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How about this: no one from the past 25 years makes the Hall of Fame

Dec 30, 2010, 12:33 PM EDT

Greg Maddux

I don’t advocate that — I think I can tell the difference between elite players of that period and non-elite players — but some are advocating it.  Maybe not in so many words, but by the criteria they’re currently employing, it’s a necessary conclusion.

Example: Jeff Pearlman, who today sides with those who would bar Jeff Bagwell from Cooperstown despite there being no evidence that he used PEDs.  After taking issue with Joe Posnanski’s column from this morning Jeff writes:

But, alas, Joe’s still right—perhaps Jeff Bagwell never used. Perhaps, as dozens upon dozens of his teammates turned to steroids and HGH throughout the 1990s and early 2000s …  Bagwell looked the other way and continued to pop his GNC-supplied Vitamin C tablets. Maybe, just maybe, that happened. But, as the game was being ruined in his very clubhouse, where was Bagwell’s voice of protest? Where was Jeff Bagwell, one of the best players in baseball, when someone inside the game needed to speak out and demand accountability? Answer: Like nearly all of his peers, he was nowhere. He never uttered a word, never lifted a finger (Now, once he retired, he was more than willing to defend himself and speak up for the sport. Once he was retired).

This, to me, is why we are allowed to suspect Jeff Bagwell and, if we so choose, not vote for him.

Good point! But let me ask: where was Derek Jeter? Greg Maddux? Randy Johnson? Cal Ripken? Tony Gwynn? Ichiro? Trevor Hoffman? Mariano Rivera? Albert Pujols? There is just as much evidence against those guys as there is against Bagwell.  None of them spoke up and demanded accountability. Are we allowed to suspect them too and, if we so choose, not vote for them?

I anticipate Pearlman’s response would be that, unlike Bagwell, those guys weren’t big power hitters who became musclebound.  But then again, neither were guys like Randy Velarde, Andy Pettitte, Hal Morris, Tim Laker, Denny Neagle, Ron Villone, Kent Mercker, Mike Stanton, Fernando Vina, Wally Joyner, Paul Byrd and Gary Matthews, Jr. and many others who were named in the Mitchell Report and allied investigations.  They all used, as did scores of others who don’t fit the Bagwell profile. If they did, how do we know that Maddux and Ichiro didn’t?

We don’t. Anyone of that era could have been using. Actually, anyone over the last 50 years could have been using given that Stanozolol was developed in 1962 and was being used in athletics soon thereafter. Physique has very little to do with it. Which makes everyone a suspect. At least, that is, if you suspect people without having any evidence for the charge.  And if you keep everyone who is a suspect under that rationale out of the Hall, the entire era should be kept out of the Hall.

I’m not prepared to do that.  I require a bit of evidence before I accuse someone of wrongdoing and refuse to honor their career in a way it should be honored. Pearlman doesn’t.  A lot of other people seem to agree with him.

  1. RickyB - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    And I take it that no sportswriters that wrote for the past 25 years should be named a Ford Frick winner for not voicing their protest over suspicions and whispers of steroid use in the game. Buster Olney has come out and laid blame on the writers (and himself) as well. How are we to know which writers heard the whispers and which ones didn’t? No more Ford Frick Award winners!

    • Chipmaker - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:15 PM

      I’d be okay with that, for two reasons. One, the Frick Award is restricted to BBWAA members, and there’s plenty of good baseball writing being done by non-members. Two, they really ALL missed the steroids story in real time. They were in the locker rooms, they saw the physiques, they must have picked up some buzz — and they surely know names like “Woodward” and “Bernstein” — and yet, nothing.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 31, 2010 at 1:02 AM

      Bingo! Exactly what I was going to say! Every last one of the HoF voters has been a BBWAA member for at least 10 years, so they ALL covered baseball during “the steroid era” and none of them launched an anti-PED campaign (a few wrote an article or two, but not many). The sanctimonious nature of many of the writers is simply hypocritical.

  2. Matt - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    I posted this on another page…but others that did not speak up: Owners (Steinbrenner), Managers (Cox/LaRussa/Torre), Media (Gammons/Harwell/Scully) Surely we can’t advocate keeping all of them out too, right?

    • ta192 - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:49 AM

      Wasn’t there a Rangers owner from that era that went on to prominent public office?

  3. RickyB - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Oops, too quick to write. I of course meant the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.

  4. Charles Gates - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    I <3 how Pearlman follows Jeff Bagwell, one of the best players in baseball with this not vote for him.

    • shaggylocks - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:22 PM

      Yes! I was going to point that out, too.

  5. Utley's Hair - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Nobody from the last 25 years? Then, as the only one eligible, Jamie Moyer would be a shoo-in. WOOHOO!!!!

    • JM Lattanzi - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:58 PM

      Out of luck, since Moyer made his debut in ’86, which is “only” 24 years ago. Poor Grampa.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM

        Damn you and your fuzzy math!!!!! But he’s got another 20 years or so in the tank anyway.

    • Matt - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM

      I took it as noone that played in the last 25 years…meaning Jack Morris is now ineligible!

  6. JM Lattanzi - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    I remember a guy in Chicago (I think it was Paul Ledewski) who said he would never vote for any player who played after 1990. He was mercilessly mocked then, as anyone who says they won’t vote for Bagwell on mere suspicion of steroid usage should be now.

  7. markfrednubble - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    “We don’t know enough” remains a reasonable position to take on Hall of Fame entry for players who have been clearly implicated with steroid use — especially those with historically unusual performances at advanced ages, or performances that were suddenly inconsistent with their own established levels. McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro . . . We don’t know enough.

    It does NOT apply to Jeff Bagwell, who has never been implicated and who has firmly stated he never took steroids.

    For me, “we don’t know enough” may end up as “almost everyone used PEDs” and therefore lead eventually to a consensus that, when Clemens struck out Palmeiro, it was juice against juice and all the stats are real, or when Bonds took Kevin Brown deep it was just as impressive since both were on the juice. We don’t know enough.

  8. Detroit Michael - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    If the writers don’t vote in any of the elite players over a 25 year period, it seems to me that the Hall of Fame will eventually change who votes on their inductees. It’s a real museum that counts on real visitors to pay real dollars to see the annual induction ceremony, which draws much larger crowds when they involve recently retired players. Any moral standard that excludes most of the recent elite players is impractical.

  9. smokehouse56 - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    The HOF and the “record book” are now permanently tarnished. NOTHING can ever change that except to start over. Socia’s 3 60+ HR seasons. Bonds 73 HR’s, 24 more than he ever hit before or after, McGwire’s 65 and 70 HR’s. Clemons wins and SO’s. Ain’t steroids great? And the gall of Sammy Socia saying he would just sit and wait for the phone call (from the HOF) after he retired. These juiced up players threw thousands of games by cheating. Joe Jackson threw 4 and was banned for life. Rose played honestly and was banned. Selig, you are a complete moron and have single handily ruined my game.

    • jasonc2300 - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:32 PM

      You’re right, the record book is permanently tarnished. Of course, the record book was permanently tarnished when so many players in the ’60s were on speed, and when some old-timers got to throw spitballs in the ’20s and ’30s long after new players were banned from doing so, and when Babe Ruth hit all those homers without having to play against any African Americans, and when walks were counted as hits in the 1880s, but whatever.

    • wonkypenguin - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:17 PM

      Any particular reason for misspelling Sosa’s name? Just trying to figure out if there’s a pun there or something…

  10. bigtrav425 - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    I wouldnt vote for Maddux anyways ( or glavine or smoltz) What MLB did for them in my eyes is cheating as well.Giving them each atleast 6” of the outside corner plates.they were unhitable because MLB players cant swing telephone poles as bats to reach far enough to hit them!..not even going to go into the inside part of the plate and waste my time with this anymore

    • jasonc2300 - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:33 PM

      Because no pitchers ever took steroids.

  11. hardjudge - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Just vote on their performance and put the famous * by all their names saying they played and in the steroid era and make easy on the sports writers who were probably all out drinking and driving during that time.

  12. disulfide - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Why is there no concern over Manager’s being hopped up on the juice? Ozzie Guillen clearly has issues with roid rage, Tony LaRussa has had a big head since he was in Oakland with the Bash Brothers and Charlie Manuel has that seriously bulging abdomen. Should this mean that their World Series victories should be discounted?

  13. mattintoledo - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    The only players I can remember speaking out against steroids were C.J. Nitkowski and Frank Thomas, and even they weren’t exactly getting on a soapbox. Also, why would you expect a player who’s supposedly on one of the teams where PEDs were most rampant to be one to stand up and shout about them? If MLB came down on them, his team would then be affected disproportionately.

    Pearlman’s post reads like an internal idea that you tell yourself is good until you bounce it off a friend and instantly realize (from their reaction) that it’s idiotic.

    • Gary - Dec 30, 2010 at 6:22 PM

      PEDs were no more rampant in Houston than any other team.

      • mattintoledo - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:58 PM

        I assume that’s accurate. I’m just pointing out a(nother) flaw in Pearlman’s logic as he says steroids were worse in Houston and Texas than any other team.

      • ta192 - Dec 31, 2010 at 12:53 AM

        Hey, everybody knows they do things bigger and better in Texas…

  14. sdelmonte - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    I am waiting for a sportswriter to just quit the job and say “everything about sports is immoral and unethical.” Because once you start making leaps like Pearlman did, the only logical conclusion is that everything in the game, everything in all sports, is too corrupt.

    And honestly, I could respect that more than most of the noise we hear from the sportswriting community.

  15. bradwins - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Could’ve added Pedro Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. to that list of players who aren’t suspected, didn’t voice a concern and will be in the Hall of Fame. Those two are the top pitcher and player in that generation, in my opinion, should both get in on the first ballot and have never been linked to PEDs in any serious, meaningful, credible or sincere way.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

      Pedro? Did you SEE how he took down Don Zimmer?!? That was like pro wrestling type stuff, and we know they all juice, ergo…

      • phukyouk - Dec 31, 2010 at 8:10 AM

        Pedro was on the list in the Mitchell report. i have NO IDEA why his name wasn’t mentioned. i mean its not like anyone was biased or anything like that.

  16. tigerprez - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    It doesn’t seem like it’s really that hard to go with the evidence in these cases, as speculative as it seems. To say we have to ban an entire generation of players would be to suggest that we’re incapable of analyzing evidence (which is really what voting is all about). If a guy has the dreaded “whispers” around him, hold your vote for a few years and see if you can eventually figure out if there’s any substance to them. Aside from random bloggers making baseless charges, the smoke usually can be traced to a fire if you’re willing to follow it (though this would assume that journalists are willing to actually do investigative research).

    If Maddux, Ichiro, Griffey, Pedro, etc. were roiders and get into the Hall because they were simply better at avoiding accusations, I guess they pulled one over on us. You go with the evidence. (I’m sure there are other cheaters in the Hall, but that doesn’t mean that we need to say, “Well, we let one in, might as well put them all in!” That would be like saying, “Well, I’m sure there are some drug dealers who aren’t in jail. I guess we have to let them all out if we want to be fair.”) No matter what, someone is getting screwed, either the players who juiced and just happened to get caught and kept out of the Hall as a result (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire), or those who chose not to juice and never became a HOF caliber player. There is no completely fair way to handle this situation, and I’d much rather see those who are proven guilty punished, even if some get away with it. That’s life.

  17. rrrii - Dec 30, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    Craig, I swear I am on your side in all this. I’ve seen enough research to show that it is really hard to conclude steroids inflate numbers. And personally I don’t care if a player used or not. In all walks of life we look for competitive advantages and performance enhancement. I’m no moralist here. I really enjoyed watching baseball during the ‘steroid era’ and don’t feel cheated at all by it.

    But we need to keep some perspective. This is the HOF, not a court of law. These are entertainers, no doctors or heads of state. It’s a bit strong to say Bagwell is being ‘barred’ from the HOF. It’s a pretty exclusive, private club whose membership is decided based on lots of subjectivity. Saying Bagwell is barred from the Coop is like saying I’m being barred from Augusta National. Sure, he is not being invited in (yet). Those who hold the keys to membership may be obtuse and we should rightfully call this out. But Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose are barred. Bagwell is not.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM

      As I said in my rant in another post, the most important word in your post is the word SUBJECTIVITY. It is SUBJECTIVE. People vote for whoever they want so long as they are on the ballot. It is NOT a vote of who had the best WAR. Or who had the most Wins. Or who did it with or without Steroids. It is an individual’s vote, based on facts, stats, or just plain “BECAUSE I SAY SO!!!”

    • phukyouk - Dec 31, 2010 at 8:11 AM

      “may be obtuse”

      What did you call me?

    • fquaye149 - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:57 AM

      The Augusta comparison doesn’t really hold water, since Augusta doesn’t have inferentially evident criteria for membership. What it’s more like is if you had 99th percentile GPA and SAT scores and a host of volunteer work and extracurriculur leadership on your record and weren’t admitted to, say, Harvard when it was obvious that dozens of people with objectively worse transcripts had gotten in that year.

  18. kerberos75 - Dec 30, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    This steroid clusterF is why voting has to exclusively consider the only metric they can measure player performance with: what they did on the field.

  19. smokehouse56 - Dec 30, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    It appears here that a few people think that Sosa’s 3 60+ HR seasons, Bonds 73 HR’s, 24 more than he ever hit before or after, McGwire’s 65 and 70 HR’s. Clemons wins and SO’s are acceptable. After all it was done on the field.

    I guess you’re happy with Missouri’s 5th down win in 1990 against the Colorado Buffs. After all, it was on the field. Classless Missouri kept the win. Or the 1940 5th down game between Dartmouth and Cornell. Dartmouth was awarded a 5th down and beat Cornell on the field. The next day Dartmouth forfeited to game to Cornell because of the mistake as shown on game films. The Big Red accepted, as they should have. Cream always come to the top, but not in Missouri. The Big Green showed all kinds of class.Who the hell wants a win or record if it is not deserved.

    Look, my point is this. If you think Sosa’s 60+ homers three times is OK, and should be used as evidence for him being selected to the HOF, so be it. I don’t.

  20. soutsidemike - Dec 30, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    “None of them spoke up and demanded accountability”
    I know of one who sure as heck did.
    Frank Thomas wanted manditory drug testing for a long as I can remember, and was a vocal proponent of same.

  21. frankvzappa - Dec 30, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Pete Rose should lead a coalition of PE players to finance and establish a separate Hall of Fame, just to stick it to Selig…

  22. 1historian - Dec 31, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    The atmosphere now is so poisoned that anyone would be suspect. I personally don’t think that anyone who used steroids deserves to be in the hall, regardless of exactly what the rules were at the time. Staying one step ahead of the police just to stay legal does not impress me, nor does the simple fact that at any time anyone could have had stepped forward and volunteered for testing – at any time. How many did? Any? I don’t think so.
    I know it sounds quaint but there was a time when baseball players were expected to be good examples for kids. I remember those times.

  23. 1historian - Dec 31, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    On December 8, 1941 Bob Feller joined the Navy and served for 3 seasons, arguably his best years athletically speaking.

    Roger Clements took steroids.

    Ted Williams lost 5 seasons – WW2 & Korea – because he was a Marine Corps Pilot. His final stats with those 5 seasons added would have been off the charts.

    Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, et. al. took steroids.

    • paperlions - Dec 31, 2010 at 8:41 AM

      What’s your point?

      Mantle was a womanizer and an alcoholic.

      Dimagio was a narcissistic jerk.

      Albert Pujols and Mark McGwire started and funded their own charity organizations. Tori Hunter puts in a lot of work funding inner city youth baseball to provide kids with alternatives to gangs/drugs.

      Ted Williams gave no effort on defense (not unlike a more recent Boston OF).

      Nearly every player that played with or against Jackie Robinson (just using him as a time reference, the statement holds true for players before 1947 as well) was a blatant and staunch racist.

      Amphetamine use was institutionalized in MLB starting in the 50s, became illegal to use without a prescription, and were against MLB rules starting in 1970. Just about every player from the 60s through the 90s used amphetamines on a regular basis.

      Evidence suggests that steroids helped pitchers more than hitters, and that amphetamines likely are more helpful to hitting performance than steroids. In addition, amphetamines require no effort to have a substantial affect, whereas steroids do nothing without rigorous workouts.

      If you really are a historian, you’ll know that the good old days weren’t really very good, and the reputations of the players back then was helped by the fact that reporters simply did not report negative aspects of players personal lives.

  24. Panda Claus - Dec 31, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    There are clearly some benefits to all of us if this random rule were to be enforced.

    No more annual Hall of Fame columns until every one that’s played in the past 25 years has retired. Of course that would encompass all of today’s current players (other than 2011 rookies), since all current players have also played at sometime during the past 25 years.

    This news certainly won’t go over well with Mr. Blyleven, thought to be standing at the threshold of the Hall this year. One blessing for all of is that we won’t redux the 2010 Felix Hernandez Cy Young discussions again in 2025, reworked as a plea for the man to be in the Hall. He’d be exempt just like ARod, Pujols and about 5000 other guys.

    What happens to those players that have gone into the Hall already? Are you going to take Cal Ripken Jr. out?

    Now that this is behind us, let me summarize it this way: What a stupid idea. As thought-provoking as this as clearly been, it also smells a lot like a “throw the baby out with the bath water” argument.

    Is Jeff Pearlman just an alias for Colin Cowherd or Skip Bayless? This sounds much more like something one of those guys would way.

  25. macjacmccoy - Dec 31, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    “Physique has very little to do with it. ” You clearly never personally knew people on steriods bc its very easy to spot.

    In my highschool and in my circle of friends there was atleast 20 guys in each grade that used steroids. When I was a junior there were about 50 kids in the senior class and junior class including myself that used steroids for any reason from sports, to physique, to losing weight and you can see the difference in 2 weeks time. Alot of the time the kids would do just 1 cycle which is about 8 weeks and you would be able to spot them easily too. These athletes do alot more then 1 cycle or it would be pointless which makes it so much easier to spot.

    Muscles of steroids user are different then regular muscles. You can see the water content there rounder. Also the proportions are off when your on steroids. Your upper body will blow up alot faster then other areas no matter what yo try to do to stop it which is a clear sign of use. Also if you do site injections that area will gain faster. Then theres the neck it gets huge another sign of use. Also theres the famous moon face that you cant stop unless you use a extemely potent diurectic to flush the water. Also pretruding veins is another sign of use. Must people know of these signs but just bc you know about them doesnt mean you know how to spot them. For example almost everybody knows that theres such a thing as a Fender guitar but if you removed all the logos and put it next to a Gibson guitar about 95% of people wouldnt be able to tell which one was which. And the only people that would be able to tell the difference are the ones who have personally handled or been around the two Guitars. The same thing applies to being able to spot someone who is using steroids. Expierence is the most important and reliable way to be able to spot use. Same thing goes will police or Border control a normal person might not be able to spot a smuggler but bc of there personal expierence with them they are able to pick up on the slighest abnormality
    which makes them so much more effective then say me at spotting smugglers.

    All of these things along with other signs are the reasons why when guys look at Frank Thomas vs Barry Bonds Frank doesnt get suspected of use. Productions is the least important clue when your looking for ped users. The physical apperance is alot more important. You may believe that bc guys like Randy Velarde, Andy Pettitte, Gary Matthews Jr etc. werent big power hitter that theres no way to seperate them from the Ichiros or Jeters of the world but there is and its called physique. When you go back and look at guys like Pettite, Matthews, Velarde etc. you can see there transformation. IF you have the expierence theres a clear change in how they look and it doesnt always have to be tons of mass. Its a combination of all the signs I showed you plus more. They dont have to have all the indicators just a few of those changes and some one with a keen eye and expierence with steroids use can spot it in seconds.

    Thats also why its easy to see that guys like Frank Thomas Ryan Howard Ichiro Jeter etc. didnt use steroids. The signs of physical transformation werent there and production alone is not that important of a factor. When I used Testosterone Ethenate my muscles got bigger I got stronger and I was showing the signs but what didnt change was my ability to hit home runs. Now obviously juicing does make you more effective thats why Bonds is the home run king but you could also become a better player for a million other reasons. But on the other hand theres not alot of reason for your veins to pop ou,t you muscles to grow in gorged, acne to pop up etc. at the same time. Any 1 of those things by themselves doesnt mean anything but a combination of a couple of those things happening at the same time is a pretty clear sign that something else is going on.

    But I do agree with you on 1 thing Craig the writers who are out there saying they believe or who are insinuating but to much of cowards to come out and say that they believe guys like Bagwell were steroids users really have no basis for there arguement except like the 95% of the people that heard of Fender guitars they heard that thats what there suppose to look like. Maybe 1 or 2 of these guys have personal expierence with steriod users but the rest wouldnt know the difference. They shouldnt be punishing a guy for something they think he might of done especially since they have no true familiarity with steroids use or users except that they heard people did it a lot back when he use to play.

    The whole point of this long winded rant isnt to defend Bagwell or to give reason for people to believe that he did or did not use P.E.D.’s. The point is that almost all of these writers, bloggers, commentors etc. who are coming up with theories of why they believe a certain guy did or didnt use steroids and who are using stats, comparisons, images etc. to back up those theories really have no basis for them. They have no experence with p.e.d. users and have justification why they are punishing a man for something they really dont know anything about.

    (When I say expierence with steroid users I dont mean they met a couple of guys who have used steriods and been around them on a couple of different occasions. I mean using it yourself and/or having real conections with people who are using it and spending a great deal of time around thos people before, during, and after there use.

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