Crash Bag, Vol. 87: Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

Hey, hey hey, interrogate me hey…

@mdubz11: “your hall of fame ballot, opinions, etc etc”

I’m shocked that nobody asked me this before now, but I guess there’s a certain point past which nobody cares about my opinion. Anyway, I answered this last year, and nobody got in, so a lot of my answers are the same…actually, look at that, it was Dubs who asked for my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot last year too, the sneaky bastard.

I’ll start with the same priors from a year ago: performance-enhancing drug use, whether proved or admitted or divined by Murray Chass through a Borg implant in his occipital lobe that picks up vague truths in the radiation of Earth’s Van Allen belts, doesn’t bother me. History has made it clear that the Hall of Fame doesn’t punish baseball players for cheating or PEDs, because Willie Mays is an exemplar of a Hall of Famer and won the 1951 pennant thanks in large part to the Giants using a buzzer system to steal signs, then went on to deal amphetamines from his locker with the Mets in the 1970s. The Hall of Fame doesn’t exact an asshole tax, because Cap Anson and Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle were all abhorrent human beings, guilty of crimes against human decency that make Barry Bonds‘ BALCO nonsense look like jaywalking.

Keeping Bonds and Roger Clemens, among others, out of the Hall of Fame on suspicion of drug use represents exacting a unilateral penalty for violating norms. Some norms–the norms by which I decry Anson’s racism and Mantle’s treatment of women–protect people, or at least aim to. But PEDs are theoretically bad because they hurt the user in the long run, and because they violate some Victorian standard of athletic purity. And it’s okay to have those, but if they were worth a shit, they’d have been rules. Rules have standard procedures and penalties for violating them, and even Rafael Palmeiro, the only player with a Hall of Fame case who was actually suspended for PED usage, paid his penalty by serving a suspension, a penalty that says nothing about Hall of Fame eligibility. Major League Baseball’s made no effort to erase alleged drug cheats from baseball, sending a clear message that it’s perfectly acceptable to vote for such players. And if you think Barry Bonds wouldn’t have hit 762 home runs if not for PEDs–and I don’t, for the record–imagine how many fewer home runs Babe Ruth would have hit if he had to play against anyone but badly trained white Americans. The Steroid Era is a historical context, for better or worse, and while I’d like to have a clean game, I’d like more than anything to just calm down a little about PEDs. It’s like nobody learned from McCarthyism–old white dudes in positions of power will freak out about just about anything, regardless of whether or not it’s actually all that bad.

Not to preach or anything.

Anyways, if not for the 10-vote limit, I could, in good conscience, vote for as many as 17 players. I’m holding over eight from last year: Bonds, Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza and Larry Walker. Gone are, unfortunately, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez and Mark McGwire. In their place I’d pick Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Frank Thomas.

On that list, I ‘d expect the following players to be completely uncontroversial, given beforehand that I’m a big Hall guy who doesn’t care about drugs: Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Piazza and Maddux. If you need those explained, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll go into more detail about some of the others:

  • Tim Raines. You get two comps with pro-Raines people: Rickey Henderson and Tony Gwynn. I like the Gwynn one better, because he was a no-doubt Hall of Famer in a similar role to Raines. In 20 seasons, Gwynn had a career .388 OBP career 132 OPS+.  An easy Hall of Famer. Raines: .385 OBP, 123 career OPS+ in 23 seasons. So Gwynn was a little better with the bat. But the bat isn’t the only way you can create bases or outs. Raines, in his career, had 808 steals was caught 148 times, and grounded into 142 double plays. That’s 808 bases and 290 outs that aren’t accounted for by batting stats. Gwynn stole 315 bases, was caught 125 times, and grounded into 259 double plays: 315 more bases and 384 more outs. Since both Raines and Gwynn were kind of crappy defensive outfielders, that makes up for Gwynn’s greater power. So you get 68.9 career WAR/41.1 7yr-peak WAR/55.0 JAWS for Gwynn and 69.1 career WAR/42.2 7yr-peak WAR/55.6 JAWS for Raines. Those are extremely similar numbers. Taken holistically, there’s no way you can take Gwynn and not Raines.
  • Curt Schilling. Jay Jaffe’s JAWS has Schilling fourth on this ballot. Struck out as many batters per inning as Clemens (8.6 for both), struck out a batter more per walk than Maddux. Hero of two World Series champions, if you’re into such things. He only threw 3,261 innings, to about 5,000 for Maddux and Clemens, which knocks him down some, but on a per-inning basis, he’s much closer to those two than he is to Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina, much less the rest of the pitchers in this class.
  • Frank Thomas. Even for a lumbering first baseman in the Steroid Era, .419 OBP is still a .419 career OBP. I think his long hangaround phase obscures how good he was from age 22 through 29. For instance, I didn’t know this until just now, but Thomas had 270 more strikeouts than walks  walks than strikeouts (Note: got this backwards when I posted. Having 270 more walks than strikeouts for a power hitter is almost literally unbelievable.) for his career, which is is ludicrous for a guy with 521 career home runs. Maybe he’s not that controversial.
  • Mike Mussina. Another guy whose career was a lot better than I thought when I looked back at the numbers. Mussina’s a slightly poorer man’s Schilling–almost as good as Maddux and Clemens on a per-inning basis in a career composed of many fewer innings. The wild thing is that if Mussina doesn’t make the Hall of Fame eventually, it’ll be because he screwed himself. Mussina retired in 2008, at age 39, after a season in which he threw 200 innings, was worth 5.2 WAR and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting. He was far better that year than Maddux was in any of the six seasons he played after age 36. Two more seasons almost certainly get him to 3,000 strikeouts, and probably to 300 wins as well, at which point we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
  • Larry Walker. This is the pick I kind of leaned into, and the only one for which I allowed my own feelings to override the numbers even a little. I’m not even remotely positive that Walker was a better player than Biggio, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez or Rafael Palmeiro. Not even remotely. I discount Edgar and Palmeiro for DHing and drugs, but only a little–if I had more hypothetical votes, they’d both be in. But I think Walker is unfairly dinged for putting up his best seasons in perhaps the most hitter-friendly environment in baseball history–Coors Field in the late 1990s. But he gets crushed for that. He slugged .700 twice and .600 seven times. He posted a .440 OBP four times and a .420 OBP seven times. Even his OPS+, which accounts for both park and league factors, places him at 141, in a league with Edgar’s 147, and Walker was a pretty good defensive right fielder who posted double-digit stolen base totals 11 times. JAWS puts Walker, Raines, Thomas and the four players I mentioned above in a fairly tight grouping, so I feel pretty comfortable giving him the tiebreaker over Martinez on personal grounds: Larry Walker is the first baseball player I remember being truly in awe of. Despite not being particularly big, he looked and played like an eighth grader with a late birthday who played Little League with kids a grade down. It’s entirely subjective, but with a ballot this overcrowded and with candidates so well matched, you’ve got to break a tie with something. If you’d rather have Trammell or Palmeiro or Martinez or Glavine, I’d have no argument with that whatsoever.

I left at least six players off the ballot that I’d like to hypothetically vote for: Tom Glavine, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Craig Biggio and Rafael Palmeiro. Seven if I ever unpack how I feel about Sammy Sosa. Eight if this were a less crowded ballot and I could throw a vote to Hideo Nomo just to fuck with people.

The one I really need to explain leaving off is Glavine. Tom Glavine was a great pitcher, but somehow along the line people started thinking he was just like Maddux, but left-handed, because they were both kind of dweeby looking control pitchers. That’s kind of like saying Jim McGreevey is like Woodrow Wilson because both are former Democratic governors of New Jersey. Glavine’s career K/BB ratio is 1.74, which looks worse than it is next to today’s pitchers, but is still about half what Maddux and Mussina posted. His career WAR is slightly lower than Mussina’s, despite Glavine having pitched 850 more innings–the equivalent of four extra seasons. He won two Cy Young awards: 1991, when he pretty much lapped the field, and 1998, where he was more or less on a level with Maddux and Al Leiter and two and a half wins worse than Kevin Brown. He was a really good pitcher, but he racked up an enormous win total playing for good teams with good defenses.

Sportswriters love players who get a lot out of limited athletic ability, and as a small white guy who didn’t throw hard, they lavished such praise on Glavine, who’s probably the most athletic pitcher on the ballot this year. Glavine hit pretty well for a pitcher–.184/.244/.210 for his career, 7.5 offensive WAR by Baseball Reference’s reckoning, and by leaps and bounds the best line of any pitcher on the ballot except Todd Jones, who batted 19 times in 16 seasons. And that’s leaving out that the Los Angeles Kings drafted him five rounds ahead of Luc Robitaille out of high school. The worst NHL winger is a better athlete than the best major league pitcher. He’s not an undeserving Hall of Fame candidate, he’s just really overrated.

That’s almost 1,700 words on how I think about the Hall of Fame. If and when I apply for BBWAA membership, I’m going to print this post out and show it to them as evidence that I’m just as much of a pretentious, self-righteous navel-gazer as anyone out there.

@alexremington: “Considering his performance with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, do you kind of wish you still had Brandon Duckworth?”


Though it does offer the opportunity to talk about how sad the Phillies’ farm system was in the 1990s. When I was a kid, the Phillies always had Curt Schilling and maybe one other good pitcher–Danny Jackson or Paul Byrd if you were lucky–and one crappy veteran innings eater who seemed to constantly have mustard stains on his shirt (Chad Ogea, Mark Portugal, Kent Bottenfield) and one or two young guys we were hoping would turn into the next ace. In the early 2000s, they finally came up with Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf and Brett Myers, who were actually above-average starting pitchers for a while, then Cole Hamels, who was somewhat better than that.

But without looking anything up, I’m going to list some Phillies starting pitching prospects I talked myself into between 1993 and 2002 or so, who went on to turn into utter nonentities at the major league level: Tyler Green, Mike Grace, Carlton Loewer (we fell hard for him because he was named “Carlton”), Duckworth, Garrett Stephenson…I’m sure I’m missing others. Those were dark days, friends. Dark days.

@CogNerd: “Looking to be a terrible year. How far outside baseball can we venture? World Cup?”

You can venture wherever you want. Even-numbered years are great because you have an Olympics and a major soccer tournament, which are the two best sports binge-watching events ever created by man. I’m going to plug a catheter into my aorta and just pump curling and hockey into it for the duration of the month of February. There’s also college baseball, which is more readily available now than ever, and since I’ll be living in a city that has worthwhile college baseball for this first time since I was actually in college, I plan on getting down to see Ohio State a few times in person. This leaves out, of course, that South Carolina is one of the leading contenders for the national title after last year’s rebuilding effort, plus a major college roundup that features Trea Turner, Carlos Rodon, Alex Bregman, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Bregman, Aaron Nola, Skye Bolt and those loveable crazy bastards at Mississippi State–I’ve said it for years that college baseball is this country’s greatest unexploited source of sports entertainment.

And your gentle reminder that if you love baseball and have the time and the means, there’s not a better hundred-odd dollars a year you can spend than If you love the Phillies and you love baseball, there’s no rule that says you have to watch the Phillies every night. It’s okay to give the Phillies a break every so often and go watch a Rangers-Orioles game every so often. Yu Darvish and Manny Machado ain’t going to tell your wife.

@ut26: “What does Ruben Amaro buy in addition to bread and milk the day before an impending blizzard of doom?”

The problem with doomsday shopping is when the time comes, the supermarket is crowded and everyone’s bought the bread and eggs. And the knock on Ruben Amaro is that he buys things he doesn’t need indiscriminately and too early in the offseason. The very qualities that make him a bad GM, I believe, would make him the best blizzard shopper God ever put on this Earth.

So while the great unwashed are waiting 40 minutes in line at the Kroger for a half gallon of milk and a loaf of crappy white sandwich bread the night before the blizzard, Ruben Amaro is already in his living room, sitting in his easy chair with a fire going, reading a John Le Carre novel with a fresh gin and tonic and a towering plate of bruschetta by his side. Because he went out 48 hours before the snow was due to come, and came home with enough food and drink to sustain a platoon of Marines for a week, oodles of toilet paper and bottled water, plus candles and batteries enough to light his home until the spring thaw and, just in case the kids feel like going outside when school is closed, two brand new toboggans.

@pivnert: “RAJ’s first purchase tomorrow morning? a new suit? dunkin donuts franchise? remainder of A-Rod’s contract?”

Any one of these.

@jlwoj: “if you were hired as the Phillies’ official team blogger, what would your first five post titles be?”

Now, I know y’all think I’d be deeply conflicted if I were the Phillies’ official team blogger, unable to tear away my intellectual integrity to kowtow to the wishes of my employer, that I’d be unable to function and suffer some neurological or cardiopulmonary episode if I were hired to be Ruben Amaro’s personal Axis Sally.

But you’d be mistaken. Every man has a price, and as an underemployed freelance writer, my price is fairly low, all things considered. I would immediately and enthusiastically toe the company line and turn my little corner of the internet into a dissembling, whitewashed rag that would make Bukharin’s Pravda look like Mother Jones.

My first five post titles:

  • All NL East Teams are Equal, but Some are More Equal than Others
  • The Hidden Genius of Michael Martinez
  • Mutli-Year Contracts to Aging Relievers are the New Market Inefficiency
  • A Q&A with Ryan Howard: The Big Piece on His Bargain Contract and Our Ongoing War with Eastasia
  • Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

@JakePavorsky: “How has living in the Midwest affected your life (ie. eating cheese curds)?”

Well, it’s made me get over my fear of cheese curds and realize that they’re delicious, for starters. The other big thing it’s done is made me completely impervious to cold. I used to want to shrivel up and die at the thought of driving in freezing rain, but now I think nothing of it when I walk outside and icicles form on my nose hairs almost immediately.

I had my car serviced the other day and when I went to pick it up (in the driving snow, which apparently doesn’t close anything up here), I received a voucher for a free car wash. Apparently when the dealership does work on your car, they wash it, which is nice, but they won’t do it if it’s below freezing unless you’re leaving it for the day, and if it’s below 20 degrees, they won’t do it at all. It never for a second occurred to me that something like that would be a consideration.

@bxe1234: “Is there a less appetizing food name than “cheese curds”?”

Maybe. I don’t recommend eating them on a tuffet–you’ll attract spiders. Though I think those were other kinds of curds.

And this isn’t necessarily an unappetizing name, but I feel like now is a good time to mention kholodets.

I brought this up on Liberty Ballers a couple weeks ago and nobody seemed appropriately horrified. But apparently, the Russians are in the habit of making meat jello. No, really, they boil bones and fat until they form gelatin and embed meat product in the gelatin. And apparently a hard-boiled egg in this case, which is somehow like the fourth-most disgusting thing in this picture.

It is the most disgusting thing I can imagine, including bull testicles and tongue and insects and the Triple Stack from Burger King, because all those Fear Factor foods at least smack faintly of creativity. There’s no way kholodets tastes like anything but heaviness and grease and the kind of thing you’d dump on an upset stomach like sand on a chemical fire, if the thought of it wouldn’t make you puke more readily than would your flu-like symptoms. It’s unconscionable that a society–a world power, even!–conducts itself like this. They suspend meat in jello and have nuclear weapons. Lots of nuclear weapons. If ever there were a reason this world deserved to be destroyed, that’s reason No. 1.

Thank you for patronizing the Crash Bag. Stay warm, those of you trapped in blizzard conditions, and no matter how bad things get, there’s no reason to resort to eating kholodets.

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  1. Dubs

    January 03, 2014 09:34 AM

    Damn… I need to be more creative with my questions…

  2. JM

    January 03, 2014 10:11 AM

    I bet RAJ buys the green VW Love Bus. it looks mint, smells mint, costs alot, but in reality is just an old underpowered iconic vehicle that make people think “wow” before they actually ride in it….

  3. SteveH

    January 03, 2014 10:32 AM

    I’ve got another guy for your “shitty pitching prospects” list…..David Coggin.

  4. Tim

    January 03, 2014 12:08 PM

    The saddest thing about some of those underwhelming players of that era was seeing how desperate the fanbase was to root for them by forming themed fan groups a la the Wolfpack. Didn’t Duckworth have a Duck Pond or something, with guys who wore rubber ducks on their head? Wasn’t there also a Padilla Flotilla? Sad.

    Of course, even the Wolfpack wasn’t exactly formed around any kind of true ace (though I respect the personal connection they formed with Randy Wolf). But I guess they were the best game in town once Schilling left the team. He had the Schill-o-meter guys up at the top of the Vet, who would post a giant K sign and do a chest bump every time he struck someone out. This obviously led to more chances to celebrate than the wolfpack had with their dance. When I was in high school and buying as many cheap GA tickets as I could get, those Schill-o-meter guys were my heroes.

  5. Bill Baer

    January 03, 2014 12:12 PM

    IMO the fan groups were awesome. As much as I wish they’d come back, I enjoy them more as a novelty of their time. Like Soundgarden before they broke up and recently reunited.

  6. Michael Baumann

    January 03, 2014 12:19 PM

    The Wolf Pack was great. The rest got kinda sad as they became so many and the wordplay got weak.

  7. J Stella

    January 03, 2014 01:26 PM

    I haven’t chuckled so consistently reading a sports post in a long, long time! Thanks for starting my new year with a smile, can hardly wait for more.

  8. JM

    January 03, 2014 03:19 PM

    I was kinda looking forward to the “flock of Byrds”, or “Revere’s Riders”, but not so much to “Asche’s butts”…

  9. Strasser

    January 03, 2014 03:34 PM

    Frank Thomas had 270 more walks than strikeouts. Not the other way around. Even more impressive!

  10. Michael Baumann

    January 03, 2014 04:13 PM

    Did I not say that?…oops. I’ll fix it.

  11. MattWinks

    January 03, 2014 04:16 PM

    I feel like it is now time to share with the internet knowledge my girlfrriend passed to me early on in our relationship that life is so much better when you refer to cheese curds as cheese turds. Even better when you realize that every restaurant in Madison Wisconsin serves “fried cheese turds”.

  12. John Cepican

    January 03, 2014 06:24 PM

    Sir: Why the rush to put Bonds in? There is time to study the effect of steroids on baseball, and it should be clear from the career of Bonds that the effect is massive distortion of the game. He had his career year at age 28, his first year with the Giants, then gradually trended down, following the usual player trajectory (Bill James first noted age 27, then 26, then 28 to be the most likely ages for a career year and others have replicated the research). By age 35 players offense drops off by 10% or more each year. The real Bonds would have been out of baseball with about as many home runs as Fred McGriff, 500 or so. Instead he became Barry Balco, taking special steroids designed to evade even Olympic testing, creating and maintaining muscle mass not humanly possible without those drugs. This allowed him not just to maintain but to increase his bat speed at an old age for a baseball player,and instead of his career rate of hitting a home run every 16 at bats as in his prime years, he began to hit one every 8 at bats at an old age. Words like “cheating” or even “PED” are not precise enough and do not get to the real issue which is massive distortion of the game, almost as destructive as fixing a game by gambling. Amphetamines combat fatigue, they don’t make you stronger, and while they can have some effect over time on counting statistics, their effect is trivial compared to steroids. See “On the potential of a chemical Bonds: Possible effects of steroids on home run production in baseball,” R.G.Tobin,Am.J.Phys.76,15(2008);”The possible effect of steroids on home-run production,”A.M.Nathan, SABR Research Journal,Summer 2009. I do not care if an argument can be made that Bonds, or Clemens, had hall of fame numbers before using, you can bet their plaque in Cooperstown would not read “hall of famer anyway.” For the good of the game, they need to be kept out so that even casual observers are forced to notice and consider the damage and dishonor their distortions have caused to the history of the game and the efforts of all who played before them.

  13. EricL

    January 03, 2014 09:16 PM

    Sir: Why the rush to put Bonds in?

    Because Barry Bonds is the best hitter anyone under the age of 35 has ever seen, and a Hall of Fame without the best hitter of his generation is not a true Hall of Fame. Simple as that, sir.

  14. cfw486

    January 03, 2014 11:30 PM

    So Bonds cheated and should be allowed in when Pete Rose only cheated as a manager and is out forever. It seems to me if you cheated you cheated an you shouldn’t be allowed in.

  15. derekcarstairs

    January 04, 2014 05:26 AM

    As the greatest of the dopers in the doper era, for that alone, Bonds deserves a hallowed place in Cooperstown.

    He started out, from ages 21-24, as a better version of his father. Realizing that his early 20s’ performance was somewhat disappointing for a superstar, Bonds began using low-octane PEDs in 1990, and his HOF ride was then in gear. Bonds sparkled in the ’90s, and he was reasonably content professionally until 1998. Having become totally unhinged over the fact that an inferior athlete and juicer like McGwire broke baseball’s most coveted record, Bonds switched to high-octane PEDs in 2001 and then proceeded to set a new HR record and put up four consecutive seasons, from ages 36-39, unparalleled in the annals of baseball from 1876 to this very day (or even in his own physical prime).

    Does Barry Bonds deserve to be in the HOF? Why not?

    (Even the most cynical must admit one thing about Bonds: from his first day in the majors, the guy always knew how to take a walk.)

  16. Larry

    January 04, 2014 05:19 PM


    “Because Barry Bonds is the best hitter anyone under the age of 35 has ever seen, and a Hall of Fame without the best hitter of his generation is not a true Hall of Fame. Simple as that, sir.”

    Would you say that if Bonds never cheated vs Albert Pujols?

    Let’s be realistic, Bonds probably never hits 40 Hrs in a season without steroids. Meanwhile Pujols was doing that for many years consistently with an above .330 average when he was a Cardinal.

  17. Mark66

    January 04, 2014 06:20 PM

    I’m getting tired of people making excuses for Bonds and Clemons. If you are going to fight for them then you better let Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson in also.

  18. Major Malfunction

    January 04, 2014 07:06 PM

    Walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, act like a duck. A 40+ year old duck with a size 14 head. The debate over HoF allowing past relics who played against “inferior” opponents is one thing, but blatant cheating is easier seen.

    Bonds never gets in, period.

  19. MattWinks

    January 04, 2014 07:34 PM

    Blatant Cheaters include Mike Schmidt and Willie Mays (and everyone of their error) – amphetamines

    Where do you draw the line, either remove everyone who took any sort of performance enhancing drug or let people in. To this point we have no measure of how PEDs like steroids effect stats and to make judgement about their effect is just misguided.

    If you want to use the character clause, please remove Ty Cobb right now because he is one of the most despicable human beings of all time.

    For the record I think Rose deserves to be in the Hall, it is likely the ban will be lifted after he dies and he will easily be inducted.

  20. Major Malfunction

    January 05, 2014 11:32 AM

    Pep pills were rampant but I don’t recall anyone hitting 70 home. Steroids changed the face of the game and was the tipping point. Not that any level of cheating is acceptable.

    Men playing a kids game and acting like them for childish reasons. HoF is no longer any shrine as we have learned through history about the real life losers who are in it as well as any we shut out, like because they were black. Yeah, its quite a shrine like the rock n roll hall, lol.

    So just vote them all in. In fact, get rid of the crap about only voting for so many a year.

  21. Richard

    January 06, 2014 09:00 AM

    I’ll say it: guys like Bonds & Clemens (and before them Mays & Schmidt), weren’t cheating, or “cheaters”. And if you can’t tell the difference between them and Rose and/or Shoeless Joe, then you’ve got some things to work out.

    As for the post, this line bugs me: “Since both Raines and Gwynn were kind of crappy defensive outfielders”

    I don’t know what you’re basing this on, but the existing numbers tell us otherwise. Reminder: you can’t just look at Fangraphs “Def.” value, or Baseball Reference’s dWAR. Those both include positional adjustment. And both Raines & Gwynn were corner outfielders, which means they get dinged a bit. You have to look at, in their cases, their TZ scores. Both usually rated fairly well by TZ.

  22. awh

    January 06, 2014 12:43 PM

    Hmmm, Bauman seems to be saying that because some despicable human beings are in the HOF we should lower the standard even further?

    Or, should we try to raise the standard?

  23. Phillie697

    January 07, 2014 01:12 PM

    “The real Bonds would have been out of baseball with about as many home runs as Fred McGriff, 500 or so.”

    This has to be a joke right? You mention the age 28 (which you believe was before roids got the best/worst of Bonds), so let’s take a trip through

    Barry Bonds, age 28 season: .311/.456/.624, 34 HRs, .459 wOBA, 204 OPS+, 9.6 fWAR, 9.0 bWAR.

    Fred McGriff, age 28 season: .286/.394/.494, 35 HRs, .411 wOBA, 165 OPS+, 5.5 fWAR, 5.2 bWAR.

    Fred McGriff was a fantastic player at the age of 28, no dispute, but Barry Bonds was literally otherworldly, as he has been throughout his career, steroids or no steroids. Please do not find crappy excuses to justify your distain for steroid users. At least admit it and move on, and stop trying to justify yourself as somehow completely objective.

  24. Phillie697

    January 07, 2014 01:24 PM

    Let’s put it another way; Barry Bonds was a HoFer before he even reached the age of 30 (59.1 fWAR), before most people believe he started using steroids. Say you want to set an example how people shouldn’t cheat. Say you hate people who used steroids and that affects how you feel about Bonds’ and other’s inductions into the HoF. But please, please stop this non-sense about how he wouldn’t be deserving of the HoF if he didn’t use steroids. That makes you about as stupid as Barry Bonds for choosing to use steroids.

  25. John Cepican

    January 07, 2014 04:36 PM

    Mr. Phillies697: No joke. I believe 500 or so is fairly close to where a real Bonds would have ended but for the massive steroid diet. Mr.McGriff was not referenced because he was the same type of position player as Bonds but rather because he had about that many home runs, is still on the HOF ballot, and is an example of how the steroid ballon in numbers has demeaned what others have done. In 1993, age 28, with the Giants, Bonds was 336/458/677, 46 hrs, 206 OPS+. He then receded and flattened out, 183, 170, 188, 170, 178 OPS+ through age 33, a very typical career trajectory, even though his cumulative numbers per se were elite (290 or so and 411 hrs). At about the age when players typically start falling off the cliff, however, he had a massive spike in the opposite direction, totally steroid driven. The real Bonds while in Pittsburgh had some years when he likely was the best all around player in MLB, a relatively weak arm notwithstanding. With the Giants he had his real career year and was an above average fielder for a while, picking up a few more gold gloves more on reputation than merit. The only thing “otherwordly” about Bonds are the phony steroids numbers. The real Bonds was a garden variety HOFer. But I think it is much more important to make a strong statement against the massive distortion specific to steroids. Bonds out, Clemens out, then maybe people will notice.

  26. hk

    January 07, 2014 04:55 PM

    “Bonds out, Clemens out, then maybe people will notice.”

    If by people you mean fans, you may be right…people will notice and attendance to the Hall may suffer as it fails to include the best players from the 90’s and 00’s. I surely would not take my family to Cooperstown to see a Hall of Fame sans Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, etc.

    If by people you mean players, I doubt it. Players who are inclined to take drugs or supplements because they think they’ll enhance their performance on the field will most likely not be dissuaded from doing so because of fear of being kept out of the HoF.

  27. Phillie697

    January 07, 2014 07:02 PM

    @John Cepican,

    “The real Bonds was a garden variety HOFer.” So basically, you’re saying, that even without the steroids, Bonds would have been HoF-worthy? Okay, so your ONLY claimed reason for not voting Bonds in is because of your disdain for his “cheating”? Last time I checked, there are no tiers of HoFers; you’re either in or you’re not, and it’s at best an intellectual exercise among the fans to decide who is better than who. Exactly what is wrong with putting Bonds in the Hall and then say, “he’s not as great as X or Y because he used steroids”?

    I mean, if you’re ALREADY conceding that he is HoF worthy, all you’re doing is trying to set an example of him. That’s a position you are welcome to take, but as hk said, 50 years from now when no one even cares about steroids anymore and players repair themselves with cloned body parts, here is a possible conversation between a father and his kid:

    “Where the hell are all of those players from the 90s and 00s?”

    “Oh yeah, a bunch of idiots lacking historical perspective and passing themselves off as moral authorities decided that a bunch of players using something called ‘steroids’ offended their notion of right and wrong so they shouldn’t be included in the Hall.”

    “What the heck are steroids?”

    “Beats the hell out of me, something about how it made them hit more HRs.”

    “Ahm… 73 HRs is a lot? Barry Bonds IV just hit 91 last season.”

    “Like I said, I have no idea what they were griping about. Thank god for Google though, otherwise I wouldn’t have known that Barry Bonds IV’s great-grand father was such an amazing baseball player back in his day. You’d think the Hall of FAME is suppose to have that kind of stuff…”

  28. John Cepican

    January 07, 2014 10:12 PM

    Mr. Phillies697: We are not going to agree. You dismiss steroids as mere “cheating”, kind of like clumping jaywalking and murder together because both are “lawbreaking.” The point I have tried to make is that steroids is very different from mere cheating of whatever type because of the massive distortion it causes which totally destroys the history of the game. A placque for Bonds will not read “*” or “hall of famer anyway.” There will be no nuance, no statement that his numbers should be heavily discounted, and no respect for the real human achievement of 755 and 714. The casual observer in Cooperstown will give the matter no thought whatsoever. I believe the better course is to force consideration of the issue by keeping Bonds and Clemens out.

  29. Phillie697

    January 08, 2014 12:33 AM

    That’s because you live in the past. Technological and medical advances will always make old records obsolete. Who is crying over all the passing records in the NFL in this heyday of passing attacks? What will we do with old records when genetically enhanced humans, and you know it’ll happen sooner than you think, start appearing in sports? People are living longer, athletes better conditioned, and sooner or later even injury-resistant. What do you do when players start racking up 80 WARs over a 25 year career? You see this steroids thing with the eyes of a contemporary observer, but the HoF, at least in my opinion, needs to stand the test of time. You say you care about the Hall that’s why you feel the way you do. I think you just care about the Hall that you know, and not enough about the ones your grandchildren will know. The best way to celebrate history isn’t to hide it.

    The BEST way to make sure this doesn’t happen isn’t to punish Bonds and Clemens. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to not let the players get these gaudy stats to begin with. Had baseball not turned its blind eye in the late 90s and early 00s, Barry Bonds wouldn’t have the gaudy numbers you hate so much, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Today, we’d be celebrating Bonds brilliant career and argue about where he ranks in the game’s greatest. But instead, it happened. Your gripe is with the fact that it DID happen, and how you must do something to feel better about it. Yet history won’t change. Hiding it wouldn’t make it less painful.

  30. Ginner207

    January 08, 2014 02:31 PM

    They should all be in and whether or not they used, were accused of using or any of that should just be added to the write up of their career, a little sentence or something.

    “Barry Bonds was the all time leader in homeruns when he retired, etc. During his playing days, steroids were readily available and it is believed that up to #% used steroids. Etc. etc.”

    I mean, I don’t know what they would write but just lay it all out and put them in the hall. If everyone is cheating, then these guys are still the best of their time.

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