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: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:03 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

The Hall of fame is full of guys that are not honorable and littered with cheaters. Gaylord Perry, Neikro and Sutton all well known cheaters! All in with 300 wins I guess it is only cheating when its drugs. Speaking of drugs Mantle, Dimaggio, Musial and this can go on all ADMITTED to taking "greenies" an illegal amphetamine to boost performance and recovery but I guess it is only steroids/HGH. Now moral character give it a break. The list of questionable moral character starts with the first HOF class in Ty Cobb. What  the HOF should be and what is is and has been are 2 different things. There are not different levels of cheating, cheating is cheating same goes with immoral character and the drug users in the HOF.

Since: Mar 13, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:30 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

The Halll of Fame should be a honorable group.  It should represent the best that is baseball.  I do not understand how the use of PED's can be condoned on any level, once discovered. where there is smoke there is fire.  Pete Rose is barred for gambling, not throwing, on games.  Ok, cheating should be barred.  But how is the use of PED's not cheating? 

These men did serious injury to the game of baseball, placing the integrity of the game in question.  And they still have the hubrus to look at us and say "We deserve to be in the Hall of Fame".  I do not see how not honoring these men is a problem.  The best hitter in baseball is barred due to an inability to deal with his gambling compulsion.  He is still the best hitter in baseball.  Bonds can SAY he is the home run champion and Clemens can SAY he is the best pitcher to ever play the game, and they can point to their MVP's and Cy Young's, and people can debate the issue for years to come [Rodriguez tries to cop to a plea for leniency, lol].

The Hall is about the game on the field and in the clubhouse.  Drugging oneself to improve one's performance beyond what one can do otherwise is cheating and should be humiliating instead of brushed aside.

Why doesn't the Hall of Fame membership vote on the players.  Writers.  That they think there is a "problem" shows how much they lack the athletic ability to compete and to embrace the tenets of the ballgame itself.  They are ancillary to the game itself.  Why not have the cameramen from all the teams vote for the honor?     

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:29 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Illini bob if you live here in NY Piazza has been rumored to bu juicing for years. How do you take Pettite's word on anything? I am not sayiong Clemens is clean but Pettite is an admitted LIAR. Once a liar always a liar that cant be trusted. I still ask where is the PROOF on Clemens? None same as Piazza. Just the words of liars and guys who got caught.

Since: Apr 11, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:13 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Biggio and Bagwell side by side next year, like they always were......and Piazza, the best offensive catcher since Johnny Bench.  That's it.  Unless there is some documented proof of PED, you're eligible.  Pettitte said Roger used, Barry admitted he used.  That's all it takes for me to keep them out forever.

Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 10:01 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Biggio, Piazza, everyone else either isn't good enough or tainted steroid user. 

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:48 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I would put Bonds, Piazza, Biggio and Clemens in... I dont care about alleged steriods uses or even proven steroids use....these are the players i enjoyed watching and rooting for/against, and in the class of 2013 they are the best.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:45 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I blame Bud Selig for contributing to every issue harming MLB right now.

Selig looked the other way for nearly 2 decades, until not only 100 years of Hall of Fame benchmarks were made a mockery, but also the Commissioners mission statement to "act in the best interests of baseball". Selig refused to address the issue of PED's until Congress stepped in and made Selig reluctantly act in his OWN best interests (to keep his job).

The facts are, MLB has not been honest about what was known, or when it was known, on the issue of PED's. MLB's "policy" prior to the current practice was random, technologically inferior and results were, and still are, a secret. No one has proof if Barry Bonds, or any other player did or didn't use PED's prior to 1998.

Now, Selig wants the HOF voters to issue some kind of subjective "exclusion justice" for proven and SUSPECTED PED users alike, resulting from his criminal negligence in the first place. It's not just the PED issue, Selig has been allowed to vote "present" and act outside "the best interests of baseball" for far too long.

The damage to MLB is irreversable.

Previously accepted milestones for the Hall of Fame (3,000 hits, 300 wins, 500 HR, etc.) are enormously diminished, if not irrelevant now, making the HOF voting process far more subjective than ever. In a few decades, memories will fade  and convictions will soften, and the Hall of Fame will be as diluted and distorted as the integrity and tradition of MLB itself. 

That ALL happened on Bud Selig's watch.

A-Rod "admitted" PED use for a "couple" of years, Bonds was proven, but lied....neither has credibility, but BOTH will one day be enshrined in the Hall Of Fame, albeit with an asterisk or otherwise unwritten disclaimer.  

Pete Rose admitted he bet on his team to win as a manager, and can't get on the HOF ballot as the All-Time Hit leader...even though not a single hit was aided by a PED, or by the gambling that bans him....Yet, Bud Selig is still lying about his knowledge of PED's that have forever stained baseball, and he's still the top dog in MLB.

What a hypocritical crime.... 

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:44 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I don't think calling everyone hypocrites right.  I'm pretty sure it was MLB and the writers that turned the blind eye...true those who went to the games helped fuel/fund the problem, but I don't think it's hypocritical to want and like the changes that are supposedly happening in baseball now.  True everyone knew/suspected who was taking PEDs, but without the proof or threat of punishment what are we as fans going to do about it?  In order to be a hypocrite, IN MY OPINION, you would have to be able to change it in the first place, without the power to do anything all any fan could do is sit back and enjoy theon going joke that was put in front of us.  I agree that these guys don't belong in the HOF, but I also think that if MLB and the writers want to continue heading in a better direction they need to reconsider the NL MVP from last season.  If he loses his appeal, I don't think he should keep the award...take a page out of the NCAA book with the Heisman.  I understand going back and revoting on any other MVP that's been caught cheating isn't going to happen.  But this instance was just last season, an easy fix.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 8:55 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

A bunch of hypocrites all of us. We all knew what was going on in baseball for years but turned a blind eye. I guess it was OK to take amphetimines "greenies" to keep your ready and improve performance when you were worn down, it was ok to doctor a ball using sandpaper/emory board/vasoline just too name a few, then it was OK to doctor your bat ala Sammy Sosa and the corked bat, then it is OK to sharpen spikes all of these violations are against the rules of baseball but yet plenty of these cheaters arein the HOF. Onlu know do we take the moral high road regarding steroids and HGH. I guess that cheating is worse than other cheating. Well I hate to enlighten you all cheating is cheating and remember this doctoring a ball is clearly against the rules PEDS were not. You want to tell me it is against the law fine so are taking illegal amphetimines. We should all get off our soapbox. Cheating has been and will continue to run rampant in baseball as the salaries and greed escalates. Bonds, Clemens, Piazza and Sosa all should be in regardless of allegations and let us remember that is all they are in 3 of the 4 cases. But once again we hypocrites all know what actually happened but came to the park in record numbers to watch McGwire and Sosa go for the record, Clemens go after 300 wins, Piazza actualyy had Shea selling tickets. Enough already. The writers are the worst of all of us because they turned a blind eye for the past 30+ years until now.

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 8:54 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Barry Bonds = Best Ever

King Kong ain't got **it on me!!!!

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