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Must-click link: What the writers were saying about PEDs in 1998

Jan 5, 2011, 1:32 PM EDT

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As we await the Hall of Fame voting results — due in just under a half-hour now — you would be wise to click over to TYU, where Moshe Mandel has hopped into the wayback machine to find what baseball writers — the notable ones, many of whom are now leading the anti-steroids crusade — were saying about it all back when Mark McGwire was hitting bombs and chicks all dug the longball.

The short version: everyone brushed it off at the time. We know that generally speaking — after all, no one got on the anti-PED train until 2002, really — but it’s quite illuminating to see what the writers actually had to say on the topic. Then? Eh, who cares? Now? If someone doesn’t give the secret anti-steroids handshake they’re considered a fellow traveler.  And people think I’m crazy when I say that the 1990s represented the peak of enlightenment of Western Civilization.

Hall of Fame results in just a few minutes, my friends. If you need me, I’ll be up in a bell tower, awaiting the coming fury.

  1. ThatGuy - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Barry Stanton posted his response to the BJ Surhoff vote in a chat. This is as good as any to post it that people will see(not a day old). He had to do it in three parts due to chat limitations

    PART I
    In 1976, I was just out of college and working my first job at the Port Chester (NY) Daily Item, covering a Babe Ruth 13-year-old tournament. The starting pitcher for the team from Rye was supposed to be their star, a big kid named Rich Surhoff, whose father Dick had played for the NY Knicks in the 1950s. Surhoff did, in fact, make it t the major leagues, spending nine games with the Philadelphia Phillies. But that day, the pitcher’s younger brother was the one who caught my attention. He was only 12 years old and playing with the older kids, playing shortstop. On consecutive plays, I saw him range behind third base to the left field line and throw out a runner, then range the other way all the way behind first to catch a tricky pop that eluded a teammate.
    After that game, I told BJ I thought that someday, I’d be watching him in the major leagues. For the next few years, I watched BJ become a local star at Rye HS, covering his games occasionally. And I remember telling him then that someday, I’d be voting for him for the Hall of Fame. Surhoff, went on to a career at UNC, became the No. 1 pick of the draft, played on our first Olympic baseball team. He had a very good (though not great) career for 18 years in MLB. And then there he was on my ballot (I’ve been a BBWAA member since 1985 and have had a Hall of Fame vote since ’95). So I remembered that promise (though I honestly can’t say if BJ does) and checked the box.
    PART 3
    The reaction to that astounds me. I expected people who didn’t know the story to question that vote. But the sheer level of nastiness, the anger, amazes me. I really didn’t think BJ would get elected. I’d be surprised if he got another vote besides mine. And I’m fine with that. BJ was a very good player and a good guy (check out the work he’s done for autism, sparked by his autistic son). He earned the fulfillment of that 35-year-old promise. And who, exactly did that hurt? If voting for BJ cost someone who deserved entry, I wouldn’t have done it. And if the rules said that everybody who got one vote got in, then I definitely wouldn’t have done it. But it didn’t.

    • IdahoMariner - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      I can live with that.

      • jasonc2300 - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:44 PM

        I want to hear the Tino Martinez story.

      • ThatGuy - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:44 PM

        Me to, doesn’t really explain the whole leaving Blyleven and Alomar off and voting for Mattingly, etc..

    • JM Lattanzi - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      I think most of us ridiculed Stanton not for the Surhoff vote, but the other votes (Tino, Mattingly, Morris).

      It is a nice little story he gives there. And make no mistake, Surhoff is a great guy. I have lived between Baltimore and DC for over 20 years and his charity work (especially with autism) is beyond reproach. I just wish Stanton had put a little more thought into the other votes he made.

    • skipperxc - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      I was under the impression the outrage was over who he left off versus having Surhoff on. One token vote, especially for such a reason as this, is perfectly fine. Particularly if he didn’t feel he was wrongfully excluding someone for the spot.

    • CJ - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      Ok well that’s nice and heartfelt and all, but this begs jsut one question:

      Who on earth (appearntly other than this goof) is dumb enough to promise a high school kid a FREAKING HALL OF FAME VOTE!

      Kudos to the man for following through on the promise, but seriously, who does that? And honestly, if he promised Surhoff a HOF vote while still in high school, I’d love to know what kind of outrageous promises he’s made to his children through the last serveral years that he now feels morally obligated to follow through on.

  2. ThatGuy - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    He just posted the rest of his reasoning

  3. ThatGuy - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    I have voted for Mattingly since he’s been on the ballot. Same with Jack Morris, who is a better pitcher than Blyleven was.

    I chose Tino because he was at the heart of a 4-time world championship team.

    As for Alomar, I did not vote for him last year and seriously considered changing my vote for him. I expect him to get in on this election, so I won’t have a chance to vote for him next year, but I’m fine with that.

    • zackd2 - Jan 5, 2011 at 10:13 PM

      “Same with Jack Morris, who is a better pitcher than Blyleven was. ”

      According to what?

  4. ThatGuy - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    And all this time I thought Jeter was Capt’n Jetes. Guess it was Tino

  5. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Nice explanation, but not as good as Posnanski’s:

    You probably remember that Surhoff was the first pick of the 1985 draft out of North Carolina. Well, my buddy Chardon Jimmy has a brother who pitched for Ohio U around that time, and he once got to face Surhoff. Needless to say, it did not go well. Surhoff crushed a home run that, according to Jimmy, was still going up when it was last seen. It was a monster homer, the sort of brush with greatness that nobody in the family ever forgets. Whenever Surhoff would show up on television for the next two decades, Jimmy would call his brother and say: “Um, Surhoff is up. I was just thinking: Hey, you faced him. What would you throw him here?”

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      aww crap, wrong post. sonofa

  6. JM Lattanzi - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    I think every candidate for the hall should have to stand next to a chimney and if white smoke comes out of the chimney, he is in.

  7. stevejeltzjehricurl - Jan 5, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    The reason he’s catching flak is because the entire ballot is moronic in the extreme. When three of the guys you’re voting for (Surhoff/Tino/Mattingly) are going to finish well south of 30% and tyou can’t figure out a way to decide that Robbie Alomar meets Hall of Fame standards, then you’re going to be ridiculed. Deal with it.

  8. IdahoMariner - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    it strikes me that this ballot is exhibit A for why these votes should not be private — or, at least, the voters should have the intestinal fortitude to publicize their votes and explain what went into their thinking, so that a healthy debate can be had.
    I’m okay with the Surhoff vote. (really, how harmful could that be? what are the odds of 75% of the writers voting for an obviously not-hall-of-famer for similar reasons, all at the same time. It’s kind of sweet.)
    Also, and I know I always quote Pos, but as Pos points out in his multi-part “how I voted” series, the guys who get on the ballot aren’t hacks. they are in the top levels of the game. they just aren’t all HOFers. so I’m not going to get all bent on the random yes votes. It’s the no votes that really piss people off, I think. And if a yes vote can really get you torqued, it’s usually for something like the yes-to-morris, no-to-blyleven thing. which, again, stanton needs to be clearer about why, why would he vote such a thing? the more they talk about it, the more they challenge themselves and each other, the better the voting gets….

    • CJ - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      yeah, it’s sweet but I still have a problem with it, as if this were commonplce it would reduce the number of opportunities people that really deserved a chance to get in the Hall had.

      Say this guy gave Surhoff and Tito token votes but as a result had to leave off other guys such as Alomar and his preference of Morris/Byleven. And say 9 other people did something similar leaving the same two guys off the ballot, and as a result both Alomar and Byleven/Morris missed the 75% threshold by less than ten votes.

      If people are going to just be giving their votes away becuase they promised them to children, then at least give them all an extra vote so it can’t adversely affect the people that actually deserve to be in there.

      • CJ - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:35 PM

        apparently, I didn’t pick very good examples LOL.

  9. paperlions - Jan 5, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    I know the first time it didn’t work out so well….but if Stanton had just cheated off of Posnanski again, none of this would have happened.

  10. ta192 - Jan 5, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    Boy, just read those comments from ’98, what a difference a decade or so makes…they should all be forced to reread their own work…

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