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Blog Entry

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:10 am

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The whispers and suspicions of steroid use have already seem to keep one player with no-doubt, sure-fire numbers out of the Hall of Fame. Despite a lack of concrete evidence or failed drug test, Jeff Bagwell and his 449 home run, career OPS+ of 149 and 79.9 WAR is left outside of Cooperstown and will likely still be on the outside after results of this year's balloting are announced on Tuesday.

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Next year's ballot will have the greater test of what the use of performance enhancing drugs means to the Hall of Fame -- if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can't get into the Hall because of their ties to PEDs, it's unlikely anyone will.

But we've seen Bonds and Clemens in federal court. Mark McGwire admitted his use and Rafael Palmeiro tested positive. The only test Bagwell has failed is the eyeball test. And that mark has kept him out of Cooperstown. It's unlikely he'll be the last to fail that test.

As we continue the look at the future of the Hall of Fame and the candidacy of players active today, there's no more interesting category than the asterisk guys -- some who have tested positive for PEDs, some who have been rumored to have used them, some who have been suspected and some who just don't pass the eyeball test.

Ryan Braun -- No matter what happens in Braun's appeal or the rest of his career, he will always wear the scarlet letter of a failed drug test on his chest. Braun isn't the first MVP winner to be linked to steroids, but he is the first to fail a test in the same year he won the MVP.

At 28, Braun's exploits on the field are yet to be Hall-worthy, but like Bagwell he already has a Rookie of the Year trophy, as well as an MVP by the time he turned 27. There's nothing in Braun's page that suggests he won't someday have a case to be enshrined in Cooperstown. In his first five years in the big leagues, he's averaged more than 30 homers a season, finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice, bringing home the trophy this year. In each of his first five seasons, he's earned MVP votes and he's seemingly getting better and better every season.  If it weren't for the news of his failed MVP test, he'd certainly be on Saturday's list instead of this one.

Jason Giambi -- A very good player with a good career, Giambi will instead be defined as one of the poster children for the steroid era. Even without the asterisk, Giambi's bid for the Hall would be difficult. Even playing in an offensive era, Giambi was an exception offensive player, putting up a .281/.404/.525 line through the 2011 season, hitting 428 home runs. 

In the minds of many, Giambi's case is shut by his performance with the Yankees, where he failed to meet expectations after signing a seven-year, $120 million deal before the 2002 season. The Yankees didn't win a World Series during his tenure with the team, appearing in just one World Series. And then there's the fact the team won a World Series the year after he left.

And then there's the steroids. Giambi reportedly admitted to using steroids during the offseason from 2001 to 2003 and also using human growth hormone in 2003. Giambi's best seasons -- from 1999 to 2003 -- are suspect in the timing of his use of steroids.

Manny Ramirez -- One of the best pure hitters in the history of the game, Ramirez was a controversial figure before being suspended twice for failing drug tests. While there are reasonable objections to Rafael Palmeiro's case as a mere compiler of stats and milestones, Ramirez was a force of nature on the field and an enigma off of it.

Ramirez, who is attempting to play in 2012, has 555 career homers and a .996 career OPS. With 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI, 1,544 runs and a .312/.411/.585 line, not to mention a stretch of eight consecutive seasons where he finished in the top 10 of MVP voting and two World Series rings, Ramirez was a transcendent talent. He will be remembered by any fan of baseball, he just won't be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Alex Rodriguez -- Rodriguez's case will be much like Barry Bonds -- there's no question he's one of the elite players in the history of the game, but there are also the steroid questions. Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003 while he was with the Rangers.

Like Bonds, there will be those who say Rodriguez was a Hall of Fame talent before he allegedly used steroids. And like Bonds, he may finish his career as the career leader in home runs. But unlike Bonds, Rodriguez has admitted to his use of steroids. If Bonds gets in, Rodriguez has a chance. If Bonds doesn't, he doesn't.

Ivan Rodriguez -- Jose Canseco claimed to have personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while the two were teammates in Texas, which is more indictment than anything that has been pinned on Bagwell.

What's different, perhaps, about Rodriguez is that the shadow of steroids is often cast on home run hitters, and while Rodriguez was a very good offensive player -- hitting .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 2,844 hits -- during his career, his defense has always been his calling card. Rodriguez is on the short list with Johnny Bench as the best defensive catcher in the history of the game -- and has caught 201 more games than any other player in the history of the game. While steroids may not have helped him throw out 46 percent of baserunners during his career, if he did use them, they would certainly help his day-to-day recovery and dealing with rigors of catching so many games.

Without the spectre of steroids, Rodriguez is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. But that's not the world we live in. There are voters who, right or wrong, refuse to vote for anyone with a hint of steroid abuse on their resume, and Rodriguez has that, along with the rest.

Miguel Tejada -- Even without steroid accusations, Tejada would be a borderline Hall of Fame selection at best. With his name in the Mitchell Report and connected to Palmeiro's fall, there's probably zero chance he gets in.

Tejada will go down as one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history, hitting .285/.336/.457 with 2,362 hits and 304 home runs in parts of 15 seasons, winning the MVP in 2002 and finishing in the top 20 six other times. Only Cal Ripken Jr. (345) and Rodriguez (344) have hit more than Tejada's 291 homers as a shortstop.

On the other hand, Tejada at his best was a below-average defensive shortstop and his career OPS+ is 108 and his ( WAR is 42.5, 22nd among active players behind the likes of Bobby Abreu, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew. Tejada is unlikely to earn a plaque in Cooperstown, and steroids are probably only part of the reason.

Coming Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles 

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Since: Apr 25, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:59 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Im not a fan of cheating but steriods or not, these guys could play. Anybody can get all juiced up and still wont be able to hit a fastball or dive to stop a line drive. With or without these drugs these players are awesome. Im not sure but i would bet money that if the players in the golden age could of got their hands on steriods when they started to age they would of used them also. I remember the season when Sosa and McGwire was battling for the homerun record and that for me was one of the best seasons i ever watched. Its bad but it makes the game more exciting. I would say you can use steriods but you have no chance at the hall of fame and no records can be captured by said players.

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:53 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Melprophet: Well and good enough, but what's the accepted standard of proof? A single positive test? Two? Three? Or do we just go on the uncorroborated word of Jose Canseco, as Rosecrans suggests might be done with Pudge?

I have a novel suggestion. Turn their plaques toward the wall. Isn't that what we do with misbehaving children?  

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:47 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Keeping Pudge out of the HOF solely on the say-so of the dirtbag Canseco, who ALSO 'swears' that Clemens did NOT use steroids, would be a shameful thing.

"Without the spectre of steroids, Rodriguez is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. But that's not the world we live in. There are voters who, right or wrong, refuse to vote for anyone with a hint of steroid abuse on their resume, and Rodriguez has that, along with the rest."  --Rosecrans. 

Then again, it's not as if smallmindedness wasn't a defining characteristic of a great many sports writers. Idle speculation, but mightn't that have something to do with their own unmet ambitions?

Anywho, some of these guys had best hope that the Almighty doesn't cop a similar attitude on their Judgment Day. "Hmmm... Turnabout being fair play, I'll just not bother to look into your heart for the truth about your motivations for the questionable behavior in your life. Instead, I'll just assume the worst about you and take the word of known liars and lowlifes as Gospel."

Since: Dec 30, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:43 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

At least until steroids prove to be miracle drugs in a future where an overwhelming majority of the populous wonders why baseball players were the only ones smart enough to use them in the past.

Or perhaps more realistically only until the writers that make up the voters association are replaced with a younger core who (A.) both realizes that there is no great advantage in added hand-eye-coordination from steroids (although I'll give you strength), or (B.) They'll see the greats of the era as the greats of an era when everyone was doing it and vote the (obviously up for debate) deserving players in. Realizing that Mark McGuire and Alex Rodriguez would have been great no matter what, while Bronson Arroyo (an admitted steroid-user believe it or not), and Craig Counsell (that guy obviously did not take steroids), probably still wouldn't have had careers worthy of Cooperstown.

Since: Dec 22, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:20 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Who Cares?  We all know that the MLB doesn't really care about its can I say that?  Simple if MLB wanted a legitimate, we're for true, special, innate talent they would suspend these PED active indefinitely, investigate them, their ties to PED, PED suppliers and if found guilty kick them out, and ban them for life.  If you do illegal drugs at any other work place you're canned immediately why not MLB?  And I also find it Funny that most of those if not all of those players are Scott Boras Clients so if MLB really investigated these guys...what would the odds be that it leads to Boras feeding them PEDs....or hooking them up with the PED suppliers to jack up his pay too...illegal, fraud, disbar Boras and lock him in jail for fraud and other white collar crimes for 20-30 years in a fed pen that would be the day I really actually care about Baseball for more then a sideshow entertainment that one gets just as much by watching WWE or TNA ProWrestling.  LOL. 

Since: May 28, 2007
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:18 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

i think anyone who admitted to steroid use or got busted by failing a test should not be hof eligible.with that said,someone like pudge rodriguez shouldn't be left out because a scumbag like canseco made some claim.was he in mitchel report?im not sure if he was,but he's never failed a drug test.he is perhaps best catcher all around ever,he is the one asterisk guy who i'd make the strongest case for.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:06 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

The HOF voters need to address the impact of steroid use in baseball once and for all. They need to decide one way or the other, in unison, whether eligible players who used PEDs should get in, or not. Treat them all the same and be done with it once and for all. Failing to do this is going to result in the steroid issue being a cloud over the HOF for many many years. Think about it. If ARod plays another 5 years, then the 5 year wait to be eligible, then 15 potential years to get in. That means we could be talking ARod, steroids and the HOF until 2037. Do they really want that? Does baseball?

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2012 4:42 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

What about the LIST that hasnt come out yet? or the guys who have been associated with PEDs like David Ortiz?

Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:25 pm

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Bottom line : if you put asterisk on players, you put asterisk on HOF. 

The reason there is so much talk about PED is simple : greed of owners (and to some extent, player union), personified by by Selig, made this tema a tabu for a long time, putting the the integrity of the game in risk. If the testing for PED would be introduced at the same time when it was common place in other sports, we'd have no such discussion.

Cheating in baseball is as old as the game itself. I am sure that many of the game "greats" (if I have to name one, it would be Ty Cobb) would be linked to PEDs if they played nowdays. Selig is the reason why this has been blown out of the proportion.

Consider following scenario : since Selig refused to implement testing early, nobody really knows how many players really cheated. Was it a handful players, mentioned by Canseco, or was it nearly anyone. If the latter is the case, can you still call it cheating if you as a hitter try to cope with stuff coming most likely from PED-enhanced pitcher, or is it merely staying competitive ?

Anybody who tries to disqualify anyone who never failed a test, and thus was within the rules that were valid at the time, is questioning the entire league. Those who say they'd never vote for anyone related to PEDs, and fail to blame those who are to be blamed - Selig & co. - are undermining the legacy of the HOF. And showing the crystalic case of hypocrisy.

Since: Jul 22, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 11:33 am

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

 Braun is still really young and by the time he is done maybe his situation will be kind of forgotten about or maybe much less divisive. When he's done his career, if he has the "magic" numbers and has been clean I bet he'll get in. These other guys are almost finished or are finished their time in baseball. It is too fresh in peoples minds at the moment.
  Braun's situation is different by leaps and bounds in my opinion and should be off this list for the time being. Take a look again in 10 to 12 years.It's just premature to have him on this list is all I am saying.

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