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Let the Silliness Begin


Baseball Hall of Fame voting debates are going to be intolerable for the rest of my life.

And personally, Curt Schilling saying that cheaters don’t deserve to be in is pretty funny. What about fleecing the state of Rhode Island, Curt? Should that disqualify you?

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  • TT

    When it comes to Curt and the missing $100M (give or take, but who’s counting?), as always IOKIYAR.

    • commie atheist

      But he’s got that cushy highly-paid job with ESPN, so at least he’s not one of those moochers and leeches who voted for Obama.

      • efgoldman

        What about fleecing the state of Rhode Island, Curt? Should that disqualify you?

        Who else has been kept out of the hall because of post-retirement non-baseball-related stuff? Not advocating for or against Schilling on the merits, but…

        • commie atheist

          Makes about as much sense as keeping players out of the HOF for doing things that weren’t illegal when they were playing.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Makes about as much sense as keeping players out of the HOF for doing things that weren’t illegal when they were playing.


          • dp

            Or things that were illegal but were widely practiced? (I’m obviously referencing spitballs here!)

        • Thlayli

          Orlando Cepeda’s election was delayed for a long time by a marijuana bust.

          • David Nieporent

            It was delayed for a long time by the fact that he was a marginal HOFer. He was no better than Tony Perez, who took a long time to go in, or Norm Cash, who isn’t in. If you want to pick an example of an induction possibly delayed by drugs, you want Ferguson Jenkins, not Cepeda.

  • commie atheist

    “Three of the six criteria for election to Cooperstown are sportsmanship, integrity and character. Bonds, Sosa and Clemens fail on all three counts.”

    Paging Ty Cobb, Mr. Cobb to the white courtesy phone, please…

    • commie atheist

      Kudos to Bruce JEnkins, who I normally disagree with on most things:

      “The Hall of Fame’s ‘character’ clause should be stricken immediately, because it’s far too late to turn Cooperstown into a church,” he wrote in an email. “Whether it was gambling (rampant in the early 20th century), scuffing the baseballs, corking bats, amphetamines or steroids, players have been cheating like crazy forever. It’s an integral, if unsavory, part of the culture. I’ve always had the same criteria: which players were the best performers of their particular era — so absolutely, I’ll vote for Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.”

      • Right. The idea that you can keep Bonds or McGwire out of the Hall for “cheating” (to say nothing of far less obvious users like Bagwell or even Clemens) while celebrating the enshrinement of Gaylord Perry is an utter farce brought on by a lot of self important 40+ year old dudes pissed off that all of these guys who looked down on them in the clubhouse broke their childhood heroes’ records.

      • To flip the argument into perspective, if you had a marginally good player who was a saint off the field…you know, helped little old ladies across the street while he was in uniform and dashing off to the game, getting stray cats out of trees and so on…would it qualify him more for the Hall?

        Of course not, so it’s not about the player’s citizenship, it’s about his performance on the field.

        • rea

          Clemente deserved getting into the HOF, no doubt about it, but the speed of his election owed a great deal to his off-field behavior and the circumstances of his death.

        • Let’s keep Derrick Jeter out of this.

    • Clemens, of course, having no evidence of use against him other than the say so of Brian McNamee, a collection of “evidence” that led to his acquittal in actual court.

      And that’s before we even consider the notion that steroid use, and ONLY steroid use, is an abomination so bad that we must use the quaint “character clause” to keep otherwise obvious inner-circle HOFers out of the club.

      • At best we can hope that this silliness leads to real talk about reforming the HOF voting process. The NFL process seems a lot better with less ignoramuses having power.

        • I’m just going to pretend you didn’t actually even hint at recommending anyone adopt the NFL HOF’s goofy voting process.

      • Johnny Sack

        I don’t think the character clause should necessarily be used, but it should definitely throw their playing record into question. I just do not understand arguments to the contrary.

        • I’ll take this seriously right after you present me with your detailed study into equalizing playing records across eras with accounts for cheating, segregation, and so on.

          • Johnny Sack

            I’ll take your comment seriously if you tell me why we should never update our metrics or ethics

            • So let’s update them. In which case I’ll support excluding Bonds and Clemens as soon as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, etc. are kicked out of the HOF for amphetamine use.

              • Johnny Sack

                Fine by me. On the other hand, standards evolve, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that without making retroactive changes.

          • Craigo

            “I heard that some guy killed a dude and got away with it, so obviously no murderer should be punished ever again.”

            • This is a non-sequiter, in so much as there’s no “double jeopardy” clause in the HOF bylaws. Which is to say, there’s nothing that says the Hall can’t decide to expel members based on the character clause if they want to, which neither they nor any voters want to do.

              • Johnny Sack

                I’m fine with leaving the past as it is. I think a better analogy is the 8th amendment. What counts as “cruel and unusual” depends upon “evolving standards of decency.”

                On the one hand, I really am not a fan of Clemens, so I don’t care, but having followed Bonds religiously his entire career, it pains me. I don’t think we can properly answer this without resolving once and for all the role of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. We either accept it or not, and conduct the HOF consistently. But as long as there are banned substances in the game, we can’t just ignore player use when it comes to the HOF.

      • Sherm

        Yeah, brien, now that he has been acquitted, Clemens might have enough free time to help OJ find the real killer.

        These rich, narcissistic assholes are undeserving of your defense. I’d vote for bonds and Clemens too, but im not going to lose any sleep if they don’t get an additional honor thrown their way. They’re not worth it.

    • ploeg


    • timb

      Cobb wouldn’t answer any phone, but the white one….

      • rea

        As an old man in the 50’s, Cobb supported integration of baseball. Which is not to say he wasn’t a racist asshole during his playing days.

  • Kent

    ‘Cause Shilling’s bloody sock and cortisone shots–who knows what other “drugs” he took to pitch on that ankle–wasn’t “performance enhancing” at all, was it?

    • SatanicPanic

      His complaining about other players makes me more certain that he’s guilty of using PEDs himself. He’s just that kind of guy.

      • Sherm

        I liked what Francona said a few years back on that subject. To paraphrase, he said I’ve seen him in the shower, and unless snickers are PEDS, he’s not using,

  • Johnny Sack

    Is bringing up Pete Rose played out yet? After all, no official finding of fact was made (um, except those statements in his book-statements against interest I suppose). But come on, assuming those to be true-betting for your own team?

    Also, if any player that ever, ever took performance enhancing drugs is ever inducted, there will be no excuse not to induct Rose.

    • There’s no surer indication someone hasn’t thought this through than arguing that steroid use is worse than gambling on the game.

      • Johnny Sack

        But I do think steroid use is worse than gambling on the game. And I think 23 years’ disgrace is punishment enough.

        • The latter…perhaps. The former? Just stop.

          • timb

            Rose is a disgusting menace to the game. He doesn’t belong in the Hall until after he stops –permanently — annoying me. Plus, there’s still talk of naming him Reds manager if he is ever re-instated to MLB and I will go on a multi-state killing spree if that ever happened.

            25 years for admitting to betting on baseball? Shoeless Joe says that’s not long enough

            • At the most, I can see an argument for letting him be inducted into the Hall of Fame because of his accomplishments on the field (especially since there’s no evidence that he threw any games), but leaving the ban on any future involvement with MLB in place.

      • timb

        what Brien said. Gambling is against the rules and has been for almost 100 years; steroids were not against the rules during these people’s careers. Ex post facto rules are antithetical to anyone except authoritarians and sports writers.

        • Also, allowing competitors to gamble is something that is obviously uniquely bad to professional sports. Even in the absolute strongest case, using steroids or banned substances is just a modern form of attempting to cheat, which is neither novel nor especially hurtful to the integrity of competition.

          • bobbyp

            Also, allowing competitors to gamble is something that is obviously uniquely bad to professional sports.

            It’s not so good for amateur sports either unless it is to be considered just another means of “turning pro”.

            ….using steroids or banned substances is just a modern form of attempting to cheat, which is neither novel nor especially hurtful to the integrity of competition.

            Wait a minute here. Using banned substances is just “an attempt”? Such “attempts” are “not harmful to the integrity of competition”? Please expand on that thought.

            • timb

              I could take a truckload of steroids, become Paul Bunyon, and still not be able to hit a curveball.

              • spencer

                Or throw a strike.

              • But if you could hit the curveball AND took steroids, you’d go from a good player to a dominant one. That’s the point behind the HoF, isn’t it, top recognize players who have had an impact on the game in terms of performance?

    • Richard

      There was no court case, since what he did wasn’t illegal, but there was an report by the independent counsel hired by the league. That to me is an official finding of fact. And he later admitted it not only in a book but on television to reporters

      And there was appreciable harm in betting for your own team because it would be easy for savvy bettors to gain inside information from his betting pattern. He didn’t bet a standard amount on each game. He bet when certain pitchers were starting and didn’t bet when other pitchers were starting.

      I think thats enough to stay out of the HOF for life.

      Different situation with the steroid users. They cheated and their records are suspect but cheating to get an advantage has always been a part of the game and there is no question that Bonds and Clemens, as unpleasant as they are, were among the best players of their time.

      • timb

        Can you imagine a world where the pre-98 Bonds is NOT referred to as a HOF?

        • bobbyp

          Anytime prior to April 15, 1947?

          • timb

            sure besides then

        • ‘mazins

          Sure. The one where he is BFFs with Bonilla.

      • bobbyp

        And there was appreciable harm in betting for your own team because it would be easy for savvy bettors to gain inside information from his betting pattern.

        Well, that might harm other punters or bookies, but how does it hurt “the game”?

        • Richard

          In addition to giving signals to bettors and bookies based on Rose’s inside knowledge, he had an incentive to manage differently, to go for the short term win, in games where he had money riding than on games where he didn’t. I forget the details but he supposedly bet on three starters but not on the fourth. If that’s the case, he’s likely to use his best relievers in the games where he has action and put in less consistent relievers (and pinch hitters, etc) in games where he has no money. Also more likely to rest certain starters on the no action games than in the games where he had a stake

          • bobbyp

            Disagree. Rose might have had inside info that that 4th starter couldn’t pitch his way out of a rotting rosin bag, getting some odds notwithstanding.

            I’d put it down to a delusional attempt by a degenerate gambler to salve whatever conscience he thought he had.

            I would agree that players gambling on the game is anathema + Rose is a prime time jerk, but your tangent here, not so much.

            • Richard

              It’s clear he thought the 4 th starter sucked. But even lousy pitchers win some games. By not betting some games, he had an incentive to change his managing strategy to maximize the chances to win the games where he had money bet. He may not have done that but his decision to bet some but not all the games undermined the integrity of the sport

        • timb

          Ask the people who followed the ’19 White Sox. The same reason you aren’t watching a game when you already know the outcome holds true for watching it if you believe it is fixed.

          This is simple stuff

          • Colin Day

            Those players betted against their team.

            • spencer

              Not all of them.

            • And never proven in court.

    • MosesZD

      Pete Rose gambled. That’s been an explicit no-no, in every sport, since the Black Sox scandal.

      Bonds, et. al., were part of a huge crowd of people who, since the dawn of athletics, were looking for an edge to win. That behavior was, until recently, not frowned upon.

      In fact, if it hadn’t become so out-of-control in the late 1990s… It might still be a ‘dirty little secret.’

      • Rob

        More likely if Bonds wasn’t so hated by some sportswriters this would never have ever been an issue.

        • Jim Lynch

          Bonds was extraordinarily unpleasant to a lot of people over the years. I once heard a sportscaster at San Francisco’s KGO radio sputter with rage on-air at Bonds rudeness, and swear he would never again attempt to speak with “the jerk” (as if Bonds cared). As he was obviously speaking from the heart, It was pretty funny. On top of Bonds steroid use, just multiply that one guy by dozens of other sportswriters in every every NL town, and there’s no way Bonds will be voted in anytime soon.

    • rea

      betting for your own team?

      A manger who bets for rather than against his own team is still in a conflict-of-interest stituation. “Jeez, I wonder why he used up the whole bullpen in the first game of a 3-game series?”

  • It will only be silly until Jack Morris gets in. Then it becomes tragic.

  • c u n d gulag

    Thanks to a lot of the commenters here, I’ve changed my opinion on this, and am now ok with putting in the players suspected (that’s the key word) of PED use.

    After all, amphetamines weren’t illegal/banned in Baseball until fairly recently – or in society, either.
    After all, they weren’t just Mike Schmidt’s quick-pregame-pick-me-up, they were also “Mothers Little Helper.” About the greatest 3rd Baseman of all time acknowledging that he took them, look about half-way down this article.
    You’d probably have a harder time finding players who DIDN’T take them in the 60’s and 70’s, than those who did.

    Steroids, and other PED’s, were not specifically illegal/banned until recently either.

    Players have been looking for any edge since the first rules were established.

    And if we disallowed every batter who corked a bat, or pitcher who cut or sandpapered or spit-on or put some foreign substance on a ball, or Manager, Coach, or Player, who stole signs, from entry, the HOF would be a pretty empty place.

    Look at their records, and vote them in if they deserve it, and let history judge them.
    I know how I’ll judge Raphael Palmeiro.

    • Richard

      How about the ones not just suspected but admitted users like McGuire? I’m firmly convinced that Bonds and Clemens used steroids. And I find both of them to be cheaters and jerks. Nevertheless they, along with admitted users, should be in the Hall if ther performances merit it

      • c u n d gulag

        Even if we know who did use PED’s, how many players did they face who we don’t know about, but might have?

        How many pitchers did Bonds and McGuire face who were on PED’s, but we don’t know?
        Did they hit a HR, another hit, did they SO, or did they W?

        And how many batters did Clemens face who were on PED’s, but we don’t know?
        And how did he do against them?

        THAT, to me, is the entire point!

        And since we can’t know for sure who did, and who didn’t, as you say, they “should be in the Hall if ther performances merit it.”

        • bobbyp


        • spencer

          This. This is exactly right.

    • Bill Murray

      most of the steroids used were in fact illegal in the US

      • Scott Lemieux

        So Babe Ruth should be thrown out of the HoF?

        • Actually, every ballplayer who drank alcohol during Prohibition should be thrown out of the Hall. Character and legality and whatnot.

    • If steroids weren’t illegal, why can’t I get them at the grocery store? Murder is not illegal in baseball. This is a dumb technicality argument.

      My argument is not to keep them out of the hall, it is about dumb arguments.

      Anyhow, I think it is funny that something like 10% of baseball players apparently have prescriptions for Adderall. This is like the enrichment for “asthmatics” in world class triathletes. They are all on something. Bonds and Clemens were in the Hall before they started using, and I think for both of those players, their use seems to have an obvious starting point, or at least a a starting point of something much more effective.

      • It is perfectly legal to have and consume steroids. You need a prescription, to be sure, but there’s nothing illegal about it.

  • MosesZD

    I find it difficult to rail against Bonds, Sosa and McGwire considering that their cheating seems to, at best, put them on ‘par’ with the rest of the cheaters which was the majority of ‘star power’ in MLB. For example, of the ten players that hit the 500 homerun club during that era, six of them were caught using PEDs.

    Even worse, it’s probably still going on with synthetic testosterone. Conte, the founder of BALCO, asserts a good 50% of MLB is still cheating by using fast-acting, fast-clearing synthetic testosterone patches after the game is over.

    This stuff clears in 8-hours and since players are only tested before games… You get the benefits of faster healing & muscle building without the downside in risk of being caught.

    Then we have HGH which is routinely abused. Gagne, who played for the Dodgers, said that 80% of the Dodgers players were on HGH when he played there.

    So, really… I just can’t get excited over Bonds, McGwire and Sosa doing steriods and continuing to keep them out of the Hall. Simply because, I have no reasonable confidence that any of the stars were ‘clean’ during that period.

    • “Then we have HGH which is routinely abused.”


  • efgoldman

    No way to know, of course, whether Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro and those guys might have been HOF-worthy without the ‘roids. I doubt it, but what do I know.
    Unlike Bonds and Clemens, who were pretty clearly HOF quality no matter what.
    I don’t vote on anything, but my feeling has always been: assume that they all did it, and vote in the best, most dominant players of the era, maybe grading on a curve to account for higher basic levels of performance.

    • L2P

      Barry Bonds, 1993:

      46 HRs, 123 RBIs, 29 sbs, 326 BA.

      He was like that for years before there was a whiff of him using Roids. And nobody cared because Juice McGriff kept hitting dingers. And now people question whether Barry had HOF cred without steroids?

      • I don’t think anyone questions that. The question is whether that fact means the voters ought to ignore the post-alleged-steroid stats.

      • for years?

        ’93 was by far Bond’s best season before the steroid numbers. His first five full seasons were more like this –
        Bonds 277 BA 870 OPS 25 HR 81 RBI 35 SB

        • Sherm

          Yeah, that scrub only had three MVPs before juicing.

          • Jim Lynch

            The bald faced hypocrisy concerning steroids and MLB is perfectly illustrated with GW Bush having censured the practice during State of the Union Address (post-911! at that), having otherwise turned his blind eye to the problem for the sake of his own profit while an owner.

            Bonds would have my vote. Clemens, too.

  • Paul Gottlieb

    The Hall of Fame has become completely irrelevant in any case. The selection process seems to exist only so an aging group of ignorant, bigoted sports writers can experience a brief feeling of power as they pass judgement on great athletes.

    Barry Bonds was probably the best player in baseball from 1990 through 2004. If he’s not in the Hall of Fame, then the Hall of Fame doesn’t rally mean much, does it?

    • efgoldman

      ….an aging group of ignorant, bigoted sports writers….

      If Dick Young were still alive, writing his annual “My HOF vote…” would give him a coronary.
      I think the general charge of bigotry is a little over the top, though. Young isn’t alive, after all.

      • KCA

        Why weren’t these noble sportswriters and protectors of the game policing steroids back when it was actually happening?

        • c u n d gulag

          Well, you can’t blame Dick Young, he died in 1987 – right about the time the first hints of steroid use started to become a possibility.

          My favorite thing about him, was for years, he railed and railed against Baseball player who left the franchises who drafted or signed them, to become free agents.
          He called them the worst names in the book that you could at the time, in a major newspaper daily.
          And then left the NY Daily News, after decades, for the NY Post when they gave him a better salary.

          On the plus side – he was a staunch hater of the game’s segregation, and a great defender of Jackie Robinson.

          • spencer

            It’s different – newspapering is just a business. Baseball is a sacred pastime that make me feel things about stuff! Or something.

          • For me, Young died in 1976 when he rode Seaver out on a rail.

            His body just took a bit longer to realize it.

    • Paul

      How ’bout eliminating the “Hall of Fame” aspect and simply calling it “The Baseball Museum” or some such? The “hall of fame” has indeed long been irrelevant; so many inductees are not truly great. A museum wd focus on outstanding accomplishments in various categories, and anyone whose accomplishments warrant mention in one or more of those categories wd receive recognition. And such themes as PEDs, gambling, use of spitballs, etc., wd also receive extensive exploration, as wd any players relevant to such discussions.

  • somethingblue

    This whole issue cries out for a congressional hearing.

    • efgoldman

      This whole issue cries out for a congressional hearing.

      Oh please holy FSM, noooo….

      • Jim Lynch

        Another echo (from the next canyon over) extends the holy FSM shout: “Nooooooooooo..ooooo…ooo..oo..”!

    • commie atheist

      Right after we get the one that examines the deleterious effects of hip hop on American youth.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Don’t forget low-hanging pants. That’s a worse crisis than mass incarceration and unemployment will ever be.

        • I want an investigation into Crocs, too.

  • Jesse Ewiak

    I can at least see the argument that Sosa and McGwire would be flashes in the pan without steroids, but Bonds would be a HOF if he would’ve got hit by a truck in 1998.

    • pete

      Indeed. And it seems pretty clear that Bonds began using steroids in order to match people who had less talent but close to equal results, which understandably drove him nuts. I don’t think he should have done it, but I cannot see keeping him out. More marginal sluggers, that’s different; I can see discounting for steroids, it’s just that Bonds was so far above the entry criteria that a hefty discount still leaves him in the HoF.

  • Josh G.

    Part of the problem is that the Baseball Hall of Fame has a grossly outdated voting procedure. Only members of the BBWAA can vote, and the membership of the BBWAA is very unrepresentative of both baseball fandom and baseball scholarship. It wasn’t until 2007 that a few Web-based baseball writers were added to the BBWAA, and the vast majority of members are still writers for dead-tree media. Broadcast journalists are also completely excluded. Print newspapers and magazines are dying, so why should their writers have a virtual stranglehold over Hall of Fame voting? How can a procedure be justified where some random guy writing for the Akron Beacon-Journal is allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame, but Bill James and Joe Morgan are not?

    I understand why the Hall of Fame doesn’t want to open up the voting to all baseball fans; that would result in a popularity contest like the All-Star game, with a lot of undeserving players (especially for big-market teams) being inducted. We already have enough underqualified Yankees in the Hall, we don’t need more. But I think a good compromise would be to allow anyone who cares about baseball to get some sort of “certification” to become a Hall voter. This might entail passing a test to make sure the person has a clear understanding of the rules of baseball and of the game’s history. A small fee could be charged for taking this test. The result would be a much more sabermetrically-oriented Hall of Fame, and probably much better voting results.

    • David Nieporent

      Joe Morgan is allowed to vote for the HOF. This is Not. A. Good. Thing.

      While Bill James and other knowledgeable people being allowed to vote would be nice, just as big a problem is that the BBWAA’s qualification scheme allows lifetime voting privileges. Everyone who has been a member for ten years gets a vote, and once they do, they keep it forever, even if they haven’t covered baseball in the last quarter century.

  • Manju

    I think players should get extra-credit if they used PRDs (Performance-Reducing Drugs). Babe Ruth hitting all those homers while hungover…now that takes skill.

    He’s the Winston Churchill of Baseball. Mantle? JFK.

    • Manju

      Wait! JFK used PEDs, not PRDs. Who drank a lot? LBJ? Nixon? Is Obama still smoking dope? Mantle would probably want to be him. The other two are fugly.

  • Bruce Baugh

    Personally, I very much dislike most PED use. But…if I want stats and honors I’m sure aren’t shifted around by them, then I think it’s my job to find and a support some sort of Holistic Baseball League, with medical results publicized routinely and different kinds of review, maybe basic pay scales linked to clean bills of health, and so on. MLB isn’t that sport now, never has been, and as usual, this kind of moralism gets so selectively deployed.

    • Manju

      I think it’s my job to find and a support some sort of Holistic Baseball League,

      Lets not give Deepak Chopra any ideas. The guy’s annoying enough as is.

      • Bruce Baugh

        C’mon, tell me you don’t want to see an infield satori rule.

        • Manju

          Well ok. And maybe seeing Yogi hit an Om run would be nice. But after that, the future isn’t going to be what it used to be.

          • The problem with the Om run is that the player would demand more “Mani Padme.”

  • tonycpsu

    And it’s not just steroids, HGH, and other things that help with the physical part of the game. As a Phillies fan, it crushed me to see Carlos Ruiz admit to using Adderal without a prescription (and, really how hard is it to get a prescription, anyway?) Now his career year looks like a mostly drug-induced outlier.

    Of course, some players actually do have conditions that require the use of these drugs, so it’s really impossible to tell who’s using them to get to a “normal” level of focus and someone who’s using them to get to an “enhanced” level of focus. I mean, caffeine increases physical and mental ability for short periods of time, so do we outlaw that, too?

  • Tehanu

    If MLB wants to really enforce the drug rules, let them enforce them — but they didn’t do it during the steroid era (i.e. 1990’s & half of 2000’s) so who knows how many players were really “guilty”? Truckloads of players were doing steroids and everything else, but how many of them were putting up numbers like Sosa, Bonds, etc.? Not a lot — and even now they’re suspending players who nobody’s ever heard of because even though they’re juicing, it’s not changing anything — they’re not suddenly becoming stars; the drugs aren’t enhancing anything. And if you drag in “character,” I suggest you drag Ty Cobb right out — not (just) because he was a disgusting racist but because he was a disgusting person. I think being a great player is the reason to put a guy in the HOF, and it would be nice if all of them had great “character,” but it shouldn’t be the reason they got in.

    • so who knows how many players were really “guilty”?

      The doyens of the Baseball Village don’t know everyone who used steroids. But they definitely know who they don’t like.

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