Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Head of the Class- 2013

The 2013 Hall of Fame class for baseball should prove to be a very interesting one. As in all Hall of Fame ballots and voting there are always questions and great debate on who is deserving, why this guy and not that guy and then a lot of stats to prove or disprove whatever argument you feel is correct. This next ballet is no different and is actually more controversial then ever before. This is the first year that the wave  from the  'steroid era'. Today, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are set to show up on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling are certain to be among the other first-time eligible  Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are the top holdover candidates.

There are a lot of the writers/voters that are going to be hardliners and not vote for some or all of the big 3 on 'principal'. Writers tend not to like jerks and that will be 1 strike against the top 3 guys. That should not way into the discussion but it does. Just ask Jack Morris. He is a prime example of old school baseball guys holding a bad attitude over the head of a potential candidate. Because of the new names going on the ballot this year might just open the door for Morris and Tim Raines to slip in. That is one thing I do not understand is how guys that have done nothing in the last year to increase the chances of getting into the hall but because of who they are up against this time around make them more deserving. Their stats have not changed and they did not win a championship but NOW they are worth of Hall of Fame Status? That is just the way that it is under the current system and is that way in most leagues.
It is notable to know that Mark McGwire is 10th on the career home run list with 583, but has never received even 24 per cent in his six tries. Big Mac has admitted using steroids and human growth hormone and recently was on the Dan Patrick Show and stated that he himself did not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

I can see  Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza being worth to get in. Piazza was one of the most feared offensive catcher of all time and when you have power numbers that are in the same range as Johnny Bench it is hard to ignore. He was the best at his position when he played and there is not a lot more that you can ask for. As for Biggio he was productive at the top of the order, he got his 3000 hits and was a leader on Astro teams that were very good for the many years he was there. His versatility also is impressive to move positions the number of times he did to not only help his career length but showed he was a team guy and would do whatever was best for the team. To go from a catcher to second base and then to center field. Teams always like to be strong defensively up the middle and he ended up moving to 3 of the positions up the pipe.

When it comes to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa the debate is there on should they or shouldn't be put in the Hall. Bonds and Clemens are known for not being the most congenial of characters and Sosa has been known to forget how to speak English when asked questions on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). What people have to remember is that despite the fact that there is all kinds of evidence and seems to be the consensus that all have done some kind of PED's over some time during their career, they were never proven to have done anything wrong. They did not violate any rules that Baseball had in place, did not fail any test while playing and even if they did do something they were, for the most part, facing opponents that themselves were on something at that very same time. That is the thing, the number of guys that were playing were on something probably outweighed those that were playing clean.

Worst case, lets say that these guys were juicing.  They still outplayed the competition and were arguably the best players of all time. One might suggest that it was more ego enhancing drugs rather then performance enhancing  Sure the numbers may be skued but these were still some of the best talents of all time. In the case of Bonds and Clemens, the body of work they had with their original teams, Pirates and Red Sox respectively  a case could be made that both players are deserving based on that time alone. It was then, when both were skinny and ``appeared`` that they were...more clean.  Bonds landed in San Francisco and Clemens landed in Toronto those are the times that most believe that they, at least ramped up whatever they may be on and both got bigger and better.

I do not condone the use of drugs to play better or get stronger but if baseball did little to do anything about PEDs until forced to by the government (granted the players union did everything they could to allow players to get away with it), had no method to test or prevent or rules against PEDs then you should not be able to penalize player for something the may or may not have (but almost guaranteed did) done during their career. Drugs or no drugs it still talks a lot of skill to take a round ball a round bat and hit it square. These drugs seem to be more beneficial for recovery so when guys work out they can rebound better and quicker and can then train harder and more often. But they are still training  still working out. All these legal supplements like Whey, Protein  Creatine, Flax Seed whatever you want to add to your morning shake are OK? Where is the line? Even a shot of cortizone is performance enhancing  how many guys get a shoulder or knee shot up to be able to play? How is that not performance enhancing? What is the difference between medicine and dope? All are valid questions with a lot of Grey in terms of answers.

All in all, writers will hid behind the well 'we voted their conscious  excuse and say they are doing it for the integrity of the game and to honor the Hall but their excuse, when you look at it seems awfully thin. Let the players in, drugs or no drugs they were the best when they played, possibly the best of all time and were never convicted.

1 comment:

Eazy said...

Ex post.
The thing I'm curious about seeing is whether voters "punish" the PED guys for a year and then let them in. I sort of think that might happen. That means, as you say, that we'll see some of the older guys like Raines and Morris get in. And my fingers are always crossed for the super long-shot, Fred McGriff.