in a time of #metoo and Time’s Up.

 

7. I, Tonya

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If you think you know the story of American villain Tonya Harding, I, Tonya begs to differ. Featuring powerhouse performances from Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, I, Tonya uses interviews and fourth wall breaking on its biographical subject matter to do the impossible: making you have sympathy for Harding, the devil herself. If that doesn’t qualify as one of the best films of 2017, then what does?

 

6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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While divisive amongst Star Wars “aficionados”, Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes everything you’ve come to know about the series and turns it upside down. While some results fare much better than others, it’s a triumphant new direction for the series and shows it still has life and is rife with new ideas.

 

5. Get Out

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No ones directorial debut should be this creative, masterful, and timely. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is all of those and more, standing alone as one of the most original and thought provoking pieces of cinema 2017 had to offer.

 

4. Phantom Thread

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Adept direction, beautiful scenery, and a powerhouse performance from Daniel Day-Lewis makes Phantom Thread the best film out of those actually nominated for “Best Picture”. Not only is it another winning entry in the underrated Paul Thomas Anderson’s career, but marks a triumphant farewell for Daniel Day-Lewis should it be his swan song performance.

 

3. Logan

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Logan isn’t just a comic book movie, it’s a western with dramatic heft that makes it a game changer for the genre. Not only does it provide the R-rated thrills we’ve craved from a Wolverine film, but also marks a triumphant end for a character Hugh Jackman has made legendary and his own for nearly two decades.

 

2. Blade Runner 2049

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A sequel to a cult classic like Blade Runner seems like a disaster on paper, but Blade Runner 2049 advances its thought provoking sci-fi ideas with ease. It’s not only a rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor, but also proves you can make a thinking man’s movie while still providing action thrills and breathtaking visuals on a blockbuster scale.

 

1. War For the Planet of the Apes

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Perhaps the most overlooked movie of the year, War for the Planet of the Apes is a triumph on multiple levels. Its breathtaking CGI, emotional depth, and blockbuster thrills are unprecedented for a tent pole summer film, and resonates as one of the most powerful films not only in its historic franchise, but also of 2017, making it the best 2017 had to offer in film.

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The 90th Academy Awards: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

With the Academy Awards just hours away, who will win the gold statues, and who should win the gold statues?

 

Best Director nominees:

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Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Jordan Peele, Get Out

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Who will win: Guillermo Del Toro

Who should win: Jordan Peele

Guillermo Del Toro will finally get his due when he walks away with “Best Director” honors Sunday night, and he is a worthy winner for his visionary work in The Shape of Water. There is a case to be made, however, for Jordan Peele’s work in his feature film directorial debut. Get Out might be one of the most culturally relevant films to be released in quite some time, making Peele more than worthy of the honor.

Best Supporting Actress nominees:

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Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Who will win: Allison Janney

Who should win: Allison Janney, Laurie Metcalf, or Lesley Manville

Allison Janney is a force as Tonya Harding’s abusive mother in I, Tonya, and will walk away with Oscar gold. While very deserving of such recognition, one must also note Laurie Metcalf’s terrific turn in Lady Bird and the under the radar performance given by Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread. Should either of them walk away with the award come Sunday, it’ll be much deserved.

Best Supporting Actor nominees:

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Christopher Plummer, All The Money in the World

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Who will win: Sam Rockwell

Who should win: Woody Harrelson

Sam Rockwell is one of the best things about Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, and as a veteran character actor he is due for some well deserved recognition. But considering the current political climate, maybe it isn’t the best idea to recognize a performance that rests upon corrupt, racist ideals. Woody Harrelson gives a much more quiet performance in the film, but his impact on it is more powerful, and recognizing a long stalwart of Hollywood would be one of the best directions to go in.

Best Actress nominees:

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Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Meryl Streep, The Post

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Who will win: Frances McDormand

Who should win: Saoirse Ronan

In the time of “#metoo” and “Time’s Up”, it seems fitting a performance that focuses on a strong female character fighting the justice system in regards to her daughter’s rape and murder wins “Best Actress.” Frances McDormand’s performance, while good, is one of the most overrated, overblown performances in recent memory. It’s time to acknowledge the young talents of Saoirse Ronan, whose coming of age performance in Lady Bird more than fits in well with “#metoo” and “Time’s Up.”

Best Actor nominees:

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Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Who will win: Gary Oldman

Who should win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Gary Oldman will finally get his due when he walks away with his first and long-awaited little gold man for his outstanding work in Darkest Hour as Winston Churchill. However, should this be the final performance of his acting career, the Academy needs to honor perhaps the greatest actor to ever live, Daniel Day-Lewis, one final time for his gripping, tour de force performance in Phantom Thread.

Best Picture nominees:

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Call Me by Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Who will win: The Shape of Water

Who should win: Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water seems destined for Oscar glory as being recognized as one of the most bizarre films to ever win “Best Picture”, and its visionary take on the romance genre definitely makes it a worthy winner. Call it pretentious, but the nuances and tremendous performances in Phantom Thread make it the best film of the bunch, and would finally give director Paul Thomas Anderson the credit he deserves as one of the best filmmakers in the industry.

 

Bro-Reviews: Death Wish

Die Hard on ZzzQuil.

We would be very irresponsible if we did not take the current temperature of the room in relation to gun violence in America and say tensions are running high in light of the recent Parkland, Florida high school shooting. One of the most common arguments against gun control from NRA propagandists and gun lovers alike is these shootings are preventable by enabling “law-abiding” citizens to carry concealed weapons on them, this way they can fight fire with fire. One of the visions these delusional psychopaths have is to emulate Bruce Willis’s John McClane from the Die Hard film series and save the day in such situations. If that seems a bit out of touch, maybe Willis’s latest action vehicle, Death Wish, will suffice their deranged fantasies.

Death Wish sees emergency room surgeon Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) living a successful, peaceful life with his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone) in the crime ridden city of Chicago. One night while Dr. Kersey is at work, Lucy and Jordan fall victim to a house robbery, leaving Lucy dead and Jordan badly injured. Dissatisfied with the lack of progress in the police’s investigation on the matter, Dr. Kersey takes it upon himself by becoming a vigilante crime fighter to find the men who committed the crime while also taking on the most dangerous criminals the city of Chicago has to offer.

There’s no doubt Death Wish suffers from spectacularly terrible timing, as its release comes a mere 16 days after the Parkland, Florida high school shooting tragedy. A film about a vigilante seeking justice may please the gun worshiping crowd and fulfill their bloodthirsty fantasies of protecting those they love or going after “gangbangers” with an arsenal that rivals that of a member of the military, but to everyone else the film comes across as blatantly tone-deaf. Even witnessing Willis’s character evolution from being a “Mr. Nice Guy” into a tough guardian comes across as a Batman origin story mixed with Fox News ideologies, a laughable and silly transformation at best. It doesn’t help the film will draw comparisons to the original 1974 version starring Charles Bronson, whereas that film had gripping conviction, this re-make resonates as offensive and rote, a surprising result coming from director and current master of gore Eli Roth.

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Bruce Willis in Death Wish.

The film’s titular star doesn’t exactly bring much life to the film, as Bruce Willis, who has recently become the king of direct-to-video action trash, sleep walks his way through the film. Willis has done films like Death Wish to death throughout his career, but even Willis at his laziest is still somewhat charming. The rest of the cast fills in somewhat nicely, with veteran actors Vincent D’Onofrio as Willis’s brother and Dean Norris as a detective on the case standing out the most.

While Eli Roth’s direction doesn’t rise above anything other than ordinary, he is able to get a couple of thrilling action sequences out of the film. Seeing Willis back in the foray as an action star delivering killer blows, while tone deaf at this time, is still fun to watch. Willis is an action icon, and even him sleep walking through a role like this one while still managing to deliver some hard-hitting action is somewhat of a welcome return, especially in a theatrically released setting.

Death Wish doesn’t add anything new to the revenge/ vigilante action sub-genre and is the current epitome of a gun-toting lunatic’s dream scenario. Its impeccably bad timing does not do itself any favors, but it delivers just enough action and Bruce Willis for the least demanding of action enthusiasts to warrant a look. It may be Die Hard on Zzzquil, but at least we get Bruce Willis back on the silver screen before he cashes another check on a direct-to-DVD release he merely rolls out of bed for.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars. Rent it.

Death Wish stars Bruce Willis, Vincent D’onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris, Kimberly Elise, Mike Epps, Camila Morrone, and Beau Knapp. It is in theaters March 2nd.

Bro-Reviews: Annihilation

A thought-provoking, ambiguous science fiction tale.

While science fiction films have been a staple of Hollywood since its inception, it appears as if the novelty of the genre has seemingly lost its luster. No longer are the days of original works such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars that marked the height of the genre. Presently, most science fiction films are the result of adaptations of popular written works. One such example is the recent film adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 science fiction novel “Annihilation”, as the book captured the attention of a young upstart direction in Alex Garland of Ex Machina fame. Throw in once of the few survivors of the Star Wars prequels, Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, and Annihilation was surely bound to capture the attention of genre purists and moviegoers alike.

Annihilation sees former Army soldier turned professor of cellular biology Lena (Natalie Portman) struggling to cope with the disappearance of her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac), a co-vert soldier. When Kane suddenly re-appears and reveals to be fatally ill, Lena and Kane are taken by a government security force to Area X, a secret government compound nearby a mysterious force-field called “The Shimmer”. The lead psychologist of the compound, Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) reveals to Lena Kane and a team of soldiers went into “The Shimmer” to investigate the area, and she and a team of scientists (Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny) plan to do the same. Lena joins them on this expedition in an attempt to discover the source of “The Shimmer’s” power, not knowing the horrors that lie within.

Director Alex Garland has become somewhat of a critical darling after the rave reviews his directorial debut, Ex Machina, earned. Clearly Garland has an eye for science fiction, as he is able to take a fairly low budget and make Annihilation into one of the more imaginative sci-fi films of recent memory. The special effects are nothing short of breathtaking, and the realization of “The Shimmer’s” environments and the creatures that inhabit it are an achievement in the genre. Garland’s screen writing talents are also put on display, as the film constantly leaves viewers pondering what exactly is occurring and leaving it up for their own interpretation instead of spoon-feeding them. While some may find this frustrating, others who prefer their movies with a little bit of smarts to them are in for a treat.

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Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation.

The performances also lend themselves well to the film. Natalie Portman has become a stalwart actress in Hollywood, and Annihilation is another example of her emotional acting prowess. Jennifer Jason Leigh has somehow revived her career, and her supporting performance in the film serves as a reminder of how talented of a performer she has been in her relatively unnoticed career. Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez also stand out in the film, and show they have bright careers in their futures as members of the crew on the expedition.

The film does get off to somewhat of a slow start, and while most of it is due to developing characters and the story, some may find the film’s pace slacking. While the film should be commended for its mystery and ambiguity, it does leave viewers in a confused state. Certain reveals in the film aren’t explained thoroughly and have the potential to leave audiences dumbfounded walking out of theaters, and that lack of explanation will leave them wondering “what was that?”. It’s a daring risk for the filmmakers to take, but not all may find it to be a rewarding experience.

Annihilation boasts a game cast and a director furthering his career en route to becoming one of the few auteurs in Hollywood due to his visual style and provocative ideas. However, the film’s lack of resolution definitely leaves much to be desired despite its intriguing premise and ideas presented. Annihilation is a visually rich, thought-provoking, ambiguous science fiction thriller that is sure to please genre enthusiasts, but also more than likely leave general audiences scratching their heads as the head for the exits at the same time.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Pay low matinée price.

Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Issac, and Benedict Wong. It is in theaters February 23rd.

 

Bro-Reviews: Black Panther

A marvel for the culture.

Despite its near blemish-less resume, there are some who believe the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, has grown a bit stale and complacent. With numerous sequels to already established properties and retreads when making new films featuring other popular Marvel Comics characters, some of those detractors aren’t necessarily wrong for wanting Disney’s Marvel Studios to be more flavorful than vanilla. However, when trailers dropped last summer for Black Panther, not only did Marvel seem to answer some of those critics, but also excited the already established fan-base and gained the intrigue of the uninitiated.  Months later, Black Panther has clawed its way into theaters as one of the most daring and original films the Marvel machine has ever released.

Black Panther takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, as the new king of the secret African nation Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), assumes the throne shortly after the assassination of his father and former king of Wakanda, T’Chaka (John Kani). While T’Challa struggles with feelings of uneasiness in taking over, some of Wakanda’s greatest resource, vibranium, has been stolen by the nation’s arch nemesis and his unknown associate, “Klaw” (Andy Serkis) and “Killmonger” (Michael B. Jordan). With the prospect of their treasured resource being used as weapons to harm others and the threat of dark secrets of Wakanda possibly being revealed, T’Challa must don the armor of the Black Panther to put a stop to these enemies and protect Wakanda.

Black Panther is without a doubt the most involved film the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever produced. While some have noticed the parallels of recent additions to the MCU, such as Doctor Strange and its similarities to Iron Man, Black Panther takes one of the most beloved black comic book characters and gives him the most original film Marvel has released in quite some time. The setting of Wakanda is realized in a way no other Marvel world has ever been before, as its vibrant colors and cultural personalities of each of the Wakandan tribes living there are on full display, making the world feel like a character in its own right. Much praise must be given to director Ryan Coogler, as the young director has graduated from small to medium budget independent and studio films to blockbuster level films with astronomical budgets with ease. The fact that Disney, a studio who has been marred by controversial interpretations of race over the years, allowed for a $200 million budget for a film with predominantly black actors and filmmakers to express their artistic capabilities with one of the studio’s most prized money makers and didn’t meddle with the production is astounding, and the results are nothing short of revolutionary.

Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan in “Black Panther”.

Black Panther also weaves a complex plot unlike any blockbuster, let alone a Marvel film, before. So often blockbusters are only popcorn flicks, where the mindset is to turn your brain off, watch things blow-up on screen, and have a good time without thinking too much. Not only does Black Panther provide such thrills, but it also highlights key social issues that continue to plague the world today. Important social commentary on the subjects of racism, colonialism, and nationalism are present throughout, and the storytellers do not shy away from them. This makes Black Panther even more incredible and groundbreaking not only in the MCU, but for Hollywood blockbusters as well, proving filmmakers can not only put their cultural stamp on a big-budgeted film, but can also emphasize important historical subject matters as well.

The main benefactor from the aforementioned themes is the film’s main villain “Killmonger”, played by Michael B. Jordan. Jordan and Coogler have created magic in the past as collaborators in Fruitvale Station and Creed, and it continues in Black Panther. “Killmonger” is a villain the audience not only understands, but can empathize with on many levels. His arch and motives incorporate the social issues highlighted earlier, and while understandable, also makes him a diabolical villain. Make no mistake about it, Jordan breaks ground as the villain, the best the MCU has ever created, and trumps even the great Andy Serkis in the film.

Somehow, this makes Boseman’s somewhat stoic T’Challa one of the less interesting characters in the film, but we as an audience understand his plight as a king not only wanting to protect his nation, but also atone for its previous sins. Black Panther also features the strongest female characters in the MCU, most notably from Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright. It’s refreshing to see such strong female characters on screen, and the fact the film highlights them as Wakanda’s warriors and protectors is daring and pays huge dividends. The rest of the ensemble cast, rounded out by Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke, and Angela Basset, also acquit themselves well in the film, as each character shines in their own way.

Black Panther matters. It proves predominantly black filmmakers and actors can not only make a movie oozing with black culture competently, but also in a groundbreaking fashion. It’s still jaw-dropping Disney in no way, shape, or form interfered with the production of the film and allowed the artists to fully realize their artistic ambitions, and the result is not just a beautiful and thrilling game-changing addition to the MCU, but for Hollywood blockbusters as well. If this glowing review along with the many others Black Panther has garnered results in huge box-office receipts, more films such as Black Panther should be on the way.

Rating: 4/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Basset, John Kani, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. It is in theaters February 16th.

 

 

Bro-Reviews: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Fargo 2.

Every year, the month of January not only bestows upon us mostly awful films studios have no confidence in, but also awards worthy films finally getting an expansion in their releases after weeks of playing in limited theaters. Such an example of awards worthy films finally getting an expansion in their release is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The film has become a critical darling this awards season, having already won Golden Globes for “Best Motion Picture-Drama” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture- Drama” and has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, including “Best Actress” and “Best Picture.” Considering the hype machine surrounding the film and it’s timely subject matter, the film should be one that not only stands-out as one of the best films of 2017, but one that will stand the tests of time, right?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri sees Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) dismayed by the lack of resolution from the town of Ebbing, Missouri’s police department regarding the case of the murder and rape of her daughter. In order to get the police’s and the town’s attention, she rents out three billboards on a road nearby the town that read “RAPED WHILE DYING”, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS”, and “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”. Mildred then faces backlash from the town and its police department, particularly from alcoholic racist police officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and the pancreatic cancer stricken police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), all in the name of seeking justice for her daughter’s rape and death.

Much of the hype surrounding the film is due to Frances McDormand’s performance as a “Rosie the Riveter” dressed, older white woman not afraid to speak her mind. This of course also includes her cursing up a storm and being unapologetic for who she is and for what she is doing. McDormand has always been a terrific performer, but because she’s not a sex symbol in any way shape or from, she is somewhat forgotten in Hollywood circles. Her performance in Three Billboards serves as a reminder she’s still a force to be reckoned with in the industry, and is definitely worthy of the awards buzz she has received this awards season that she hasn’t received since winning the “Best Actress” Oscar for her role in Fargo.

Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

The film also boasts strong supporting performances as well, most notably from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Harrelson has always been an underappreciated actor in Hollywood, having seamlessly transitioned from his T.V. stardom in Cheers to being a leading man and character actor. Harrelson is able to sink his teeth into his role as an under fire police chief suffering from his own health issues, and churns out a performance worthy of his Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actor.” The man who steals the spotlight from him, however, is Sam Rockwell, another character actor who seems to have never gotten his due. His portrayal of a dim-witted, racist cop who eventually finds redemption is one of the best supporting character performances this year, and he is clearly the favorite to walk away with the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actor” come the night of March 4th.

Despite the tremendous performances from the main actors involved, it feels like there’s something missing from the film. The film feels like it is building towards sending a message throughout, but it ultimately leaves audiences hanging. This lack of pay-off is extremely disappointing, and the ending will leave one with a sour taste in their mouth. In the wake of the “#MeToo” and “Time’s Up” movements currently taking the industry by storm, Three Billboards had the chance to make an impactful statement, but ultimately has nothing to say. Due to the lack of resolution, Three Billboards is easily the weakest film in the career of director Martin McDonagh, whose black comedies In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths are much better watches than this “made for awards season” fluff.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri definitely has its strengths. It’s once again clear Martin McDonagh is an actor’s director, as Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell all give very good and awards worthy performances. However, even with its timely subject matter in the wake of all of the controversy surrounding the film industry, the film ultimately doesn’t have a message to convey. Sure, it’s a showcase in acting, but Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri had a chance to be more, and ultimately settles for awards season pandering instead of making a statement.

Rating: 2 Stars out of 4. Pay Low Matinée Price.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Zeljko Ivanek, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, and Clarke Peters.

 

The Hypocrisy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

It’s time for baseball to sleep in the bed they’ve made.

The Baseball Writers Association of America announced the players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday afternoon. The 4 players elected were Atlanta Braves lifer Chipper Jones, power hitter Vladimir Guerrero, home-run hitter Jim Thome, and pitching closer stalwart Trevor Hoffman. All players were legends, and very deserving of this recognition.

Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero were those elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 2018.

Two of the most egregious snubs from the list are 7 time Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens, and baseball’s all-time home-run champion, Barry Bonds. Neither received the 75% of “yes” votes necessary to qualify for induction, with Clemens and Bonds receiving 57% and 56% of the vote respectively.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

It’s time for baseball to end the hypocrisy and let in all players who are worthy of the distinction whether or not they were linked to steroids. It’s pure hypocrisy for them to exclude such players, especially when the sport owes them for saving it.

Let’s flashback to 1994, when the owners of the MLB locked out the players, and a work stoppage ensued. The 1994 postseason was cancelled, and the strike leaked into the 1995 season with only 144 games being played. The MLB saw its attendance drop steeply by 20% during the 1995 season, and was the lowest attended season in decades. People were done with baseball. It was heading towards irrelevancy, much like the NHL and the MLS now suffer from today.

A view of the dwindling attendance in baseball during an Oakland A’s game during the 1995 season.

Then, something magical happened. The return of the home run, courtesy of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, the list goes on and on. Who could forget the home run race between McGwire and Sosa in 1998, where both players broke the long standing home runs in a season record set by Yankees great Roger Maris, with both hitting over 61 home-runs that season. McGwire ended up with 70 home runs, the all-time mark at the time, and Sosa finished with 66. Three years later, Barry Bonds broke McGwire’s record of home-runs in a single season by hitting 73 dingers. Baseball attendance skyrocketed to over 70 million in 1998 and to over 72 million in 2001, compared to the abysmal 50 million in 1995. As a popular Nike commercial once noted, chicks dig the long ball.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire share a playful moment at a press conference during the 1998 season.

Years later, however, the now infamous 2005 book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big”, written by baseball slugger Jose Canseco, exposed many of the famous aforementioned players as steroid users. Later in 2005, Canseco and McGwire were among 11 baseball players and executives subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids. McGwire said he didn’t want to talk about the past that day. Rangers and Oriels power hitter Rafael Palmeiro pointed his finger at the judges overhearing the hearing and claimed he had never used steroids. Years later, more damaging books and reports, including “Game of Shadows” and the “Mitchell Report”, implicated many more baseball players of using performance enhancing drugs during what is now referred to as “The Steroid Era.” The Baseball Writers Association of America then decided to make an oath in their boys club to never allow in suspected or admitted steroid users into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite these player’s historic accomplishments, labeling them as “cheaters.”

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Curt Schiling during the 2005 Congressional hearing on steroids.

For the record, a penalty system for using performance enhancing drugs did not exist in the MLB until 2003, after the McGwire-Sosa home-run race and Bond’s history making year. During the 1998 home-run race, a jar of androstenedione was found in McGwire’s locker, who then admitted he used steroid as a precursor and went on to hit a then record 70 home-runs that season. McGwire was not punished until now, where he isn’t even listed on the hall of fame ballot.

Is it really cheating if there’s not a policy? The man admitted he juiced, and baseball did nothing. They gladly allowed him to go on to have his historic season, while selling tickets and merchandise at historic rates because he and others revived a dying game. They allowed Bonds, a suspected steroid user involved in the BALCO scandal, to break that record with 73 home-runs. The drug testing policy he is now found “guilty” of by the MLB and the BBWAA had only been in place for four years by the time he retired with the all-time home-run mark of 762. The same goes for other admitted or suspected steroid users such as Sosa, Canseco, Palmeiro, Clemens, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker, ect. Baseball looked the other way and now doesn’t acknowledge their existence, let alone their accomplishments.

Yet, some suspected steroid users, such as Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, and Mike Piazza, were all elected into the Hall of Fame within a year of each other. The commissioner of the league during “The Steroid Era”, Bud Selig, was also elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017. And let’s not get into amphetamine users, also known as “greenies”, who are in the hall. From Willie Mays all the way down to the original home run king, Hank Aaron, they were all linked as users of this performance enhancing drug. The BBWAA welcomed those players into the hall with open arms, dishonesty at its finest.

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2017 induction ceremony featured inductees linked to steroids and the commissioner who presided over the league during “The Steroid Era.”

The BBWAA is essentially picking and choosing who they want to be in their boys club of silly plaques located in an area of Ohio people barely like passing through. At the same time, they are shunning those who participated in what they now consider baseball’s darkest age (*shouldn’t that be when African-Americans weren’t allowed to play?) from their super secret society. It’s absolute hogwash. Either acknowledge all of the greatest players who played at the highest level, or don’t have a hall of fame. It’s not called the “Hall of Favorites” or the “Hall of Preferences”, it’s called the “Hall of Fame”.

The sport reaped the benefits of Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, ect. for years and turned a blind eye when suspected performance enhancing drug use was involved, just like they did during the amphetamine era. Baseball raked in the money by selling jerseys, tickets, programs, and posters during “The Steroid Era”. They saw their once dismal attendance soar through the roof and breathe new life into a dying sport. The exclusion of accomplished players, particularly admitted or suspected steroid users, was made retroactively to appease baseball “purists” in name only like Joe Morgan, whose letter to Hall of Fame voters urging them not to vote for steroid users came across as a disingenuous middle-school girl passing a note to her friend to not like Becky anymore for the clothes she was wearing. The sport hasn’t given a dime back to all of those fans who bought jerseys, tickets, or cable T.V. packages for what they now conveniently label a “fraudulent” product. Their game would not be as popular today if it weren’t for these players and their “cheating.”

The time has come to abolish the antiquated voting system of the Baseball Hall of Fame and acknowledge all the game’s greatest players and record holders, not picking and choosing favorites like the cliques in Mean Girls. Barry Bonds is acknowledged by one of this year’s inductees, Chipper Jones, as “the best baseball player I’ve ever seen put on a uniform.” Roger Clemens won 7 Cy Youngs (*the most of all-time), won 354 games, and had 4,672 strikeouts. They’re arguably two of the best to ever take the field, and for a while baseball took advantage of their talent and supposed or even admitted drug use and parlayed it into dump-trucks of money and record attendance. You reap what you sow. It’s time for the plaques and the monuments to be made for these men, and for the hypocrisy of baseball to end.