On Baseball History

Fair warning: This is just me rambling and getting personal a bit.

The results of the Baseball Writers Association of America balloting for Hall of Famers were released today, and unsurprisingly (shockingly unsurprisingly, if that makes sense), no one received enough support to earn entry into the hallowed halls in Cooperstown, New York. The fallout has been a thick mixture of outrage and apathy; yours truly has fallen into the latter category.

In the past, I’d have written a lengthy rebuttal or FJM’d something dumb one of the writers said, but I’ve long since stopped being emotionally invested in anything involving the BBWAA. Anticipating the results, I expected Jack Morris and Jack Morris alone to receive the requisite votes, but even that didn’t come to fruition, as pessimistic as that was. Even the end-of-season awards haven’t reached my core as a fan in a while. Perhaps with age I’ve become more jaded and cynical, but I like to think I’ve changed for the better — I don’t rely on the BBWAA to be my baseball history guide.

On May 7, 2006, I went to Citizens Bank Park for a night game (nationally broadcast on ESPN, if I recall correctly) between the Phillies and the San Francisco Giants. Barry Bonds was on his quest to surpass Babe Ruth‘s then-second-best career home run total, entering the night at 712, just two shy of a tie with the Great Bambino. Jon Lieber toed the rubber for the Phillies, opposing Matt Morris. Pat Burrell homered in the first, and the Phillies strung together a few extra-base hits in the second to take a 5-1 lead.

The offense died down for a few innings. Lieber entered the sixth inning with his team up 5-2, scheduled to face the 2-3-4 part of the Giants’ lineup. Omar Vizquel grounded out to third base and Pedro Feliz struck out. It looked like an easy inning for Lieber, but Bonds took his usual stride to the plate amidst a chorus of boos. I stood up and applauded, ever the contrarian. Fans in left field had been holding up this banner all night:

Bonds was walked intentionally with a runner on second base and two outs in the first inning, and singled to lead off the fourth on the first pitch he saw. Facing Lieber for the third time in the sixth, he had seen a grand total of one legitimate pitch. But Bonds was used to this: he drew a MLB-record 120 intentional walks in 2004 (he finished with a .609 on-base percentage, by the way. .609. Six-oh-nine.) It was often said that, in the course of an entire game, Bonds may have only seen one hittable pitch, if that. He made a habit of not missing them.

Bonds fouled off a 1-0 pitch, then took another ball to bring it to 2-1. Lieber, who was never particularly effective with the Phillies, threw one of his typical meatballs and Bonds crushed it. Bonds attacked the baseball like Fedor Emelianenko attacked any one of his many vanquished opponents. I, and the rest of the nearly 40,000 at Citizens Bank Park, rose to our feet in absolute awe. As the ball hung in the air like a star in the night sky, all of us in attendance for that moment discarded our allegiances to simply admire the beauty created by this performer.

The ball peaked and tumbled back towards Earth, its descent interrupted by the McDonald’s advertisement that hangs just below the upper deck. Few had even come close to hitting a baseball that far (Ryan Howard would, a month later, surpass it in a game against the New York Yankees). As the reality settled in, the fans with mouths agape pursed their lips to boo the slugger, to shame him for making them believe that what they had just witnessed was real. Bonds jogged around the bases and touched home plate for the 713th time. The Giants still trailed, 5-3. The Phillies would add four more runs and went on to win 9-5.

To this day, that is still the most memorable game I have seen in person. Seeing Bonds hit that home run, to me, is almost as incredible as seeing Brad Lidge fall to his knees after striking out Eric Hinske to end the 2008 World Series. I bring this up because Bonds, arguably the greatest player in baseball history, did not receive nearly enough support (36.2 percent) to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He will remain on the ballot, but he is fighting an uphill battle against a cacophony of anti-PED sentiment among the generally older set of baseball fans that make up the BBWAA.

Bonds’ not being inducted into the Hall of Fame does not diminish my memory of that night, or of him as a player or as a person. Bonds made baseball incredibly fun for me in the 1990′s and 2000′s, and that is something I will pass on to anyone that wants to listen to me talk about baseball. There has been a lot of sentiment recently that the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame both need to change — and they do, badly — but fans should not let a homogeneous group of baseball writers affect what they do and don’t like about baseball.

Kenny Lofton, for example, received only 3.2 percent of the vote and will not have another chance despite compelling credentials. Will you forget about Lofton’s incredible defense? Will you forget about the sheer terror he created for pitchers when he was on the base paths (622 career steals, 79.5 percent success rate)? Will you forget that he was one of the best lead-off hitters of his era, finishing with an on-base percentage above .400 in four different seasons? Something is obviously wrong when once-in-a-generation players are left on the side of the road the way Lofton was, but he won’t simply disappear from the annals of baseball history. The Hall of Fame is not the Ministry of Truth. The emotions you felt watching these players — the excitement, the frustration, the joy — was real, and an organization of self-indulgent sportswriters will never have agency over that.

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82 comments

  1. LTG

    January 10, 2013 11:13 PM

    Moral relativism! Where?

  2. LTG

    January 10, 2013 11:22 PM

    Robin,

    I’m not sure how you meant your post to address the conversation; so, if what follows misses the point I apologize.

    There is no evidence that steroid use increases the likelihood of cancer. Alzado’s tear-jerking testimony is not evidence.

  3. LTG

    January 11, 2013 12:10 AM

    BB,

    In case you really were interested:

    I don’t really know what Pete means by “moral relativism”, especially as something that can take a hiatus. Generally, moral relativism is true if it just means most of what is right and wrong is context sensitive, but false if it is equivalent to skepticism (which includes subjectivism). I’m not going to argue for this but, here, this is funny and not misleading: www.philosophybro.com/2012/06/mailbag-monday-ethical-dogmatism.html

    I do think the discussion of player responsibility suffers from some confusion. That someone fails to do something that is morally praiseworthy does not entail that he has violated a moral obligation. So, even if PED-use were morally wrong, it is not obvious that any players were under a moral obligation to tell anyone about the PED-use in MLB because the wrong might not be bad enough to warrant an obligation to speak up. It depends on the reasons grounding the wrong. Generally, we shouldn’t penalize people who fail to do morally praiseworthy but not obligatory things. No one should get fined for not giving a handout to a person in urgent need.

  4. Pete

    January 11, 2013 12:51 AM

    LTG,

    I think in the alternate history that I was proposing, “moral relativism” had what we would consider a more colloquial sense: squishy.

    You are right about my confusion, which you cut straight through. (I hope.) “Generally, we shouldn’t penalize people who fail to do morally praiseworthy but not obligatory things.”

    Might not that “generally” turn on the type of penalty? In this instance, our penalty for the players who failed to do the morally praiseworthy thing is to withhold praise. That’s all induction into the HOF is: a form a praise. How we weight that failure to speak up against the rest of their conduct as baseball players is admittably arbitrary. I am comfortable with giving it considerable weight, even more weight than 700-however many home runs (poor broken, meaningless records that I cannot even recall) etc.

  5. Pete

    January 11, 2013 12:55 AM

    LTG,
    “Because, given the lack of evidence of serious health risks resulting from steroid use in adults and the lack of rules against steroid use in the MLB for most of the Steroid Era, the players were neither committing a moral wrong nor cheating. At worst, steroid using players were participating in the trafficking of illegal substances.”
    It’s been a long, pleasant while since I read my moral philosophers, so I have no idea whether no harm to self and no express rule beats the morality charge. And there’s not much I can do if you define cheating exclusively as a violation of written rules. Well, other than to provide an alternate definition. I know how much readers at Crashburn hate any mention of unwritten rules, but they do exist all throughout sports and often transmit cultural norms on ethical fair play, which when violated cause participants to immediately consider it “unfair” or even sometimes “cheating” even if the written or absence of a written rule later exonerates them. It seems the written rules are usually just the post hoc codification of those “unfair” or “cheating” epiphanies. So I have no problem honoring the visionary ground-breaking “cheaters” who “cheated” the rule into existence by withholding a discretionary honor from them. But I respect the rules too, so that’s why I wouldn’t advocate a retroactive punishment like garnishing A-Rod’s wages, or wouldn’t have advocated for tossing a player from a game for shooting up in the batter’s box between pitches. Not against the rules, so go for it. But I sure wish the 1989 A’s had done their juicing that way so that we could have gotten this out of the way before it started. But they did it surreptitiously. Damn them and their cheater epiphanies.
    “Also, because the symbolic gesture will have no effect on the current situation in MLB except to continue to suppress an intelligent discussion about the role of steroids in MLB and sports more generally.”
    I would have followed you if you stopped at saying the symbolic gesture should not be celebrated because it has no effect on the current situation. (No point cheering at the parade in ’08 either.) But if the symbol can have an effect in this situation as you then concede, I don’t understand how it can only have a negative effect and one so specific that it must suppress intelligent discussion of steroids in sports. I’m not aware of anything in the condemnation of the past illegal and surreptitious introduction of steroids into the game that suppresses the discussion of a future legal and open introduction of steroids into the game. It also seems that you could disprove your point by starting that intelligent discussion right now. (Psst-I’m actually on your side, so I won’t start that conversation either.)

  6. Hog

    January 11, 2013 04:21 AM

    To open a bigger can of worms I believe Barry Bonds was having a HOF career before the PED allegations.

    Also clean or not those years of Bonds, Sosa and Maguire hitting bombs nightly was pretty damn exciting.

    So the guys suspected of PED use don’t make the hall, but the clean players don’t make the hall because their numbers don’t measure up to the dirty ones. Pretty broken logic.

  7. Phillie697

    January 11, 2013 08:02 AM

    Look at this another way… Consider the rampant use of PED. Consider that there was no rules against it. Consider what we knew at the time of the negative effects of PED use, if any. Now consider the millions of dollars at stake for each of these players. How many of you are qualified to say that you wouldn’t do the same thing in the same situation? How many of you would be so shameful as to boast that you’ll be the snitch if you were a MLB player? I know plenty of people who would do a hell of a lot worse things than… using PED if I gave him/her even just half a million bucks, let along the amounts we’re talking about here. So you know what, get off your high horse.

  8. CJ

    January 11, 2013 08:49 AM

    Phillie697,

    Segregation in sports reflected segregation in society. Whereas PEDs is exclusive to sports, both in its prevelance and its impact. That’s the difference. That, and the fact that it’s 2013 and not 1955 Selma.

  9. TomG

    January 11, 2013 10:37 AM

    Certainly racism was a problem in major league baseball, just as it was in American society at large at that time. (It’s still a problem in American society at large, but considerably less of a problem in baseball, if it can be said to be one at all, anymore.) And yes, it was bad for the game that the greats of yesteryear were not obliged to play against the best black players, as they should have been.

    Were there racist players? You bet there were! And, yeah, Ty Cobb could have been their poster-boy. After all, the reason he went into the stands and beat that handicapped guy senseless in that infamous incident was because the guy taunted him by calling him a “half-ni-CLANG!” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcZ9ku_wInw) Cobb was not well-liked even by his own teammates but the one time they stood by him, and actually went on strike in solidarity with him, was when he was suspended for this incident. Cobb’s an asshole, their reasoning obviously went, but being sullied with the accusation of being black, well … beating the man who said that to within an inch of his life is understandable, reasonable even, regardless of the fact that the man had no hands.

    So … was racism pretty endemic among the players of that era? Duh. What follows below should in no way be read as an attempt to deny the racist attitudes that were rampant among the players of the time.

    But the players had zero to do with keeping blacks out of the game. That was a silent conspiracy among the owners, based on a “gentlemen’s agreement” and pretty ruthlessly enforced by Commissioner K. Mountain Landis, while of course publicly denying any such sub rosa agreement existed. Were the players okay with that? A lot of them, sure. Maybe even a majority – although I believe there were player polls that suggested the players would have been willing to accept black teammates years before Jackie Robinson was given his chance to play in 1947.

    But the point is, what the players wanted or didn’t want in this instance meant, to be blunt, fuck-all to the owners and to Landis. They wanted the game segregated and they no more asked the opinion of the players on this issue than they did when they decided to trade one of them to another team. You don’t wanna be traded to the last place Phillies? Tough shit. Quit the game and find gainful employment elsewhere – that’s your only other option. The owners weren’t in the habit of gauging the players’ fee-fees before deciding things.

    It should be pointed out that Landis and a number of the owners who engaged in this decades-long racist conspiracy are in the HoF.

    They shouldn’t be. They are a disgrace, and not just to the game of baseball. But they are there.

    My point?

    Comparing baseball’s long history of racist segregation with the PEDs controversy is a bit misleading because the former, as I said, was a conspiracy among the owners, facilitated and enforced by the Commissioner (the same Morally Unimpeachable Commissioner who banned all the Black Sox conspirators for turpitude despite the fact that all of them were acquitted in their trial); while the latter – steroid abuse – was the result of the decisions of individual players to cheat both the game and the other players who opted to play clean.

    The pre-1947 players were not responsible for the fact that they didn’t have to play against the best black players. They may have been fine with that state of affairs, and it undoubtedly helped their stats, but that is certainly not the same as being responsible for it.

    But Barry Bonds (assuming he actually used steroids)? He and he alone was responsible for that.

    If you consider that cheating, I think you are well within your rights to hold him responsible for his choice to cheat. Same with Clemens and the others. This is not mitigated by the fact that Bonds hit really pretty, really long home runs … any more than the segregation of those pre-1947 years is mitigated by the fact that Ruth probably hit more (and prettier!) home runs than he would have if he’d had to face the best of the Negro league pitchers, not just white pitchers, some of whom, it can be assumed, would have been out of a job because they wouldn’t have been considered major league-worthy if they’d had to compete for a job against the best of the black pitchers. After all, Ruth didn’t hit all of his home runs off of Walter Johnson-caliber pitchers; and he never had to face, e.g., Satchel Paige in his prime.

    How one “ought” to feel re: the steroid users is certainly up for debate. Personally, I have no problem with their being punished by having the HoF honor withheld from them – assuming, of course, you think there is sufficient evidence of their use of PEDs; which evidence doesn’t have to rise to the level of legal proof or conviction in a court of law; anyone who argues that it does would, I think, be obliged, for the sake of consistency, to lobby for the reinstatement of the Black Sox conspirators, all of whom were tried and acquitted in a court of law; and so if legal proof is the standard, Joe Jackson, at the very least, should be in the HoF and maybe one or two of the other Sox should be, as well.

    Sorry for the prolixity of this comment. I have no idea whether or not it will even post, given its length. I wouldn’t blame your blog one bit for vomiting it back at me.

    Man, I opted, at first, not to wade into this discussion because I had an inkling that, if I did, my contribution would be this long-winded. And I was right.

    Once again – Sorry.

  10. hk

    January 11, 2013 10:55 AM

    Phillie697,

    I’ll admit that I put worse things than steroids in my body when I was in my teens and 20′s and I did so for a lot smaller reward than potentially improving my chances of making a lot of money playing a game. A few years ago, Mike Schmidt said something to the effect of that he wished he had his 56 year old brain advising his 28 year old body at the time that he used amphetamines. I agree that it’s time for many to get down from their high horses on this issue.

    I also don’t get why people feel like now is the time for the Hall to keep out the best players from an era because they cheated when the Hall has previously allowed entry to admitted cheaters like Gaylord Perry and Hank Aaron. The best players from the game’s history should be in the Hall and, if it is necessary to note that Bonds and Clemens cheated, I’m fine with that…as long as it is also noted that Perry, Aaron and Schmidt cheated.

  11. LTG

    January 11, 2013 11:12 AM

    Pete,

    Thanks for your responses to me. I don’t have much time because I should be working but here are some for you.

    1) Does squishy mean difficult to determine because the contextual factors are many and hard to weight?

    2) Is withholding HoF a fitting withholding of praise? Great question. I would distinguish moral praise from other kinds of praise for excellence. The HoF is praise for excellence but not moral praise. The moral standard attached to the prize is a minimum and should not license the inference that the player is a morally good person. So, it seems strange to withhold HoF from players as a way to withhold moral praise. Perhaps Craig Biggio does not deserve moral praise because he didn’t speak up but he still deserves praise for being an excellent ball player (though not as good as Utley).

    3) I like what you say about the nuance of cheating. But see Phillie697′s rejoinder. The higher the stakes, the greater the need for explicit rules.

    4) A couple years back, Crashburn hosted a long conversation on steroid use in sports, which was probably the best I’ve ever seen let alone participated in. (It was my first tete-a-tete with 697, always a pleasure.) That conversation was not focused on the HoF question but steroids generally. We could try again with the HoF in mind. But I doubt our little corner of sports media will have any effect on the larger conversation, unfortunately.

    5) RE: HoF Symbology. Right now, the symbolic message sent by withholding the HoF is castigation because that’s what the withholding writers say about their own votes and how most fans who advocate it justify it. Since that message presupposes that PED-use was wrong and should be punished, it suppresses the question that has never been asked in the larger discourse about PEDs in sports: are they really wrong and why (not)?

  12. LTG

    January 11, 2013 11:14 AM

    “To open a bigger can of worms I believe Barry Bonds was having a HOF career before the PED allegations. ”

    Who doesn’t believe this? Had Bonds retired after 1999, he would have been a HoFer no question and also the next Jim Brown.

  13. Phillie697

    January 11, 2013 11:42 AM

    @TomG,

    No apologies necessary. This is what this comments section is for.

    However, to respond to your point… Your point basically boiled down to that the players had no choice. Let me ask you this, given the environment back in the PED era, let say you are Darin Ruf or Dom Brown, or heck such lesser bats like Ashe or perhaps terrible bats like Galvis, or someone who knows if he can hit the ball a bit further he’d be a damn fine baseball player (say Ben Revere). Your entire life, your life-long dream, your LIVELIHOOD, may be affected if you choose to “stay clean.” That’s like telling some computer engineer that we’re going to move him to a country where they don’t use computers, and say to him, “so, yeah, go out there and make a living for yourself.” On what planet would you make a choice to live a holier than thou existence and screw your own life?

    I’ll give you that Bonds didn’t need to do it; he would have made millions regardless. I don’t really know what really prompted him to do it, but the excuses he’s given seem pretty plausible to me. For some of us, it’s survival. For others, it’s fame, recognition, fortunes, because survival is not really a concern for them. Why are we asking these people, who by the way PLAY A FREAKING GAME FOR A LIVING, to be some moral high ground that we can be proud of? I mean, f (excuse my language), people that we should reasonably EXPECT to be upstanding, say, Catholic priests, modest little boys okay? And we want these damn baseball players to throw away their lives just so you and I can feel the game is a little bit more pure? I’m sorry, who the heck gave us the right to be so idiotic and unreasonable?

  14. Scott G

    January 11, 2013 01:27 PM

    I guess this is directed at whomever wants to punish players for using PEDs.

    I don’t think there is any legitimate reason for punishing players who used PEDs before they were explicitly against the rules. The players who used were not breaking any rules at the time. PEDs alone do not make you hit/throw a baseball farther or harder. We can also apply this logic to other sports. PEDs do not in and of themselves enhance any physical attributes. If you inject yourself with steroids, and then sit around all day, nothing is going to happen. These PEDs allowed players to better themselves. They give people an edge to have the capacity to work harder.

    Is it right to punish players for using PEDs at a time when they were not prohibited by MLB when all they were really trying to do was allow themselves to be able to work harder to get better? At what point do you draw the line? People ingest protein shakes because it HELPS their muscles rebuild after working out. Should that be against the rules too?

  15. TomG

    January 11, 2013 02:20 PM

    @Phillie697 – It’s kind of hard for me to respond to your comment because it posits an argument I didn’t make. I never said past PED users (or suspected PED users) should have their livelihood taken away from them, or that their names should be expunged from the record books, or that they should be jailed (I actually thought the efforts to imprison Bonds for perjury were absurd; that, to me, was a witch hunt). What I said was, if one concludes that juicing, even when it wasn’t explicitly against the rules, was cheating, then it’s not unreasonable to advocate for reprimanding that behavior, and one reasonable way would be to withhold HoF honors from players who, otherwise, would be regarded as having had hall of fame-worthy careers.

    The guys who juiced in the 90s certainly seemed to have been aware they were behaving in a less-than-upright way. Even though it was not against the rules to use PEDs, they didn’t say, “Wow, this stuff is great! It made me a better player! Everyone should be using it!” In fact, they did all they could to hide the fact that they were juicing, up to and including denying it publicly.

    That’s what’s known as consciousness of guilt. Neither I nor anyone else has to accuse them of doing something wrong. They tacitly acknowledged it with their own behavior.

    Some people may say, “So what?” 36-37% of the writers did just that w/r/t Clemens and Bonds this year. I’m not exactly up-in-arms about that, calling for their heads on a pike, nor am I calling for them to be banned from their livelihood as sports writers. (How could I? I wasn’t, I’ll point out again, calling for the players to be banned, as your comment implies I was.)

    For whatever reasons (and there were a variety offered, some pretty persuasive), those writers were okay with what Bonds and Clemens did. At least okay enough not to withhold their votes, not even for just the first year. (Some writers who didn’t vote for them this year have said they’d vote for them in the future. The one-year withholding being a slap-on-the-wrist punishment.)

    As for your other argument: If I’m going for a job I really, really want (doesn’t really matter what it is), and there are two other persons going for it who are both better qualified for it than I, you should have no problem with my arranging for both of them to come down with an opportune case of food poisoning before the job interview, right? (Assuming I could arrange that somehow.) Otherwise, I wouldn’t get this dream job. And condemning me for getting it by a method some might call “cheating”, well, that’s just getting on your high-horse and moralizing, isn’t it?

    And my point re: keeping blacks out of baseball until 1947 was: The people who actually were responsible for that – the owners and the commissioner – are the ones who should be held responsible for it, not the players. No, not even Ty Cobb, racist rat-bastard that he was, notwithstanding.

    And if K.M. Landis were unceremoniously ejected from the Hall of Fame?

    I would not have a problem with that.

  16. Phillie697

    January 11, 2013 03:05 PM

    @TomG,

    I was directly responding to you saying players had no choice wrt segregation. These players who used PED didn’t have much of a choice either. If you’re gonna hold them as dishonorable as unworthy of the Hall, then perhaps we need to kick out all of the racist players like Cobb too then. Like I said, don’t tell me any of them weren’t keenly aware of racist issues, or that keeping Negro League players out of the MLB meant many of them would still have jobs.

  17. Phillie697

    January 11, 2013 03:08 PM

    @TomG,

    As for your poison argument… There is a big, big, HUGE flaw with that; it’s illegal, and not only that, criminal. The decision not to poison those players, trust me, isn’t because these guys are too moral to do it; it’s because they will go to jail and their careers would be over anyway, so there is no real incentive to do it.

  18. Phillie697

    January 11, 2013 03:14 PM

    @TomG,

    i.e., I don’t need to make or withhold moral judgment of people who poison other people; the government prosecutors will take care of them plenty.

  19. TomG

    January 11, 2013 04:03 PM

    Interesting. There’s legal and there’s illegal, and that’s all we can judge by.

    Well, there goes any chance of condemning/reprimanding those who engaged in the conspiracy to keep blacks out of baseball. Because that wasn’t illegal at the time. So segregating the game was hinky-dinky because there was no legal basis upon which to condemn it.

    Except the only way these morally reprehensible things become illegal, become criminal, is when people do engage in judging them by a better standard than what the government at any given time says is wrong, i.e., illegal.

    Institutionalized racism in the form of segregation – once sanctioned by US law – is now illegal because enough people made an issue of it. In this country, it wasn’t always illegal to engage in systematic discrimination.

    But it was always immoral.

    Thank dog those who saw it as immoral had the courage to act upon their beliefs.

  20. KJ

    January 11, 2013 04:21 PM

    I remember this game– as a fourth grader I sang the National Anthem with my school at the game that day. I remember holding up my line going off the field because I was searching for Barry in the Giants’ dugout. I remember being in awe as Barry hit 713. I’m glad I was only 9 at the time, because I still had an innocence about the players of the era. All I saw was a guy who could hit a baseball further than anyone else.

  21. LTG

    January 11, 2013 07:44 PM

    I feel old.

  22. Phillie697

    January 11, 2013 08:49 PM

    @TomG,

    What do you think baseball is doing right now with all these anti-drug policies? You’re trying to retroactively punish people for it now, even though you’re not willing to do so for racists. What’s the difference?

  23. Hog

    January 12, 2013 01:39 AM

    @LTG

    Damn I left a whole sentence out.

    I meant to add.

    “How can Bonds not make the HOF now if he was effectively already in?”

  24. LTG

    January 12, 2013 10:20 AM

    Hog,

    Sure. But it’s not a “can of worms”, even a little one. We all, including the writers who won’t vote for him, believe he was a HoFer before juicing (on the story that he only started after 1999 as a reaction to being unfairly outshined by users). There is just a disagreement over how to treat this type of player (Clemens being another, are there others?) If the voter refuses to vote for PED-users as a punishment, he won’t vote for this type. If the voter refuses to vote for PED-users to compensate for the effects of PEDs on their careers, he will vote for this type. We can ask which, if either, is the correct way to vote, but it is obvious what is going on. And, given the positions in the argument surrounding PEDs and the HoF, there is no straightforward inference from *HoFer before using PEDs* to *should be elected to HoF*.

    The short answer to your rhetorical question is: Pete Rose.

  25. LTG

    January 12, 2013 10:32 AM

    Question:

    If we do not use PEDs as a criterion for the HoF, does Sosa deserve election?

    I was surprised that, despite the 609 HRs, he only amassed 64 fWAR (9 from defense). Even McGwire has 70 fWAR (and -dWAR). Sosa seems to me a borderline case.

  26. Hog

    January 13, 2013 03:31 AM

    @LTG

    Pete Rose should be in the HOF

    Quick question, why does the media vote for the HOF? I don’t know what the alternative is.

  27. Phillie697

    January 14, 2013 12:06 PM

    Removing all PED related talks, Sosa was already a borderline case for me, kinda like Palmeiro. Yeah sure their numbers look gaudy when looking at the entire history of the game, but they weren’t considered the absolute best of their times. That is not to say that we should only put Bonds and McGwire into the hall and no other power hitters, but if you’re not Bonds or McGwire, we might have to look at you a little closer.

    BTW, even more number against Sosa… His career wOBA, .370, is less than Palmeiro’s .380 despite the 609 HRs. In fact his wOBA ranked only 35th among OFers between the years 1989 to 2007, his time in the majors, behind such great hitters like John Kruk, Danny Tartabull, Shane Mack, and Rusty Greer.

  28. Phillie697

    January 14, 2013 12:08 PM

    @Hog,

    I don’t have a problem with Rose being in the Hall. But the lifetime ban is appropriate; if you bet on baseball, I don’t want you anywhere NEAR being able to affect the outcome of any baseball games ever again.

  29. LTG

    January 14, 2013 02:58 PM

    Phillie,

    Yeah, we are coming to the same conclusion for the same reasons. But, don’t knock Kruk. He was an excellent hitter in his prime: great eye, great contact, above-average power.

    Also, there are other power hitters from the steroids era that are (err…should be) locks, such as Bagwell, Griffey, and Thomas. We don’t need to look more closely at their numbers.

  30. Phillie697

    January 14, 2013 03:35 PM

    Yeah, not much to argue against wrt to Bagwell, Griffey Jr., or Thomas either. Especially Bagwell. The man AVERAGED 5.6 WAR a season; his was not one where he got his career totals by playing forever.

  31. LTG

    January 14, 2013 05:33 PM

    In fairness to Sosa, he hit a lot of home runs and did not play much beyond his productive years. He had under 10000 PAs. His numbers are not just a product of playing a long time. But it seems he was really a 2 true outcome hitter (HRs, Ks) only walking when his HR numbers were gawdy and BBs were up around the league. He did not have any real BABIP skill, as other great hitters usually do.

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