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What the Hall?

January 20, 2013

The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame recently had its annual ballot, and despite one of the stongest pools of candidates in many years, failed to elect a single player to the 2013 class.

Why?

Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)

I understand the argument against players who use performance enhancing drugs.  Many consider it cheating.  Cheating undermines the integrity and purity of the game and its history. 

And, I also question whether what I just wrote is true, or at least right in this case.

When players of the caliber of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa, don’t get elected to the Hall of Fame, something is not right.  These are great baseball players, some of them among the greatest,  both at their peak, and in sustained career duration.   Some of them, Bonds and Clemens, are among the greatest baseball players of all time. Now there is a strong chance that neither of them will make the Hall because of PED allegations.

Let he among you who has not used some sort of PED cast the first stone. 

I imagine the purest of baseball writers, the ones responsible for casting the votes for the Hall of Fame (not the fans; not the players themselves) have used caffeine-laden coffee to wake their brain or keep it alert late into the night to meet a publishing deadline.  Did the coffee not enhance their performance?  How about multivitamins?  How about aspirin?  I imagine even some of the baseball writers who chose not to vote for Clemens, Bonds, McGuire or Sosa, have used Viagra and justified the “tainting their game” for a greater good.  They should stop being hypocrites.

Hitting a baseball, against Major League Baseball pitchers, is one of the toughest feats in sports.  Fastballs flying just past you at 90-105 MPH, and breaking balls that defy logic and gravity itself, are tough to see, let alone hit, let alone hit solidly enough to get past 8 major league players intent on putting you out.  Those that can hit those pitches solidly enough to hit at a .300 average, or far enough consistently enough to help their teams win day in and out are amazing. 

Pitchers who can dominate MLB hitters with 3000+ career strikeouts and 300+ career wins are almost always a shoe-in to make the Hall.  One who has 4672 career strikeouts (3rd best all-time) and 354 wins (9th all-time), and 7 Cy Young awards is surely deserving.  Like him or not, Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

The all-time Home Run hitter of all-time with 73 of them in a season and 762 of them in his career, Bonds is one of the most dominant players at his peak and throughout his career.  He was not just a one-dimensional player either, with a .444 on base percentage which is 6th all-time,  514 stolen bases which is 33rd all-time and 8 Gold Glove awards. Like him or not, Bonds was one of the greatest players of all time.  Even taking out his power numbers numbers that you might attribute to PED’s, Bonds was a great player and one of the best of his time.

And who wasn’t captivated and didn’t cheer when McGuire and Sosa lit the scoreboards up in route to breaking the single season homerun record?

I confess.  I  take multi-vitamin and protein supplements on a regular basis.  If that tarnishes your image of me, don’t read my blog. 

Enhancing performance is as American as apple pie.  Who doesn’t want to enhance their performance?  Compete at their best?

Steroids and PEDs can’t make you hit a pitch off a major league pitcher.  They can help, just like glasses and contact lenses do (performance enhancing equipment?), just like coaches do (performance enhancing coaching?), and just like studying film footage (performance enhancing information?).  But the player still has to go out there, train, work hard and do it. Doing it at the level these players play at requires help too.

Performance enhancement and competitive advantage is the very nature of competition.  Everyone that goes out there should be doing their best.  Finding advantages against competition is the nature of what most of us get up to do every day at work, and in the games that we play.

The baseball writers who vote for those who make the Hall of Fame need to be less myopic and narrow-sighted in their voting and see the bigger picture.  While it is honorable to try to protect the integrity of the game and those we honor who play it, like it or not, it is also a disservice to not admit the greatest players of all-time to the baseball Hall of Fame.

And, for Pete’s sake, ‘say it IS so’, and get Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson in the Hall where they belong already. The all-time hits leader and model for hustle, and player with the 3rd highest batting average all-time, deserve to be there.

What do you think?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 20, 2013 11:44 am

    Well put, Ed. I kinda feel like these guys almost have to use peds if they’re going to be able to compete – especially when their livlihoods depend on it. Makes the game more exciting for fans – I mean, let’s be honest… Those drugs can definitely mess you up, though, so…a tough situation. Good post.

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