Category Archives: Steroids

“Die a hero, or live long enough to become a villain”

I’ve been avoiding comment on the Barry Bonds trial thus far because I see it as an unfair persecution of a player who probably used performance-enhancing drugs and probably lied about it repeatedly to a grand jury, but shouldn’t be singled out of the hundreds of other players who also used.

Bonds doesn’t seem like a very nice person, although I don’t know him personally, and neither do any of you, so commenting on his personal character seems besides the point.  The fact is that Bonds was selected to be the fall guy for baseball and the steroid era.  He’s the guy who MLB and the U.S. government is going to make an example of to save their own asses.

And all of it, of course, has been done on the American taxpayer’s coin.

To say that this has nothing to do with the fact that Bonds is a black man is naive and honestly, just plain stupid.  I however, could not possibly articulate it better than my favourite sports writer Dave Zirin does in this article.

Here are a couple excerpts from the column:

“What did Bonds do to “obstruct justice”? According to one juror, “Steve,” the obstruction of justice charge was reached because, “The whole grand jury testimony was a series of evasive answers. There were pointed questions that were asked two or three or four different ways that never got clearly answered. That’s how we came to that.”  Wow. Apparently, a “series of evasive answers” lines you up for a 10-year sentence behind bars. By that standard, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby should be breaking rocks in Leavenworth for their performance at the Valerie Plame trial.”

[…]

“Major League Baseball and the US government has long decided that Barry Bonds would shoulder the burden for the steroid era. We’re here because a surly Black athlete who thinks that the press is just a step above vermin was easy pickings for an industry rife with systemic corruption. Major League Baseball made billions off of the steroid era, an era many now see as a rancid, tainted lie. It was an era where owners became obscenely wealthy and billions in public funds were spent on ballparks. The press cheered and America dug the long ball. Now the dust has cleared, our cities have been looted, Barry Bonds could be going to prison, and Commissioner Bud Selig still has a job – and a RAISE. With apologies to Harvey Dent, this is the story of the Black athlete today: die a hero or live long enough to be a villain. And the men in the suits walk – or in Selig’s case, slouch – all the way to the bank.”

Zirin more than hits the nail on the head.  Baseball is the love of my life, but the institution that is Major League Baseball is one of the most systematically corrupt around.  Whether its persecuting Bonds or treating Latin America like some sort of slave-level baseball factory, the corruption in the business is rife and despicable.

BURN ‘EM…THEY’S IS WITCHES!!!

I hate to belabour the point, but I wanted to bring up a few things about the Hall of Fame conundrum.

First off, let me congratulate Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven who are both extremely deserving of the immortality they shall now receive.  I am super-psyched that Alomar will likely be the first player to enter the Hall of Fame as a Blue Jay.

The other no-brainer candidate was Jeff Bagwell who many writers did not vote for because they think maybe he did some PEDs in his career.  Maybe.  There’s no evidence and Bagwell has never so much as been linked to anything involving PEDs, but nonetheless, a very deserving first-ballot Hall of Famer received only 41.7% of the BBWAA’s vote.

Why is it that Bagwell is being singled out here?  Isn’t it just as likely that Alomar used PEDs?  I mean, Alomar did see a rather inexplicable increase in power in 1996; and then he did fall off a cliff at a comparably young age.  One could say that he’s as likely to have used as anyone.

Or what of Barry Larkin who was just shy of the needed votes?  Remember when he hit 33 home runs in 1996 and never hit more than 20 in any other year with a 162-game career average of 15?  Seems as likely as Bagwell and Alomar.

I’m not saying any of these players used PEDs in their career, but the logic that will keep Bagwell out, should also keep Alomar and Larkin out.  Hence the problem, the logic is horribly flawed, a.k.a. fucking stupid.

And having thought about it some more, I would have to include Larkin on my ballot (if I had a ballot).  It’s clear that if Alomar gets in, Larkin should too.  I might listen to arguments for Alan Trammell too.

Read Dustin Parkes’ thoughts on the Hall of Fame voting and the role of the BBWAA.  It mirrors my own thoughts on the subject so I can stop talking about it.

Here’s how the BBWAA’s vote broke down

2011 Hall of Fame voting
Name Votes Pct.
Roberto Alomar 523 90.0%
Bert Blyleven 463 79.7%
Barry Larkin 361 62.1%
Jack Morris 311 53.5%
Lee Smith 263 45.3%
Jeff Bagwell 242 41.7%
Tim Raines 218 37.5%
Edgar Martinez 191 32.9%
Alan Trammell 141 24.3%
Larry Walker 118 20.3%
Mark McGwire 115 19.8%
Fred McGriff 104 17.9%
Dave Parker 89 15.3%
Don Mattingly 79 13.6%
Dale Murphy 73 12.6%
Rafael Palmeiro 64 11.0%
Juan Gonzalez 30 5.2%
Harold Baines 28 4.8%
John Franco 27 4.6%
Kevin Brown 12 2.1%
Tino Martinez 6 1.0%
Marquis Grissom 4 0.7%
Al Leiter 4 0.7%
John Olerud 4 0.7%
B.J. Surhoff 2 0.3%
Bret Boone 1 0.2%
Benito Santiago 1 0.2%
Carlos Baerga 0 0.0%
Lenny Harris 0 0.0%
Bobby Higginson 0 0.0%
Charles Johnson 0 0.0%
Raul Mondesi 0 0.0%
Kirk Rueter 0 0.0%
Note: 436 votes (75%) required for enshrinement. Induction July 24, 2011 in Cooperstown, N.Y. 

*-http://BBWAA.com

On who’d get my vote (yes, I bit)

Every time I see a writer writing about their Hall of Fame picks, my eyes glaze over.  At first, I loved it.  The banter back and forth with Twitter followers and website commenters over who should and shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame was enthralling, but over the weeks that enthrallment changed to apathy.

So without further adieu, here’s who would get my Hall of Fame vote if I were fortunate enough to be in a position to vote.

First off, I want to try and detail my ever changing mindset on the steroid era.  This is not a black and white issue, nor will it ever be, but it’s hard to bar people from the Hall when so many players were doing the same thing.  Trying to pinpoint who did and didn’t do steroids and other performance enhancers is a bit like trying to determine who watches porn on their iPhone.  You know a lot of people do it, but only a few get caught and even fewer admit to it readily even after they’ve been caught.

I’m not saying it should be ignored completely, but certain players who did performance enhancers in their career were still the best in their generation and likely would have been Hall of Famers in any generation.  And the use of cocaine and amphetamines in previous eras also cannot be ignored, although neither had the effect on performance that PEDs did (or do).

I’d feel a little dirty voting in players who didn’t at least own up to their usage after they were caught (I’m looking at you Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro) but I think I’d still vote them in.

Having done away with that business, I’d vote for Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez.

Mark McGwire
Taking into account my reasoning on steroids, McGwire’s enshrinement becomes obvious.  A four year stretch that saw him hit 52, 58, 70 and 65 home runs from 1996-1999 and 583 career home runs are impossible to ignore.  He also hit a home run every 10.6 at-bats and had a career slash line of .263/.394/.588 putting him in a class by himself.

Rafael Palmeiro
He’s done everything you need to do to get in the Hall.  His finger wagging at Congress pisses me off as much as the next guy, but he still deserves it.  I won’t say any more about that.

Bert Blyleven
Bert Blyleven should have got in years ago but the dinosaurs in the BBWAA refuse to look past the fact that he was never flashy and was easily forgotten, but there is no stat that can be used against Blyleven’s case.  This is the year he finally gets what he deserves.

Roberto Alomar
Roberto Alomar was the reason I wanted to be a second baseman when I played baseball.  He was my favourite player growing up.  Any Canadian baseball fan would probably say something similar.  Aside from that, he was one of the top second-baggers in the game for over a decade and always seemed to play on a winner.  A career OPS over .800 for a middle-infielder and defensive ability that defined Gold Glove make him a shoe-in.  He also had six seasons of better than 5.0 WAR and ten above 4.0 WAR.  Case closed, he should’ve got in last year.

Jeff Bagwell
The writers who will keep Bagwell out of the Hall this year should be ashamed of themselves.  They will refuse to vote for one of the best hitters of the last two decades simply because they suspect he did steroids.  Suspect.  He had a slugging percentage of at least .500 every year from 1993-2003.  He has a career slash line of .297/.408/.540, every player who is Hall eligible to compile a .290/.400/.500 line is already enshrined.  The logic that says he shouldn’t get in the Hall because he might have done steroids would dictate that no one who played from 1988-2006 should be considered.  Ridiculous.

Tim Raines
Raines is the best leadoff hitter of his generation not named Rickey.  A career .294 hitter with an .810 OPS, 808 stolen bases and a 71.0 WAR for his career.  If Raines hit that “milestone” mark of .300 in batting average, he’d already be enshrined.  He also walked at a higher rate than he struck out and that has to count for something.  Also, I’ve never understood why players who played for a high number of seasons have that used against them in Hall of Fame voting.  The conventional wisdom is “well, he had so many home runs and hits because he played so long.”  Someone needs to explain why that’s a bad thing.  If you can play at a high level for as many years as someone like Raines, then that should only add to his résumé.

Fred McGriff
He gets in first ballot if he had hit seven more homeruns.  Eddie Murray’s in the Hall of Fame and he was no better than McGriff, except that he just barely cleared that magical 500-home run mark.  Proof?  It’s in the pudding.  Or, you know, the graphs.

ON-BASE PERCENTAGE

SLUGGING PERCENTAGE

WEIGHTED ON-BASE AVERAGE

Edgar Martinez
Remember when I said everyone with a .290/.400/.500 slash line was in the Hall of Fame?  Martinez’s line is .312/.418/.515.  I understand people who say that he shouldn’t get in because he played most of career at DH, but wouldn’t he have been less valuable to his team if he’d played at third base badly his whole career?  The Hall is littered with players who were horrid defensively but put up staggering offensive numbers.  Martinez was one of the best pure hitters of his generation and he needs to be enshrined.

One day morons like Jon Heyman won’t be voting and maybe the Hall of Fame will mean more.  The only problem is that when one moron retires, another bursts onto the scene.

Statistical information and graphs from FanGraphs.