Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:39 pm
This summer, the Hall of Fame will ask kids to pledge to stay away from steroids.
Next winter, the Hall of Fame will send out a ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.
A contradiction? A message to voters?
Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson insists that it's neither one. Idelson said Wednesday that the Hall has always been an education center, in addition to being a baseball museum and a Hall of Fame, and that the new BASE (Be a Superior Example) program fits in with that.
He also said that the Hall isn't -- and won't -- tell anyone how to vote, and that the new education program should not be read as a directive to eliminate steroid users.
"We believe in allowing voters to use their own value judgment," he said. "We're very comfortable with the rules for election as they stand."
In other words, it's my problem. Mine, and the other 500-some Hall of Fame voters.
Actually, I'm fine with that. Deciding how to treat proven, almost proven and suspected steroid users is the hardest thing I've had to do in all the years I've had a ballot, but I'd rather the Hall leave the decision to us, rather than make it for us. I'd rather they put Pete Rose on the ballot, too, rather than take that decision away from us.
Based on the voting so far, there's no danger that Bonds or Clemens or McGwire will be standing on stage in July 2013, accepting a plaque that glorifies a steroid-aided career, at the same time that the Hall is trying to educate youngsters about the evils of drugs.
McGwire has never even received 24 percent of the vote in his five years on the ballot, with 75 percent required for election. Bonds will likely get more than that, since some voters will see him as having a Hall of Fame career before he likely began using, but I can't imagine him coming close to 75 percent, because many voters won't support anyone connected at all with steroids.
That's been my position for the last two Hall elections (after I voted for McGwire in his first three years on the ballot). It's a position I reexamine every year, and one I'm still not completely comfortable with. I'm just more comfortable with it, for now, than I would be with playing a part in electing someone who likely (or in some cases definitely) cheated the game.
The Hall of Fame shouldn't run away from the issue, because it is a big part of what happened in baseball. And education about steroids (and other performance-enhancing drugs) is more effective than simply announcing that proven steroid cheats will be banned (and if you just ban the proven cheats, you'll be letting quite a few unproven but strongly suspected cheats in).
Maybe the debate over whether Bonds, Clemens et al should be Hall of Famers can even be part of the education program, which is designed to teach about the negative effects and consequences of using performance-enhancing substances.
Idelson hasn't helped me with my vote -- and I don't want him to. But if the BASE program works, maybe fewer kids turn to steroids, and maybe some future votes will be easier.
Posted on: April 13, 2011 8:26 pm
So after all that time and all that money, and with actual subpoena power and the ability to compel testimony under oath, the government couldn't even prove that Barry Bonds knew he used steroids.
Well, good. I don't feel so bad.
Seriously, if they can't prove anything about Bonds other than that he somehow obstructed justice, what chance do the rest of us have?
We all know Barry Bonds used steroids, right? And with all that power and all that money (what a waste!), they couldn't prove it.
And we're supposed to have known about all those other players? We're supposed to have told you who used and who didn't? We're supposed to know now, and decide who belongs in the Hall of Fame and who cheated and doesn't belong?
I'd love to tell you. I'd love to know, if only because it would make filling out that Hall of Fame ballot a lot less excruciating every December.
But with the exception of the guys who failed tests -- Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez, that means you -- we know a lot less than the government knew about Bonds.
And they still couldn't convince a jury.
I'm not sure why they couldn't. I'm not sure I care why.
But I do know this:
I don't feel so bad.
Posted on: April 11, 2011 3:30 pm
For a few minutes last Friday, the steroid issue was alive again in baseball.
And then it faded away again.
My sense is that fans care about Manny Ramirez, but that his latest positive steroid test -- and his resulting sudden retirement -- didn't cause many people to rethink steroids and baseball in general. Neither, it seems, has the Barry Bonds trial.
If you truly don't care, feel free to skip on to the next post in this blog. If you do, read on, and also check out my friend Steve Kettmann's interesting essay on the Huffington Post website.
Kettmann has credibility on steroids, having written an August 2000 piece in the New York Times on the subject, and also having ghost-written Jose Canseco's book, Juiced , which brought steroids to more people's attention (and which has been proven true, in many respects).
Kettmann contends in the Huffington Post essay that Bonds will eventually be voted into the Hall of Fame. I think he may be right, although I think it will take years and years and years (and may well come from some form of veterans committee). It's pretty clear that in the next few years, no one with any significant steroid connection is going to be voted in.
But years from now, it's easy to see that changing.
I'm not sure how many of you care. I'm not going to tell you to care. But if you do, take a few moments to read what Steve wrote.
Posted on: July 25, 2008 10:07 pm
So now can we stop with the Barry Bonds talk in the Bronx?
Apparently Hank Steinbrenner was something of a Barry fan, and he let everyone know it. And Bonds' agent told SI.com that Bonds could "make the difference between the Yankees going to the World Series or not making the playoffs at all."
It's true that Nady is 687 career home runs behind Bonds. It's true that Nady, a decent player but never an All-Star, couldn't match Bonds in any facet of the game -- when Bonds was in his prime. But Bonds hasn't played all year, hasn't even been taking batting practice lately and is a huge negative in the outfield.
And, of course, Nady has the added benefit of not being under indictment.
As a right-handed hitter, Nady helps balance the Yankee lineup much better than Richie Sexson could. He allows them to let Jorge Posada go have his surgery, allows them to use Johnny Damon as the designated hitter or sit Melky Cabrera, and he even allows them the option of allowing Bobby Abreu to leave as a free agent this winter. The Yankees will have Nady under control for next year.
Marte could be just as big an addition, because the Yankees have been going without a left-hander in the bullpen. Left-handed relief help has been a big commodity on this month's trade market, and scouts will tell you that Marte was one of the best available options.
"(The Pirates) could get anything they want for Marte right now," one baseball official told me Thursday.
So how did the Pirates do in this deal? It's always hard to say, when you're dealing with prospects. We all want to make snap judgements on the players in deals like this, and sometimes we forget that the teams involved have spent weeks scouting them and making their decisions.
That doesn't mean they couldn't have made a mistake. It's just that we won't know for months or probably years whether they've done well or not. The key piece in this deal seems to be outfielder Jose Tabata.
On the one hand, his value has gone down some over the last year, because of concerns about injuries and immaturity. On the other hand, he's a 19-year-old already playing in Double-A, and a year ago the Yankees probably wouldn't have been willing to trade him for anyone.
Not even for Barry Bonds.
Posted on: June 1, 2008 4:55 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2008 5:03 pm
I came to Cincinnati hoping to see Ken Griffey Jr. make history, and sure enough he did. Yeah, sure did.
With a single and a double (but no home runs) Sunday, Griffey tied Omar Vizquel for 68th place on baseball's all-time hits list, with 2,610. Bet you didn't know that before Sunday, Vizquel had more career hits than Griffey. Vizquel might be ahead again as you read this, because as I write it he's playing for San Francisco against San Diego.
The Vizquel/Griffey stat comes courtesy of Hal McCoy, the Hall of Fame Reds beat man for the Dayton Daily News. But it's more than just a curiosity, because it should remind you exactly how many at-bats Griffey lost to injury. Griffey and Vizquel debuted in the major leagues on the very same day, April 3, 1989, when they were both playing for Seattle. Entering play Sunday, Vizquel had 513 more career at-bats -- nearly one full season more than Griffey.
As Braves manager Bobby Cox said Sunday: "I'd have thought at this time in his career, (Griffey) would be going for 700 (home runs). If he hadn't had the injuries, he might have passed up (Barry) Bonds."
Griffey can actually catch Bonds this week -- in career singles. His one Sunday was his 1,490th. Bonds has 1,495.