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: Jan 10, 2012
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:43 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Sadly all the owners knew what was going on and turned a blind eye to players using steroids. The owners were all laughing their way to the bank as we,the fans, spent money to see the awesome displays of power by the juiced up players. George Bush jr. knew steroids were being used and Bud Selig knew it too.If they say they didn't they are bald face LIARS.With all the money spent on some of these players the owners needed to see results on the field, regardles of how they were achieved. Saying an asterisk needs to be added to any records broken in that time is a joke,steroid use was a part of baseball that was allowed by the owners.Baseball is corrupt and always will be until there is some kind of salary cap in place to even the playing field and make it more enjoyable for the fans of all teams not just the big market ones.

Since: Dec 19, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:29 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

When Fay Vincent banned Pete Rose, it was based on the fact that he violated major league policy.  When I guy gets suspended for PEDs today by Major League Baseball, it's also based on policy violation.

Rose still has to sign autographs across the street from the Hall Of Fame, and that should be the case for Bonds as well.  Think about the message that we're sending to our kids if we let either of them in.  Our all time hits leader and home run leader are cheaters, so it's okay for kids to cheat too, since there won't be a penalty for it.

Sorry, I wouldn't allow it if I had a vote.

Since: Dec 30, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:19 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

No wonder your level is Superstar, VERY well put.  I love how Hank Aaron and all of the oldtimers complained about steriod use when they were just as quilty of using performance enhancers (i.e. greenies)

Since: Jun 10, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:10 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I don't get the suspicions for guys like Biggio and Piazza, who were pretty consistent over their entire careers, and didn't have a massive spike in their production while they were well into their 30's. Guys like McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds should have been in the latter half of their careers, and they suddenly became twice as good as they previously had ever been. Perhaps expansion diluted the pitching, but surely not by that much! 

Since: Mar 11, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:09 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Further, if these so called sports writers would do some research, they would discover that there are two scientific studies that conclude that Steroid use did not contribute to the home runs Bonds hit
LOL - there are also "scientific studies" that show cigarettes don't cause lung cancer and that Global Warming doesn't exist.  If you believe any of that, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you...

Deserving or not at the start of his career, by the end they belong in baseball damnation for cheating, not enshrined in the hall of fame.  Bernie Madoff was an honest business man and hard worker for the start of his career, so we should forgive his crimes for later stages?  I understand this is a more extreme example, "who did Bonds hurt?" is going to be the reply, but cheaters should never prosper.

What is the lesson we tell our current and future kids?  Its ok to cheat as long as you're the best?  I think not.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:54 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

mmac30 first of all, I have been accused of a lot of things on this board alone. Second, we are talking about the Hall of Fame, and not about whether a person should go to jail or not, or should be deprived of work.

Jason Grimsley was the other teammate of Clemens besides Pettitte who said Clemens took PEDs. I gave circumstantial EVIDENCE not PROOF. There is enough evidence for me to be convinced that he does not belong in the HOF is all I am saying. And for me to be convinced that he is a scumbag, just like Bonds and Sosa and the rest of them.

mmac30 I am sure there is nothing to convince you that Clemens cheated or lied, and that's fine. Apparently anyone who accuses Clemens is lying, the government is full of idiots (well you may have me there) and the Mitchell report was biased in favor of the Red Sox. That's fine, you are entitled to your opinion, as am I. But again we are talking about the HOF only, not whether or not Clemens should have a job, as the scumbag McGwire does.

As a side note, no White Sox players were mentioned in the Mitchell report either. I'm sure if I rechecked I would find other teams whose players are not mentioned. Last I checked, Mitchell has no interest in the White Sox.

Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:44 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

If the people who vote are going to use the alleged use of steroids by Bonds to deny him their vote, then they have to look within themselves and ask why Gaylord Perry is still in the HOF after ADMITTING he cheated by throwing spit balls which have been outlawed by MLB since around 1920.  Is it because (a) Perry is white and Bonds is black?, and (b) that Perry was friendly with sportswriters while Bonds treated them like Shit?   I think the answers to (a) and (b) is Yes.  If cheating (using PED) is grounds for not giving a vote, then ALL CHEATING has to be grounds for denying entrance OR REMAINING in the HOF.

Further, if these so called sports writers would do some research, they would discover that there are two scientific studies that conclude that Steroid use did not contribute to the home runs Bonds hit.   And, to prove this point from a practical standpoint, there have been at least 100 players who TESTED positive for steroid use and perhaps 95 of them never hit more than 25 home runs in any one season.  Finally, who among the present day voters for the HOF have proof that everyone in the HOF did not use some type of PED or other stimulants to enhance their stats?   How do we know, for example, that Hank Aaron did not take something before a game which assisted him in hitting a home run?    The votes should look to whether or not PED's actually assisted a player and in looking, they should take their time and do some ACTUAL RESEARCH, rather than just accept all the BS that has been in the media.

Since: Oct 25, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:59 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

No seats at the juice bar with that crew. That will prevent the obvious from getting in on the first round. I'd like to see the killer B's go in together and Jack Morris make it next year.

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:56 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Let me start by saying that I can't stand Barry Bonds.  But I do respect his baseball talent.  The talent that he displayed early in his career.  It's commonly speculated that he didn't start using until after the McGwire-Sosa hoopla in 1998.  Bonds was 34 that year, and even if you eliminate every season from '98 on, he still had 374 home runs, 417 stolen bases, .288 average, 1094 RBI, 1244 runs scored, 7 Gold Gloves, 3 MVP Awards, and a Rookie of the Year award in 12 seasons.

The numbers up to that point are enough to put him in the conversation, even without giving him any stats for ages 34-37 years when you would typically assume he'd be in decline if nature had been allowed to take its course.  There's nothing that says he couldn't have hit 30 home runs a year for those seasons even without PEDs.

The man could play ball without any juice, I think he at least needs to be considered Hall-worthy.  Don't discount the talent.  I have no argument if you say that you want to keep him out for breaking baseball's rules, as Pete Rose should be in based on numbers but isn't because of what he did after the sun had set on his playing days.

I don't know what I'd do if I had a vote, but based on what I saw in the late 80s and early 90s he sure did pass the eye-test for having Hall of Fame talent.

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:49 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

This is where we come back to how you treated the press when you played. I know, I know, Ty Conn was the biggest jerk of all time in baseball and he got in, but this is the 21st Century. No way the sportswriters are going to vote Bonds or Clemmons in. Beside the roids allegations, they treaded the sportwriters like maggots. Now Sammy was usually pretty good with the writers, and he may get in someday, but he is going to have to wait quite awhile before he is in. Biggio does not have the numbers, Piazza should be a slam dunk, Schiiling, sorry not on 1st ballot,. I think Morris does make it next year.

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