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Bert Blyleven: let the PED users in the Hall of Fame

Dec 17, 2010, 10:48 AM EDT


I wrote yesterday about how I reconcile PED use and the Hall of Fame.  I’ve written a lot about Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame. Say, how can those things go together?

Via the Jonah Keri Podcast, of course.  Jonah has been talking to some serious heavyweights this week, and the other day Blyleven gave Jonah a half hour of his time.  It’s all worth listening to, but I think the most interesting part is when they talk about steroid users and the Hall. Blyleven’s take? Let McGwire, Bonds and Clemens in. His rationale (more or less) is that a lot of guys were taking and they all didn’t become Hall of Famers, so why degrade the accomplishments of the ones who did? This is a rough approximation of my own stance: sure, guys used PEDs, but it’s not like that prevents us from distinguishing them from other players and recognizing their greatness. At least if we don’t take a blanket “no PED users in the Hall” approach.  Which I think is extremely problematic.

Not that Blyleven and I agree on everything.  He would change his mind on Bonds or Clemens if they were to be convicted in their respective criminal prosecutions. Hard to say if he thinks that’s because that would officially make them criminals and thus disqualify them on moral grounds or, alternatively, if it would merely remove some extant doubt from his mind about what they did while they played.  Bert is also part of the “release all the names” club which, as I have argued is simply wrong.

But however he comes down, it’s a good interview and a good window on how hard it is to figure out what to do with the Hall of Fame in the wake of the steroid era.

  1. oldnumero7 - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    I love Bert, and I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Comments like this make me question his sincerity, though.

    Players trying to get into the Hall are almost always “large Hall” types, because the lower the standards the easier it is for them to make it. Players already in the Hall, however, are almost universally “small Hall” folks–the fewer living Hall of Famers there are, the more exclusive the club and the more they can make at card signings and the like.

    Look no further than Goose Gossage, who lingered on the ballot for years. He was very lenient about steroid users in the Hall when he was on the outside looking in. Now that he’s in the club he’s taken an incredibly hard line stance against their inclusion. I would expect a similar epiphany with Bert.

  2. Old Gator - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    I think Bert is just hoping that his own marginal baby will be poured in with the bathwater.

  3. BC - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    I think I’ve had an epiphany. Or some sort of cathartic event. I say, put all the PED users in. That way, we won’t hear anything more about this @$#%#!!@%$ once they’re in, and we can move on.

    • Old Gator - Dec 17, 2010 at 1:23 PM

      And we should put all the PEZ eaters in there too. Thumb action is another factor that Hall voters just don’t consider nearly enough.

      • BC - Dec 17, 2010 at 2:05 PM

        Try this one at home, start chewing a Pez, then chase it with a shot of chilled Ketel One. Yummy.

  4. Old Gator - Dec 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Okay, since my Nicole Brown Simpson Pez dispenser is my most precious possession, I guess I should blow the loam off of it and try that one out. Do you take your Ketel One with or without Nardil?

  5. rcali - Dec 18, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    How about No.

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