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Should 'roiders be kicked out of the Hall of Fame?

Jan 13, 2010, 12:55 PM EDT

UPDATE: I just interviewed Goose Gossage about this. He was pretty damn cool about. Here’s the story.

As is pretty clear by now, I have no problem putting players associated with steroids into the Hall of Fame. Adjust downward for era, use your horse sense and as much statistical evidence you can to figure out if they would have cut the mustard regardless, but by no means should someone be banned or blackballed simply because they did steroids.

I appreciate that that’s a minority position of course. Much more in the mainstream seems to be Goose Gossage’s view of things:

“I definitely think that they cheated.  And what does the Hall
of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity. The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are
all in jeopardy. I don’t think
they should be recognized.”

I respect that view even if I don’t agree with it.  But I wonder how far that view goes.

I ask because yesterday Jose Canseco made his obligatory appearance in the steroids circus. And I’m reminded of something he said last summer:

“And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big,
big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer
who’s used . . . Just remember, I have never lied about this subject.”

One has to assume that Canseco — if indeed he is telling the truth — is referring to a former teammate. Otherwise how would he know for sure? For the record, Canseco played with seven players who went on to be inducted to the Hall of Fame: Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson, Don Sutton, Dennis Eckersley and, um, Goose Gossage.

Question: if it is one day determined that one of those gentlemen — or any other Hall of Famer — did steroids like Canseco says, what then?

I say nothing. Who cares.  But would the people who think like Rich Gossage say the same thing?  Would they be fine with a double standard that allows already-inducted ‘roiders to stay in the Hall of Fame and keeps out those not yet inducted? Or — and this would really get things buzzing — would they spearhead an unprecedented campaign to oust the guilty party?

Anyone have Gossage’s cell so I can ask?

  1. PHIL H. - Jan 13, 2010 at 4:53 PM


  2. Lunatic Fringe - Jan 13, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    I’ve spent some time with a group of Air Force officers (Colonel and General ranks). Recently there was a highly visible screw-up by one of their pilots. The mistake resulted in no injuries and no damage to any property, but some bad publicity.
    That pilot will probably never fly for the military again. I thought that seemed like a waste of talent and training, and that he should get a second chance. What I was told was that “it’s not about him”, it’s about the other pilots and their respect for the rules.
    The point is that having severe and certain punishment focuses everyone on how seriously we take the rules. If we don’t have certain or severe punishment, then the rule is not to be taken seriously.
    In baseball terms, the best analogy is gambling. The punishment is swift, certain, and severe. The same punishment is appropriate for steroid users. Anything less makes it a “risk/reward” calculation, and sends the wrong message to high school and college athletes.
    After all, the bottom line is they cheated. They cheated the game, and they cheated Hank Aaron and Roger Maris.

  3. Thumper - Jan 13, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Spitballers usually are known for offspeed pitches, working and nibbling on the corners, floaters, dropdeaders, and strange cutters, etc.
    The Big Train threw heaters. Lots and lots of heaters. I don’t buy the argument for one second that he was a spitballer.
    The Big Train, as a rookie, even scared the bejesus out of Ty Cobb. Not an easy feat. Think about his nickname and how he got it. Trains were the fastest moving things at the time. Except for one thing: Walter Johnson’s fastball.
    Later on, Bob Feller’s was faster, as he threw faster than a full speed harley, LOL. Thats another story though.
    Too bad they didn’t have Juggs guns in the old days.

  4. Moses Green - Jan 13, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Am I surprised that one of the most cogent and thought-provoking responses that is the opposite my own opinion came from a place called Lunatic Fringe? No, I’m not, not at all. I respect your opinion even as I disagree LF.

  5. bballing - Jan 13, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    The line of deliniation for me is this….obviously the past cannot be changed, with regards to “products” that may have help one’s performance, but there are those today that knew, steroids were illegal and enhanced performance (based on todays findings etc..) and still took the risk for glory, regardless. Those that get caught should get punished and lose all chance of HOF, those that dont have to live with themselves, knowing in all likely- hood, that the steroids may have in fact helped them into the HOF.
    Its got to be black and white…sure it will make us feel bad if once revered players are found out to be dirty, bums us out when we find out our hereos aren’t really heroes at all, but as a society I believe we must move through this time (as difficult as that may be) and correct the mistakes that are correctable.
    I have coached baseball for years and I for one will not lie to the kids when they ask me about their fallen hero(s). Bonds was a big one in previous years and most of the kids do not believe he should be there, after giving the facts as known then, objectivley. Based on all the rationalizing I’ve heard here that may go against the grain, but as a coach, dont I have a responsibility to tell the kids steroids are bad for X,Y,Z reasons, only to be confronted with “but he made it in HOF and he used steroids…why cant I?”
    Sorry folks, for me its black and white, for both the integrity of the game and for the health of our up and coming sports hereos. For those that are rationalizing steroid usage, take a minute and ask yourself why you need to rationalize it to begin with, does it really affect you?

  6. Moses Green - Jan 13, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    I’m a simple man, I want my HOF to have all of the greatest baseball players in it, and it doesn’t. When you boil it all down, that’s what’s left of my argument.

  7. Carl - Jan 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    I don’t see the issue as one of sin. I think the issue is one of giving yourself an advantage by cheating. Commemorating someone who got bigger and stronger by cheating next to someone who did it legitimately is not only not fair, but it cheapens the whole achievement.
    Their baseball accomplishments were achieved by CHEATING. No one would care if you win all the poker games in the world once they found out you did it by hiding aces up your sleeve. You wouldn’t remain respected for any achievement then.

  8. dprat - Jan 13, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    Two points:
    1) I’m waiting for someone who thinks that no steroid-user should be in the HOF to say that, yes, they’d be okay with kicking out more than half of the following: Aaron, Mays, Musial, Dimaggio, Mantle, Clemente, Koufax, Gibson, Feller, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Berra, Spahn, Whitey Ford, Kiner, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews, Kaline, Duke Snider, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Drysdale, Killebrew, Brock, McCovey, Stargell, Bench, Morgan, Schmidt, Yaz, etc etc. Because the very, very conservative estimate is that at least 50% of players in their era used illegal PEDs, most often, amphetamines. Gonna get awfully lonely in the Hall.
    2) As to the arguments to erase records, well, I hope you haven’t ever heard of something called “the White House”, or “the pyramids,” because I’m afraid you’ll want to tear them down. Built with slave labor, ya’ know. I’m pretty sure you’ll want to remove Picasso’s art from museums, no, better, burn it. Couldn’t have created all that art unless, despicable physical abuser that he was, he treated the women in his life, and his own children, as servants, freeing him to create.
    Lots of ugliness in the world led to beautiful moments, beautiful artifacts. I’ll choose to learn the lessons, try to prevent the same mistakes from being made. But I’ll enjoy the buildings, and the art – and the HOF – and teach my children the whole story, about human beings, their accomplishments and their failures.
    (But if you must toss some out of the HOF, please start with Cap Anson and Ty Cobb!)

  9. Moses Green - Jan 13, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    Good comment – but I’d start with Phil Rizzuto.

  10. hobbyshop - Jan 13, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Don’t forget Ty Cobb has to be pulled from the Hall of Fame for going into the stands to fight a spectator.

  11. martin munitz - Jan 13, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Let me understand the question. Are we serious about rewarding steroid users with a ticket to the Hall of Fame (Shame)? Why are we even having this discussion?

  12. Stringer Bell - Jan 13, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    We’re having this conversation for a lot of reasons young’un. First off, there’s a signficant statistical probability that there are already multiple steroid users who have been rewarded with tickets to the Hall of Fame. Second, your count is off. Third, no more cell phones. Go collect all of your crew’s phones. No more pay phones either.

  13. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 13, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Does the chair recognize that we’re gonna look like punk ass bitches out on that corner?

  14. Thumper - Jan 13, 2010 at 7:33 PM

    The member from Virginia seconds the aforementioned proclaimation of what we’ll look like, with the proviso none of the members get boobjobs while appearing in public as aforementioned bitches of ill repute,conditioned and further ameliorated by the central conclusion; Americans insist on integrity in all things.
    Besides, they don’t jiggle, counselor. Here! Here!
    I ask for unanimous consent and concede the balance of my time to the floor.

  15. Stringer Bell - Jan 13, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    Any comments from the floor? Alright good. Meeting adjourned. Bodie, hang back young’un, I got some questions for you. Your mileage is off.

  16. Bill C - Jan 13, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    Please yield the floor so I may roundly support Messers the Right Honorable Thumper and his fellow constituent-type Calcaterra in their assertions regarding future appearances of such punk ass bitches, which will be determined in due time. The non-boobjob proviso is accepted without prejudice, seeing as how I don’t have the necessary funds. So say we all.

  17. JR - Jan 13, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    Luv Heat has it right…
    if you did it when it was illegal your out… no exceptions
    and if you did it before, you get a little (*) noting it was during the steroid era…
    What about the Pitchers who are not in the Hall of Fame, because the gave up to many home runs during the steroid era… or there arm did not heal quick enough, to keep them in for a couple of extra years to give them the stats to make it.
    As for Pete Rose… it was and is and always will be illegal to bet on sports while “in sports”… no exceptions… he knew that when he did it, he took the chance and got caught… he’s out…
    boo hoo… its called risk and reward… maybe review it in 3010 that would be soon enough for me… until then, let him whine

  18. willmose - Jan 13, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    As long as we kick out the amphetamine users (opps, there goes Mickey, there goes Jolt’n Joe) and the cocaine users (bye, bye Goose) too. Those are the true PEDs.

  19. Mark McKee - Jan 13, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    Baseball is dead. They haven’t had a commish for over a decade. I haven’t even watched the world series in over a decade. MLB means nothing and their Hall means nothing. They are about as important and relevant as East German women athletes, and whose fault is that? It’s their fault and the fault of those who continue to cover them.
    Having seen Hank Aaron play in person the year he broke the record, and telling my kids about it, I feel like Edward G. Robinson’s character in Soylent Green…
    Thank God for hockey

  20. Notorious R.B.I. - Jan 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    What a bunch of crap. You think hockey players don’t juice? Whaaaat?
    Hockey is racially irrelevant to me since the only black thing on the ice is the puck, and they be smackin the shit of it.

  21. ROID - Jan 14, 2010 at 12:25 AM

    It seems more than odd to me that some of you writing here are trying to throw everything in, from lasik eye surgery to drinking scotch. There has been, and always will be, athletes that try to get an edge however they can. This may come from their training regimen, their diet, sleeping habits, watching game film, superstitions, shoes, bats, playing dirty, trash talking, etc. OK, everyone wants to win. They want that basehit or homerun, or that stolen base. And if they have to bend the rules a little they do . That’s how you succeed, by going as far as you can without crossing the line. That’s true in a lot of jobs. How far can we go without crossing the line. Where is the edge. There are things or habits or whatever that a lot of us do in everyday life that help us get through. We do things that give us the edge in our lifes just to get by, to be able to do our jobs, to cope with life. If we ever get to the point where we have to start taking steroids, human growth hormones, or other things that manipulate and supersize our physical selfs then we are in trouble. There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. And those crossing it should face the consequences.

  22. Bbq - Jan 14, 2010 at 1:08 AM

    Then there are those that say it wasn’t illegal at the time. OK, maybe it wasn’t against baseball rules, but why all the secrecy. Why not just get a prescription from your Doctor. We all know that people with money can get just about any prescription they want from a doctor. Illegal or not, your good old sports doctor can fix you up. But instead these athletes decided to get their fixes from their own private suppliers. Why. Was there something you didn’t want everybody to know about. Could it be that if everyone had known about it at the time they would have expressed their disapproval. While you were going for that first homerun record would everyone say hey, wait a minute, your cheating. You are suspended until all the drugs have left your body and you return to your natural self, no matter how long that takes, weeks, months, years. If these players truly thought they weren’t cheating at the time they took these drugs they would have done it in the open instead of sneaking around behind everyones back.

  23. Snoop - Jan 14, 2010 at 6:05 AM

    I’d like to take you right up to that edge and then push you off.

  24. kevin b - Jan 14, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    Gambling on baseball was illegal. Pete Rose gambled, he cheated. Steroids were not against the rules (doesn’t matter how you got them or why) using them was not against the rules so it was not cheating. Spitball Was legal at one time and when the rule was changed, the pitchers that were using it were “grandfathered” so at one time 2 different pitchers could throw the same pitch in the same game but one pitcher was throwing an illegal pitch (he’s cheating) but the other pitcher is not.

  25. ROID - Jan 14, 2010 at 12:06 PM


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