Hall of Fame Scripts: Arguments against the PED class

While there are a multitude of issues facing the Hall of Fame currently, what to do with steroid-era players is the most challenging. After all, this one is in the hands of the voters. That’s not to say that the 10-vote limit and the fact that some of the writers seem to be making this process more about themselves than the institution aren’t major concerns.

This year for the first time, I had the privilege of casting a ballot for the IBWAA. Even though my vote was unofficial in nature, I took it very seriously, as I consider myself to be a well-read and historically driven student of the game. As you can see in my ballot below, I chose to leave off any player with even the smallest connection to the use of performance enhancing drugs. This decision did not come easily, as I used almost the entire amount of time allotted to me to submit my final ballot. I did an absurd amount of reading, talked with dozens of other writers and made sure to do my own research.

Here’s my 2015 IBWAA ballot (with my picks highlighted in yellow):

HOF Ballot

As I mentioned, my decision to leave players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off my ballot was a tough one. From a pure numbers perspective, I effectively left two of the greatest players in baseball history out in the cold. I realize this, and although it was not fun to have to do, I will stick to my guns. I of course respect the opinions of the pro-steroid voters, as they are not without validity in their arguments. So it goes.

I realize some criticism is warranted in leaving players like Jeff Bagwell off the ballot, as it was never proven that he used. Hell, there was never concrete evidence that Bonds used either. In trying to be as fair as possible, I used a form of probable cause in my decision making. You know, the kind of skills that police officers use while on the beat. If they have probable cause that you committed a crime, they can pull you over. In that, any player that I even think may have been linked to steroids will not appear on my ballot. I realize that this may sound silly to some, but I didn’t want to make the mistake of voting for a player who juiced without every possible piece of information. Sure, there are going to be rare cases where I’m wrong and I left off a player who was actually clean. However, I’m willing to take that risk in order to make absolutely sure that my vote doesn’t taint baseball’s most sacred institution. Maybe more information comes out about a player in the future, absolving them of any dark cloud. In that scenario, I would gladly reconsider. For now though, this is how I chose to approach it.

There’s no doubt that it’s hard to decipher between those who used, those who probably did, those who may have and those who did not in an era where steroids were reportedly widespread. How widespread it really was though, we will probably never know. Before we close up shop, I just wanted to take a minute to critique the arguments of those who would call me crazy (and there have been many).

Tony Gwynn
Are we really willing to put steroid users right up with true Hall of Famers like Tony Gwynn?

Everyone was doing it: Wrong. Ken Griffey, Jr. was never linked to the use of performing enhancing drugs. Plenty others had great careers, and had them on the up and up. Many were doing it, but many also refrained.

It wasn’t illegal: While this is true to some degree, it still doesn’t exonerate those who used. Baseball looked the other way for the entirety of the 90’s and into the early 2000’s before cracking down. Some will argue that the home run races of this era brought baseball back after the ’94 strike. I understand the fact that athletes are always going to look for an edge over their competition. I get it. But to allow these factors to wipe away the fact that some chose to cheat would be foolish.

He was great before he started using: Just stop, stop it right now. Then why use? I’m sure those who use this argument would say “to gain an even greater edge”, but really? Do we have no morality? This argument has been paramount to those who support Barry Bonds’ candidacy.

His numbers outweigh his steroid use: No they don’t. It’s likely that a solid chunk of his numbers (at the least), especially those in relation to power came as a direct result of PED use. I really don’t get this argument. If the CEO if a big bank accumulates large quantities of money in a way that is clearly shady while there were no penalties for it, does that make it alright? It’s a slippery slope to be sure, but I don’t think that makes the way in which the funds were acquired any less wrong from a moral standpoint.

And finally, I’ll just leave this here. This has been copied directly from the BBWAA’s election rules via the Hall of Fame’s website.

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

At the very least, this rule should give those who are quick to pencil steroid-users in on their ballots some pause.

Statistical credits: http://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/bbwaa-rules-for-election, http://baseballhall.org,
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/GTr8pP

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Timothy is a co-owner, head editor and sometimes writer at The Sports script. Follow him on Twitter @TKing978!


MLB vs PED’s

So it was leaked by ESPN that the Founder of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, Anthony Bosch, is going to start naming names. It was also reported that the MLB is going to go hard on anyone involved in the scandal. The names include players such as Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Jesus Montero, and 14 other players. This would be the biggest bust in the history of any sport if it comes to fruition.

Let’s start off with the credibility of Mr. Bosch. For months he has denied any of these players were involved and even came out to support Braun’s claim that he was only consulting about his previous PED arbitration. So out of nowhere he is now ready to toss these guys under a huge bus. In ESPN’s report: “Bosch has been feeling pressure from both the MLB lawsuit, which claims tortious interference, and a potential criminal investigation, and that he sees full cooperation with MLB as one of his only refuges. Several attorneys have said they don’t think the lawsuit could survive a legal challenge, but Bosch likely would have to put up a costly fight in order to have the case dismissed. Several sources have told ESPN that Bosch is nearly broke, living alternately with family members and friends, and has tried unsuccessfully so far to revive his ‘wellness’ business.” In his deal, MLB agrees to drop its suit against Bosch, “indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation, provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that might bring charges against him.”

So feeling broke and knowing he couldn’t afford to take on MLB, Bosch gives in. Now he can cooperate, then go ahead and write a book that everyone will want to buy, in a “get rich fast scheme.”

Also in the reports, they are going to try and go after A-Rod & Braun for 100 game suspensions. Problem with this is, neither guy has ever been suspended before. Technically Braun tested positive once, but it was tossed out with no suspension. So they both should only get 50 games apiece, if they are guilty. In a previous report, Gio Gonzalez had only received legal substances from the clinic. Colon, Cabrera & Grandal are the only players that have served a 50 game suspension for testing positive, so they if they are guilty, are going to get the 100 game suspensions.

My Thoughts:

Let me start of by saying I am, and always will be, against NOT having the likes of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, A-Rod & others being placed in the H.O.F. Barry Bonds is the single greatest hitter of all-time steroids/PED’s or not. The same argument could be made for Clemens being one of the best pitchers of all time. The late 90’s has the horrendous title of “steroid era” matched to it. In a time when it was legal, guys were just trying to make an impression to keep their job because a hot prospect could be called up at the 1st sign of a struggle on their part. Why not give steroids a try? Why not when you look around the locker room and other guys are using. The Sosa/McGwire chase single handily saved baseball; you couldn’t turn a channel on that wasn’t covering the moments leading to these guys breaking Ruth’s record.

Steroids were part of the game then and will always be a part of this game. Somewhere right now, as I am typing this, people are finding ways around the testing by finding loopholes and other “drugs” that help produce an advantage. Bud Selig is as guilty as they come, if you ask me. This guy knew about what was going on, and though I don’t think he liked it per se, he still knew. What was he going to do? Baseball was coming off the strike and was struggling big time, so why not sit back and be quiet about this. Ratings were as high as ever; the buzz was about baseball again. But now we are in a time where we are past the issue of him knowing and trying to put a stop to it. I can’t blame him for this, but he isn’t innocent by any means.

We could rush to judgment here and automatically convict these guys, as is done these days, or we could sit back and watch the evidence unravel. The MLB has a monumental case on their hands and it could mark the end of A-Rod’s career in baseball. It will also bring the opportunity for the Yankees to try to void his contract, which could save them millions of dollars. If he does serve the 50 games they would save around 15-16 million dollars this year alone. The Yankees could stand to benefit from this just as much as MLB does.

Other Big names with implications:

Ryan Braun – Who previously tested positive, is going to be dragged into the dirt by MLB, peers & writers everywhere. After “beating” the system last time he stands to lose a lot more than anyone outside of A-Rod in this situation. This will, of course, tarnish his career forever and stain the MVP award that he won. More importantly, he will be even more disconnected to the fans than he already is, as he is already booed in cities across the majors.

Melky Cabrera – It will be interesting to see if the MLB will go after him for 100 games, or if this will be connected to his most recent suspension. Luckily for the Blue Jays they signed him to a low risk contract at the beginning of the season.

Gio Gonzalez – They say his name was cleared when this originally came out. If he is suspended it may be hard for the Nationals to compete without him.

Nelson Cruz – He has been a valued contributor to the Rangers for years now. The Rangers already lacking power and hitting in their lineup, could find it hard to contend in the AL playoff picture without him.

Bartolo Colon – He as well as Melky could get hit with the 100 game suspensions after being suspended last season. He is pitching really well for the A’s this season but I think their depth would make the team okay without him.

Those are some of the bigger names involved in this fiasco. Only time will tell what happens, but remember you can all but guarantee that these guys are going to appeal these suspensions. That would mean we could be here for quite a while before something comes to fruition.

The MLB Players association made a statement saying the following: “The Players Association has every interest in both defending the rights of players and in defending the integrity of our joint program. We trust that the Commissioner’s Office shares these interests.”

The MLB better hope they have a solid case to build against these guys, because if not, they will come out looking a bit foolish.