Blog Entry

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:52 pm
Barry Bonds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If steroids have clouded the Hall of Fame voting the last few years, a hurricane is coming in 2013. 

While the Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor for a baseball player, we all know there's a difference between the Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays Hall of Famers and the Phil Rizzuto, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice Hall of Famers. While Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were probably better than the later group, they certainly don't belong with the former. That changes next year.

Hall of Fame coverage

In December, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America that are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame will receive their ballot and on that ballot will be baseball's career home run leader and perhaps its greatest pitcher. While most voters agonize over their votes and research each and every name in front of them, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens shouldn't take time. In a perfect world, a world where the only considerations are on the page, more time would be spent putting ink to paper than actually breaking down the candidacy of Bonds and Clemens.

This, as we know, is not a perfect world. And the Hall of Fame debate, which has always been hotly contested, takes on a different debate with the class of 2013. For the first time not only will Bonds and Clemens be eligible for the Hall, so too will Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. While Sosa and Piazza aren't in the same class as Bonds and Clemens, they do have 1,036 homers between them and without allegations of steroid use, they'd be no-doubters as well.

As long as the Hall doesn't have any guidelines for the voting bloc, there will be a mixture of four types of voters when it comes to steroids:

1. Hardline no: These are the folks who don't vote for Bagwell. If there's even a rumor about a player having a zit on their back, these defenders of the Hall will keep a player out.

2. Proof only: Here's where it gets tricky -- some voters want hard evidence before they keep a player out. But what's the line here? Is it a failed test like Palmeiro? Or is it overwhelming evidence such as the cases against Bonds and Clemens? And then what about the Mitchell Report? Is that good enough? And then there's other ties, like Sammy Sosa, who was never suspended and not in the Mitchell Report, but just about everyone suspects he used.

3. Worthy before PEDs: Then there's the "he was a Hall of Famer before steroids." This is the argument you can use to OK Bonds and Clemens, while rejecting the likes of McGwire and Sosa. This, though, assumes you can tell when a player started using steroids just by their head growth or some other assumed symptom.

4. Numbers voters: Finally there are those who say the only thing we know is the results that were on the field. We don't know the extent of steroid use during the so-called steroid era or how much the results were changed by their usage or even who exactly did or did not use them. 

In the end, the results are likely to say more about the voting bloc than the players themselves -- and as many people who get upset about the voting every year will get louder next year as the steroid question will divide almost all baseball fans. Here's a quick look at the new players who will be on the 2013 ballot:

Craig Biggio -- Biggio finished his career with 3,060 hits and nearly 300 home runs (291). The seven-time All-Star put up a career line of .281/.363/.433. He started his career at catcher before moving to second base and was the face of the Astros, playing 20 years in Houston. And despite his close association with Bagwell during their playing days, he hasn't been associated with Bagwell's alleged steroid use. In the end, his squeaky-clean image could do as much to aid his Hall candidacy as his numbers.

Barry BondsBarry Bonds -- And this is where it gets real. Bonds has more home runs (762) in the history of the game, had a career OPS of 1.051. A seven-time MVP, Bonds may be the best hitter in the history of the game. And then there's Game of Shadows and BALCO -- the baggage surrounding Bonds is as big as his batting helmet. The common belief is Bonds didn't start using steroids until seeing the hoopla around Sosa and McGwire in 1998, and by that time he already had three MVPs under his belt. A great player and future Hall of Famer before the 1998 season, he hit 351 home runs from 1999-2007, breaking McGwire's single-season mark with 73 home runs in 2001.

Roger Clemens -- Like Bonds, Clemens had a Hall of Fame career before suspicion of steroids. Clemens had three Cy Young Awards in his first eight seasons, before going on to win four more later in his career. Clemens finished his carer with a 354-184 mark, a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third all-time after Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Steve Finley -- The outfielder had a solid 19-year career, picking up 2,548 hits, 304 home runs and 320 stolen bases, to go along with five Gold Gloves. A fine career, but not a Hall-worthy one.

Julio Franco -- Franco's a better candidate for Ripley's Believe It or Not than the Hall of Fame. Franco played his last game at the reported age of 49 in 2007. In his 23 seasons, he hit .298/.365/.417, collecting 2,586 hits. In addition to his 23 seasons in the big leagues, he had two years in Japan, another in Korea and played his last season in Mexico. A three-time All-Star, he also won a batting title in 1991 with a .341 average. He won't be voted into the Hall, but he had one amazing career.

Roberto Hernandez -- A closer, Hernandez finished his career with 326 saves and a 3.45 ERA. He had a good career, but is unlikely to stay on the ballot more than one year.

Kenny Lofton -- Because Lofton played in the steroid era, his talents may be under-appreciated. A leadoff man, Lofton finished with a .299/.372/.423 line, stole 622 bases and had 2,428 hits. He also had 130 homers, winning four Gold Gloves and appearing in six All-Star Games. A premier defensive player, Lofton has a better case than you'd think at first glance.

Jose Mesa -- Mesa's numbers are just a tick below Hernandez's, finishing with 321 saves and a 4.36 ERA.

Mike PiazzaMike Piazza -- If there are whispers, but no proof, that Bagwell used steroids, there are shouts that Piazza did, despite the same lack of hard evidence. The best offensive catcher of the modern era, Piazza had 427 home runs and hit .308/.377/.545 in his 16 seasons. He wasn't considered a good catcher, but that was beside the point -- Piazza was a middle of the order presence. Without steroids involved in the discussion, there's no discussion of whether he's in or not. But that's not the world we live in.

Curt Schilling -- Jack Morris' candidacy has been built largely on his postseason exploits -- and with all due respect to Morris, he can't hold a candle to Schilling's postseason accomplishments. Morris was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 13 postseason starts. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 in 19 postseason starts, winning four of his seven World Series starts. In 20 years in the big leagues, Schilling was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, but that was done in a much better offensive era than Morris' 3.90 ERA. Injuries throughout his career kept his career numbers down, but his candidacy will be heavily debated from both sides -- and in a rarity, it may be an old-fashioned baseball debate, not one about steroids.

Sammy Sosa -- Sosa will likely be remembered as much for his sudden inability to speak English when facing Congress as his 609 home runs. He's the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons, but he didn't lead the league in homers in any of those three seasons. He reportedly tested positive during the 2003 PED survey test. On sheer numbers, he's tough to pass up, but with the steroid question, he's unlikely to get in.

David Wells -- Wells no doubt got bigger throughout his career, but the belief is he did it the old fashioned way -- by eating. Never small, Wells went 239-157 for nine different teams in parts of 21 seasons, but his 4.13 ERA will make him easy to keep out of the Hall of Fame. He was 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 27 postseason games and 17 starts.

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Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:19 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

All27outs, Before you bust a hemorrhoid, not to be confused with steroid.  Let me clarify a couple of things for you.  Anabolic steroids have never been legal.  They are against the law.  Most steroids used for medicinal reasons, are a whole different chemical composition than what is discussed here.  It is about the KIDS!  and HONESTY, DIGNITY, TRUTH, and JUSTICE.

No kidding eras are different.  Heck, ever try to catch a baseball in a glove similar to what Babe Ruth used at the beginning of his career, with no stitching between the fingers and heavy as, well a heavy bag?  Baseballs are spun much tighter today than 90 years ago or even 60 years ago, making it them fly much further than before. 

Anabolic steroids have 160 known side effects, many potentially leading to death.  Would you give them to your SON?

Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:49 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

If Bonds doesn't get in, then there is no point in even having a hall of fame.

He's easily one of the greatest players of all time, if not the greatest. There are many other players who most likely did steroids and are in the hall of fame. It's only more public and obvious with Bonds.

Bonds was one of the best players in the league before he started juicing. If he didn't juice he most likely wouldn't be considered in contention as the greatest of all time, but he would certainly still be a hall of fame lock.

Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:50 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:32 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I would rather vote for a great, clean, respectful player like Kenny Lofton than a disrepectful, cheating D-bag like Bonds or Sosa. I'm not sure you can vote for a guy like Ozzie Smith - one of the best defensive players ever - and not vote for a guy like Lofton who has far superior offensive numbers and was one of the premier defensive players of his era. It would be pretty fitting for guys like Lofton and Biggio to get in over juicers Bonds and Sosa.

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:07 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

This is the bottom line: we are in an era where the technology to detect performance enhancement is outpaced by the ability to avoid detection. It will be an ongoing battle forever. What test could you possibly develop to test for the day when a player can go somewhere, receive some gene therapy, and his body is re-programmed to have a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscles? Answer: who knows. All you can do is develop tests, and when someone fails the tests, they are punished. If they are repeat offenders, they'll be banished. If 'clean' players don't like it, they are in a much stronger position to fix the situation than any test, let them take their game back.

In addition, drug interactions and their impacts on other body chemical balances are constantly being discovered. Combine that with the fact that all those supplements you see at GNC and other stores are not under the jusidiction of the FDA. The end result is that you can't even trust the ingredients listed on the label, you actually have to test almost every can you buy. Given that, there will be a second tier of players who are trying to do what is interpreted as 'legal' - protein power, creatine, whatever. That protein powder you've been taking? Oh yeah, we put stuff in it that until recently provided 'tainted' muscle growth without detection. Uh, sorry you failed your drug test.

My point: there will be NO WAY to properly arbitrate degrees of guilt, and its definitely unfair to declare 'guilty due to rumor'. If they were dominant, they get in. If they fail however many tests it takes to receive a lifetime ban, then they're out. Stop with the holier-than-thou 'cheater' crap, save the hatchet jobs for the real cheaters in the real world. If the cheating gets out of control, they'll all shoot themselves in the foot as baseball deteriorates into a second-rate sport, with salaries to match. We'll all be sad, but I miss drive-in movies, too.

Welcome to the HOF, Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Piazza, and any others whose dominance and numbers stack up. There's really no other way to address it objectively.

Since: Feb 27, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 8:30 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

What is WRONG with people? Seriously, Pete Rose bet on baseball and isn't in the Hall of Fame due to some behind closed doors agreement with Fay Vincent. Fine. Tough to stomach, but whatever. Shoeless Joe isn't in, either, for allegedly FIXING the World Series. Baseball couldn't afford to be viewed as "fixable" to be legitimate, so bye bye Shoeless Joe. Fine.

But this morality thumping CRAP that gets spewed forth is stupifying in the extreme. "What are you teaching the kids if you elect Barry Bonds...cheating is ok?" Get OFF your stump and come back to the real world. The "KIDS" aren't going to notice one way or the other, they didn't notice AMPHETAMINE ABUSE, they didn't notice ALCOHOLISM, they don't CARE. It's NOT the KIDS. It's for you, for some ridiculous reason. Why is ANYONE swept up in records falling? THEY ALL SHOULD FALL ONE DAY, or the "record" in question is of dubious worth. Cy Young's career wins record is a farce. It's not the same game, and never will be. BONDS hit more homeruns than anyone else. Guess what? TODAY'S GAME is not the same as when the BABE played get over it. BONDS was a DOMINANT player in his era...and THAT is the type of player that SHOULD be in the hall.

The steroids guys took performance enhancing drugs. What does that mean, really? They GOT STRONGER. Bottom line. There are other benefits, but that's the key one...strength. ATHLETES have been training trying to get stronger from the dawn of life, and will continue to do so forever. NUTRITION TRAINING should be illegal because BABE RUTH didn't have that. Wait, Chum, it's not against the law to eat most efficiently. WEIGHT TRAINING should be banned. Umm, Chum, same's legal.

Steroids were also legal. Back the truck back and shut it down. Are there any players in the hall who used corked bats? Spitballs? You know the answer.

I contend it must be difficult to hit when your melon has tripled in size, like JAck in the Box. That BONDS HEAD had to be heavy, impacting his swing plane. Yet he still kept making contact...

You don't like Barry Bonds, or Big Mac, or stupid Rafael Palmeiro for not coming clean? Okay, but you can't deny their achievements on the diamond. Rocket? He's come off as an ass...too bad, but he's a HOF lock.

If you deny guys like Bonds and Big Mac, and Sosa...what do you do about AROD, another flat out LOCK? He admitted to taking steroids, so does that clear him? If it does, you're outta your mind.

Steroids are prescribed for sickness, for injury recovery, for a host of LEGAL things. What about players who took them in moderation, as prescribed by their doctors, in cases like that? NOT as performance enhancers, but as "treatment"? They still took have too.

Forget it. Here's who SHOULD make the Hall from the 2013 class, without the prejudicial glasses of steroid-scorn, worn by so many sheep.

Bonds. First ballot.
Rocket. First ballot.
Pizza. First ballot. And yes, I left out the "a" on purpose.
Sammy. First ballot, but with less enthusiasm.

Lofton and Schilling get support, but IF they made it, it would take some ballots to do so.

Biggio was great, just a notch below...but he could slip in...barely, with debate.

Finley, no...but a good player. Franco, the same.

Mesa and Hernandez? Not a chance. Boomer? No way.

As far as previous candidates go, Bagwell should DEFINITELY make it, as should Big Mac. The case for Trammell is a lot like Biggio's, and Jack Morris is like Curt Schilling, with worse numbers.

That's a sober reflection on the player's qualifications without the hysteria of steroid allegations inducing people into pettiness. And you know what? Pete Rose DOES deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Since: Mar 14, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 8:23 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I'm afraid I don't see this as a complicated matter at all.  Steroid users like Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, etc., don't get into the HOF.  In fact, they should get exactly 0 votes.  Not complicated at all.  Their wonderful stats are irrelevant, just like Shoeless Joe's stats were irrelevant when his fate was determined.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 7:42 pm

It don't matter anyhow

In a HOF that has allowed it's inductees to be watered down by lifetime .290 hitters and marginal ERA's simply because they feel obligated to put someone in EVERY FRIGGIN YEAR, what does it matter if the guy with the ACTUAL MOST HR's or pitching wins cheated to get there? The HOF is so rife with good players that should never have been confused with GREAT that I would never waste my time there. Although I HATE the idea of cheaters beating the system in any way, I could give a flying fart if another one is inducted into a club that is irrelevant to any of the rest of us in the REAL world anymore. --  Swing away, voters. The HALL of AVERAGE awaits it's next class of "honored" (I can't say THAT without a smirk) members.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 7:37 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Check Biggio's numbers before you say he doesn't have them.  his .281 is comparable to Dave Winfield's .283 and Willie Stargell's .282.  Biggio had 1844 runs, .281 BA, 3060 hits, 291 HR and 1175 RBI.  Would you induct a player with 1175 runs, .285 BA, 2150 hits, 358 HR and 1430 RBI, all comprable numbers to Biggio?  The later numbers belong to Yogi Berra. 

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 7:23 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

babyloves, you are probably right that there have been cheaters in every generation of athletes. However, what you forget is that now it is all about ridiculous sums of money, so the impetus to cheat is even bigger now cuz of the tens of millions you could make by doing this. And funny thing, the big problem with steroids really started when the salaries grew astronomically in the 1990s and early 2000s. To me, it's a direct correlation and the payoff is bigger now than it ever has been.

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