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How come there aren't any youngins in the Hall of Fame?

Mar 1, 2010, 8:28 AM EDT

The Merc’s Tim Kawakami thinks he sees something:

Once Jeff Bagwell and Roberto Alomar (both born in 1968) get voted into
the Baseball Hall of Fame next January, there will be a strange
generation gap in Cooperstown . . . For multiple reasons, the players born from 1961-1967 will be
markedly unrepresented in Cooperstown for at least another year or two
and maybe more, even though this is historically when my age-peers
should be plowing into the HOF in solid waves. Hmm.

Kawakami notes that the there is only one guy in the Hall — Cal Ripken — who was born after 1960. He goes on to say that PEDs have something to do with this, suggesting that they (a) prolonged many guys’ careers, bumping their eligibility back in time; and (b) squeezed out a generation of guys by making what were once Hall-worthy statistics appear lacking. So no Will Clark, for example.

I suppose I’d consider his argument a hell of a lot more seriously if we couldn’t go way back to the year 2000 and see that back then there were only two guys — Robin Yount and George Brett — who were born after 1950.  In 1990 there were four guys born after 1940: Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Jim Palmer and Catfish Hunter (and let’s be honest; Hunter probably didn’t deserve induction). I suppose you could call that a trend, but it’s not much of one.

And if I had to guess the reason for it I’d say that it has way more to do with ballplayer salaries than it does PEDs. There was a time — just before the time that guys who were born in the late 30s and early 40s were retiring — when a famous ballplayer could make more money leaving the game to open a car dealership or to pursue a job in broadcasting than he could by hanging on for an extra year or two playing. Indeed, contrary to the lazy “players don’t need to play as long these days with all of their millions” line of thinking the prospect of making many millions of dollars a year provides an incentive to keep playing. Who’d a thunk it?

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin and — if people don’t let steroid derangement syndrome cloud their judgment — Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds should all be inducted in the next few years. At that point we’ll likely be talking more about the large number of 1961-67 vintage players in the Hall of Fame, not the lack thereof.

  1. ditmars1929 - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    “Steroid derangement syndrome”??? What the hell is that? Clemens and Bonds are both known steroid abusers. They both cheated the game and therefore do not belong in the Hall. What’s so deranged about that, Craig?

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    Thinking they did steroids is not deranged. It’s documented fact in Bonds’ case and the odds of Clemens not lying about it in his denials are pretty low.
    But it’s deranged to think that those guys aren’t Hall of Fame worthy regardless. There’s no rule that DQs players from the Hall of Fame for using steroids. And as we argue around these parts just about every week, if you want to keep those two out on moral grounds there are an awful lot of people you need to kick out of the Hall on the same grounds.
    I’ll grant you borderline cases like Rafael Palmiero, who may or may not have achieved Hall of Fame numbers without roids, but Bonds and Clemens were both Cooperstown worthy before the earliest date they’ve ever been accused of using.

  3. ditmars1929 - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    I will respectfully disagree with you, Craig. They cheated with drugs and therefore do not belong. And your logic about being Hall-worthy before they started using drugs is faulty. Here’s an analogy for you. If you and I played a round of golf in a tournament, and I was cleanly kicking your ass on the front nine, but cheated on the back nine, don’t you think I should be disqualified from the tournament?

  4. Roger Moore - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    They cheated with drugs and therefore do not belong.
    Fine, just so long as you throw out all the guys who cheated by using greenies, like Willie Mays. And ones who cheated by doctoring the baseball, like Gaylord Perry and Don Drysdale. And the ones who corked their bats, like Babe Ruth.

  5. Jamie - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    As steroids were not banned by baseball when Bonds and Clemens were using them, they technically never “cheated”. They used some illegal drugs that made them stronger, an option that was available to all players of their era. They were never suspended or banned from the game, so how can they be ineligible for the Hall of Fame, an institution that includes people who actually violated the rules of baseball to win games (Gaylord Perry, Leo Durocher). Just because you feel cheated doesn’t mean they were cheaters.

  6. Jamie - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    You were always my favorite Bond.

  7. Charles Gates - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    And all of the middle infielders who ‘phantom tagged’ second base while turning a double play.
    If they knowingly didn’t touch the base, and didn’t speak up when the umpire called the runner out, thay’re effectively lying. That calls their character into question, which is HOF criteria.
    I guess you also have to throw out all of the catchers who framed a pitch to get the umpire to call a ball a strike.
    As ditmars1929 argues, we should throw these guys out on moral grounds.

  8. jwb - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    how do you feel about Whitey Ford? Obviously he’s out for throwing scuffed balls, but do you also throw out Yogi Berra for scuffing the balls on his shin guard?

  9. ditmars1929 - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    That’s an interesting thought, Roger.
    A friend of mine argues that greenies are “enablers”, sort of like you having coffee to wake yourself up in the office each morning, as opposed to “enhancers”, like steroids are. A distinct difference there. What do you think?
    You can toss out Perry and Drysdale, I’m fine with that, but where did you hear about Ruth corking a bat? I’ve never heard that before. I also read an article a long time ago that said corking a bat doesn’t help, but I’m not a scientist, so I’m not qualified to weigh in on that.

  10. Rays fan - Mar 1, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    The HoF really ought to stay out of the “who cheated at what” business. The arbiter of that should be MLB. Trying to decide what’s worthy of banning can turn into a moral morass of grey zones–“this cheat’s not as bad as that cheat’s,” “cheating with steroids is worse because it works better than other forms of cheating,” and so on. By all means, add the warts to the plaque, if the player is found to be worthy of entry by being one of the best of his era but then move on (some Cardinals hitting coach used those words recently). The arbiter of banning should be MLB. If MLB bans a player, for whatever reason, fine, they’re banned from the HoF too.

  11. Andy L - Mar 1, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    I’ve heard arguments that corked bats don’t help. I’ve also heard that steroids don’t help, except to recover from injury. Both arguments can be convincing.

  12. Bill G - Mar 1, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Thank you Roger for bringing up the “greenies”. It was well known that speed was pretty rampant in sports in the 70’s and 80’s. If a guy goes out and parties all night and then takes a “little helper” in the morning to be able to make the game that night, isn’t that a form of cheating the system? Also, there is still no absolute conclusive evidence that taking PED’s can help with bat speed. Getting stronger-yes, bat speed-no. In the case of Luis Gonzalez and Brady Anderson, with the PED’s they took some of the balls they hit during their 57 and 50 home run years may have only made the warning track. In the case of McGwire and Bonds their home runs were going 10-12 rows deep most of the time. In their cases, the PED’s just helped prolong their careers. And let’s face it, most of us would do just about anything to continue making millions of dollars a year. Especially when back then the lifelong effects of these drugs were not known yet. In the case of the pitchers it is a little different. Getting stronger could add 1-4 mph on your fastball which can make all the difference in the world. Did they cheat? Technically no since the drugs were not illegal. Where they wrong? Absolutely.

  13. Ben - Mar 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    Guys, if you want to throw out everyone who used PED’s, be my guest. It’s your choice. However, if you want to throw out people who used HGH and steroids, than you have to throw out people who used speed to help get them through the season. Congratulations, you just kicked Hank Aaron, along with a few others out of the HOF.

  14. Robert - Mar 1, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    “Enablers” vs. “Enhancers.” Apparently you’re not fully sure what steroids do. They aren’t enhancers, but enablers just like greenies. They may be more effective enablers, but they don’t enhance your muscle, they just let you recover faster and allow to you work your muscles to build more bulk in faster time. You still have to work the muscle to get them big, so by your arbitrary labels, they’d be enablers like greenies. Plus Steroids don’t help you hit a pitch better or throw harder or more accurately. All they do is help you recover or play through an injury. Look at Caminetti the year he won the MVP. Didn’t make him better, but allowed him to stay on the field and play like he could, meaning he was “better” then not being on the field with an injury. Still don’t like PED’s but since they were not disallowed from the game, it’s patently false to say these guys cheated.

  15. scatterbrian - Mar 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    “A friend of mine argues that greenies are “enablers”, sort of like you having coffee to wake yourself up in the office each morning, as opposed to “enhancers”, like steroids are.”
    Greenies are amphetamines, which are narcotics, which are much more fast-acting, potent, addicting and dangerous than coffee. That’s a poor analogy. Like saying heroin is a “relaxer” sort of like having a shot of whiskey after a hard day at the office.

  16. JBerardi - Mar 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    “A friend of mine argues that greenies are “enablers”, sort of like you having coffee to wake yourself up in the office each morning, as opposed to “enhancers”, like steroids are. A distinct difference there. What do you think?”
    I think that’s a ridiculous notion. Who’s to say that an “enabling” drug won’t be a bigger advantage than a “enhancing” drug? What will help you more in a baseball game, being 10% stronger or having 50% more energy? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows, or even has a very strong idea. Saying that one is better than the other… that’s just making excuses for an earlier generation of players. It’s a rationalization made so that your friend can continue to admire the clean, honest players of his youth and condemn the morally corrupt players of today. In short, it’s BS.

  17. Robert - Mar 1, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    What are you talking about, I love a nice heroin relaxer over ice. Whiskey optional.

  18. Roger Moore - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    A friend of mine argues that greenies are “enablers”, sort of like you having coffee to wake yourself up in the office each morning, as opposed to “enhancers”, like steroids are. A distinct difference there. What do you think?
    I think it’s rationalization by somebody who doesn’t want to admit that players back in the 1960s were in the same boat as players today. Stimulants like amphetamine are known to boost alertness and focus, which are critical for good hitting performance. They also boost metabolism, which may help speed and power. There’s good reason to think that they are “enhancers” that boost those abilities beyond what they’d be in an drug-free state, not just “enablers” that bring people back up to full performance.

  19. BB - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    There’s that same lame excuse comparing amphetimines to PEDs, there is no comparison.

  20. Roger Moore - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    A friend of mine argues that greenies are “enablers”, sort of like you having coffee to wake yourself up in the office each morning, as opposed to “enhancers”, like steroids are. A distinct difference there. What do you think?
    I think it’s rationalization by somebody who doesn’t want to admit that players back in the 1960s were in the same boat as players today. Stimulants like amphetamine are known to boost alertness and focus, which are critical for good hitting performance. They also boost metabolism, which may help speed and power. There’s good reason to think that they are “enhancers” that boost those abilities beyond what they’d be in an drug-free state, not just “enablers” that bring people back up to full performance.

  21. MM - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Steroids have been banned from baseball since 1991.

  22. Robert - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Actually do you know what PED means? Performance enhancing drugs? How is speed not a performance enhancing drug. I’m tired, I take amphetamines so I can stay awake and do my job better. I’ve just enhanced my performance using a drug. Given that steroids don’t work as a direct enhancement of your performance, and only work by letting you play through an injury or get more out of your workout regiment, I’d say that the comparison to greenies and other old versions of PED’s is very apt. It’s ignorance that leads people to believe that steroids are somehow worse then other forms of dishonesty. I can’t even call it cheating, because at the time it wasn’t. If you’re a so-called baseball purist then by definition you’re a hypocrite, because there has never been an era in the history of baseball that was pure. Pre Jackie Robinson, you’re discounting the great black players who would have added to the overall competitiveness of the leagues. 50s-70s, you’re discounting rampant amphetamine use. 80’s-90’s today, Add to the amphetamine use, the use of coke and other illegal substances, and then throw on steroids and there isn’t a clean era of baseball. Get off the high horse and at least admit what this is really about. Anger about steroids and a selective witch hunt. Unless you want to remove every single player who has used any form of PEDs, this is a masturbatory exercise if faux outrage. Get over it.

  23. Bear - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Steroids were banned by the MLB in the early 90’s. I believe Fay Vincent sent out a memo adding them to the banned substances list. But, without testing until the 2004 season, this ban was virtually worthless.

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