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Jeff Bagwell’s Hall of Fame candidacy has ushered in the age of steroids McCarthyism

Dec 30, 2010, 5:42 AM EDT

Jeff Bagwell AP

I railed against Danny Knobler’s exclusion of Jeff Bagwell from his Hall of Fame ballot for being cowardly. He clearly believes Jeff Bagwell took steroids, but he’s afraid to even offer an opinion to that effect.  Dan Graziano of FanHouse is not problematic in that regard. He comes right out and says what he thinks:

I don’t know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don’t have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I’m suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked … This isn’t about whether I believe what Bagwell says. It’s about suspicions I harbored long before he spoke out on the issue. It’s about where he played and when he played and the teammates with whom he played and a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that I readily admit wouldn’t hold up in a court of law.

I abhor such reasoning because it’s basically steroids McCarthyism — “I have here in my hand a list of steroids users …” — but at least he’s being honest about his unfairness. He knows he has no hard evidence against Bagwell. He admits the case against him is hearsay and innuendo.  He  just doesn’t care. Compared to Knobler’s ballot, it’s almost refreshing.

But I have to ask: if the hearsay and innuendo is enough to sway Graziano’s opinion on Bagwell, why not share it with us?  Why doesn’t Graziano tell us why he, an insider who is privy to that which the rest of us are not, believes that Jeff Bagwell took steroids and Roberto Alomar did not. Or Jim Thome or Frank Thomas if you prefer power hitters.  Clearly there’s something there that has caused him to believe that Bagwell was a ‘roider. What is it?  It could be useful to all of us if we knew. It would at least help us understand the new standards being applied to future Hall of Fame votes, would it not?  Maybe even some of the other voters would like to know so that they don’t make the mistake of voting for a known-cheater.

But no, Graziano won’t share. Maybe because he fears legal trouble:

People will hate this position, and I understand that. But I offer this in my defense: we writers who covered the game during the Steroid Era are often criticized for not reporting more skeptically based on the suspicions we harbored then. And while much of that criticism is justified, I believe the fact that we and our newspapers could have been subject to legal action for such reporting works in our defense.

Such a belief is flat wrong, of course. No reporter or newspaper could have been successfully sued if they published a truthful steroids story in the 1990s. The media’s unwillingness to report such things in the 1990s was a function of a lack of evidence, a fear of reprisal from the teams and players on which they depended for access, or both.  Indeed, in the eight years since Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco started talking about steroids in baseball, we have yet to hear from one reporter who said that he had both the information and the desire to report on such things but was prevented from doing so for fear of a lawsuit.  They either didn’t have the goods (for whatever reason) or didn’t have the will, and Graziano is admitting that he doesn’t have as much now:

The withholding of a Hall of Fame vote based on suspicion of illegal activity is not the same as writing a newspaper story accusing someone of illegal activity. I’m not accusing Jeff Bagwell of taking steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug. I’m just saying I’m suspicious.

I don’t have a problem with someone voting their conscience on the Hall of Fame, but let’s not make any mistake here: this is an accusation. Maybe not a legally-actionable one, but Graziano believes Bagwell took steroids and says it as plain as day. Which is fine. But he should at least have the decency to own up to it and explain it.  Home run spikes? Change in physique? Dubious associations? Something he saw in the locker room?  What is it? This isn’t a rhetorical question. Writers have been gone to great lengths to explain how difficult it is to vote for the Hall of Fame in the steroid era. There’s so much uncertainty. Well, in Graziano we have a guy who is a little more certain about Bagwell than others.  Doesn’t he have an obligation to share?

And let me be clear about something. I don’t know what Bagwell did or didn’t do either. I won’t go to the mat for him being clean precisely because I don’t know.  But that doesn’t really matter here.  There were actual communists in the State Department and the Army in the 1950s, but that fact didn’t vindicate Senator McCarthy.  It was his methods and his assumptions that were problematic. The fact that he’d willingly go after people regardless of the evidence he had at hand and in a manner that made it impossible for a target to vindicate themselves.  The creation of a chilling rhetoric that made reasoned debate on the subject damn nigh impossible. We’re seeing that with Bagwell and the Hall of Fame, I think, and I fear that we will continue to see it as more sluggers from the 1990s reach the ballot.

A couple of years ago I got a lot of  mileage off a column the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker wrote about a blogger who wrote a post observing that Raul Ibanez‘s nice start could theoretically be explained by steroids.  I still take issue with Baker’s writing about the specifics of that, but he wasn’t wrong about the principle, expressed thusly:

But when you go all-in, you’ve got to go all in. He didn’t do that. When you write about topics like killers, or Hell’s Angels, or major leaguers and steroids, you can’t pussy foot around. You’ve got to go at it hard, directly, with no b.s. and be able to defend yourself afterwards. This blogger couldn’t because he went in only halfway. He tried to raise the “steroids issue” then claimed he really wasn’t pointing a finger at Ibanez.

Baker had most of the mainstream media on his side in that case.  I wonder how much of the mainstream media is on Graziano’s side here. I wonder if we’re willing to tolerate this kind of pussy footing around Bagwell’s entire professional legacy when we wouldn’t dare tolerate it when it came to Raul Ibanez’s April and May of 2009.

I’m not willing to tolerate it, but I’ll admit I’m a bit of a radical in this regard.  How does everyone else feel?  Specifically, those folks with a BBWAA badge?  Will this “I have my reasons, but I won’t share” line be the new gold standard of Hall of Fame debate for the next 20 years? Or do we — and does the Hall of Fame and those who would deign to enter it — deserve better?

  1. diamondduq - Dec 30, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    Craig, I continue to fail to see the logic of your continual call for voters to come forward with information that they themselves say is circumstantial at best. Is it not better for them to keep it to themselves and seek further clarity from their “sources” and have a player remain on the ballot than to reveal this information, have other voters put just as much hesitation in their votes and have a player fall off the ballot? What good can come from releasing information if it’s deemed to be, say, 50/50? None. Either, as previously mentioned, a player doesn’t receive enough votes to stay on the ballot and the info was bad (shame on voters) or the info is rip to shreds, cast as a conspiracy theory and a “fraudulent” player gets into the HOF only to find later the info was good. Certainly there are different feelings regarding “fraudulent” players getting into the HOF, I’m beginning to join the “best of an era” crowd rather than black-balling all suspected users because how do you decide? I mean Bonds and Sosa are easy tells but where do you draw the line? Not all PED users were skinny kids like Bonds and Sosa that turned into the Incredible Hulk? But not everyone is of the “best of an era” mindset and 15 years is a long time, there’s no need to rush to judgement, let the cards fall where they may and let those voters who feel PED users should never taint the HOF vote with a clear conscience. Where’s the harm in that?

    • Dan in Katonah - Dec 30, 2010 at 10:32 AM

      I would not expect the writer to reveal his sources, but if he justifies his non-vote by saying that he saw Bagwell with “backne,” observed him have violent mood swings and was told by 2 players and a clubhouse attendant that Bagwell was ‘roiding, then at least there would be a factual basis for his supposition, albeit unproven. Here, we are given nothing, so people are forced to baldly speculate. The reason to release the information is so that other voters can decide whether they believe enough facts exist to not vote for Bagwell (or whomever) if they think that PED use is a basis for exclusion. Otherwise, we just get rhetoric and a witchhunt and one man’s unfounded opinion smears someone who earned a fair chance to be considered on his merits as a player.

      • diamondduq - Dec 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM

        Again, if he’s uncomfortable voting for someone, Bagwell or whomever else, then so be it. It is far worse to perpetuate the spread of what currently amount to unfounded rumors than to simply withhold a HOF vote. BTW, when did it become a player’s right to receive a vote and one being withheld needed defended? Players are voted into the HOF, they’re not withheld votes to keep them out but then again I guess that mindset comes with the feelings of entitlement that have swept over this country.

      • paperlions - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:03 PM

        Except that is exactly what is being done. The guy didn’t simply withhold his vote; he is accusing Bagwell of using steroids while admitting he has no proof whatsoever. Such accusations do not die easily, they create rumor.

      • diamondduq - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:27 PM

        Having personal reasons to be suspicious isn’t the same as accusing someone of anything. Just because some bloggers need something to write about and put words in someone’s mouth doesn’t give legitimacy to it. If, as Craig desires, someone’s personal suspicions are made public then they can be construed as accusations but until that time they’re merely personal and no one else’s business. Again, what’s this BS defending of a non-vote? Did anyone ask the 11 idiots who didn’t vote for Babe Ruth why not? What about the 23 who didn’t vote for Willie Mays? What was their reasoning? I’d be more concerned with the 1 vote for Jesse Orosco last year or the 2 votes for Jay Bell. What were those guys thinking? Why do they even have votes, if they still do, after such nonsense?

      • Dan in Katonah - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:01 PM

        It is a little different when those personal suspicions are made public by the writer himself as an argument not to elect a worthy candidate. There are other peoples’ business because the voter made them so, not anyone else. He is irresponsible.

      • diamondduq - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:17 PM

        He didn’t make anything public. At least Knobler, who Craig initially railed against, didn’t. His exact quote from Craigs post was:

        “There are players I’m not voting for this year because I strongly suspect they built their credentials by cheating.”

        He never named names and therefore didn’t accuse anyone of anything. Craig made that assumption and thus put words in his mouth. Even Graziano saying he doesn’t know if Bagwell took PEDs and doesn’t have any evidence isn’t an accusation, as Craig likes to believe, it’s more of an “I’m going to be careful with this one and take it under futher consideration.”

        No one is owed a HOF vote and not voting for someone doesn’t warrant an explanation. As in these two cases, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t provide an explanation. Knobler chose not to name names and merely said “Here’s who I’m voting for, there are others I’m not voting for because I suspect PED use” but there could be others still, Bagwell included, who fall into an entirely different category. Maybe Bagwell slept with Knobler’s sister, who knows, but jumping to the conclusion and putting the words in Knobler’s mouth that he was accusing Bagwell of PED use is just as reprehensible as jumping to the conclusion that Bagwell used PEDs with no actual proof. In both cases they’re just speculation.

        In Graziano’s case, he specifically mentioned his suspicion of Bagwell while noting the suspicion has a very questionable foundation and like it or not, I tend not to like it, he doesn’t OWE Bagwell a HOF vote. He’s not withholding something that’s rightfully Bagwell’s for unfounded reasons, despite many people, myself included, believing Bagwell is HOF worthy, it’s no one’s RIGHT to be in the HOF. It’s Graziano’s vote to cast as he sees fit, no one else’s.

      • Glenn - Dec 30, 2010 at 11:27 PM

        Would someone please go back to Bagwell’s hometown and talk to people. I graduated from high school almost thirty years ago and can still name everyone who did steroids in my high school. People in Bagwell’s hometown know the truth. Again, not every PED user started after they reached the majors. Many used to get there in the first place and kept on going. Even Bagwell’s denials sound like a user who hasn’t been caught yet.

  2. bcopus - Dec 30, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    I always thought Wilton Guerrero took steroids. I mean, I didn’t want to say anything, because it was just a hunch. And then there was that corked bat. I mean…the dude wanted homeruns. Steroid user, for sure.

  3. rrrii - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    Craig, I’m not as offended by this as you are. No reason to rush to judgment one way or the other. For HOF-caliber players in the ‘steroid era’, I see no reason to cast a yes vote their first year on the ballot. Give it 5, 10, 15 years and some space to breath and then decide. So I’d give Dan a little space here. Now, if he holds the same position 5 years from now we should demand more of him. But it’s early in the process….no need to get too excited yet.

    • paperlions - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:45 AM

      Actually, this attitude gives legitimacy to such baseless (as presented) suspicions. To form opinion or create a track record based on evidence free suspicion creates “evidence” in the minds of people. If you base your decision to “reserve judgment” because of baseless accusations, you work to legitimize those accusations and give them more weight over time even if no evidence surfaces. People are very comfortable thinking something because they’ve always thought it or have done so for some time.

      As John Kenneth Galbraith said, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.”

      • rrrii - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:35 PM

        Fair point. But there is a subtle difference between giving legitimacy to baseless suspicions (which I agree, Dan is doing in his article) and simply not passing judgment at all until time has passed. I agree with TCM’s point below – how much time do we let pass is for smarter people than me to figure out. But swift justice or, more accurately, a speedy decision is not really required here. If nothing else we’ll all have better perspective on Jeff Bagwell’s accomplishments down the road than we have now.

    • The Common Man/ - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:51 AM

      I think an additional problem here is that it’s completely unclear what might change Graziano’s mind. Unless the entire list of 104 PED users is released (which I don’t advocate and which is neither legal nor ethical), Graziano will never have additional evidence that Bagwell did not use. There is a chance that evidence will come to light that he did, true. But if nothing more is forthcoming, at what point will Dan’s suspicions be allayed? 1 year? 5? 10? So all we’re left with is waiting around for Dan (and other voters) to decide that they’re satisfied by, essentially, nothingness.

  4. paperlions - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Bagwell came up in 1991 as a 23 yr old and was immediately fantastic (winning ROY), he was steadily awesome through his age 32 season, and then declined steadily until he physically broke down and retired at age 37. His career trajectory is fairly typical.

    Unless people have specific reasons to distinguish Bagwell from guys like Frank Thomas (who Bagwell was better than), or Jim Thome (Bagwell was also better than Thome), or Ricky Henderson, or Chipper Jones, or Ken Griffey then they must exclude all of these guys. Ricky Henderson was built like the Hulk, but people were suspicious of him? But they are/were of Bagwell because…..why? Just because? Oh, you don’t have a real reason?

    This is the worst kind of lazy bias.

    • jaypace - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:22 PM

      bagwell wasnt better than thome or f. thomas

  5. banksatdixie - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Slow news day since we are basically repeating stories. You should do another “which way is Pettitte leaning” post.

  6. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    I have a much better way to determine steriod users.

    The real way to determine steriod usage

    After all McCarthy was a piker when compared to many of our sports’ “journalists” today. Perhaps the picture at the bottom of the page would work best to get the truth out of them.

  7. drunkenhooliganism - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    This is bigger than the Hall of Fame. By not voting in an obvious Hall of Famer because of speculation, you give power to that speculation. All that he’s worked for his whole life. His friends have to wonder if he cheated. The waitress who brings him coffee along with all the other patrons in the diner have to wonder if they’re sitting among one of the greatest baseball players of all time or some cheating fraud. His kids, someday, are gonna ask “did you cheat daddy?” because why wouldn’t someone entrusted with this honor vote for you if he wasn’t sure that you cheated the game.

    • Adam - Dec 30, 2010 at 11:41 AM

      That’s going way, way out on a limb. I don’t think his kids will think less of Bagwell because some jerk isn’t willing to vote for him because he’s a freak of nature. His friends know him, everyone who actually knows the guy isn’t going to be swayed by some voters they don’t know deciding that maybe, someday, something MIGHT come to light is going to somewhat prove what they suspected.

      The worst part about this is that people who go visit the Hall of Fame aren’t going to see the greatest players of all time because a group of people decided they wanted to wait to see if anything came up. Let’s all help them out here.

      – The guy has been retired for 5 years.
      – A lot of names have been leaked since then, his has not been among them.
      – He hasn’t confessed to anything.

      Based on those I would guess nothing new is going to come to light. Just vote for the guy, he was incredible.

      And if he did take steroids to be that incredible…well thanks for taking steroids Bagwell, it was fun to watch.

  8. bcopus - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    No trend occurs randomly, and they don’t persist if there aren’t tangible positive results. Baseball fans asked for what baseball became. I grew up on baseball from the era, so maybe I’m missing the overall point, but it seems like we want to punish baseball players for doing what we wanted them to do in the first place.

    We make bold assumptions about these players. Not just the ones who took steroids, but also the ones who didn’t. If a player didn’t take steroids simply because he was concerned for his health later on down the road, and not because they were illegal, is that any better? We don’t know the circumstances behind the decisions these players made. Yes, we punish those who are guilty. But we are innocent without proof.

    Would anyone take away the games they watched over the years? If steroids were involved, could we say…”I don’t want the memory of that game anymore, because ***** was playing on steroids.

    I remember watching a Braves player (I won’t say who, don’t want to be linked to any silly rumors) hit a ball to the very back of the dome against the Marlins. There may or may not have been steroids involved, but in my mind, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t erase that memory for anything. I was awe struck.

    That’s what it was all about. People responded positively to the results these players were getting. So the players kept looking for ways to keep us entertained. And we kept feeding that. It was a cycle, and we are to blame as much as they are.

    What is the Hall of Fame really about? Is it a place where lofty baseball ideals float around and look down on us and judge us who are below what they are about? Or is it about a place where what everyone remembers, what baseball was about then and there, goes to rest as a memory for later generations? If it is the latter, then we must disregard the steroid charges and vote accordingly. If it is the former, then we must carefully, VERY carefully, sift our way through this challenging time, and remember always that we are innocent without proof.

  9. bigcatasroma - Dec 30, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    BBRAA have been added to the lists of stewardesses and bar bouncers — people who think they have more authority than the job entitles them to. My favorite about all of this is that writers all of a sudden have become Blackstone, Hand or Cardozo — eminent legal theorists. They throw words like “court of law” around like it has any bearing on writing about baseball. Please. Over the last ten years, the traditional baseball/newspaper writer has come across as a group of ignorant, pre-modern hacks writing to put forth his own agenda, no matter if the facts get in their way. I don’t see how the HoF can keep the franchise from others while giving it to these numskulls unless it’s precisely because they don’t want educated people involved more in the process. I’m irritated.

  10. bobwsc - Dec 30, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    the HoF election system needs to change. writers are biased and often hold grudges against cerrtain players (like most every writer in Boston wanting to snub Jim Rice because he wasn’t overly nice to them). why not leave it up to a veterans committee coupled with living members of the hall?

    • Alex K - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:14 PM

      Because the Vetran’s Committee has done a WONDEFUL job in the past?

  11. disulfide - Dec 30, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    Have they no sense of decency?

  12. Charles Gates - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    I enjoy Hall of Fame voting season because I like to snicker to myself about the dumb reasoning many use to vote for/against a certain player. Other than that, the HoF means very little to me. I enjoy baseball. I totally enjoy baseball. But a politicized museum dedicated to the sport seems somewhat detached and irrelevant to me.

    Do I care what artists are in the Country and Hard Rock Hall of Fames? No. I listen to music regardless. On the small chance I actually take notice of who gets inducted I might reflect back on a band and perhaps buy one of their CDs or listen to some of the old ones I’ve stown away, but this is separate from the fact that I like music.

    I’ve spent the past week digging through baseball-reference’s player pages as a result of the media’s HoF coverage. I’ve looked at players I am too young to have watched, players that I remember growing up and comparing both groups to today’s super stars. Yaz in ’67 had a WAR over 12. One year, Bonds had an OBP above .600! If the purpose of the HoF voting process is to celebrate the game and help us to re-appreciate our past players, I’m 100% on board. In fact, I’m doing that already. Who actually gets elected to the HoF, however, won’t impact my ability to enjoy baseball — past, presen and futuret– especially if the process continues to pervert itself by journalistic agenda, character assination and logical inconsistency.

    • Charles Gates - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:22 PM

      presen and futuret
      That damn touch pad on my laptop below my keyboard will be the death of me.

  13. wheatenwade - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    While I definitely don’t agree with the reasoning of those who would essentially exclude an entire era of players based on suspicion of PED usage, I offer the following as evidence of Bagwell’s possible steroid use.

    – Bagwell hit a mere six (yes, 6!) home runs in over 900 plate appearances during his two minor league seasons
    – Following his trade to the Astros organization, Bagwell immediately began hitting homers at a far higher rate (15 as a rookie in 1991, increasing to 39 in the strike-shortened 1994 season)
    – Bagwell was a contact-hitting 3rd baseman with the Red Sox organization, but moved to 1st with the Astros. The reason for the switch? Houston had noted ‘roider Ken Caminiti ensconced at the hot corner. Coincidence?
    – This home run binge as a young player occurred while Houston was playing at the pitcher-friendly Astrodome

    Mind you, I was (and still am) a big fan of Bagwell, since I lived in Houston for many years and am a native New Englander, just like Bagwell. I believe he should be in the HOF regardless of any suspicions. But to definitively state that Bagwell was not a PED user just b/c he wasn’t listed in the MLB reports seems naive. There is too much circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

    • Charles Gates - Dec 30, 2010 at 12:59 PM

      So any player below the age of 25 that hit a HR in the Astrodome that was somehow affiliated with Ken Caminiti was using steroids?

      For the love of all that is Constitutional and beyond a reasonable doubt, please find a way to get out of your next jury duty selection.

      • wheatenwade - Dec 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM

        So any player below the age of 25 that hit a HR in the Astrodome that was somehow affiliated with Ken Caminiti was using steroids?

        Nope, just those with no previous track record of home run power, who suddenly started hitting homers in bunches in a pitcher-friendly park. You completely took my statements above out of context. Also, as the “Sage of Steroids” (Canseco) has noted, and later revelations have borne out, most players were not individually using PEDs in a vacuum — it was often a joint action among teammates.

        For the love of all that is Constitutional and beyond a reasonable doubt, please find a way to get out of your next jury duty selection.

        Since when did HOF voting, or even voicing one’s own opinion, become a criminal jury trial? Not everything requires “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” for crying out loud.

      • Dan in Katonah - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:14 PM

        The HR leader of that 1990 New Britain team had 5 to Bagwell’s 4. Bagwell did hit 34 doubles and slugged .457 as a 22 y.o. I do not have the park effects handy, but I venture to guess New Britain was a pitcher’s park. I can’t really say that 2 seasons in the lower minors is the baseline by which you should judge later production.

        That said, you can certainly speculate if you choose to about his tremendous power to follow. I do not know if mere stat increases are enough for me. The more telling ones appear to be the anomalous spikes by weak hitters late in their career. Again, statistical fluke or PED-fueled surge? Tough to say.

  14. tigerprez - Dec 30, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    This debate is interesting mostly because it exposes exactly where people fall on this topic. Craig, being a steroids apologist, sees this as an outrage because he doesn’t really care if Bagwell used steroids or not. Steroids were no big deal, and he was a HOFer regardless. Vote now and put him in!

    For those who think steroids cheapened the game, it makes perfect sense to hold your suspicions and wait for further evidence. If Bagwell was a roider, it will all come out in the wash. Generally speaking, the “whispers” surrounding most players have proven true (and I’m not talking about random blog speculation). Since these actions leave a human paper trail of shady characters who aren’t above selling someone out, it’s reasonable to assume that someone will step forward if the allegations are true. If no one does in the next five years, either Bagwell was clean or really good at covering his tracks, and you go with the evidence. Wait and see. No rush. He’s got 15 years on the ballot. Too many of us have seen too many players deny juicing — even squeaky clean guys like McGwire, Palmeiro, and Petitte — and then felt like idiots for believing them. What we don’t want is to elect someone to the Hall and then see him exposed as a roider six months later. If you don’t care about that, then I guess this is all McCarthyism. If you do, patience is a virtue.

    Ultimately, this debate is about far more than Bagwell. It’s about what you think about steroids and the whole era, and we’re going to be fighting about it for a long, long time.

    • handsfour - Jan 12, 2011 at 4:00 AM

      >>Craig, being a steroids apologist, sees this as an outrage because he doesn’t really care if Bagwell used steroids or not.

      Guess it’s more convenient to set up your straw man argument than to actually pay attention to pretty much anything Craig has said on the topic.

  15. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 30, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    From the Cy Young voting to voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, we continue to get these stories of people who have their opinions one way or another. We continue to have people have their suspicions one way or another. And those of us on either side of the issue get our backs up and, as Craig has done here, or some of the commenters have done, rail for or against the people who are voting. Why? Why do we even waste our time and energy?

    Here’s the simple, basic fact:
    An award that is given based upon VOTES is SUBJECTIVE. PERIOD. EXCLAMATION POINT. BE ALL. END ALL.

    OBJECTIVE – completely unbiased; verifiable by looking up facts or performing mathematical calculations.
    SUBJECTIVE – a statement colored by the character of the speaker or writer. It often has a basis in reality, but reflects the perspective through with the speaker views reality. It cannot be verified using concrete facts and figures.

    Voting by a group of people for the Cy Young, the Most Valuable Player, and the Hall of Fame are SUBJECTIVE. PERIOD. EXCLAMATION POINT. BE ALL. END ALL. Doesn’t matter what the WAR was…or the Dewans…or the xFIP…or the BABIP. Doesn’t matter how many wins, losses, saves the player had. Doesn’t matter what the player hit, what his OBP+ was, what his ERA+ was.

    You know what matters? Did this guy have a beer with the writer one night, after a game? Did the writer once have a tough night pulling out a story and this guy met him after the game, they sat down and had a beer and the writer got a story. If this happened, I guarantee if this writer gets a ballot, he’s voting for the guy no matter how crappy of a career he may have had. And of course, the opposite is also true. Was the guy a dick? He ain’t getting the vote of some guys. Not the first ballot and not the fifteenth. Never. Ever.

    There are guys who didn’t vote for Willie Mays. Why? Maybe they thought he was a show-off. Point is, the writer didn’t look at it Objectively…of course, Objectively, Willie Mays should have received every single vote his first eligible year. He didn’t. Why?


    Joe Pos can write a million articles and rail against the voters who pick Morris but not Blyleven. Why does he even both wasting his time? They are human beings. They are not looking at it Objectively. They are looking at it Subjectively. And SUBJECTIVELY, they vote for Morris and not for Blyleven.

    If a MACHINE were doing the voting, both men would probably be on the outside looking in. However, as long as PEOPLE are voting, these things will happen.

  16. fribnit - Dec 30, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    Why didn’t the sport writers spill the beans? they saw it happening, they had to, they spend nearly as much time in the clubhouse as the players. They saw skinny little guys go to hulks from October to March. They saw the acne on their backs, the pill bottles with no labels, maybe even the needle marks.

    I think that sports writers that knew about it or might have known about it but said nothing should not be allowed to vote for the hall of fame. I figure that we should base it on any sports writer that walked in to the Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Huston Astro’s, St Louis Cardinals, or Aww Heck, any Major League clubhouse between 1995 and 2005.

    Same logic right? Heck the best logic with sportswriters seems to be ill-logic.

  17. jamie54 - Dec 30, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Get over yourself, man. Radical? Methinks you think too highly of yourself as the steroid-boy upholder. If these voters don’t want to vote for someone who are you to think your opinion is all high and mighty better? You’re just a blogger on a website, you don’t have a vote and that’s it. Whatever criteria the voters meet to become a voter, well, you just don’t qualify. Now you question everyone with an opinion different than your own but that’s the fate of blogging, can’t have it both ways. Either you can disagree, that’s it, but let someone else have an opinion.

  18. offseasonblues - Dec 30, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    I think steroids McCarthyism has been with us for a while and it isn’t Bagwell’s HOF candidacy that ushered it in. This is on Bud Selig and Donald Fehr.

    Suspicion is the price MLB and the players are paying for resisting testing. As others have noted, the HOF election isn’t a court of law. The fact is that guilty until proven innocent is the sad consequence of profiting from cheating. Will innocent players be hurt? I guess so. Will guilty players get a free pass. Probably.

    To sweep it all under the rug and and just judge the players against their peers, means that in all probability the steroid era cheaters will win and the clean players will lose.

    I don’t have a good answer, but since there isn’t much hope of ever learning the truth, I can’t get all that upset over the opinion of writers who at least care whether or not a player cheated.

  19. stankfinger - Dec 30, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    There is NO way this man has ever been on PEDs:

    Oh you mean this is him too?

    • Adam - Dec 31, 2010 at 10:47 AM

      Those pictures are 15 years apart. If you didn’t change in 15 years congratulations, but most people do.

  20. bloggingleafscentral - Jan 1, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Dan Graziano shouldn’t have a job. I don’t think he actually has the education or credentials to be writing about anything. I have no proof. Just a feeling. It may or may not have been him who graduated and could very well have been someone else. Again, I have no proof, (if I say this enough times it makes it ok) but I feel strongly enough that it should be all I need to have him stop writing, until a time further down the road, at my own discretion, that I can reliably, or not, make further claims where I have no proof, but keep my self respect, or not. I have no proof that will be the case either. I have no proof there is even a case.

    Sorry Dan. I generally enjoy your offerings, but just because you stated for everyone to read what you thought doesn’t take the sting of your cowardice out of the equation. If you have something, anything, to back up your thoughts, state them. Don’t hide behind some invisible barrier you’ve created for yourself in the hopes someone, somewhere, thinks it’s an act of bravado on your part. It isn’t. You’ve hurt your credibility more than you’ve hurt Bagwell’s.

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