Baseball - General / Hall of Fame

Drugs and Hall of Fame Voting

Please excuse the interruption of your football frenzy.

But this baseball issue is timely, with today being the deadline for Hall of Fame voting. It’s also controversial, so take your best swing, Nation.

This morning, John Fay, beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, announced that he wouldn’t be casting his vote for the HOF. His reason: drugs.

I’d rather abstain than play judge and jury this year. The two most deserving players statistically of the 37 on the ballot are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Bonds was the best hitter I’ve seen. Clemens was the most dominant pitcher. Both should be absolute locks to be first-ballot inductees. But Bonds and Clemens also top of the list of players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. I believe both players used PEDs. From the BBWAA Rules for Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

He apparently went back and forth on his vote.

At some point last night, I made up my mind that I would vote Bonds and Clemens on basis that they would have been Hall of Famers if they used PEDs or not. There’s also the argument that steroids in 1990s and 2000s were like the amphetamines in 1970s and 80s. Everybody used them, so just vote based on the stats. But this morning, I was too torn to pull the lever. My gut feeling is that I’m done as a voter. Maybe time will give me clarity on the issue, but, right now, I’d rather not vote than send in a ballot I don’t fully believe in.

I certainly understand Fay’s anguish and respect his thoughtful opinion. (He doesn’t explain why he didn’t vote for any presumably untainted players – Biggio, Raines, Martinez, Schilling, Morris?)

But I disagree with his conclusion. If I were a HOF voter, I’d ignore the question of steroids and other PEDs. Here’s why:

You can certainly make the argument (which almost persuaded Fay) that a few players posted HOF careers even excluding their PED-contaminated seasons. Further, if the Clemens trial was any indication, the “evidence” that the Mitchell Report list was based upon doesn’t hold up well when exposed to the rigors our legal system imposes for determining guilt and innocence. Can a HOF vote be cast for any player of that era, sufficiently confident the accomplishments weren’t drug-aided?

All strong points, but not the most decisive in my view.

And let’s bracket off the angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin question of whether a sportswriter is truly competent to judge the “integrity” and “character” of a baseball player.

PEDs were used league-wide over decades. Hundreds of players took part. Pitchers and hitters. Superstars and bench players. Almost everyone ignored the situation – the Commissioner’s office, owners, front offices, managers, medical staffs, the players union, journalists and certainly other players. PED use became a regular – and essentially accepted – part of what it meant to play MLB. Those used drugs were participating in a sport-wide behavior of keeping up, not simply a few outliers looking for an unfair edge. It’s impossible not to view it as a regrettable, but collective, failure.

Given that, is it appropriate to express our condemnation for what transpired by singling out individuals? One can certainly conclude that PED use was wrong or bad for the sport without punishing individual players. Countless barroom opinions, barrels of ink and megabytes of pixels have and will be spilled criticizing the era and practices. Baseball fans have reached a consensus that that era was tainted.

But HOF ballots aren’t a fitting outlet for expressing that powerful judgement. Admitting specific players to the Hall of Fame signifies individual achievement in comparison to peers. We should vent our legitimate sport-wide outrage other ways.

Happy New Year!

95 thoughts on “Drugs and Hall of Fame Voting

  1. My opinion has changed over the years, mostly by reading more intelligent people here. There are rule changes to the game that effect statistics. Mount height, bat weight, ball density, etc. We judge those people on the merit of the era in which they played. Barry Bonds, regardless of the fact he was a juicer was still one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Regardless of the fact he was a jerk in the clubhouse. Regardless of the fact he made many of the voters mad at him for one reason or another. The Hall is about celebrating the best players and that is all it should be about. No asterisks next to the name, just put them in.

    If it is determined after one is inducted into the Hall that they used PEDs, would they be cast out? Who has the authority to do that? I dare say even the commissioner may have a hard time pulling that off.

  2. If you want to talk about whether stats like Bonds’ Career HRs should stand, that is a different debate and I would have a very different opinion about that.

  3. I have often heard it said that Barry Bonds would have been a Hall of Fame inductee had he never touched a PED. Moreover, I agree with this assessment of Bonds’ talents and performance. He was, at one point, a solid outfielder and an offensive force with his combination of speed and power. In addition, I completely agree with the notion that when the best players in the game were juicing and, when compared to other (less talented) players who were also juicing, the “best” players still stood out. However, here is the problem with this rationalization. Not every player was juicing. There is something fundamentally unfair about the entire era. From marginal hangers-on to borderline stars who became MVPs (see: Caminiti, Kurt and many others), there was a two decade (at least) period in time in which we simply do not know who the best were. Who is to say that Clemens’ career would have continued with any level of success following his move to Toronto had it not been for PEDs. I can’t. . . . What would Bonds’ natural decline have been throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. I have no idea. . . .

    However, here is my ultimate problem with allowing PED users (even those who are only suspected, though strongly so) in the Hall of Fame. The peer group for the Hall of Fame is not simply the inductees’ contemporaries. Rather, it is all players from all eras. So, while I know that Clemens was a very dominant pitcher at one point, can I easily lump him in with Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, and Warren Spahn. . . . . Hell no. For all I know, his career would have petered out before he reached 200 wins.

    I am sickened by the notion that Barry Bonds has more career home runs than Hank Aaron. I am sickened by the notion that Sammy Sosa has over 600 career home runs. Have PED users already been admitted to the Hall of Fame. I believe most folks believe Rickey Henderson was a user, so yes. However, I cannot think of a Hall of Fame with McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, and Clemens in it. I, for one, do not think of these players in the same way that I think of Bench, Mantle, Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Musial, Cobb, and the many others who are worthy of enshrinement, not because they were good guys, but because we know that there performance on the field was not the byproduct of laboratory experiments.

    • Drew Mac: I, for one, do not think of these players in the same way that I think of Bench, Mantle, Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Musial, Cobb, and the many others who are worthy of enshrinement, not because they were good guys, but because we know that there performance on the field was not the byproduct of laboratory experiments.

      Thoughtful and well-defended comment. How would you feel about some of the 60s and 70s players on your list (Bench, Aaron, Mantle, Mays etc.) if it turns out they were taking amphetamines to give them energy for afternoon games?

  4. Nice article Steve. I agree.

    Steroid use began popping up in the 70s in other sports. It may not have been as prevalent, but there are likely already steroid abusers in the HOF. The fact is, that almost every player who played from the late 90s to 2010 are suspect. Yes, even a 32 year old SS who suddenly becomes a 30/30 guy…

    Fans have pegged a certain body type as the steroid guys. big, muscular guys like Bonds & Sosa. But just look around at the big steroid sports like olympic weightlifting, boxing, heck-cycling. Steroid users aren’t necessarily huge guys. What makes the writers qualified to separate the users from the ones that aren’t? They’re using the eye-ball test plus rumor mills, and we all know how accurate that is.

  5. Last week, I read a column from another sportswriter — I wish I could remember who it was — who was explaining his anguish about who to vote for. His point was that integrity of character and sportsmanship were among the criteria clearly listed on the ballot as factors that should be taken into account.

    Granted, some noted players already in the Hall of Fame wouldn’t meet that criteria now. Ty Cobb comes to mind quickly.

    To me, if Fay has any doubt about players failing to meet at least this part of the criteria — regardless of the career stats — then don’t vote for those guys, but that’s no reason not to vote for players who he doesn’t think were caught up in this PED wave. Maybe he will unknowingly vote for a player who was a user, or maybe he will exclude someone who actually was not part of the wave.

    But the BBWAA has agreed to do this, and its members should follow through. I think I dislike his reasoning as much as, or maybe more than, those writers who will return a blank ballot as some form of protest, even while they acknowledge that various names on the ballot could or should get their approval. Find a different way to protest.

  6. Sir, you are taking the cowards way out of this soap opera. PED’s saved MLB after the disasterous 1994 players strike. The Commisioner buried his head in the sand and knew what was going on. MLB adopted the slogan “Chicks dig the long ball” for 2 seasons. We all know that MOST players were juicing. It is long past time for the Cowardly Commish of MLB to take a stand and publicly state that the players from this era should not be punished. They helped save MLB.

    • Sir, you are taking the cowards way out of this soap opera.PED’s saved MLB after the disasterous 1994 players strike.The Commisioner buried his head in the sand and knew what was going on.MLB adopted the slogan “Chicks dig the long ball” for 2 seasons.We all know that MOST players were juicing.It is long past time for the Cowardly Commish of MLB to take a stand and publicly state that the players from this era should not be punished.They helped save MLB.

      Strangely, I agree with much of what you say. The most culpable actors in the PED drama include Selig, the owners, and the MLBPA. Everyone knew what was happening and turned a blind eye because the turnstiles were swinging, the cash registers were ringing, and the TV contracts were growing exponentially. However, history will, I believe, judge these parties to be most to blame and they will be “punished” in hindsight through the tarnishing of their respective legacies.

      Moreover, I do not blame the players in the least for juicing. For most, it was a professional decision that made quite a bit of sense. Are you hanging on to a job by the skin of your teeth? . . . Juice and get that steady job or even multi-year deal. . . . Are you an all-star who is not thought of as one of the top five players in the game because each of the top five players are juicing? . . . Juice and become the most fearsome offensive force the game has ever seen. . . . Are you perpetually injured and breaking down as a result of your use of anabolics in Oakland? . . . Try HGH or some other, better juice and break Roger Maris’ single season home run mark. I do not blame the players a bit. In retrospect, I regret not juicing in college. An extra four to six mph on my fastball may have been enough to compel someone to pay me to keep pitching after I turned 22.

      The players who juiced and are now eligible for the HOF are not being punished. They made what were, in most cases, rational decisions to stay healthy, make more money, break records, receive fame and accolades during their playing career, or otherwise excel in their professions. Their admission (or lack thereof) to the HOF is, however, based upon the selective judgment of those who vote for the HOF. Unlike previous generations of players, when statistics largely dominated HOF discussions and there were quite a few players in the proverbial “grey area,” the statistics among the PED users are undeniable. For the most part, the players in question are slam dunk, first ballot, Hall of Famers according to the stats. However, I will not be convinced that Mark McGwire was a better hitter than Harmon Killebrew (his third match on Baseball-Reference). I will not be convinced that Barry Bonds was better than Willie Mays. I will not be convinced that Roger Clemens was a better pitcher than Steve Carlton. Now, it may be that McGwire would have been better than Killebrew, Bonds would have been better than Mays, and Clemens would have been better than Carlton without PEDs. However, we cannot be sure of any of this because their use of PEDs has made it largely a guessing game. Therefore, I believe it is just plain wrong to put any of these players in the Hall of Fame.

      I do not care about these players’ integrity, mind you. Hell, I think it is a joke that a jerk like Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame. I care about the integrity of the numbers that will be on their plaques if they were in Cooperstown. After all, isn’t that what makes baseball inherently better than football or basketball? . . . We can compare players from different (post-dead ball) eras (with some minor caveats like mound height, field size, number of teams, etc.) with each other. What Selig, the owners, the MLBPA, and (yes) the players did to this historical continuity is abhorrent and letting Bonds, McGwire, Palmero, Bagwell, Sosa, Rodriguez, Clemens, and the others in would do nothing but bastardize the Hall of Fame.

  7. Fay’s argument for not participating by casting his vote(s) reminds me of a similar position I tried to defend in my high school civics class some 40 or 50 odd years ago. The point I tried to defend then was that if an individual did not like any of the available options in an election, withholding a vote was a valid way to voice displeasure with the process. I didn’t particularly like the argument even then and that opinion has lessened significantly since then.

    For the issue at hand, when the PED controversy first gained footing, I was staunchly against any acknowledgement for the superior performance of those players whose performance was PED enhanced. I still resent such artificial performance anhancement, but I have softened my objection toward acknowledging that performance. Since I do not personally have a vote, I can’t say for sure how I would vote, but my view right now is that it would be on a case-by-case basis. I do think some players acheived more benefit from using PED’s than other players, but I don’t know how to definitely quantify such an observation. In making such a decision, I would probably vote a player like Bonds in and would probably not vote a player like Sosa in, but I wouldn’t just avoid casting any votes.

    What I would like to see is for the HOF to make a conditional acknowledgement for PED enhanced performance, an asterick tag of sorts, similar to career or seasonal records for disimilar circumstances. I think those players who utilized PEDs and those managers, general managers and league officers who ignored or condoned the use of PEDs did the game more disservice and damage than Rose ever did to the game, but that leads to another topic entirely.

  8. Football frenzy…WHO DEY!!!

    Back to the real topic though…I don’t agree with John Fay in his solution. Just don’t vote for the guys that he is against and give someone else who deserves to get in the votes that he is giving up. Every year certain players that should get in don’t get in because of bad timing and opposition on the ballot.

  9. Fay has long shown he is an emotional writer and not a cerebral one. It seems a cop out, he obviously didn’t find anyone worth of voting into the HOF this year so he didn’t send in a ballot. In his mind it seems he believes he couldn’t make a decision, but not sending in his ballot is a lack of vote for the PED guys just the same as sending in the ballot without them checked off.

  10. @Steve Mancuso: Amphetamines are, in my estimation at least, a completely different animal altogether. I am no biologist or chemist. However, I understand that amphetamines are stimulants. They can provide energy in much the same way that caffeine does. I don’t smoke, chew, or dip but I played in college with a bunch of guys who chewed and/or dipped (and a bunch who did andro and some who did anabolics). What they always told me was that nicotine gave them a “buzz,” a burst of energy. Also, from what I understand, amphetamines did/do not make it possible to hit a ball harder, throw a ball with greater velocity, improve vision, etc. Simply put, amphetamines are closer to a cup of coffee than they are to actual performance enhancers. If amphetamines are PEDs in the same way that steroids/HGH are, then so are coffee, nicotine, and deep fried Twinkies.

  11. @Drew Mac:

    I have to agree with Drew Mac. Those using amphetamine usage in prior decades to defend PED usage just have no meritorious argument. Make your case based upon the effects of PED’s and how it changed the outcome of the users’ results. Those results are tainted and allow some who did not have the capability to put up HOF numbers.

  12. Baseball knowingly looked the other way during most of the steroid era, in some part to regenerate interest after the strike. As there was no rule against it for most of the era, I don’t know why anyone should hold it against the players, for voting purposes, at least.

    Also, since I consider baseball highly complicit in this whole megillah, I would vote in the best players regardless of PED use, and force MLB to acknowledge or pointedly ignore the whole issue in the HoF. By not voting Bonds and Clemens et al. in, voters are letting baseball off the hook.

    All of the above IMO, of course.

  13. Here is the note I sent to John. I was not real friendly.

    Here is the problem with that stance: Now you punish EVERYONE. Including Larry Walker, Biggio, McGriff, Trammel, Raines etc., who have no history of PEDs. Sorry John, but you are wrong on this one. I would also ask, did you vote for Larkin last year? Did he not play during the steroid period? I don’t say this to cast aspersions on Larkin–there is no evidence or reason to think he was dirty–but to say that if you could ‘homer’ vote for BL under the same conditions, then you are being hypocritical and really should just give up your vote altogether.

    One more thing: Quitting because something is hard is ridiculous. Do the work and make the decisions. Do not abdicate responsibility. That’s what congress is for.

  14. @RC: Very well put. I agree 100% with how you stated the issue.

    I would just add that to my knowledge neither Bonds nor Clemens ever failed a drug test even toward the end of their careers when a litany of other high profile players were failing tests. I say this not put forward a tenuous argument of either man’s possible innocence but rather to point out that if they were not caught, how many others perhaps also went undetected.

    As was noted in the reference to Barry Larkin above and will surely be made in reference To Griffey Jr in a another year or two when he becomes eligible, on what basis does anyone smugly state they know beyond doubt that either of those players “were clean” (which again is not to say they weren’t, just that we don’t really know).

  15. First don’t forget Tim Raines slid head first to prevent breaking the cocaine vials in his pockets so let’s not lump him in with Biggio (whom I personnally consider to be a HOF’er).

    Amphetamines are performance enhancing drugs… but if we’re going to compare amphetamines to coffee or dip then why care about Steroids? Roids can be prescribed like amphetamines and can be legally obtained and used in countries besides the United States. Andro was legal and available over the counter. Major League Baseball had NO rule against taking PEDs! Hitters faced pitchers and pitchers faced hitters who were taking PEDs. It was the era, if players were clean well good for them but I certainly cant blame a guy or call him a cheater for doing everything he could within the rules to win.

    Finally if Fay wants to abstain and waste the chance to put deserving men in fine and well the hall of fame will never be completely relevant without Rose anyways. Maybe they should consider a fan vote every three years to get one player in, so some fan favorite guys deemed undeserving by the sportswriters can get in.

  16. Steve, when we disagree, we really disagree.

    But I’ll fight to the death your right to say it!

    Happy New Year!

  17. I think it’s interesting how sportwriters always ignore the one group who is most complicit in the PED era (other than the players) and that is the the sportswriters themselves. When McGwire and Sosa were chasing Maris in ’98, a writer found the Andro in McGwire’s locker and started to raise the question of PED use. What did the other writers do? They ostracized him and basically said don’t ruin this great story. Now the sportswriters want to have a morality play after the fact, but only after they were complicit in the whole thing. Good journalism is practically dead.

    On a side note this punishes good players like Biggio, Bagwell, Trammel, Raines, Edgar, Piazza and others that are most deserving of the HOF without the taint of PED use.

    • I agree with the case by case argument. Steroids reduce healing time. That’s why they improve performance. They keep players healthy by letting them heal quicker which also helps recovery after workouts. Cal Ripken, Jr’s 2632 consecutive game record happened in the middle of the steroid era. That’s his primary reason for going in the hall. Essentially, Ripken was a first ballot for staying healthy during an era when steroids were used by what some believe was 50% of the players. And the Orioles were one of the most notorious steroid teams during this era.

      There was a lot of revisionist history regarding Ripken’s skill as a player. While he was a very good infielder, he only won 2 golden gloves during his very long career. I always thought of him as solid player, but never outstanding over the length of his career. (Yes, I know. He won an MVP.) Growing up with Baltimore as the closes MLB team, I saw a lot of Ripken. Only two of his stats reached magic hall worthy numbers. (e.g. 500 HRs, etc) He had over 3000 hits and his record for consecutive games. You play as many games as Ripken you should have 3000 hits. But what if it is proven that Ripken used steroids to stay health during this era. (I’m not saying he did, but I think you are naive to not believe so.) The whole reason for him making the hall is defunct. He would probably have not been healthy during that whole time and he would not have that record, nor the “memorable” moments that went with it. He would have been just another one of 1000s who had good, but unmemorable careers to those living outside of Baltimore. He would NOT belong in the hall based on the merits of any other stat. And other than one season, he was no better than players like Jay Bruce or Brandon Phillips, both solid players, but neither even close to Hall of Fame worthy. So, based on the merit of this case, I do not believe he belongs in the hall. And he’s a first ballot guy.

      This is an odd case, however. Bonds and The Rocket should go in.

  18. Joe Sheehan had an excellent piece the other day, showing how the “amphetamine era” showed spikes in the categories: complete games, stolen bases, and guys playing all 162 games.

    The point was that guys play in the era in which they play. Their greatness is always contextual. Comparing Bonds (steroids) to Hank Aaron (bennies) to Babe Ruth (color line) is a fool’s errand. And any moral distinction between them – at least b/w the first two) is done by choice.

  19. @Chris Garber:
    I read Sheehan’s article. Stolen bases rising with the use of stimulants? And all of you sabrematicians are willing to accept this anecdotal evidence?

    Stolen bases bottomed out in the 1930’s. You know what happened in 1933? The end of prohibition. The widespread availability of alcohol was the beginning of the decline of the stolen base. Stolen base totals didn’t begin to recover until the 1960’s when marijuana appeared on the scene. And base stealing continued to increase throughout the 1970’s & 1980’s as recreational drugs became more commonplace.

    Once players could toke and snort the drug of their choice, they became free of the chains alcohol had bound them in. So it was nothing other than demon alcohol, sapping the will of man to advance himself to another base through hard work, that caused the decline of the stolen base in baseball. And my correlation is more accurate than Sheehan’s.

  20. There may be a second cause for the rise and fall of the stolen base which is more psychological than anything else. The speed of travel. Teams switched from train travel to airplanes in the 1960’s. Then airplanes gave way to jets the latter part of that decade and into the 1970’s which were followed by further generations of larger and faster jets.

    Along with the development of air travel came the building of the interstate expressway system. It began under Eisenhower in 1956 and was considered completed in 1992. The expressway system and improved handling and acceleration of the automobile allowed people to travel greater distances at much higher rates speed than previous decades.

    As players became exposed to faster modes of travel both in their everyday lives and in their extensive business travels, they became accustomed to and enamored with speed. This led them to incorporate speed into their repertoire of baseball skills and thusly the beginning of the rise of the stolen base in the 1960’s and its continued increase in the following decades.

    More recently, we have witnessed a decline in the stolen base. Not surprisingly, it comes with the reduced emphasis on speed of travel in modern America. Many intra-city sections of the interstate system have permanently adopted the reduced 55 MPH speed limit. Along with the daily traffic jams plaguing these same stretches, speed of travel has suffered.

    We have also seen the glamour of air travel, so prevalent in the 1960’s & into the 1970’s, evaporate. The emphasis of getting to a destination quicker has given way to building jets that are quieter and more fuel efficient. Along with managing air traffic for better flow into and out of congested airports, we have determined that we were getting there fast enough as it was and that there are now more important considerations.

    The modern ball player has been affected by these changes in his life and is not consumed with the stolen base like his predecessors were in prior decades.

  21. Historically, Hall of Fame elections have served as an opportunity for sportswriters to get on their soapboxes about how certain players have “stained” the game.

    Back when Pete Rose first became eligible to be placed on the Hall of Fame ballot – I think this would have been around 1991 – there were a bunch of writers who took the opportunity to turn it into a morality issue. Jack Lang, in particular, seemed to show up every time the issue came up to proclaim himself protector of the Hall’s sacred status.

    The idea of baseball writers as the arbiters of the sport’s morality is ludicrous because, as has been noted elsewhere, they were complicit in covering up the PED issue because the 1998 home run chase was a feel-good story. It was the season that saved baseball, you know. And besides, offense sells tickets.

    One of the aspects of the PED story I have always found irritating is the implication that only the star players like Bonds and Clemens were using. I realize those two players were among the most visible of that era and neither is very likeable. There were a bunch of players like Jason Grimsley who used PEDs and were still not very good.

    Like several other people, I think you have to view these players’ statistics and Hall of Fame eligibility within the context of the era in which they played. I’m quite sure there were a number of stars who were clean. By that same token, there were a number of non-stars and marginal players who were users. But who knows which players fall into which category. I suspect PEDs did increase statistical performances, but it is impossible to quantify how much and I’m not sure you can say that the records set during this period are substantially less legitimate than any other records.

    I don’t blame the players, either. Baseball players have a very short window for employment. You can’t really fault them for trying to extend there careers for as long as possible, particularly if you place them in a situation where seemingly everyone is doing the same thing. Furthermore they were doing exactly what the people who ran the sport wanted them to do. If you want to exclude someone like Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire on the basis of his body of work, fine. Home runs aside, there was nothing remarkable about either career. You can’t do it as punishment for the practices of an era that baseball promoted shamelessly.

    Sometime in 2016, Bud Selig will have the longest term of service of any commissioner in baseball history. And as ridiculous as it seems right now, sometime after that there will be a movement to induct him into the Hall of Fame. At that point, it will be interesting to see if we have the PED debate in the context of his worthiness for induction. It was Selig who promoted the home run chase and it was Selig who turned a blind eye when the questions about how it happened came up.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about the legacy of this era’s players. That is something that is largely in the eye of the beholder. What I find more disturbing is the number of players who risked their health with baseball’s tacit approval. I’m sure there were also a number of marginal players who were clean whose path to the majors was blocked by someone who was using. But marginal players are marginal for a reason. Baseball history is littered with fringe players who never made it to the big leagues because of fate or health or somebody’s whim.

    Mainly, I have no desire to go back to that time because the steroid era was the most godawful stretch of boring station-to-station baseball since the mid-1950s. The score seemed to be 11-8 every night and games took forever to complete because strategy was predicated on three-run homers and eight pitching changes a night.

    • Sometime in 2016, Bud Selig will have the longest term of service of any commissioner in baseball history.

      There’s an indictment there. Selig and Bettman are both disasters to their respective sports. Selig in the Hall would be a real tragedy. At that point the Hall would become irrelevant.

  22. Answer). Rose, Clemens, and Bonds.

    Question) name three people who don’t belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  23. “Fay has long shown he is an emotional writer and not a cerebral one.”

    To me, this phrase is the most interesting in this whole thread…..

    As I have read all the comments posted here, from what I consider some of the most thoughtful and (overall) respectful fans of the game, I find myself in almost complete agreement with all of the comments, no matter how seemingly diametrically opposed they are to each other. I am at odds with myself, and comfortable with that. I think it all comes down to the above highlighted comment.

    I am such a stauch advocate of individual rights and personal preferences that I find it very difficult to punish anyone who was never proved guilty by any standard outside of anecdotal evidence and speculation. While standards of character are very fluid, to put it mildly, the statistics are not. “Magic numbers” (3000 hits, 500 homers, etc.) get you in. Being the best player at your position usually qualifies to get you in, a compilation of stats over your career can get you in. That’s the cerebral part of me speaking. But it’s a bit more complicated.

    Baseball is a game of romance that IMO is unmatched by any other in our culture. It is true that it is stat driven, but it is so heart and soul driven as well. During times of crisis it has been our national diversion. Our proof of the normalcy of life during chaotic times. So much of our history has been played out between the lines. From wartime with a “League of Their Own” to the Negro Leagues and integration. From all of the unmatched characters with nicknames like “Oil Can”, “The Mad Hungarian”, etc. to the Bazooka Bubblegum blowing contests; to the Superstars competition (remember those) on Saturdays which would match athletes from various sports against each other. I remember when in a finals it ended up with Hershel Walker facing off with John Franco in a footrace. After the gun had sounded Franco stopped along the route and shook hands and signed autographs while Walker demonstrated he was the far superior athlete. When Franco finally crossed the finish line he was greeted as a hero by the crowd. It may be emotional, but it’s just as much baseball as the cerebral. It really sickens me to think that someone doesn’t respect the ‘love of the game’, whatever that means. That’s the emotional part.

    Perhaps the best solution is one that will never be proposed. Perhaps there needs to be a monument in Cooperstown that consists of a large black slab with one giant asterisk in the middle of it with the inscription: “In ‘honor’ of all those players, agents, writers, owners, trainers and others who knew what was happening, but took no action to stop it.” I think the best thing to do is not to ignore the past but to embrace it so that we have the opportunity to learn from those mistakes.

    • Perhaps there needs to be a monument in Cooperstown that consists of a large black slab with one giant asterisk in the middle of it with the inscription: “In ‘honor’ of all those players, agents, writers, owners, trainers and others who knew what was happening, but took no action to stop it.”

      How so wonderfully existential.

      We often feel that we must find logical explanations to the tough questions. But you’re right as always, preach. Our connection to baseball is visceral. While baseball may rank low the order of things that are important in life, the ideals it conjures is the cement of our culture: excellence, hard work, fair play, and the relative assurance that the result of these ideals will drive us to success. We identify with our heroes and are empathetic to their struggles. When they succeed we feel we succeed with them. When they fail, we feel their failures very personally. (e.g. Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.) Some feel betrayed and reasonably deduce an argument to deny those implicated as PEDs or steroids user from joining our purer heroes in the Hall. Others sympathize with the players caught in the culture of the times and deduce reasons why they should be admitted. I find myself in the second camp, but I certainly understand those in the other. “Honoring” the players, agents, writers, owners, trainers, and other who knew is an excellent way to bridge the gap between honoring our heroes of the steroid era without betraying the memory of our heroes from the other eras.

      Regardless, I’ve found this discussion one of the most intriguing this winter.

  24. I think there’s still an awful lot of confusion about what steroids do to “enhance” a baseball player’s performance. The idea that pitchers were also using PEDs is true enough, but a bit beside the point. There were giant muscle-bound freaks hitting 60+ HRs a decade ago, but there were no giant muscle-bound freaks throwing 120mph fastballs. It doesn’t work that way. I have not once heard that PEDs improve pitch recognition or hand-eye coordination, and bat speed is about technique, not brute strength.

    As I see it, there are three very different reasons why a professional baseball player would risk using PEDs:

    1) Body mass. I’m no physicist, but I think it’s a pretty elementary that, all other things being equal, a batted ball will go a bit further with more mass behind the swing. After all, what’s the common thread between the recent crazy record-breaking power hitters and the original crazy record-breaking power hitter? This, however does zip for a pitcher – pitching is all about technique. Skinny guys can throw as hard as big guys.

    [To test this, let’s do a little experiment. Let’s have Joey Votto pack on about 50 pounds of donut fat. Assuming it doesn’t affect his swing, he should hit 60 easily. :D ]

    2) Muscle recovery. This is *why* body builders and Barry Bondses use them – it allows them to work out more often and bulk up more easily. This (minus the workouts) is also why pitchers and “normal” players use, to recover from the abuse of a long season and not wear down at the end. And – this is that little edge that every minor-leaguer thinks could get him to the big time.

    3) Quicker rehab from injury. Which, really, should be legal. AFAIK, all the problems related to steroids are caused by heavy use over long periods. That doesn’t apply here. Heck, MLB should *provide* approved steroids for use by injured players, so they know who’s taking what..

    I take steroids every day. I have asthma, use a steroid inhaler, and when I’ve had asthma attacks (thankfully, none in the past 20 years), I’ve done a course of prednisone. There are cortico-steroids, not anabolic steroids, but the overuse profiles are pretty much the same.

    There’s some magical thinking about that actual effects of these substances. I think it’s time to be a little more analytical about this stuff. At least get the Mythbusters on it, for cryin’ out loud.

    • 3) Quicker rehab from injury. Which, really, should be legal. AFAIK, all the problems related to steroids are caused by heavy use over long periods. That doesn’t apply here. Heck, MLB should *provide* approved steroids for use by injured players, so they know who’s taking what..

      This is legal for you and me. Doctors prescribe steroids all the time. It’s just not legal for ballplayers. Odd, eh?

  25. “But frankly, it’s hard to understand why a player wouldn’t consider using HGH. Users say growth hormone can improve vision, energy and reflexes. Think about that the next time you read a story about your favorite slugger’s uncanny pitch selection.” from: http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3662262

    Many pitchers were also aided by PEDs. Ask Eric Gagne and Kevin Brown how their fastballs and breaking pitches were aided by PEDs. Anyone who played during this era will tell you that the notion that PEDs don’t help hitters hit the ball further and pitchers throw harder is hogwash. I know a guy who was drafted out of high school in the second round by the Cubs in the late 1990s. We have had some candid conversations regarding this very topic. According to him, the majority of professionals during the late 1990s and early 2000s were using (I have never asked if he used). One guy he played with, a very famous son of an erstwhile Hall of Famer beloved by most folks contributing to this forum (including myself), regularly had a Plano tacklebox full of supplements as well as illicit substances in his locker and nobody batted an eye. In short and as summarized in many of the astute observations in this forum, the entire game was rife with the stuff. The players used the stuff, but this should in no way absolve the owners, Selig, and the MLBPA, who bear (in my mind at least) more responsibility for the harm caused to the game than the players, since it is they who are charged with preserving the integrity of the game.

    In my estimation, here is the ultimate point when it comes to PEDs and the Hall of Fame. While conventional and not-so-conventional statistics have helped to inform the writers’ views on who is and who is not worthy of HOF enshrinement in recent years, these statistics are essentially useless when it comes to the users and suspected users who are being considered (and will be considered) for the HOF. Ironically, in this age of sabremetrics, stats are increasingly useless in determining who is and who is not worthy of the Hall of Fame.

    So, it is the writers who will have to conduct a veritable “sniff test” to determine what constitutes a Hall of Fame player. The “sniff test” will be based upon innuendo, suspicions, admissions of use, as well as names on reports. Will some seemingly otherwise worthy players (Bonds, Clemens, etc.) be excluded because of the overwhelming suspicions of their use of PEDs? . . . Sure. . . Will some who have the stats but do not pass the “sniff test” be excluded as well (Sosa, Martinez, Palmero, etc.)? . . . Certainly . . . Will some who may have (or likely) used get in the HOF anyway (Piazza, Biggio, etc.) get in? . . . Well, Ricky Henderson is already in, so the answer is yes.

    When all is said and done, I hope the writers do a good job with the HOF “sniff test.” Is Jeff Bagwell a Hall of Famer? . . . Well, his stats would say so. However, his scouting report with the BoSox indicated that he could aspire to “doubles power.” That he turned into a massive, hulking slugger may have been the product of natural development. However, this will likely not pass the “sniff test” with the writers.

    By the way, could you imagine Ruth, Gherig, Greenberg, Mays, Dimaggio, Bench, Morgan, Perez, Schmidt, Aaron, Snider, Klu, Mantle, Foxx, McCovey, Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson, and Ted Williams on PEDs? . . . Aaron may have hit 1200 home runs and played until he was 50.

    • When all is said and done, I hope the writers do a good job with the HOF “sniff test.” Is Jeff Bagwell a Hall of Famer? . . . Well, his stats would say so. However, his scouting report with the BoSox indicated that he could aspire to “doubles power.” That he turned into a massive, hulking slugger may have been the product of natural development. However, this will likely not pass the “sniff test” with the writers.

      I hate that word “hulking,” even in kidding.

  26. The way I have always viewed it is this:

    The Steroids Era is a legit Era of baseball, just like the Dead Ball Era. If you take someone from the Dead Ball Era and put them in a different era, would they still perform as well? Probably not. We enshrine people from that era because they excelled in an era with the technology and situation they were given.

    Likewise, in the Steroid Era, let’s assume almost everyone was juicing. Hell, you’d have a hard time convincing me Schilling, Biggio and Griffey didn’t try SOMETHING at SOMETIME. So if EVERYONE was doing it, doesn’t that make the playing field level again? So therefore, the people who excelled in that era were excelling given the technology and situation they were in and also against peers who had the exact same edges, just like any other era of baseball.

    Bonds and Clemens definitely deserve to be enshrined. Don’t compare them to other hall of famers from different eras, just like you can’t compare someone’s stats from the 1920’s to someone’s stats from the 1970’s. What you must look at is who excelled in their given eras.

    The Steroid Era remains unique and distinct from all other eras, and it should be voted on with that caveat.

  27. @RC: For the second time on this thread, I find myself offering up a hearty AMEN to your comments.

    Point 2 I think should be taken to heart by those who maintain that the amphetamine abuse in the 70’s and 80’s was somehow inherently different from the steroid use of the last two decades. The goal was the same; and, there is an argument to be made that the steroids are probably less destructive than the amphetamines when used in any sort of controlled regime.

    Like yourself, I have been using a prescription steroid under a Dr.’s supervision for the better part of two decades. I’ve gone from being stuck with a needle once a month to (currently) using one of the legal descendants of “the gel”. I think perhaps the experience of being a steroid user gives us an insight into what the drugs do and do not do that evades may people who just read or hear about the drugs.

  28. I’m opposed to voting guys in based on career homerun totals in the steroid era, like the expectation that 500+ homeruns = Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds was a great all-around player (hit for power, average, fielded well, stole bases, albeit at different times in his career), several other 500+ homerun guys were really one dimensional… like McGwire, Sosa, Thome, Palmeiro, and Frank Thomas. Adam Dunn could still break 500 despite being one dimensional with a .240 career average – by hitting 41 in 2012 he clearly showed he can hit 40 per season while being tested for drugs.

    Larkin and Ripken are mentioned in the discussion above. I think guys who choose to spend their whole career with a single team and who serve as the face of a franchise deserve extra consideration, and they’ve become far less common in recent years. Joey Votto is one of the few power hitters in the game today who seems likely to spend his whole career with a single team. Maybe Ryan Braun will stick with the Brewers but I expect him to be traded in a rebuilding move before long.

    • I think guys who choose to spend their whole career with a single team and who serve as the face of a franchise deserve extra consideration

      Umm, why?

  29. The cowardice of John Fay to do his job is exactly what is wrong with the Hall of Fame voting. It should not be in the hands of alleged sportswriters, most of whom have never played the game above the little league level, if at all. Let the players who are in the HOF vote for players. Let the players establish the criteria for getting elected. It is afterall, their club. Sportswriters can vote for the media types and announcers. The BBWAA has fumbled the ball terribly and has neglected their responsibility all along the way during the “Steroid Era”. They should never be allowed to determine who gets in the HOF and who doesn’t. Take the voting away from the BBWAA.

  30. Just a couple of things… I think its a mistake to assume that players are the only victims of the baseball writers votes. Writers have current professional careers where their opinions and analysis are subject to their readership’s opinion of that writer. ie…their credibility is at stake. I have no doubt that guys like John Fay understand the gravity of what they are deciding to do about all of this. Some people are reactionary and some are more cautious. Fay is in the latter camp. Emotional? I don’t think so. At the end of the day, the public does not need to have an answer to the question of PED’s RIGHT NOW…no matter how tired we are of hearing about them. Will a vote make the controversy go away? I don’t think so! How do you vote for any player before Clemens and Bonds? I don’t think I could… and I don’t think I could vote them in. I hate cheaters. I really hate cheaters. Did I mention that I really can’t stand cheaters?… Rationalizations about why the cheating should be overlooked just aren’t persuasive!…and even if you do rationalize, My goodness! There is a big difference between spitting on a baseball and sticking a needle in your ass.

  31. I have nothing to add to this conversation, but am extremely proud to be apart of this site, the fact that can have a discussion this emotional and it remain a highly intelligent, interesting, and respectful of other’s opinions says a lot about the people who choose to spend time here. Thanks to all of you.

  32. As a Reds fan, I can’t get over Pete not being in the Hall. And while I know its a complete drag bringing his name into all of this… I think his situation is relevent to the discussion. The Hall of Fame wants some sort of public concensus on who belongs in the Hall otherwise they would just decide themselves. They want the hall to not only be for the players but also the general public. Well…if you want public consensus you have a much more difficult job to do. How many of us could give a fat rat’s ass about the Hall knowing that our most beloved player with the most hits in baseball isn’t included? Thats me… Now…What if you are a Giants fan? Are you ever going to care about the Hall if Bonds isn’t there? I wouldn’t. Frankly, I’m tired of worrying about who should be in and who shouldn’t. Currently, the HOF is also like a museum where the general history of the game is presented. I say leave it at that and quit taking any new members…lest it risk jeopardizing alienating entire fan bases across the country. As it is… I have no interest in going there just because of Pete. Larkins accomplishments aside…. How do you let a guy like Bonds in… when there are guys like Freel (who gave up their bodies and sanity d/t symptoms from concussions) who will never get a whiff at the Hall? Who gave more to the game? Who took more from it? I will always appreciate Freel more than Bonds.

  33. @TC: Why should guys who remain committed to the same organization deserve more consideration? At least in modern baseball that is something unusual, something that stands out, and something that I think should be supported. I remember when the Reds tried to trade Barry Larkin to the Mets, but he vetoed the trade – he wanted to finish his career with the Reds, and that said something positive about the team captain. Derek Jeter is one of the few players like that today. Bonds, Griffey, Rolen, and Clemens will likely get into the Hall of Fame, at which point they’ll be associated with one team (presumably the the Giants, Mariners, Cardinals, and Yankees, respectively), largely forgetting the years they put up with other teams (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati/Chicago, Cincinnati/Philadelphia/Toronto, and Boston/Toronto/Houston). I think Joey Votto’s commitment to remaining (if he remains with them) with the Reds is something positive, something to be rewarded when he’s eligible for Hall of Fame entry.

    @rewquiop: Ryan Freel didn’t even make an All Star Team while Barry Bonds excelled at everything and was frequently recognized as one of the best of the best. Bonds had 14 All Star appearances, 8 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, 7 MVPs, the all time record for homeruns, and the all time record for walks. Even with PEDs it took a lot of skill and hard work for Bonds to be so accomplished.

    Freel definitely put a lot of effort into the game but he’s not deserving of entry into the Hall of Fame. Freel’s situation makes me think of Darryl Kile, who certain teams remember every year with an award. I think the Reds should similarly create a Ryan Freel award given annually to a hitter who works hard to be successful despite limited raw talent. Chris Heisey comes to mind as a likely candidate.

  34. From http://www.baseballhall.org

    BBWAA ELECTION RULES FOR THE HOF.

    3. Eligible Candidates — Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:

    A. A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning twenty (20) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.

    B. Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3 (A).

    C. Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball.

    D. In case of the death of an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five (5) full years, a candidate who is otherwise eligible shall be eligible in the next regular election held at least six (6) months after the date of death or after the end of the five (5) year period, whichever occurs first.

    E. Any player on Baseball’s ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.

    4. Method of Election:
    B. Electors may vote for as few as zero (0) and as many as ten (10) eligible candidates deemed worthy of election. Write-in votes are not permitted.

    *****5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

    9. Amendments: The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time.

    PED’s were not against the rules in MLB until recently. Therefore, it is highly unfair to call players from this era as “cheaters”. Therefore again, it is also highly unfair to use the term “integrity” from rule #5 to keep from voting for deserving players. This refers to a player’s integrity, not the “Integrity of the Game” as alot of BBWAA writers want to allude to. The BBWAA writers want to be the Judge, Jury, and the Executioner in this debate. That is not their role. Setting up the voting criteria rules is also not their role. It seems to me that the BBWAA is way out of step on this issue and needs to be reigned back in by the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. And just maybe, these Board of Directors should also define integrity and how that should come into play when voting for the HOF. It will save alot of headaches down the road when voting for the HOF in the next 10 years or so.

    • From WVRedlegs’ excellent post (@WVRedlegs: )

      BBWAA ELECTION RULES FOR THE HOF….
      *****5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

      I think some people look too much at Scott Rolen’s raw offensive numbers when predicting how he’ll do in Hall of Fame voting. The shelves full of Gold Gloves are something important to consider and I expect that intangibles like his character and reputation will put him over the top. I guess we’ll have to wait a few years and find out if he gets voted in… and even longer to see if he’s chosen by the Veterans Committee, which also seems likely.

  35. @redsfanman: I’m not saying Freel deserves to be in the HOF…I’m saying that I hold Freel in higher regard than Bonds. For myself…I think I know what a cheater is and isn’t. I don’t give a hoot what the rules said or failed to include.

  36. @WVRedlegs: I think its also important to add that I don’t blame others for trying to adhere to rules about the voting and trying to determine under those parameters who should qualify… I just think the writers have been given an impossible job. A job that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests…the writers, the fans, or even the HOF. I don’t care if its the HOF or the Hee man women haters club, any group or organization that tries to exclude my sensibilities on what is great or noteworthy can kiss my you know what. If I were a member of the HOF, I would feel cheapened were guys like Bonds, Rose, or Clemens not included in my club. I would also feel cheapened if they were. Throw it to the curb is what I say…. and I’ve felt that way since since they decided to exclude my favorite player ever. Nobody can convince me that gambling isn’t a disease or social phenomenon more morally reprehensible than juicing, driving drunk, wife beating, umpire spitting, age fibbing, or even assaulting. The amount of effort that we all collectively go through to exclude people and include people is exhausting. It is a job best done by museum curators and people who decide to be friends… People who know who they are and where they belong…

  37. @redsfanman: I also tend to respect players who are loyal to a team and fanbase. It is rare indeed these days. It harkens back to the days when a team had to build from the inside out. But I’m not sure what relevance it has in a hall of fame discussion. Players are too often pawns, especially early in their careers. Larkin was able to veto a trade, but what about players who don’t have that opportunity? The only consideration should be what they did between the lines in my opinion.

  38. @redsfanman: I’d love to see Rolen in the HoF. He’s on the fringe in my mind so it will depend on who’s name is also on the ballot. Also, while you are right about Clemens probably going in as a Yankee (especially since it make it a point to retire a Yankee), but I will always associate him with the ’84 Redsox.

    • @redsfanman: I also tend to respect players who are loyal to a team and fanbase.It is rare indeed these days.It harkens back to the days when a team had to build from the inside out.But I’m not sure what relevance it has in a hall of fame discussion.Players are too often pawns, especially early in their careers.Larkin was able to veto a trade, but what about players who don’t have that opportunity?The only consideration should be what they did between the lines in my opinion.

      @redsfanman: I’d love to see Rolen in the HoF.He’s on the fringe in my mind so it will depend on who’s name is also on the ballot.Also, while you are right about Clemens probably going in as a Yankee (especially since it make it a point to retire a Yankee), but I will always associate him with the ’84 Redsox.

      Brandon Phillips is unlikely to get Hall of Fame votes but I hope he can end his career with the Reds and get his number retired. He’s one of the guys who you mentioned who was treated like a pawn earlier in his career (shipped out by the Indians) but he latched onto the Reds and they’ve built around him for years. The kind of commitment he’s shown to the Reds is really respectable, and fits in with (under WVRedlegs’ HOF requirements) the ‘integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team on which he played’. Same with Bronson Arroyo. They both started their careers elsewhere but they have been important (only) to the Reds’ organization. I hope they both get their numbers retired one day for their long commitments to the Reds.

      I think Rolen is a pretty sure thing to get in, albeit for things like defense, ‘integery’, ‘sportsmanship’, ‘character’, and contributions to his teams as a leader and role model rather than for raw offensive numbers. People around the game clearly respect him, even though he faces criticism for shoulder injuries. It’ll just be interesting to find what uniform he wears when he’s selected – Phillies, Cardinals, Reds? Presumably the Cardinals, where he had his best years – many Reds fans want him gone and Phillies fans boo him.

      Roger Clemens, I wasn’t alive to see him with the ’84 Red Sox.

      • Roger Clemens, I wasn’t alive to see him with the ’84 Red Sox.

        Geeze. I was in highschool.

        BP and Arroyo are locks to make it in the Reds Hall of Fame.

        Regarding Rolen, I’m not convinced he’ll go in, but if he does it would be a wrong to see him go as anything but a Cardinal.

      • I think Rolen is a pretty sure thing to get in, albeit for things like defense, ‘integery’, ‘sportsmanship’, ‘character’, and contributions to his teams as a leader and role model rather than for raw offensive numbers. People around the game clearly respect him, even though he faces criticism for shoulder injuries.

        Not so sure all the rah-rah stuff of sportsmanship and integrity will get a marginal Hall of Famer — if that’s what Rolen is — over the top. It sure hasn’t worked out for Dale Murphy, who was sensational on the field as well as a character guy. (And I’m not arguing for or against either guy here, just sayin’ …)

  39. …so after throwing the current system to the curb, I would propose a new system where the Hall of Fame would present an annual award to a single player who emboddied attributes that they chose to recognize that particular year. Rather than joining a club, the player would be recognized for what they did right… You could word the recognition any way you wanted with flexibility based upon the cultural values of the time. I do think it important to recognize people.

  40. Seriously though, Bonds has been the best position player in my lifetime, and Clemens/Johnson the two best pitchers in my lifetime. How do you keep guys like that out of the hall of fame?

    • Seriously though, Bonds has been the best position player in my lifetime, and Clemens/Johnson the two best pitchers in my lifetime.How do you keep guys like that out of the hall of fame?

      If one guy sticks out like a sore thumb from the steriods era, it is Greg Maddux. I, for one, did not truly appreciate his mastery of the craft of pitching during his career. I wouldn’t take all the Bonds, Sosa, McGwire home run shows in the world for one Greg Maddux. I’m hoping that he gets 100% of the writers’ votes this time next year.

      • If one guy sticks out like a sore thumb from the steriods era, it is Greg Maddux.I, for one, did not truly appreciate his mastery of the craft of pitching during his career.I wouldn’t take all the Bonds, Sosa, McGwire home run shows in the world for one Greg Maddux.I’m hoping that he gets 100% of the writers’ votes this time next year.

        I think Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will both be selected in 2014, in their first year of eligibility. If anything I believe Glavine was more impressive because he was arguably less talented. Kinda like Cueto vs Arroyo, gotta respect the crafty guy. But, of course, that’s just my opinion.

        @TC: Sorry, I’ve been feeling old lately also.

  41. Big thanks to Drew Mac for jumping on my biggest pet peeve in this whole debate: the ridiculous comparison between amphetamines and steroids. Did amphetamines help anyone hit 70 home runs in the ’70s while I wasn’t looking? Why not compare steroid users to the guys who drink a six of Red Bull before taking the field in 2012? There is simply no comparison, and I wish people would stop trying to make one.

  42. Good piece and good discussion. I say ban them for life. When one excuses the guilty, injustice is done to the innocent.

  43. The closest Rolen has ever been to an MVP in any year was 4th. Eight Gold Gloves is pretty awesome, but just over 2000 hits, just over 300 HRs, 1200 RBIs, lifetime batting average of .281, OPS of .855….. :| nnnnnnah.

  44. @TC: I think just having played in the majors for a certain number of years, or in a certain number of games, must get a guy on the ballot five years after he retires. If I remember correctly, guys like Aaron Sele, Woody Williams and Todd Walker are actually on this year’s ballot. Doubt they’re gonna sit home waiting for a phone call.

    • Yep, any player with 10 years of service is on the ballot at least once. Here are some of the future eligibles. Of course, most don’t have a Cub’s chance of winning the World Series of getting in.

      http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/future-eligibles

      @TC: I think just having played in the majors for a certain number of years, or in a certain number of games, must get a guy on the ballot five years after he retires. If I remember correctly, guys like Aaron Sele, Woody Williams and Todd Walker are actually on this year’s ballot. Doubt they’re gonna sit home waiting for a phone call.

  45. I have to disagree witht he premise of Steve’s article. The post seems to be built around this idea of the “Steroid Era,” which is often talked about, about how so many people were doping that isolating individual people is unfair.

    My problem with this is that, as the article states, the point of the HOF is to compare people to their peers, and the key fact of the Steroid Era is that we just don’t know what people did.

    You can’t just assume that everyone was using. The highest estimates I’ve seen were around 50%, and who knows for how long people did them. What roids did to the sport was take records that were rock solid locked in stone, and make them all questionable.

    Did ARod juice for as long as Bonds? Does HGH help performance or just help recover from injury? If it’s just recovering from injury, is it still doping? There are just so many questions now. Most players played sometime in the Steroid Era, so how do you compare someone’s numbers that played most of their career in the Steroid ERA to someone who juiced for a few years at the end and then stopped?

    My take has always been that if I had verifiable evidence that a player used, that I wouldn’t vote for them. The important part is that I would not be voting no in some morally judgemental way. I would be voting no because someone who doped added too many questions about their actual numbers for me to feel rock solid about them going to the Hall. And isn’t that the true test?

  46. This has been a fascinating discussion, and I’m still considering various angles of it. Two things occurred to me:

    1) Maddux and Glavine being used as “white hat” examples. I kind of feel that way, too, but here’s the thing – like I siad above, most players (and especially pitchers) didn’t use steroids to bulk up. They used them to speed the recovery of muscles from the abuse and injury of a long season. You can’t *know* that Maddux didn’t use just because he never “looked” like he used. Pettitte only got busted because someone ratted him out. Maybe Maddux was just more careful.

    That’s why this whole discussion with regard to the HoF is so poisonous – any assumptions we make could be entirely wrong.

    2) Maybe we actually owe McGwire, Sosa and Bonds a debt of gratitude. By blowing themselves up to ridiculous proportions and crushing revered 60 year old records, they rubbed people’s faces in it in a way that could not be ignored. Had they just remained “cool”, steriods might well still be baseball’s dirty little secret.

  47. @RC: Some people believe that somebody should be innocent until proven guilty. I don’t think Maddux or Glavine (or former Red Ken Griffey Jr) have ever been accused of drug use by anybody credible. Guys like Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, and Clemens, everyone knows they’re guilty.

    If anything I think MLB owes McGwire and Sosa a debt of gratitude for rebuilding national interest in MLB after the big strike by the players union.

    As far as guys using drugs to rehab, Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez rarely got much attention for testing positive. When he was recovering from Tommy John Surgery he was suspended for 50 games for what, HGH? The news went pretty unnoticed because he was out either way, but yikes… he returned relatively fast from elbow surgery. A 50 game suspension seemed like a small price to pay for that recovery (even if he never returned to form).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s