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Danny Knobler won’t vote for Bagwell, but he won’t tell you why

Dec 28, 2010, 4:22 PM EDT

Bagwell

Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.com has a Hall of Fame vote. This year he gives it to Roberto Alomar and Jack Morris.  Why not anyone else?

There are players I’m not voting for this year because I strongly suspect they built their credentials by cheating. And I’ve decided, after much consternation, that I’m not going to vote for them.

Who are they? I can’t tell you.

You’ll guess some of them. Rafael Palmeiro failed a test. Mark McGwire admitted he used.

But with others, it’s just strong suspicion, or word of mouth. It’s nothing I can prove, and nothing I’d feel professionally comfortable writing in a story … I’d love to debate them with you, because debate is what the Hall of Fame elections are about. But accusations without proof are not what our business should be about, and not what this country should be about.

Knobler goes on to say that just because he didn’t vote for someone doesn’t mean that he thinks that they took steroids. Just that some of them he didn’t vote for — but he won’t tell you who — fall under his suspicion. A suspicion the parameters of which he won’t define.  I’m going to assume that he’s talking about Bert Blyleven. Or maybe Lenny Harris. They should probably consult their lawyers.

Seriously, though, I can’t decide if Knobler’s justification for not voting for Jeff Bagwell — and really, who else is he talking about, given that he mentions McGwire and Palmiero by name elsewhere — is better or worse than those guys who have said “I need more time to consider Bagwell …” when there’s nothing reasonable to consider about his on-the-field case.

But whether it’s better or worse, I do know that it’s highly disingenuous. A Hall of Fame vote is a significant act. More significant than any given column some Internet columnist posts.  The matter is so delicate that his speculation can’t be printed, yet it’s OK to cast a vote based on that speculation? A vote that will help define the player’s legacy and baseball history?  OK, great.

Try this, Knobler: “I think it’s quite possible that Jeff Bagwell took steroids. I have no proof of it, but I think he did, and that’s enough for me to not give him my Hall of Fame vote.”

I don’t personally agree with that, but it’s not legally actionable. It’s an admission of a non-malicious, fact-free opinion, which we’re all entitled to have in this country, and which you’re trying to gussy up with your holier-than-though nameless non-speculation speculation.  It at least has the benefit of being a much clearer statement of what you’re doing. Plus it could also turn out to be correct (I have no idea if Bagwell used steroids or not).

The best part: if you share that opinion with people and freely admit that you’re helping decide who is and who isn’t a Hall of Famer based on that kind of reasoning, more fans will at least realize how irrational our current system of electing Hall of Famers is.  These writers don’t know anything better than you do and aren’t even willing to offer their informed opinions of the matter to you for your consumption.

At this point I’d almost be receptive to a fan vote. At least then we’d get a Hall of Fame someone likes.

  1. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    I see; you only feel the need to denigrate those who don’t vote for your pet list of Hall of Fame candidates right? If someone didn’t vote for Bagwell, or Blyleven, or Raines, or whoever you think is a hall of fame candidate.

    I guess its just not ok to have opinions unless they agree with yours, huh Craig?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:34 PM

      Yes, because that’s clearly in keeping what I’ve written on the subject over and over. “Vote for the people I like or else you suck.”

    • Lincoln93 - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:45 PM

      Did you even read the article, akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc?

      • Michael - Dec 28, 2010 at 11:51 PM

        …if that IS indeed his real name…

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Wow, a fan-based HoF election process would be absolutely interesting. Maybe the fans could finally feel like they could partake in a process many find so arbitrary as it is.

    • disulfide - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:44 PM

      I’d vote for Wally Joyner, that way he’d have exactly one vote.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:45 PM

        And Santo would have been in there eons ago, when he was supposed to be.

  3. diamondduq - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Or Craig, by being vague in this instance he’s simply laying the foundation for his evaluation of other players from the “Steroid Era” as they too come up for election. He stated his position once and should hold true to that position for everyone until his suspicion softens for a player. You may not agree with votes cast, or withheld, by those with the privilege but not everyone agrees with those you would, or wouldn’t, hypothetically cast either. It takes more than one person voting or not voting for a player to get into or be kept from the HOF and for each voter to provide explanation for each vote and non-vote on a player-by-player basis is unnecessary. At least we know where Knobler stands on PEDs and whether we agree or disagree with his assessment, or suspicions, is negligible.

    • pwf207 - Dec 29, 2010 at 8:56 AM

      if you don’t want to vote for someone based on personal suspicions of steroid use, write something along the lines of what craig wrote in his post. be direct and honest, craig’s criticism at the end is totally valid, this journalist, who is supposed to be doing a public service, that is informing the citizenry, is punting. he is vacillating, writing something slightly ambiguous that he can walk back later when the tide of opinions turns. this is not the job of a journalist, that’s an entertainer who panders to the whims of his customers. this is emblematic of the awful state of journalism in this country and while sports are of no great import to the national conversation (example of skewed values aside) they can be a good teaching tool. Sabermetrics has introduced the notion of testable theories and statistical evaluation to an area where personal opinion reigned. while it hasn’t eradicated unsupported rhetoric, it has provided an alternative and with each passing generation the level of discourse improves. the same thing is happening in journalism, new voices are speaking up and the old dinosaurs must be swept away for progress to continue. seriously, why is he vacillating here? just say i think he did steroids and that keeps him out for me. the reason is that that sounds pretty dumb when you say in clearly.

  4. billybeaneismyhero - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Interesting he’s voting for Alomar and Morris considering they played during the same era as everyone else on the list. Apparently, they’re the only ones where there’s indisputable truth they didn’t use PEDs…

  5. clydeserra - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Ok, So if McGwire hits a home run off of Clemmens, does that Homer count or no?

    • disulfide - Dec 28, 2010 at 5:00 PM

      DOH!

  6. Adam - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    “I’d love to debate them with you, because debate is what the Hall of Fame elections are about. But accusations without proof are not what our business should be about, and not what this country should be about.”

    The Hall of Fame vote isn’t about creating debate. It’s about enshrining the best who’ve played MLB. Jeff Bagwell is one of the best to ever play first base in the history of MLB.

  7. dreamkafka - Dec 28, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    Perhaps the recent and current players themselves will show their power eventually. At some point they may feel fed up with the uneven standards of the Hall and create their own bastion by steps including withholding of artifacts from Cooperstown.

  8. stankfinger - Dec 28, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    How is everyone so sure Alomar didn’t juice? Huh?

  9. proudlycanadian - Dec 28, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    I didn’t vote for Bagwell either. Don’t ask me why, because I won’t tell you.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 29, 2010 at 8:33 AM

      OK! I relent. I cant vote for Bagwell because I never saw him play. Alomar was by far the best baseball player that I have ever seen in person. He should have been voted in last year.

  10. Detroit Michael - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:56 AM

    Wow, Blyleven and Larkin are suspected of taking steroids too? Knobler needs a new headline writer.

    In other news, Knobler discovers a study concluding that steroid use causes dry mouth, rendering 100% of steroid users unable to spit on umpires.

    All in all, it was a highly illuminating column.

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