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  • If Selig Is In, They Should All Get In


    Dave Overlund

    Later this afternoon, the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announcing the results of this year's BBWAA vote. Performance-Enhancing Drugs remain a huge topic for those who vote, or for those who care about the Hall. 

    Image courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Hall of Fame steroid witch hunt needs to come to its end. The guessing game of who did (or didn't) do performance-enhancing drugs is so arbitrary and without base that it is turning the Hall of Fame itself into kind of a joke. 

    It's wild to me that some players are above suspicion (Jim Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr) even though they played in an era in which there was a large group of players who did PEDs, while others (Mike Piazza had backne!) are vilified based on anecdotal evidence or opinion.  There's really no way of knowing at this point who did- or didn't- do PEDs and/or how long they did them. 

    This week there is a debate raging amongst baseball fans about David Ortiz's candidacy for the Hall of Fame, and here's where it gets tricky: Ortiz WAS named on the supposedly confidential Mitchell Report as a player who allegedly used PEDs. However, Ortiz never failed a Major League Baseball drug test and was never suspended for violating the league's policy. 

    To me, that's the line of distinction: Did you ever fail a test given by MLB that resulted in a punishment such as suspension. Beyond that, it's all guessing and a popularity contest among the writers. 

    The architect of the steroid era, Bud Selig, is in the Hall of Fame. Let that sink in for a moment. The man who presided over one of the dirtiest eras in baseball history, the guy who seemingly looked the other way while guys were juicing themselves up for YEARS, is in the Hall of Fame. And I am supposed to believe that guys who are just suspected of wrongdoing should be kept out of its sacred halls? Please. 

    The shark has officially been jumped here. Barry Bonds never failed an MLB PED test? He's in. How about Mark McGwire? He's in. Roger Clemens? He's in. They are all in... unless they failed a test that definitively proved they used performance-enhancing drugs AFTER the rules were put in place. Looking at you, A-Rod and Manny Ramirez. 

    Changing the criteria to punish people who maybe used PEDs before the rule was in place is stupid. That's like banning any player who threw a spitball before it was outlawed by baseball. They were just playing by the rules. 

    Personally, I am a bit conflicted when it comes to the steroid era. 

    As a kid, I loved keeping track of the home run record holders and all of the charts and lists that make baseball great. The steroid era effectively ruined the record books since a lot of the power-hitting records are unattainable without proper help. 

    At the same time if it weren't for the steroid era I might not even be a big baseball fan at this point. The 1994 strike happened when I was 12. and I was pretty much done with baseball at that point. Out of sight, out of mind. Top that off with Kirby Puckett's retirement in 1995 and the generally crappy Twins teams of that era... I was content not caring. 

    The summer of 1998 was so magical, though. Following Sosa and McGwire's home run chase was addicting and every day brought some new drama. The Cubs and Cardinals each made visits to the Metrodome that summer and I got to see both players in their record-setting season. There were more people at the stadium for McGwire's batting practice than there were for 99% of the actual games there that season. 

    Since 1998, I have been a devoted, die-hard baseball fan, and I am not going to pretend steroids had nothing to do with it. Baseball shouldn't either. 

    No matter how history remembers it, I will always look back at 1998 fondly. I think it's time we all do. 

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    I am not interested in honoring the sterioders, but at the same time, this is the 15th year since Clemens and Bonds  have retired that they have gotten massive publicity.  Like Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose there is a tendency to keep writing about the injustices instead of the players inducted.  Put them and and they disappear - here are the inductees since Clemens and Bonds and Shilling retired - how many of them have been written about over that period except for their election?

    Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons, Larry Walker (Note: The 2020 induction ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19 and rescheduled for 2021).

    2019

    Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith

    2018

    Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell

    2017

    Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig

    2016

    Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr.

    2015

    Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz

    2014

    Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Tony La Russa, Frank Thomas, Joe Torre

    2013

    Hank O'Day, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White

    2012

    Barry Larkin, Ron Santo

    2011

    Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Pat Gillick

    2010

    Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey, Whitey Herzog

    2009

    Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice

    2008

    Barney Dreyfuss, Goose Gossage, Bowie Kuhn, Walter O'Malley, Billy Southworth, Dick Williams

    After this we will continue to hear about the poor guys who ruined the record book, the men who changed the game so that we no longer revere the records.  And of course now we start the Alex Rodriguez ten year count down and the continuation of Manny Ramirez.  I really do not care about any of them.  I celebrate who does get in and Ortiz will make it.

    To your other statement about Selig.  He does not belong and neither does Bowie Kuhn.  This is a travesty just like the owners who kept the black players out.  Executives, managers, umpires - I do not want any of them, but Kuhn and Selig are both travesties.  But you see that you do not mention Kuhn because he was already in for a while so we forget and move on.

     

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    I appreciate that you drew a line between serving a suspension and, well, everyone else, who has varying levels of suspicion. I don't think the writers intended the character clause to be used to keep out players with poor, questionable, or unpopular off-field choices or worldviews. That said, if you cheated on the field, that's a fair line to draw. 

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    1 hour ago, dex8425 said:

    That said, if you cheated on the field, that's a fair line to draw. 

    Baseball in its current iteration has a tough time deciding what to do with "cheating". What is cheating? A couple of recent teams were caught (red-handed shall we say) cheating and no players received any punishments and the managers are now back on big contracts with different teams after a year of vacation. I do not presume to have an answer but it is really clear to me that neither does Manfred or MLB. The only time a clear line was drawn was when Bart Giamatti managed to get Pete Rose to admit to gambling on his own team and agree to his banishment from baseball. The owners, FWIW, did not like Giamatti.

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    I agree with the article 100%.  You let Selig in who lead the organization and benefited from the steroid era all while knowing and promoting what was going on.  Yet now the writers want to vilify the players who did or didn’t do steroids. 
     

     

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    I totally disagree with most of the article.  I always find it interesting that people like to rewrite/ reexamine history with a brush of forgiveness/ ignorance.  The fact that those juiced up players broke records is farcical.  It is also a total injustice to the vast majority of hall of famers that the cheaters would get in with the greats that followed the rules and didn't cheat.  Anyone that watched McGuire, Sosa, and others like Bonds, knew then just by looking at them that they were on something and any breaking of records was a joke and a slap in the face to those greats that play by the rules.   Selig was a joke.  You are right he should not be in the Hall of Fame either.

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    I believe in innocent until proven guilty myself. I wonder how many pitchers are going to be questioned about using a foreign substance to increase the spin rate? I think I heard somewhere that is against the rules.

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    To me, the solution isn't complicated.  Cooperstown should have a wing dedicated to the steroid era and enshrine all Hall of Fame honorees from that era in it.  It's part of baseball history and future generations should know about it.  Bonds, Clemens, McGuire, etc. were all incredible baseball players and should be acknowledged as such - as long as the other side of the story is also told.  Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson should also be in the Hall of Fame along with details of why they were kept out for so long.  History contains both good and bad (and probably more bad than good) and both sides should be openly available to everyone to read.

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    2 hours ago, Whitey333 said:

    I totally disagree with most of the article.  I always find it interesting that people like to rewrite/ reexamine history with a brush of forgiveness/ ignorance.  The fact that those juiced up players broke records is farcical.  It is also a total injustice to the vast majority of hall of famers that the cheaters would get in with the greats that followed the rules and didn't cheat.  Anyone that watched McGuire, Sosa, and others like Bonds, knew then just by looking at them that they were on something and any breaking of records was a joke and a slap in the face to those greats that play by the rules.   Selig was a joke.  You are right he should not be in the Hall of Fame either.

    I've tried to take some time to post here to tone down my rhetoric. I am overjoyed that the writers did not honor Barry Bonds with the honor of election to the Hall of Fame. Bonds is a disgrace to the game. To send him to the HOF would damage the integrity of the game. If you send in Bonds, then Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson deserve induction as well. I can't believe people are willing to give Bonds a free pass to the HOF. 

    PEDs were against the rules since 1971. Depending on how pedantic you want to be, since the 1971 memo didn’t specifically name steroids, they were explicitly banned by name in a 1991 memo. Just because there was no testing doesn’t mean they were legal or permitted.

    https://vault.si.com/.amp/vault/2009/02/16/the-rules-the-law-the-reality

    "Baseball’s first written drug policy was issued by commissioner Bowie Kuhn at the start of the ’71 season. The policy did not explicitly address anabolic steroids, but it did say that baseball personnel must "comply with federal and state drug laws." Federal law at the time mandated that an appropriate prescription be obtained for the use of anabolic steroids.

    What followed were memos from commissioners Fay Vincent in 1991 and Bud Selig in ’97 (excerpted below) that spelled out a broader drug policy and directly prohibited the use of steroids without a valid prescription. However, there was still no mandatory drug testing, and the union maintained the right to challenge disciplinary decisions that resulted from a violation of the policy."

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    You made a good point in discussions of who should and shouldn't be in the hall of fame  ....

    anyone that tested positive after rules of steroids were established or anyone mentioned in steroid or congress committee reports should not be in the HOF , most of them lied that they did not use steroids and cheated .. later they recanted and said they did ......

    BASEBALL is losing its integrity  of the game  ,,,     I don't like the cheating , but it seems because they play without strategy in today's games the players have  to cheat ... PLAY the game the way I should be played  

    It's the greats of the game that should be in the hall  ..

    Yes it was fun to watch the McGuire and Sosa homerun chase because it was a competition between the two that generated fans interest  ..

    but it was not fun watching bonds setting the single season record and all time homerun record ...

    Hammering hank is still the top homerun hitter in my book 

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    8 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

    To me, the solution isn't complicated.  Cooperstown should have a wing dedicated to the steroid era and enshrine all Hall of Fame honorees from that era in it.  It's part of baseball history and future generations should know about it.  Bonds, Clemens, McGuire, etc. were all incredible baseball players and should be acknowledged as such - as long as the other side of the story is also told.  Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson should also be in the Hall of Fame along with details of why they were kept out for so long.  History contains both good and bad (and probably more bad than good) and both sides should be openly available to everyone to read.

    I'd go along with this ,,,  Last exhibit in the hall  should be the hall of shame ,,, I don't believe Charlie hustle ( Pete rose ) should be in the hall of shame because he bet on baseball after he retired .....

    He is a hall of fame player and played the game with intensity ... game changer

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    2 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

    To me, the solution isn't complicated.  Cooperstown should have a wing dedicated to the steroid era and enshrine all Hall of Fame honorees from that era in it.  It's part of baseball history and future generations should know about it.  Bonds, Clemens, McGuire, etc. were all incredible baseball players and should be acknowledged as such - as long as the other side of the story is also told.  Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson should also be in the Hall of Fame along with details of why they were kept out for so long.  History contains both good and bad (and probably more bad than good) and both sides should be openly available to everyone to read.

    I get what you are saying about acknowledging all of the history of the game, but fixing (gambling) games is on a whole different level than forms of cheating (greenies, peds, sticky stuff, garbage cans, etc.). Additionally, one of the main points made by many concerning the peds is that these were nearly, not openly, encouraged by MLB until the hallowed records of the past began to fall. Jose Canseco introduced (or first to be candid) the practice in 1984. No doubt, every team had players who had used some peds by the late 1980s. Can anyone think of or remember other players who went from skinny at 21 to big guys a half dozen years later? After the strike, the use of peds spread even more across the league and the resultant glory of home runs was widely featured in every ad by MLB. It is a sorry period in the history of the game. It seems ridiculous to pull out a few players to punish when the practice was so widespread. Gambling and fixing games is in a separate category in my opinion.

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    27 minutes ago, Blyleven2011 said:

    Yes it was fun to watch the McGuire and Sosa homerun chase because it was a competition between the two that generated fans interest  ..

    but it was not fun watching bonds setting the single season record and all time homerun record ...

    Hammering hank is still the top homerun hitter in my book

    Henry Aaron was my favorite player in 1960 (I was a little kid that liked baseball) until the Twins started in playing in 1961. He was a model of decorum, dignity, and consistency. 

    Imagine Mike Trout struggling to get a fair offer as a free agent, say two years ago, and receiving little acclaim for his skills. This was the life of a skinny outfielder who terrorized the National League in the 1990s. Barry Bonds was very late to the PED party and he certainly took notice of the adoration that Sosa and McGuire received from their feats. Bonds also knew that neither slugger was even close to him in baseball talent in any way or form. So he signed up. The result was a destruction of the hallowed records. This was a sad turn of events when Bonds joined with the hundred or so other players who proceeded him in using peds. He doesn't get excused either.

    You said what most feel - fun to watch the duo bash Maris' record but not fun to watch Bonds. This is a reality. I was never a Barry Bonds fan. He played for Pittsburgh and was displayed in print and on tv as a petulant athlete. So I didn't pay much attention to him but was amazed by his swing and approach as well as his numbers when I did see him in the mid 1990s. The fact that Bonds received and receives such widespread hatred from people who have never met him or know nothing about him while more or less accepting or excusing so many others (McGuire, Ortiz) is just ridiculous. I always liked Ortiz because of his gregarious personality, but I choose not to hate players who exhibit surly behaviors because I have no idea of the cause. There were hundreds of players who took PEDs, including some of our favorites most likely. It escapes me why Barry Bonds must be the individual to receive all blame. If I had to place blame at all, it goes to MLB, the owners, and commissioner as the face of the game. These are the ones who not so discreetly allowed and even pushed this era.

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    There is no reason to look back at 1998 "fondly"--the McGwire/Sosa home run derby was a bad joke, and many baseball fans recognized it as such.  There was nothing real about those two visibly juiced-up freaks blowing past Ruth and Maris on their way to obscene, farcical home run totals for the season.  If that sort of home run race excited you, I bet you're now a fan of monster trucks.

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    20 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

    Baseball in its current iteration has a tough time deciding what to do with "cheating". What is cheating? A couple of recent teams were caught (red-handed shall we say) cheating and no players received any punishments and the managers are now back on big contracts with different teams after a year of vacation. I do not presume to have an answer but it is really clear to me that neither does Manfred or MLB. The only time a clear line was drawn was when Bart Giamatti managed to get Pete Rose to admit to gambling on his own team and agree to his banishment from baseball. The owners, FWIW, did not like Giamatti.

    Well, cheating is (by definition) breaking the rules dishonestly. That's why I'm saying the line for serving a suspension is an okay one to draw, because you were aware of the rules, and still were confirmed to break them. Ortiz and Clemens were not confirmed to have broken any MLB rules, and thus should not be penalized or kept out of the HOF as such. 

    Because the HOF has this character clause, I suspect it will affect Jose Altuve's and even Carlos Beltran's chances of getting in. Altuve cheated pretty conclusively. The sufficiency of his punishment is another issue. 

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    1 hour ago, Omardog said:

    There is no reason to look back at 1998 "fondly"--the McGwire/Sosa home run derby was a bad joke, and many baseball fans recognized it as such.  There was nothing real about those two visibly juiced-up freaks blowing past Ruth and Maris on their way to obscene, farcical home run totals for the season.  If that sort of home run race excited you, I bet you're now a fan of monster trucks.

    It was dismaying to me at the time that MLB, writers, and broadcasters all centered on Sosa/McGuire every single day with updates to each at bats later in the season. MLB pushed this hard and the writers were all over it. Meanwhile, the best of the best were largely ignored, but they were paying attention. It was a disappointment to see the pandering to Canseco's influence that I buried. 

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    6 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

    I get what you are saying about acknowledging all of the history of the game, but fixing (gambling) games is on a whole different level than forms of cheating (greenies, peds, sticky stuff, garbage cans, etc.). Additionally, one of the main points made by many concerning the peds is that these were nearly, not openly, encouraged by MLB until the hallowed records of the past began to fall. Jose Canseco introduced (or first to be candid) the practice in 1984. No doubt, every team had players who had used some peds by the late 1980s. Can anyone think of or remember other players who went from skinny at 21 to big guys a half dozen years later? After the strike, the use of peds spread even more across the league and the resultant glory of home runs was widely featured in every ad by MLB. It is a sorry period in the history of the game. It seems ridiculous to pull out a few players to punish when the practice was so widespread. Gambling and fixing games is in a separate category in my opinion.

    There is a huge difference between fixing and betting.  Rose was never thought to have fixed a game, just bet on them.  Against the rules?  Yes, but should it keep him out of the Hall of Fame?  In my opinion, no.  Joe Jackson played with people that were thought to "fix" the world series but he hit .375 with an OPS of .957 and he committed no errors.  Does that sound like fixing?  But again, I say it is part of baseball history and if his body of work merits induction, then put him in.

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    Here in Omaha, I'm blessed with reporters/radio hosts that are smart, intelligent and award winning. What that means is they offer up ideas at times I hadn't thought of, OR, had to be reminded of.

    From a personal perspective, I don't like cheating, whatever any laws might state. But the simple truth is that Bonds and Clemmons were probably HOF players even before enhancement their last few years. And Cooperstown is not about "good guys", it's a museum about baseball that is not affiliated with MLB. Eventually, these guys will be included. And they should be. They're part of history, even if they cheated for their last few years. And while I don't believe you need something as dramatic as a "hall of shame", I think it's OK to put a giant * next to their name explaining their numbers and inducton.

     

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