Tagged: Hall of Fame

Cooperstown

2043327943_9add43ad72.jpgI’ve only been to Cooperstown, NY once in my short life. It wasn’t for an induction or a special event. It was just a chance for a father and son to experience the heart of the game we’ve enjoyed for as long as I can remember. He and I have shared countless baseball games, and we can say that we saw 6 teams play the year the won the world series [1995 Atlanta Braves – 1997 Florida Marlins – 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks – 2005 Chicago White Sox – 2006 St. Louis Cardinals – 2008 Philadelphia Phillies]. 

It’s a cute little town you don’t see very often anymore. There’s no highway, no Wal-Mart, Target or Starbucks. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time through a cornfield into where baseball was born. We got hotdogs at a little place around the corner from the Hall of Fame, I played in the batting cages along the main road, we took in an old-timers game at Doubleday Field and I bought a vanity street sign marked ’10 Chipper Jones Way.’

Our trip to Cooperstown was when I truly began to appreciate the game of baseball for what is has meant to our country throughout the years. The history of the league can teach us a lot about where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s a place where the purity of baseball is preserved.
I guess that’s why the whole steroids issue becomes so polarizing. If you get everyone together in the birthplace of baseball to celebrate that purity (however real it is), it’s a little easier to look at the contrast of modern day baseball.

rafael-palmeiro.jpgThis year brings us one step closer to being fully engulfed in the steroids era as Rafael Palmeiro enters the fray. In a few years when Bonds becomes eligible, we’ll be at def-con 5. 
Eventually there will come a time when we all just admit that the steroids era was part of the game just like any other. It existed. It was. And I say instead of ignoring it, or trying to erase it from the history books, we need to embrace it as part of our history. Just as we’ve embraced that at one time, African-Americans were not allowed to play in the league.
I think we should stop arguing about if steroids users are worthy of the hall. We all have our opinions, but if we want to preserve the game going forward, we can’t pretend that the last 20 years didn’t exist.
Vote the players into the hall. Celebrate what they accomplished on the field. Move forward. Move on with this great game of ours.
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Where’s The Brotherly Love??

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I fully
understand that I am an idealist and as such I can sometimes be accused of
being a bit naive. I may look at situations and see the issues that most of us
miss, but I assure you, I ignore nothing.

Last week I made the best case I possibly could for Mark McGwire’s Hall-of-Fame
vote. It’s not easy with all of the speculation surrounding him, but instead of
denying that he took steroids (because I have no idea if he did or didn’t) I
tried to analyze what is and is not a legitimate reason for voting someone into
the Hall-of-Fame. I pointed out that we are not criminal investigators and even
though we think we may know everything about a steroid user, I don’t think we’ve
even scratched the surface.

As much as I
love baseball, I am willing to let a one or two time steroid user off the hook;
even if that steroid user is a legend or a potential “Hall-of-Famer.” Most of
us writing about sports will never understand what it’s like to compete at that
level and I don’t think anyone who doesn’t has the right to call any of them
cheaters. Sometimes professional athletes resort to drastic measures and make
mistakes. They’re not perfect just like we aren’t perfect, and I don’t think its
right to hold them to such impossible standards.

That aside, I think I did a pretty good job. I may not have changed anyone’s
minds about the slugger but at least I made my case and I got my point across.

What more could a writer ask for?

This
morning, however, I wake up at a crisp 7:45AM to a SportsCenter report that
Mark McGwire’s brother, Jay, is trying to publish a book about Mark’s alleged
steroid/HGH use. Needless to say, the brothers are not on speaking terms.

It’s times
like this, I am glad I do not have a brother. Sisters are better anyway. (She’s mine!)

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My family
comes from a town which has been aptly named “The City of Brotherly Love.”
Growing up, I was always taught it was unforgivable to do something negative to
your family. We fight just like every family fights but it has never resulted
in anything beyond a week or two of the cold shoulder.

Jay McGwire
should be absolutely ashamed of himself for so many reasons right now, I don’t
think there is enough room on the MLBlogosphere for me to write it all.

First of
all, he is following in Jose Canseco’s footsteps as a whistle-blower (they’re
not worthy of being called ‘authors’) who just wants some money. So they
publish a collection of pages bound together (they’re not worthy of being
called ‘books’ either) that basically point fingers in every direction until
someone end up getting a phone call from congress.

Second of
all, the fingers are all pointed directly at his brother Mark.

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I understand, Jay, that you might be a little
bit jealous of your bigger bro. After all, he
had a career and no one even heard of you until this morning. I know I didn’t.
But that’s no reason to play the blame game and basically destroy what was left
of your brother’s image.

I don’t know
the degree of validity Jay McGwire’s accusations have and I don’t care. If they
are proven true, I don’t really have a leg to stand on when I argue for his
Hall-of-Fame vote other than ‘1998 saved baseball,’ but that isn’t much. If
they are proven false then it confirms that people will do absolutely anything
for a quick buck, even if it means tarnishing the reputation of your own
brother,

Either way,
Jay McGwire committed a crime that even some of the worst serial killers wouldn’t
do.

Letter to the Editor

I had a comment on my last post and my response to it became so long that I figured I may as well make it another post.

The comment came from Julia over at Julia’s Rants. Here’s the comment:

Scott – I
don’t think you can compare the possible use of PEDs (a CHOICE someone
makes) with someone who struggles with alcohol abuse (NOT a choice). I
have to agree with those who feel that McGwire, Clemens, Bond and
others don’t deserve to be in the HOF because of use of PEDs. I also
agree that Pete Rose doesn’t belong in the HOF because of gambling.
When a player makes the decision to do something that violates the
rules of Baseball then they have to live with the consequences. There
is a difference between behavior that we might not approve of – but
doesn’t violate MLB policy – and behavior that does.

~Julia

Here’s my response:

DISCLAIMER!: Julia, this is not an attack on you and please don’t take it that way. My response was just so long I wanted to make it a post. I respect you and your opinions, this is just my response.

Jules,

I can certainly see why the majority of people don’t believe accused steroid users belong in the hall of fame, and their argument is certainly legitimate, as is yours.

But I have to disagree with you when you say we can’t compare steroid use with something like alcohol abuse. First of all, everything is a choice. Addiction – whether it is alcohol, gambling or tobacco – is no exception. We make our choices in life and when those choices become too overwhelming, we are quick to write it off as “not our choice” so we feel like it’s not our fault. It was always our choice, just like using steroids is a choice.

I never liked the term “Performance Enhancing Drugs” because it doesn’t tell the whole story. A lot of things can be considered “performance enhancing” – coffee, red bull, cigarettes, even Gatorade – but steroids has medical risks if not used properly, which is why everyone is in such an uproar. But somehow, we label anabolic steroids as “Performance Enhancing” and they sound like a forbidden fruit instead of a medical necessity, as it sometimes is. There are plenty of major leaguers playing today only because they were prescribed steroids to help them return to play. Everyone who ever had Tommy John’s surgery has steroids to thank for the rest of their career. Should we consider all of the stats they accumulated afterward as “cheating.” No, because they have a doctor’s note, McGwire, Bonds and Clemens don’t.

There’s still way too much smoke around steroid use in baseball to let it effect Hall-of-Fame voting just yet. Some say that steroids enhanced Mark McGwire’s performance “significantly,” yet there are no positive tests, no court ruling, nothing, just a suspicious statement at a congressional hearing five years ago and the word of Jose Canseco. Damning as it was, I don’t think it’s right to keep Mark McGwire out of the hall because we suspect he used steroids.

My point is, Hall-of-Fame voting should be based upon on-field performance and nothing else. There are a thousand different things athletes use to enhance their performance, anabolic steroids is just one of them. Mark McGwire supposedly used steroids when there was no steroid policy, so he broke no rules. Yet, we continue to act as a society who judges people on standards we ourselves can never meet. At our jobs, we use all kinds of things to “enhance” our performance. But should a business person be denied a raise because he used a caffeine pill to stay up all night and finish the presentation? Should my writing be considered “phony” because I use spellcheck?

Don’t get me wrong. I am definitely against steroid use in baseball, but not because I’m afraid of someone hitting more homeruns than someone else. I’m concerned because of the danger of their use. Plain and simple. Without doctor supervision, steroids can be dangerous or even kill you, and that’s why I want to keep them out of sports. 

The crusade against steroids is something I support but not if it is going to be a witch hunt against former players. We aren’t going to remove the numbers from the record books so we can’t take them away from the player either. Major League Baseball is going to keep McGwire out of the hall but they have no qualms about celebrating the magic of the summer of 1998 at the same time.

I support the cause, but I won’t support hipocracy.

~Scott

P.S. Pete Rose gambled when he was a manager, not a player. He broke the rules after he put up the numbers and played the game. Ban him from managing, ban him from commentating, that’s all fine, but you can’t keep the all-time hits leader out of the Hall-of-Fame because of something he did as a skipper.

What’s a Guy To Do?

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I don’t know how a guy’s supposed to write about baseball at a time like this. Since the Mark Teixeira signing, little has happened. At least, little has happened that I’m interested in. The Marlins may or may not sign Pedro, Michael Young wants to be traded rather than play third base and Manny still has no place to hang his size 42 extra husky pants.

My Penn State Nittany Lions lost the Rose Bowl (to no one’s surprise) and the Philadelphia Eagles may just be following in the Phillies footsteps on the way to an unprecedented second major sports championship for Philadelphia in as many tries.

Some may find all of this incredible but I choose to envoke my signature catch phrase:

“Meh.”

The catch phrase is not as cool if you can’t see me shrug my shoulders as I say it, but this isn’t the ML-VIDEO-Blogosphere. 

In all, I am very bored right now and I must apologize to all of the dedicated fans of my blogs.

Sorry, Elizabeth and Kaybee! May your tears be dried by the man of your dreams!

The Hall-Of-Fame vote did take place earlier today and the hallowed hall will now open its doors to Ricky Henderson and Jim Rice. Congratulations to the both of you. What an incredible honor.

GotJuice.jpeg

Now, I don’t have a Hall-Of-Fame vote officially. Not yet, anyway. But if I did, I would still haveto write the name “Mark McGwire” on my ballot. Agrue as much as you want, but somehow we keep holding things against guys like him in the court of public opinion.

Maybe he took steroids, maybe he didn’t, I don’t know, I’m not a criminal investigator just like every other sports writer who won’t vote for Mark McGwire. But we’re still going to treat him like he did, aren’t we? We’re still going to act like it because we don’t dare risk the “integrity” of the hall-of-fame.

It’s the hall-of-fame, not necessarily the hall-of-model citizens. Many will say McGwire and Bonds cheated but all they really did was cheat better than most others. We’ll easily deem the mid 90’s to 2005 as the “steroids era” which implies that most everyone was using steroids at that time, yet we still hold it against the guys who were still the best.

If a lot of guys were on steroids when Mark McGwire was chasing Roger Maris, how come he was the only guy hitting all the home runs? Is it possible that despite the roids he may or may not have taken, Mark McGwire was still a strong and talented slugger?

Babe Ruth had his demons (most of which ran $45 an hour or came from cuba) and Mickey Mantle struggled with an alcohol abuse problem. As much as we want, expect and demand ball players to be perfect, sometimes they aren’t. Why do some make the hall-of-fame but not others?

All else aside, Mark McGwire had 583 home runs, good enough for 8th all time, better than Mantle, Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx. By that case alone, how can you not vote for Mark McGwire?

Maybe no one’s going to give me a hall-of-fame vote anytime soon, but as long as I have my opinion and as long as I still remember the summer of 1998, I will vote for Mark McGwire.