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Lowell Cohn: “I compare PED users to murderers”

Dec 21, 2010, 8:22 AM EDT

McGwire Palmiero

I compare PED users to murderers — of course, it’s not the same thing. But please follow my reasoning. Lots of murderers never get caught. Yet society has no trouble punishing murders who get arrested and convicted. It’s not like a defense lawyer walks into court and says, “Thousands of murderers get away with their crimes, so you should let my client, who wiped out an entire family, go free in the interest of fair play. That would be absurd. It also is absurd to let McGwire or Palmeiro into the Hall just because we don’t have the goods on somebody else. We have the goods on McGwire and Palmeiro”

— Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat — and Hall of Fame voter — on how he views PED users and the Hall of Fame.

Hey, if you have a “no PED-users in the Hall of Fame” rule, fine, vote your conscience. But really, who’s being more unreasonable here? The people who would consider Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame or people who make this kind of ridiculous comparison?

  1. Jonny 5 - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    Duhhh difference is, Murdering people is against Duhh “rules”. Duhhh comparison is not duhhh same on any level. This is a perfect example of how Duhh HOF is ran Duhh wrong way. “Journalists” voting (who are obviously playing with half a deck) is a very flawed way to handle things imo. I’m not sure of what would be better honestly.

  2. Panda Claus - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    I equate Lowell Cohn to an empty metal trashcan falling down a flight of stairs. A lot of noise, but nothing serious to consider.

    Frankly, we might have better HOF election results if fewer dopes like this were given voting privileges. Every year it’s like a Congress full of Brett Favre drama queens espousing about whom they think should or shouldn’t make it.

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    Can they change the name of that place in Cooperstown to the “Hall of Excellent and Morally Upstanding”? The idea of a baseball museum representing the last 20 years of baseball history without Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa etc. is ridiculous. Like the satirist in The Onion wrote, if you remove everyone with any suspicion of steriod use from consideration, Craig Counsell ends up the best player of his generation.

    There are open racists in the HOF. There are drunks and drug addicts in the HOF. There are cheaters in the hall. The idea that Lowell Cohn and his like are going to save the Hall’s moral fiber while ignoring what happened on the baseball field is both arrogant and misguided.

  4. uyf1950 - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    So this guy (Lowell Cohn) thinks there is no difference between Scott Peterson who received the death penalty for killing his wife and unborn child and PED users. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat should immediately fire this jerk and the state of California should have him committed to a mental institution.

  5. billtpa - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    I’m not sure what rule this falls under in TCM’s column, but you should definitely lose your HOF vote for writing this. Might need to make a new rule just for this clown.

    • billtpa - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:42 AM

      I am making a black-and-white case for my position. I wish it were that simple. Juan Gonzalez appears on the ballot for the first time. He was a terrific player. He has been linked to PEDs but nothing ever has been proved beyond a doubt. What does a voter do?

      This makes me feel better about it, since we’re not losing someone who is capable of making an informed decision about baseball. Juan Gone was several notches behind “terrific” (I’d put him at “pretty good”). His one and only real skill just happened to be something everybody paid particular attention to.

  6. phillysoulfan - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    I wonder what Cohen considers more heinous; the use of PEDs or pistol whipping someone to death because they happen to have the wrong color skin (and got away with it for the EXACT same reason)?

    @Johnny 5, last I checked, possession of an illegal narcotic was always against the law so your argument that one is against the rules and the other is not does not apply. They are both against the rules.

    Everyone else

    Personally, I think it’s wrong for the writers to be playing morality police when it comes to voting players into the Hall. Forget the morality and hypocracy and casting of stones part of it. You can not ignore this ERA. It happened. Like it or not, it happened. Babe Ruth does not have the single season home run record. Barry Bonds does. Hank Aaron is not the hone run champ. Barry Bonds is.

    So with this thought, I propose when the writers are voting for the HOF, they should do so based on what the player did ON THE FIELD. (They need to remember that for every Barry Bonds that used PEDs there is a Jeremy Giambi. For every Roger Clemens, there is a Jason Grimsley. So the use of PEDs didn’t automatically make you into the best player in baseball history.)

    After a player has the necessary vote to enter the Hall, then what they should do is;

    1) If a player admitted to or tested positive for the use of PEDs, then put on the plaque “USED PEDs”.

    2) If a player did not test positive or admit to it, then there should be another vote on whether the writers think he did. If the vote comes out (to be fair to the player set the percentage obscenely high like 85-90%) that the writers think he did, then you put on the plaque “SUSPECTED OF USING PEDs”

    Now the players get into the Hall and the writers get their Scarlett Letter. Win-Win for everyone.

    • pauleee - Dec 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM

      Not to get overly technical, but PEDs are not narcotics. And they’re not jacking cars to get there next fix.

      • pauleee - Dec 21, 2010 at 3:43 PM

        Um, that would be “their”.

    • pauleee - Dec 21, 2010 at 3:46 PM

      And now that I’ve finished reading, I agree with everything else you said.

    • fquaye149 - Dec 22, 2010 at 9:43 AM

      So by your logic any baseball player who has ever speeded is cheating because speeding is against the law?

      Or to be more relevant–anyone who has ever used speed or marijuana or is Dock Ellis is cheating because controlled substances are against the law?

      There wasn’t a rule against steroids. I don’t deny that it was still cheating since there is a gray area that transcends rules, but to argue that it is cheating because “steroids are against the law” doesn’t hold much weight.

  7. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    And I could compare Lowell Cohn to pedophiles as each use the same kind of twisted logic to justify their actions. But, of course, I wouldn’t do that. Lowell Cohn is simply misguided and misunderstood. He is desperate to hold on to his job in the buggy whip industry. So, lighten up on the guy, after all he is just trying to feed his family by making an honest living.

  8. yankees1996 - Dec 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Congratulations, Mr. Cohn you sir are a moron. How in the hell this guy compares someone who takes a life to someone who takes drugs is beyond the thinking of all rational people. Mr. Cohn needs to seriously consider getting some face time with a Mental Health professional, although it probably is too late.

  9. apbaguy - Dec 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    Guys like Cohn are one reason CA’s prisons are filled beyond capacity: equating drug use and possession to murder. And who gave the Santa Rosa newspaper a vote? How many people do they reach? Neyer and Law can’t vote for the HoF, and they reach way more people than this guy.

    The CA punishment for Cohn’s crime of wrong thinking is to insist that he move to SoCal with the other one punishment fits all crimes nut jobs. Or he could print a retraction and stay in Marin. Personally I think he should move and start writing for the Orange County Register. Traffic in Santa Rosa needs to be reduced.

    • pauleee - Dec 21, 2010 at 3:49 PM

      Make him write for The Register!? Good God, that’s harsh. Didn’t know you were for capital punishment.

  10. stackers1 - Dec 21, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Reminds me of something my late father used to say; “chewing gum is one step away from heroine addiction”.

  11. obo1892 - Dec 21, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    His point is valid, two wrongs don’t make a right. The problem is it’s a worthless argument to make since the opposition’s best point is not ‘let McGwire in because we don’t know who else was juicing.’ Convince me that McGwire was not one of the best baseball players of his era, please.

  12. mgflolox - Dec 21, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Lowell Cohn used to write a column for the SF Chronicle. Back in the early ’80’s he wrote one of the most overtly racist columns I can ever remember about Michael “Dynamite” Dokes (heavyweight boxer, if you don’t remember), basically making fun of his malaprops and grammar. It might as well have been titled “Boy, that dumb (n-word) sure can’t talk”. He’s just another bitter, crusty old fart trying to get noticed and somehow validate his continuing, pathetic existence.

  13. tjg25 - Dec 21, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Lowell Cohn: dumbass. What else is really needed here? If you’d like to compare Mr. Vick’s improprieties to a murderer I’m game but PED users??? What an idiot.

  14. obo1892 - Dec 21, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    I don’t think you guys understand the point of analogies… he isn’t saying PEDs users are like murderers, he explicitly states that in the first sentence. Rather, he is comparing the PED defense, “you can’t catch everyone,” to what would be the analogous murder defense, “you shouldn’t convict me because lots of people get away with murder.

    It’s kind of like the best explanation of the Monty Hall problem:

    3 doors, 1 prize. you select the first door. they show you the 2nd door has crap behind it and give you the chance to switch doors. Do you switch? For many, it isn’t obvious that you have a 66% chance of getting the prize if you switch doors.

    To make it obvious you suppose an extreme case: 100 doors, 1 prize. you select the 9th door. they show you all the doors except 9, and 37 have crap behind them. Do you switch? Of course!, you have a 99% chance of getting the prize if you switch.

    He took an extreme example to demonstrate the invalidity of the, ‘other people did it too’ defense. The problem with his argument is that he picked the strawman argument to combat. He fails to address the better point that the steroid era is part of the history of the game and should be acknowledged in the most famous baseball museum, and that players like McGwire were the best of their era.

    • billtpa - Dec 21, 2010 at 2:38 PM

      I think you’re ludicrously oversimplifying “the point of analogies.” You do understand that words can have meanings beyond what the person speaking them tells you they mean, right? If I were to say something like:

      “The Chicago police are like Nazis. I’m not saying they ARE Nazis, just that they both like to wear uniforms.”

      I guess you’d take that at face value? Fair enough.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:02 PM

        Would you have felt better about it if he used a different crime? What if he had said “PED users are just like crack dealers, not that they ARE crack dealers just that they are like them in terms of how they defend themselves in court?” Would that have made it ok? At least obo1892 actually read what he wrote and not just the headline. The whole point of bringing up murder is to shock you and elicit a reaction and judging by these comments Cohn accomplished his goal.

      • obo1892 - Dec 22, 2010 at 6:54 AM

        Your analogy is: Chicago Police are to uniforms as Nazis are to uniforms. I would be misrepresenting your quote if I headlined a post with, “Billtpa thinks Chicago Police are like Nazis!” This is how Fox News and MSNBC work and I’m ashamed that one of my favorite bloggers is doing it , too.

        I’ll throw another one at you. Dogs are to puppies as cats are to kittens. Craig would say, “Obo is insane, dogs are nothing like cats.”

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:17 PM

      Even though it’s an extreme example, it’s still a terrible analogy. While I don’t have the statistics in front of me, and honestly don’t know where I could find them (help lawyers), I’m sure capture rate of murders dwarfs that of PED users. So the analogy falls on its’ face. It was a horrible gimmick to get page views.

      If he wanted a better analogy, speeding is far more apt. Also, whereas most murders are probably a one time thing compared to multiple usage of PEDs. Which strengthens the speeding analogy.

      • pauleee - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:42 PM

        But everyone is guilty of speeding at one time or another, even the salt-of-the-earth types. My guess is he used murderers because he feels PED users are the lowest, vilest scum-of-the-earth types.

      • obo1892 - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:53 PM

        Cohn’s headline was ‘Feeling good about saying no to McGwire.’ The attention grabbing headline you are panning is Craig Calcaterra’s: ‘Lowell Cohn: “I compare PED users to murderers”’

      • obo1892 - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:57 PM

        Think Craig would have gotten as many hits if he used the full quote in his headline? “I compare PED users to murderers — of course, it’s not the same thing.”

  15. bigtrav425 - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    this guy is sick in the head and should be fired for making such a retarded statement and comparison

  16. fquaye149 - Dec 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    I think people are getting a little too worked up here. It was an extremely poor analogy, but some of the reactions here are equally poor. Essentially it would be like saying, “So and so politician bothers me because he uses the same kind of jingoistic, disinformational rhetoric that made fascist leaders so powerful.” It would be an extremely poorly chosen analogy because there are real world pains and deaths associated with it and to trivialize those deaths with a metaphor is a poor move. However, it would be equally poor to accuse that person of saying “He is equating so and so with fascists.”

  17. impeachgoodell - Jan 1, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Nope – no overreaction, the entire Bay area media mostly blows and Cohn is at the head of the queue. Bitter, bitter, bitter old man

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