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One Hall of Fame voter is done playing steroids police

Nov 28, 2012, 9:10 AM EDT

Pete Abraham

This will be Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe’s third year as a Hall of Fame voter. In year one he decided no suspected steroid users will ever get his vote. In year two he softened his stance, only withholding votes from players who were documented steroid users.  This year, however, he has decided that it’s time to end all of that: PED use will not be a part of his analysis going forward. It will be all about what happened on the field.

Go read his column about his new approach. Note that, in changing his view of the matter, he is in no way endorsing PED use or absolving players of their cheating ways. He’s merely acknowledging that PEDs were a reality of the sport for a long time, that there are limits to what a voter can know, that consistency is important and that, ultimately, it is not the place of a baseball writer to become a judge of character as much as he or she is a judge of baseball prowess.

This is encouraging.

  1. escapingexile - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    What a novel idea. I fully expect the bbwaa to renounce his membership with such an egregious stance.

    • blacksables - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      Wow, you can spell “egregious” and use it correctly, but you can’t find the Shift Key for proper nouns.

      Amazing skill set.

      • escapingexile - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:44 AM

        Thank you for the compliment! Coming from the grammar police, who while critiquing my laziness managed to make the exact mistake for which he is chastising me, makes the recognition that much more special. Stay classy.

      • bobwsc - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:49 AM

        how do you spell ‘sanctimonious,’ blacksables?

      • historiophiliac - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:53 AM

        This may be the only baseball blog with spelling trolling. I love it!

      • blacksables - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        If you’re speaking of my capitalizing of ‘Shift Key’, I believe that if you would check most techinical manuals, the capitalization, or not, is flexible. It is used by some and not others, so is correct under my usage.

        That being said, my apologies. I’m sitting home and bored, and didn’t mean to pick on you. It just struck me as funny that you would do one and not the other.

      • escapingexile - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:06 AM

        No problem. As I said, it was sheer laziness that I didn’t capitalize the acronym, not that I wasn’t aware it needed to be. I was slightly amused by the critique because I am pretty comfortable with my command of the English language.

      • pjmitch - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        Unless you are home on some disability blacksables, time to get a life

      • mrfloydpink - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM

        Grammar referees here, with a ruling (after reviewing the instant replay): It is permissible to capitalize or not capitalize ‘Shift’ in the phrase ‘Shift key.’ However, ‘key’ should not be capitalized. Please proceed…

      • El Bravo - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:39 AM


      • kevinbnyc - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:20 PM

        One could argue that BBWAA doesn’t deserve capitalization.

        And if I used the wrong one out of capital/capitol, go F yourself.

      • stlouis1baseball - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        This just in…
        Mrs. Reynolds has resigned from her position as the Freshman English teacher.
        She is now the official editor of all things HBT related.

  2. hep3 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:19 AM


  3. lostsok - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    Great news for Jose Guillen. He was worried his 2007 suspension would keep him out….

  4. Glenn - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I thought that the Baseball Hall of Fame is the one HOF that has character judgement as one of the qualities that are to be considered by the voters. I am not saying that Abraham’s position isn’t a good one, just asking.

    • escapingexile - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      Making a judgment of someones character for using a substance that hadn’t yet been banned seems a little frivolous to me.

      • samu0034 - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        I’ll never understand the argument that using steroids was a gray area because they weren’t specifically banned by MLB. They were illegal, for everyone, in the whole damn country. That makes them implicitly against the rules of baseball, because they’re against the rules of lawful citizens and residents of the United States. Just because MLB didn’t specifically state as much is irrelevant. That said, I still don’t think it should be a consideration, or at least not much of a consideration for HoF voting, but to argue that they weren’t against the rules of the game is spurious.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        They were illegal, for everyone, in the whole damn country.

        Except there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in this line of thinking. For one, amphetamines have been a Schedule II drug so where’s the outrage about Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and the many others who played in the 60s/70s who used? Shouldn’t they fall under the same “doctrine”? Also, if character is important, where’s the outrage for people who get busted for DUIs which are far more dangerous to the population than PEDs? Or spousal abuse? Or cheating on your taxes?

        Tom Tango made a great argument vis a vis the MVP each year. Pick whatever method you want in determining the MVP, but you should be consistent each year. If it’s using the Triple Crown for ’12, it better be for ’13 and ’14 and ’15. Can’t do Triple Crown one year, then highest fWAR the following, then most perfect games or whatever the third year. HoF voting should be similar. If you didn’t care about character then, you shouldn’t care about it now.

      • samu0034 - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM


        I agree with everything you said. Basically my position is that if you have a problem with steroids, then you HAVE to have a problem with amphetamines. My personal opinion is that, since you can’t prove what the benefits of these things are, and you can’t prove who was clean, you basically have to wash your hands of it and say either “Everybody’s out” which isn’t fair to players who were actually clean, or “Everybody’s in” which sucks but is the only fair thing to do.

        But it makes no sense to argue that steroids weren’t against the rules of baseball. Using steroids was against the rules of being within the boundaries of the United States, and therefore implicitly against the rules of MLB.

        The only caveat would be if they weren’

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Using steroids was against the rules of being within the boundaries of the United States, and therefore implicitly against the rules of MLB.

        Devil’s Advocate here, but doesn’t that open up a whole new issue though? If I walk down the street and flip off cur68, and he throws a baseball at my head, he’ll be arrested for assault. But if I’m on the baseball field, I just take first base? (yes this is absurd, but it logically follows if we are discussing laws).

        And again, if you are using illegality of something based on the US fed/state laws, then you have to be consistent and argue against people like LaRussa for DUIs.

      • escapingexile - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:12 PM

        Just a thought and for the sake of an interesting argument: Steroids are legal under the care of a doctor. They are only illegal without a valid prescription. From the standpoint of a baseball writer, unless you can prove (or by admittance I suppose, not that anyone does that) that player X was illegally taking a steroid by not having a prescription in the era that baseball had no rules against them, how can you frown upon the revelation that steroids were prominent in years past?

    • jkcalhoun - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      I don’t know about the qualifications for induction into Halls of Fame of other sports or other organizations, so I can’t answer that part of your question.

      But what I can respond to is whether Abraham’s position effectively abandons the “character clause” or not: in fact it treats considerations of character in the way they have traditionally been applied in the past, as a potential area of positive contribution to advance a player’s case for induction, not as a minimum standard that must be met for induction. As Craig pointed out earlier today, there are plenty of folks in the Hall already of doubtful character. And there are also several whose induction occurred sooner or more easily because of a reputation for excellent character. But has there been anyone, until the current era, who has been excluded solely on the basis of character in spite of historical accomplishments on the field? I don’t think so.

    • skeleteeth - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      Which is exactly why Ty Cobb is not in the HoF.

      • skids003 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        Actually, he was in the first class I believe.

  5. The Common Man - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    I’m only gonna say this once: Good for Peter Abraham. He’s completely right and I’m really happy he’s not playing politics with his voting. I hope more of his brethren agree with him this time around.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Does this mean he is no longer suspected of plagiarism, or just that we won’t count any past suspected plagiarism against him?

      • The Common Man - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM

        He was officially cleared last offseason.

  6. deathmonkey41 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Probably because David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez will be coming up in a few years.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Good point. They’re the only two people who’ve ever been accused of using steroids, so it’s obviously only about them.

      Go read the part where he said he’s voting for Clemens.

      • psuravens19 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        Accused of using steroids or actually failing a drug test?

      • deathmonkey41 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        No, but they’re all either current or former big name Red Sox players who will coming up for HoF in the next few years. Surprising that a Boston writer all of a sudden doesn’t want to judge people that have tested positive all of a sudden.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM

        Surprising that a Boston writer all of a sudden doesn’t want to judge people that have tested positive all of a sudden.

        Pete Abraham bio:
        A Massachusetts native, Abraham covers the Red Sox. He joined the staff in 2009 after spending nearly 10 years in New York covering the Mets and Yankees for The Journal News.

      • 18thstreet - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Neither Ortiz nor Ramirez are borderline cases. Ramirez is one of the best hitters of his era and should obviously be elected.

        Ortiz will retire with fewer than 450 homeruns and a heroic postseason on his resume, and literally nothing else to his credit. It is impossible to make a plausible case for Ortiz over, say, Edgar Martinez or — for that matter — Carlos Delgado, Jason Giambi or Paul Korneko.

        The idea that Abraham’s one vote will be the difference for these two is preposterous. I love Papi. He deserves to be in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, or whatever they have. But he’s not a Cooperstown quality player, while Manny obviously is.

      • psousa1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        I wonder what he will do if if Andy Pettite, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Chuck Knoblauch, Chad Curtis and Strawberry, Gooden and Howe come up for nomination?

  7. raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Glenn–you are correct, the baseball HoF does have a character clause. It has been used as a justification to keep some out, notably known or suspected steroid users, even those with the right body type to maybe have used steroids despite a lack of any other evidence (Bagwell). However, it has not been used to keep out racists like Cobb or Yawkey, or others who have been convicted of criminal wrong doing.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      Let’s be clear about Yawkey: there’s a lot a reasons he should be kicked out of the Hall. The racism is one of them. Here’s another:

      Also, he owed the team for a zillion years and still never won a World Series. He was bad at his job. And he was a monster.

  8. deadeyedesign23 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    If you know for a fact that a player used (and with some of these players we do) then why would it be a problem to hold them out? I don’t like speculating with players like Bagwell, but with someone like Bonds who we know cheated why wouldn’t you hold that against them? I’m not saying totally whitewash him because I can understand the argument that he was a Hall of Fmer before he started cheating, which we know was 98, but it should still be considered.

    • stex52 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      Consideration of PED’s is legitimate. Declaring that as the only criterion for a player’s induction is ridiculous. Bonds was headed for the HOF before he ever touched the stuff (just to make an example).

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM

        Yeah that’s how I feel.

    • thekcubrats - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      And you “know” this how?

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        Because I have a brain in skull.

        That kind of obstinateness is what allowed PED’s to be a problem in the league for as long as it was.

    • albertmn - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      deadeye – The problem with holding out those we “know” used and not penalizing those who were “suspected”, or even those that appear clean but may not be, is that you would just be rewarding those that were better at cheating. At this point, there is no way of knowing 100% of the players that used banned substances, or even how long the users used those substances.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        We know about Palmerio. We know about McGwire. That to me sounds like if you can’t fix everything do nothing.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      The problem is that we will never know the full extent of it, so any judgements based on a partial collection of the facts would be inherently unfair. One can say that we know Bonds used enhancers, but we don’t know the effect they had on him. We don’t know which pitchers he faced were also using enhancers. We don’t know which, among the supposedly “clean” players we would still vote for, are actually users in the same mold. We don’t know the extent of the use by those who were caught, or the timing, or what would have happened otherwise.

      All we know for sure is what actually happened on the field, and that is supposed to be the point of the HoF: to recognize greatness on the field of play.

  9. stex52 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    The democratic process in action. The voter comes to the table with a hard set of opinions. He looks at the facts and recognizes nuance and areas of gray. He does not abandon principle, but modifies his approach to acknowledge a world in which many competing facts are in play (were the PED’s illegal when they took them, do we know they actually took them, are they likely to have affected performance, is this different from historical norms, etc.).

    In many ways a microcosm of the whole electoral process we just went through.

  10. skids003 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Who picks some of these idiots who have votes?

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