Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2014 Hall of Fame Ballot Obligatory Post

20 comments

Its Morris' 15th year; its now or never.  Photo John Iacono via si.com

Its Morris’ 15th year; its now or never. Photo John Iacono via si.com

Before starting, if you hadn’t heard Deadspin has bought a Hall of Fame vote this year and is going to submit it as populated by crowd sourcing.  Click on this link to go to Deadspin.com’s page to vote.  Voting at deadspin ends on 12/28/13 and all hall of fame ballots are due to be mailed back to the BBWAA by 12/31/13.  The class of 2014 will be announced later in January.

Everyone else has a post about how they’d vote if they had a BBWAA ballot.  Here’s mine.  Only its slightly different from how i’ve done these in the past.

Joe Posnanski has put out a survey in October 2013 that anyone can take that simply asks you to rank the 2014 candidates 1-10.  It is an interesting exercise because it very quickly highlights the depth of the ballot, since as everyone knows, there are many very deserving candidates who are outside the top 10 and who may very well fall off the ballot this year because of the glut of candidates.  It also makes you think; if you rank your candidates 1 to 10 … how many names would you be leaving off your ballot that you’d want to vote for?

So, instead of doing a “who’s on/who’s off” post like i’ve done in years past (and like everyone else does) here’s a different take driven by Posnanski’s ranking question.

My first 8 “Yes Votes” were relatively easy: Maddux, Bonds, Clemens, Thomas, McGwire, Bagwell, Glavine, Piazza.  I don’t think there’s one of those 8 candidates who shouldn’t be a slam dunk hall-of-famer based on baseball accomplishments.   (That most all of them likely do not get in because of PED suspicions is another story).  The only one of my top 8 that doesn’t match with Posnanski’s survey results is McGwire (replace him with Raines, everyone’s favorite Bert Blyleven-style charity case for getting more support).

Then I got stuck.  Who were the last 2 I’d put on the ballot?  Lets look at the rest of the 2014 ballot:

  • Voting No altogether: Walker, McGriff, Palmeiro, Smith, Sosa and anyone else new to the ballot this year not otherwise mentioned.  Why are these No votes?  See 2012 and 2013’s links for my reasoning on the 5 names here, all of whom are repeats.
  • Remaining Pitchers in order that I’d likely vote them in: Schilling, Morris, Mussina
  • Remaining Hitters in the order that I’d likely vote them in: Raines, Martinez, Kent, Biggio, Trammell

So I guess my last two would likely be Schilling and Raines, or perhaps Raines and Martinez.

Man, tough ballot this year.

If there wasn’t a 10-person limit, then I’d go crazy and probably vote for 16 candidates, basically the first 8 plus all the other “remaining” players above.   I’m by no means a “small hall” person, and I’m also not obsessed with the stat-driven arguments against Morris.  I think all these guys merit a plaque in Cooperstown.

Coincidentally, to all those people who write 1,000 words on all the things the BBWAA should do to fix the congestion issue (expand beyond 10 names, remove the 5% threshold), just stop wasting your time.  Year after year the BBWAA stays in the news for weeks at a time exactly because they refuse to change the standards.  Why would they relent now?

If you want to read how I’ve weighed in on the Hall votes in year’s past, here’s some links:

And lastly, I have a huge draft post dated from Dec 2011 with pictures from my actual visit to the Hall of Fame that I started but never finished (mostly because adding pictures to WordPress is a huge pain in the *ss).  Maybe I’ll get bored, finish it up and post that in conjunction with the 2014 class announcement.

20 Responses to '2014 Hall of Fame Ballot Obligatory Post'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to '2014 Hall of Fame Ballot Obligatory Post'.

  1. Every good debate needs evidence, so here’s mine. Maddux and Glavine clearly are not artificially enhanced; McGwire and Locklear, well, draw your own conclusions. For those who doubt whether Glavine is a “first-ballot” guy, note that he absolutely carried Maddux here.

    Who gets in for 2014? Maddux is the only lock. Glavine and Thomas should join him, but who knows whether they will be deemed worthy of being “first ballot” guys. Is Thomas tainted? As a former D-I football player, he came up as a very large man. He also had a fairly normal career regression in his 30s. But yes, there were ‘roids at Auburn when he was there. Kevin Greene was a teammate.

    The normal regressions are one of the impossible things to calculate for the other guys. It seems likely that Bonds would have had Hall-worthy numbers without a little cream (but not the HR records). Clemens and McGwire, however, had some real ups and downs in their early 30s. Many Bostonians claim that Clemens was “done” before he went to Toronto (although he did post a 7.7 WAR before heading north of the border). If McGwire doesn’t hit 500 HRs and Clemens lops off 100 wins (or more), they may be bound for the Hall of the Very Good.

    I have no answers for these things, and neither does anyone else. My guess would be that Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Piazza eventually get in. Sosa and Palmiero have no chance. Bagwell lurks somewhere in between, with numbers pretty similar to Thomas’s that no doubt were hurt by the Astrodome. Bagwell was much more consistent than McGwire, but then so were Martinez and McGriff. Biggio and Kent deserve to remain in the conversation. I’d leave Schilling with Morris, in the Hall of the Very Good, along with Walker and Trammell. I have some sympathy for the Raines candidacy, but with so many big names hitting the ballot, that ship may have sailed.

    So my ballot . . . Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Piazza, and Bagwell as guys for admission, and Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Kent, and Martinez to stay in the conversation. That’s ten, and yes, it’s omitting McGwire. I think he’ll eventually make it, though, while the last three on my list may not.

    KW

    26 Dec 13 at 9:35 pm

  2. A less interesting but more useful link, to the Baseball Reference sortable list of the 2014 candidates on the ballot. They also have a list for 2015.

    KW

    26 Dec 13 at 10:27 pm

  3. Todd,
    I certainly enjoy your blog. Please keep up the good work. I think PED use is somewhere between betting on the game, an absolute bar from entry, and the pitcher altering the ball, against the rules but a pitch by pitch event that can be caught, and the pitcher ejected.
    Baseball, when played fairly, is a zero sum game. For each player helped by PEDs everyone against whom he played was hurt, thus having one plus and at least 25 minuses each game. In addition the user could have kept deserving non PED users in a lesser role on his team or even stuck them in the Minors, never giving them an honest chance . This skewed the game and the statistics. The only reason I don’t say an absolute bar should be imposed is that Bud the Clown knew and tolerated PED use for years. In addition the players had to know. Very, very few players did anything to expose the situation. So, for tolerating cheating of the most basic sort, the whole era should be evaluated with a jaundiced eye.
    When in doubt keep them out. Since the chemists and doctors can stay ahead of the testers, the only penalties for the foreseeable future may have to be after the fact. It may make the current crop of outstanding players less likely to use PEDs if they know their legacy could be drastically effected. I doubt if anything much can be done about the marginal player, since the rewards are so great for being the 25th man as opposed to the career minor leaguer. I’d vote Maddux, Glavine and Thomas.
    Let’s Play Two!

    SlowPitch63

    27 Dec 13 at 7:33 am

  4. “Chicks dig the long ball” commercial; brilliant. Love that commercial; some creative guy really nailed it there.

    Its really no fun guessing at this point what the ridiculous BBWAA will actually do. I know some people are obsessed with “first ballot” hall of famers or players who deserve unanimous votes (never had one; closest was Seaver missing on 5 ballots). I’m not; I know that as long as voting stays anonymous there’s going to be one curmudgeon who has an ego to match who will continue to hold out votes to make some personal stand on whatever issue fills his little brain. Whatever.

    Guilt by association arguments with Thomas: hate them. If I walk into a party and someone there is doing cocaine, does that mean that I either a) am doing cocaine myself or b) condone the use of cocaine?

    Regression arguments are tough as well; Warren Spahn went 23-7 at the age of 42. That’s nuts. Randy Johnson? He was still relatively successful in his age 44 season. Ted Willimas? His final season he posted a frigging 190 OPS+ at the age of 41, and this from a guy who had gone to TWO wars.

    Speaking of Ted Williams; no less than 20 sports writers didn’t vote for him. Willie Mays? 23 didn’t vote for him. So maybe that’s 20 sportswriters who hated Williams, or 23 racists who didn’t want to vote for a black man … but otherwise I can’t see any reason for a non-vote ever for these two guys. Mickey Mantle; only 88% of the vote. That’s frigging crazy.

    Todd Boss

    27 Dec 13 at 9:13 am

  5. I view the steroid era similarly to the 1968 season in some ways: Gibson pitches to a 1.12 ERA the season after he posted a 2.98 era and Denny McLean wins 31 games in 41 starts. The next year the league realizes that something’s out of whack so they lower the mound a bit and the balance is restored. Do we asterick these 1968 seasons? Do we say that Gibson needs to have text on his plaque in Cooperstown explaining why he had such a dominant year? Nope; its just one of those eras of the game. Deadball era the same way; every guy in the top 20 list of triples per season played before 1925, a time where ballparks were huge, nobody hit homers (well, except for Babe Ruth) and triples where common place where doubles are now the norm. Do we discount those records? No we just understand them and their place in history.

    I think you have to think of the homer-era/steroid era similarly. It just went on too long.

    Todd Boss

    27 Dec 13 at 9:20 am

  6. Todd,
    Well argued, but may we agree to disagree and may I continue to frequent your blog?
    Let’s Play Two!

    SlowPitch63

    27 Dec 13 at 9:38 am

  7. Jerry; i think the hardest part about deciding who cheated and who didn’t is the fact that … well, basically we have almost no evidence. And i fully admit that I may be complicit in this judgement when I look at the candidates, especially with respect to one Sammy Sosa. The entirety of the evidence against Sosa consists of one New York Times article in June 2009 that quotes anonymous sources claiming Sosa was on the 2003 anonymous survey. These sources did not name the substance that Sosa allegedly tested positive for. It was a story by the same NY Times writer who “outed” David Ortiz using similar “evidence.” That being said … I just don’t know how you go from 36 homers to 66 homers in one season.

    Mike Piazza; what proof is there that he used? Murray Chass claimed that Piazza had back acne, which is a side effect of steroid use. Is that the entirety of the “proof” agains him? Here’s some other side effects of Steroid use: impotence, hair loss, and Type II diabetes. Does this mean that everyone we know who shows male pattern baldness is a steroid user? That all our friends who are trying to get pregnant and are failing are steroid users? No of course not; that’s a ridiculous jump. Well, so is ruining the legacy of baseball’s greatest hitting catcher of all time on a similar coincidence.

    I wrote in this space earlier this year about David Ortiz questioning those who just blanket call him a PED user. Because I don’t buy it; read that Ortiz link for more complete/cogent thoughts.

    Todd Boss

    27 Dec 13 at 10:38 am

  8. Call me conflicted but pragmatic about the steroid era, which will be a perpetual black mark on the game. (Thanks again, Bud.) The guys who benefited from steroids cheated, and in many cases broke the law to do so. Also, this is unlike 1968 or the dead-ball era because in those times, every player faced the same obstacles. In the steroid era, some guys chose to cheat, while others didn’t. (Unlike in the Tour de France, where nearly everyone was cheating somehow.) You also have some hazy areas because of some of the supplements that were approved during some periods but not others. It was also an era when weight training really came into the game, so there were guys who bulked up the old-fashioned way.

    Todd also just covered the other big elephant in the room, namely the lack of proof about so many of the suspected.

    All of this said, particularly since some of the very best players of the steroid era benefited from a little turbocharging, it’s going to be impossible to keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Not only that, but the moralizing is already starting to cause a backlog as guys like Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, McGwire, and (maybe) Bagwell (never implicated but suspected) who should have already been elected continue to take up ballot space. (And just to clarify, I don’t think Thomas cheated, but some will say otherwise.)

    If you let in (allegedly) known cheaters, though, do you have to judge all stats on their merits? If so, then Sosa likely gets in on HRs, and probably Palmeiro as well with HRs and hits. They hit the heretofore accepted gold standards. But if you do that, then what do you do with a skinny guy like McGriff, who seems not to have cheated but who has a slash line quite comparable to Sosa and Palmeiro and a slightly better OPS and OPS+?

    Also, if the party deck is now open to all, what about Pete and Shoeless Joe?

    For the less moralistic debates, you have Walker, Bagwell, and Martinez all pretty close in OPS, with Bagwell at a terrible home field and Walker at a +++ one, at least after he escaped Montreal. Curiously, Walker only had one monstrous HR year despite the light air. Martinez was even less of an HR guy. He also has the DH stigma (strangely not mentioned very much in the case of Thomas, who played very little 1B after the age of 30).

    The sad part, of course, is that the merit debates are probably going to take a back seat to the moral ones for the foreseeable future. And I’ll remain as conflicted as nearly everyone else.

    KW

    27 Dec 13 at 10:56 am

  9. I think its safe to say that everyone has a slightly different opinion on where the proverbial “bar” falls when it comes to judging baseball players’ moral behaviors over the last 15 years. Some will take the absolute highest road, using a university honor code as an example. Others lower it considerably … even taking the stance that it isn’t entirely clear what (if any) effect steroids or other PEDs have on baseball players performances.

    For me, I fall somewhere in the middle. I think PEDs absolutely had an effect, but that its impossible to take the entirely clean stance on things.

    Why was the MLBPA not more aggressive? I’m sure its partly protecting their members. But I think two other important factors also come into play:

    1. MLBPA is a union. Unions blindly protect their members’ interests without real consideration for logic or facts. I can state this with authority after working in union shops for a number of years and watching blatant, obvious, pathetic union member actions argued against in hearings. I’ve watched union members sleep on the job, blatantly miss work and purposely delay work products where “management” was involved just to make a point … and then get off scott free.

    Now consider the players union and their relationship with baseball management over the years. Dig-in-the-heels fighting against free agency and against the reserve clause for decades. Wide spread, proven collusion on multiple occasions against free agents once it was finally approved. Clear evidence of suppression of wages (even to this day, where top salaries are no different now than they were 15 years ago yet we know that baseball revenues are drastically increasing and franchise values have more than doubled in the last decade). I’m convinced frankly that the owners colluded against Barry Bonds when nobody signed him after his 2007 season. He posted an OPS+ of 169 … you mean to tell me there wasn’t a SINGLE team that wanted him as their DH?? BS; i think Selig wanted him out of the game and colluded with 30 owners to ensure nobody signed him.

    Given all of this, why would this union give ANYTHING to the owners, ever without something in return? If the owners wanted drug testing (which, lets be fair, isn’t exactly found in the evidence either … the owners were profiting fantastically from the rise in power and scoring in the late 90s after the 1994 strike cost them significant portions of their fan bases), then the union was going to want consessions for it. Bargained-for concessions. Which it seems like they have been getting; lately we’re seeing super 2 dates rising, we’ve seen the qualifying offer implemented, the elimination of draft pick compensation for certain types of FAs (which was killing the market for some veteran players). All in the name of protecting the salaries of union members. And we have drug testing in place.

    2. I think the union was afraid of EXACTLY what eventually occurred when it comes to drug testing and confidentiality; the MLB front office is a sieve of leaks of confidential information. The supposed 2003 surveys? Widely leaked to expose players …. and the leaks seem to be targeted to expose just the most significant players or the players who the league most wanted to expose. The drug testing also proved to be fallable; the Ryan Braun initial test was proven to be faulty. Proven! The process absolutely failed Braun, whose positive test was leaked before the process had completed. Yes he tested positive initially… but his rights were trampled by someone in the MLB offices with an axe to grind who leaked his name before the process had run its course. And that’s just not fair. These drug tests (especially for testosterone) are not black and white; if you’re mad one day your testosterone rises naturally … even if you’ve taken nothing. There’s acceptable ranges that need to be taken into account player by player. That’s why a positive test one day needs to be confirmed to ensure it wasn’t just a freak test. PLus there’s false positives in the testing.

    Would you want your life’s reputation put into the hands of such a bumbling organization? Imagine if at your place of work you were drug tested and clean but then a test error outed you, suspended you for months without pay, and made it that much harder to be employed later on? You’d be pretty upset about it too. That’s sort of how I now view the entire drug testing culture in baseball and other sports; a framework designed to be unfair to the athletes.

    I’m not sure i entirely agree with the assertion that ‘few players did anything.” What could they do? If you’re in a fraternity and 95% of the guys did drugs … are you going to go to go to the police to report all your fraternity brothers? I think these guys who were clean found themselves in a very, very difficult position. It isn’t just as cut and dry as moralizing about what they “should” have done.

    Todd Boss

    27 Dec 13 at 12:58 pm

  10. Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson; well. Is Cooperstown a museum or not? did Pete Rose play the game or not? Was Shoeless Joe Jackson a historic player or not?

    For me, its a museum and you put the best players in, worts and all. Put something about gambling on Rose’ plaque. Shoeless is long dead and the evidence against him is nebulous at best (he hit .375/.394/.563 in a World Series he supposedly threw??)

    Martinez and DH’s: i don’t understand those who argue against DH’s … I mean, we have several relief pitchers in the game … who has more impact on a game, a closer who comes in with a 3-run lead in the 9th inning or a DH who bats four-five times a game?

    Todd Boss

    27 Dec 13 at 1:17 pm

  11. For me, its a museum and you put the best players in, worts and all.
    This is where I am. Once you start bringing in off-the-field issues, it is a slippery slope without any bright line to draw distinctions, and allowing PEDs as the discerning point doesn’t, to me, provide enough difference from other illegal drugs ( amphetamines, for example) or legal ones (cortisone) or even surgical advances.

    I am not sure PEDs helped. I think most players took something because they thought it did, but I haven’t seen a convincing medical argument exploring it. Nor have I ever seen a logical discussion of why some drugs are banned and some aren’t. Why is HGH banned? Steroid and hormonal treatment is accepted medical practice for almost all of us. From what I have been told, HGH just helps athletes recover from injury more quickly. Isn’t that a good thing that we’d all like to see (well, maybe not if they were a Phillie).

    Until there is a more open and honest discussion about what these drugs do, and why some are ok and some aren’t, I can’t see how they deserve a different treatment from amphetamines.

    Wally

    27 Dec 13 at 2:26 pm

  12. Wally you just reminded me of a post I wrote on this exact “slippery slope” issue. Here’s a post from Feb 2013 asking why Steroids are bad but Toradol is ok, and I also talked about Cortisone, laser eye surgery, plasma injections and the like.

    I’m pretty convinced PEDs work. Baseball’s a frigging grind; 6 months of playing day after day, at the ballpark for hours and hours, playing until 10:30-11pm every night, eating late, traveling constantly. And you don’t think there’s an advantage to be had by a guy taking a speed pill when he’s run down? LaRoche lost all that weight last season … i bet he would have gladly taken something that helped him maintain his weight with workouts (hmm … like a steroid?). My wife just finished a steroid run for a sinus infection and is already lamenting the lack of energy she had last week. Lastly, the whole recovering from injury issues with regards to HGH is pretty inescapable.

    Proof enough to me that the PEDs worked: Take a look at this link; number of home runs hit per year. So, there was expansion in 1993 and again in 1998, so perhaps looking at what happened from 1998 onwards (since it nicely coincides with the steroid era) is telling: in 1998 there were 5064 homers hit. Two years later that number had increased 12% to 5693 before tapering back down to the 1998 levels a couple years after that … not coincidentally in line with the uproar over PED use and the beginning of the implementation. You see random fluctuations in this list all throughout history admittedly … but it isn’t hard to see a rise and fall in these numbers exactly coinciding with the PED era.

    Todd Boss

    27 Dec 13 at 2:54 pm

  13. I think that is the argument that PEDs helped players: the period in which we think it was most prominent coincided with an outburst of offense. That, plus our own experience with them and our common sense extrapolation of it towards playing performance. It is logical, but it might not contain the answer and I would suggest that it is all pretty circumstantial (still just talking about whether it helps performance, not whether the players took them).

    Pud Galvin was the first ‘known’ PED user, back in the 1800’s. He used some concoction of animal testicles for a testosterone boost ( or something like that). He was pretty open about it (and a HoFer, by the way). So if I change the facts a bit, and say that PEDs were widely used since the 1970’s, would that change your conclusion that they helped performance? In other words, if they didn’t coincide with an offensive burst, would that change anything? (This is why I think amphetamines get a pass: i believe that most of us think it does give you an advantage to be ‘up’, like your wife and the loss of energy, but we think about it as a 70’s/80’s thing, when offense was low, so it doesn’t bother us as much).

    So, I can’t prove that steroids have been rampant for several decades, of course, but I also do not think anyone can show that it only became widespread in the late 1990’s. That is what we think happened, but almost everything is anecdotal.

    What if I changed a different fact: that the process for making baseballs changed in the mid 90’s? If I lined that up exactly with the offensive outburst, would that cast doubt on how much PEDs helped? MLB has been intentionally mum on this, and I think that there is some reason to suspect that this played a role, especially coming off the very damaging strike in 1994.

    I am not an apologist for PEDs; it does bother me that they intentionally cheated. It also bothers me how racist and anti-Semitic ball players were back in the 40’s and 50’s. And the history of baseball shows that ball players will try almost anything to gain an advantage. To me, this recent ‘PED’ crop is no worse than Pud Galvin, pitchers who scuff the ball, or any of the guys popping greenies. So I just don’t think that off the field stuff should be brought into play when talking about the best of all time.

    Wally

    27 Dec 13 at 4:36 pm

  14. I should add one other thing that still gives me reservations about the impact of PEDs, particularly steroids. I think about steroids adding muscle mass and strength. I get why football players take them, and can see why it helps, because so much of that game is about pure strength.

    But probably all of us that follow baseball enough to participate here have played the game for a pretty long time, and we can all remember that the big muscle bound guys were often not very good hitters. So hitting a baseball just feels to me to involve a different set of physical attributes that traditional steroids don’t help.

    But I feel less comfortable with this argument. I think that there is a real risk that I am letting my personal biases influence my perception of what these drugs can do.

    Wally

    27 Dec 13 at 4:43 pm

  15. C’mon guys, let’s talk baseball! There are plenty of good HoF discussions to have beyond better living through chemistry. I had actually meant to bring up expansion, which diluted the talent pool, particularly in pitching. What is rarely mentioned in conjunction with expansion is that the shift to five-man became settled doctrine in the 1990s, stretching even further the already-thin pitching resources.

    The current group arriving at the Hall’s gates bridged that gap. It’s not just that we (or our kids) aren’t likely to see 300-game winners again (much less two over 350), it’s that we won’t see innings totals like this, either: Maddux (5008.1, 13th all time), Clemens (4916.2, 16th), or even Glavine (4413.1, 30th). Indeed, one of the things that troubles me about Mussina (3562.2) and Schilling (3261) is that they pitched the equivalent of seven-plus seasons less than Maddux or Clemens across the same era. Pedro Martinez, coming into the mix next year, had only 2827.1, albeit at a more dominant level than Mussina or Schilling. Among active players, though, only Mark Buerhrle has more innings than Pedro. Pettite just retired with 3316, and Doc Halladay with 2749. I guess the point is that Mussina and Schilling had reasonable length of service judged by current standards, but not so much among their contemporaries.

    More to the HoF point, Mussina and Schilling are up against Maddux, Clemens, and Glavine this year and probably Pedro, Randy Johnson, and Clemens (still) next year. Mussina and Schilling were excellent pitchers, but they are going to pale in comparison now against such competition just as they did when they were playing (and when neither won a Cy Young). They will be joined in the hazy second tier next year by Smoltz, who did win one Cy, missed one full season, spent the next four in the bullpen (three dominantly), and still pitched nearly as many innings as Mussina and more than Schilling. For whatever it’s worth, though, Schilling had a better career WHIP than all of the guys in this paragraph except Pedro.

    There aren’t many other big thumpers coming online next year, though, which might open the door for Piazza and/or Bagwell. The big rush in general slows in 2016, when only Griffey will be a stand-out first-timer. There will be time in 2016-18 to catch up with the logjam that is currently accumulating. The discussions of guys like Biggio and Kent may have to wait until then. FWIW, I was shocked to see that Biggio is #3 among 2Bs in HRs, behind Kent and Hornsby. Kent is #2 in RBIs behind Hornsby. Biggio, who often led off, leads all 2Bs in runs and doubles and is third in hits.

    KW

    27 Dec 13 at 11:04 pm

  16. Hey guys — longtime lurker, very infrequent commentator. But PED discussions always get me going.

    Boxing in the 70s and before is some of the most compelling sport I’ve ever seen. The sport had truly top athletes who were in incredible physical condition, and it was really gripping entertainment — sport in its purest form. But, bet you anything that none of the regular readers here watches boxing anymore (I certainly don’t) — once we figured out what it did to the athletes, it was pretty hard to stay a fan. And there was no way to save boxing — no way to protect fighter’s brains — without coming up with a completely different sport.

    To be honest, I’m at this same point with football — won’t watch, won’t pay attention — I don’t want to be complicit in a bunch of guys damaging/killing themselves. Yeah, it’s their choice, they now know the risks, etc., but I don’t want to be giving them the financial incentive to do it.

    So, back to baseball. Obviously, baseball has risks like anything else, plenty of guys get concussions, and there’s always the risk that players get seriously hurt/killed. This is bad. But, the danger is not really an integral part of the sport — I can imagine a safer MLB which maintain all of the current appeal of the sport. (Along those lines, bravo for banning collisions at the plate, and while they’re at it, they should impose real, serious, penalties for intentional HBPs and for guys who lean into the plate. And ban those stupid wall scoreboards which have no padding. I could go on, but I’m guessing everyone else wants me to shut up).

    This gets me to PEDs. I suspect the vast majority of players from the “Steroids Era” were using. I don’t mind many forms of cheating in baseball (I salute spitballers, razor artists, and sign stealers), and in general have no problem with guys trying to get an edge. But, steroids are really bad for you (a lot worse than many realize) when used in high doses over extended periods, and I strongly guess that the competitive pressure to use steroids during the “Steroids Era” was immense (probably, the pressure to use now is also immense). Baseball needs to get them out and keep them out of the game.

    So, my take, is impose severe penalties for anyone caught/proved to be using. This includes banning for the hall (and, quite frankly, also probably involves much longer bans than 50/100/150). The odds of catching someone might be low, but if the penalties are severe enough, guys won’t feel pressure to use. I think it’s the best you can do short of developing better tests to increase your odds of catching guys who are cheating.

    However, to be effective, this should not be extended to suspected — but unproven — cheaters. Otherwise you erode the deterrent of potentially being caught. So, for me, McGuire should be gone, but Sosa is OK (even though I’d bet quite a bit of money that he was using). Maybe this is unfair, but I care a lot more about keeping MLB PED-free than I do about the hall.

    (Total aside, but I’m in favor of legalizing PEDs/pretty much everything else in a system with appropriate regulation. I don’t support using and feel strongly about not giving others financial incentives to use, but ultimately it’s not my business what people decide to do).

    Matt

    28 Dec 13 at 2:22 am

  17. Ken; great points on the pitching dilution. I think pitchers of the 1980s (exemplified basically by Jack Morris but also a point to discuss when talking about the decade’s other leading hurlers, guys like Steib, Saberhagen, Valenzuela, and the like) were most affected by the changes in the game that happened in the 90s. Would we think differently about Morris if he was treated like a current starter, taken out after 7 innings and 110 pitches instead of being asked repeatedly to pitch into the 8th, often facing the top of the order a 4th time? I dunno. MOrris’ career ERA in the 8th inning was 4.47, more than a point jump over his 7th inning career split and a half a point above his career average. More amazingly; he pitched into the 8th inning in 304 of his 527 career starts.

    300-game winners: i track pitcher wins in an XLS that forms the basis of an annual post I have in draft mode. We’ll come back to this in a little bit.

    Todd Boss

    30 Dec 13 at 8:25 am

  18. Matt; good points on the blood sports of our culture. If you havn’t seen “League of Denial” yet on Frontline/PBS, its worth finding. It is pretty shocking actually, and I am now beginning to think that football as we know it in this country will cease to exist within a generation.

    I get the sense now that there’s far less patience among players now for ped usage. I say this noting the Arizona player rep Brad Ziegler really lambasted the biogenesis guys getting FA contracts. There was no player solidarity there; just indignation expressed that a guy could cheat and then get a big contract. So maybe we’re at a point not only with the testing and penalties being preventative but also with the players wanting themselves to be clean.

    Todd Boss

    30 Dec 13 at 9:18 am

  19. Wow, a great discussion of PEDs and impact on HOF voting. I’m very impressed. Clearly no easy answers exist as we don’t have a clear list of all those who used PEDs or to what extent their level of performance boosted them to potential HOF levels.
    What is clear is that “integrity, sportsmanship and character” are part of the selection criteria. So long as these criteria exists–and they always will– known PED users and those strongly suspected will face a hard time making the Hall. And Pete Rose has no chance, being at mercy of the old timer’s ballots.
    A quick look at other sport’s HOF criteria reveals that most, but not all, make character and integrity part of the selection criteria. Most generally point toward “contributions to the game” as the main criteria. Curiously, only pro football limits criteria to player performance on the field, and Commissioner Goodell is on the record stating that character and integrity should be included as criteria. Even hockey includes character and integrity as major criteria. The golfing world appears to use non-performance factors more than most and has taken heat for their overly “wide” criteria, as has tennis commentators. Some sports include a “lifetime achievement” award for include those who made significant contributions apart from personal achievements.
    Other sport’s observers claim too many are inducted, thus lessoning the impact of those enshrined, while others claim too few, making annual HOF banquets somewhat embarrassing when no one is there to enshrined.
    And there is always controversy regarding who is worthy, based on performance alone. My point in this rambling response is that all sports grapple with the criteria questions, performance and otherwise. I’m just glad I am not a voter (although I will send in my suggestions to Deadspin, who apparently bought a HOF vote).

    OldBoss

    31 Dec 13 at 7:50 pm

  20. You know, the “character” clause is exactly what Dan Shaughnessy cited when he turned in his HoF ballot this year without a number of players, to significant criticism.

    Personally, I’d love it if Baseball went to an NFL model of player inclusion, where a hand-picked committee of experts sits in judgement and are forced to make presentations to defend their decisions. That certainly seems like a better method of selection than 550+ some odd BBWAA writers, many of whom have clearly moved on from writing about the game.

    Todd Boss

    2 Jan 14 at 9:23 am

Leave a Reply