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A Hall of Fame voter still needs more information about Barry Bonds’ PED use?

Nov 30, 2012, 3:40 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 3 Getty Images

I understand the idea of wanting to be more informed about things before making a Hall of Fame vote.  To want to have a fuller picture of the PED-era before casting votes for certain players.  I am not a fan of those who accuse with no evidence, but I do have some sympathy for people who genuinely wonder if certain players may have taken PEDs when, really, we don’t know that much about it with respect to some of them.

But even if you subscribe to that view, I don’t know how you can say we don’t know enough about Barry Freakin’  Bonds.  Yet Mark Purdy of the Mercury-News wants to know more, and he won’t vote for Bonds — or anyone else from that era, it seems — until he knows more.

Maybe I just followed this more closely than he did, but it’s not like there is a dearth of info on Barry Bonds’ drug use. I mean, multiple books have been written about it. Purdy himself sat through the entire Bonds perjury trial and heard more than anyone would want to know about it. He was no more than 30 feet away from live witnesses talking about Bonds’ testicular atrophy for crying out loud. Does he really think there is more that we need to probe here? And yes, I do believe it would literally take a probe to learn anything more about Barry Bonds’ body.

But that’s his position and he’s sticking to it. Here’s another position he has:

I have advocated an amnesty proclamation from MLB and Cooperstown. For a one-year period, former players would have the ability to tell the truth about their steroid use with no punishment or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame. That way, voters would be able to make better judgments and make their selections without any angst.

Amnesty? From what? There are already zero punishments or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame for these guys. They are eligible. Some are still playing. Some are coaches and managerial candidates. They’re all listed on the ballot when their time comes. Baseball has decided that they are every bit a part of the fraternity as anyone else is.  What would some phony-baloney offer of amnesty provide for them that they don’t already have?

I suppose Purdy believes that it would give them some sort of cover from the wrath of the writers who look askance at PED guys. Fat chance. The writers who look askance at PED guys tend to take the following approach to the sort of information Purdy thinks would clear the air:

1. We want more information! Shlabotnik needs to come clean!

2. Fine, Shlabotnik has apologized, but it raises more questions!

3. That in-depth interview in which Shlabotnik answers all the questions was so self-serving it makes me sick!

And, of course, these are the same people who consider a drug testing regime that catches people to be evidence that drug testing is a joke. You could provide daily CT-scans, fluid samples, lie detector tests and oaths from God Himself and a certain segment of writer is going to think it insufficient. There is no pleasing them, and the last thing baseball players should do is to try.

And Purdy has already shown himself to be one of that sad, never-satisfied crew. Last year, on the eve of the Bonds verdict, he wrote a column in which he wrung his hands about Bonds’ legacy in San Francisco. He worried in light of the allegedly new revelations of the trial, what the team and the city and the fans do with Bonds if he was found not-guilty. Or, for that matter, if he was found guilty. He, in quite familiar fashion, made it sound like there was some crisis afoot.

Except, as I demonstrated at the time, all of his concerns had long been answered. The city, the fans and the team all embraced Bonds despite already knowing all of the things Purdy suddenly considered damning, and knowing them for years. It was a non-issue to everyone except Mark Purdy by then, despite his claims that there were Important Unsettled Matters.

The lesson here: Mark Purdy, and many like him, are professional hand-wringers. He used the word “angst” above, and it’s pretty apt. He has an angst about PEDs in baseball that will never, ever go away no matter what he learns and no matter what information comes to light. Which means one of two things: either Purdy is simply not and never will be comfortable with PEDs in baseball, or else he’s cynically saying that there are uncertainties and concerns when there are not in order to kick up a morally indignant fuss in a column.

If it’s the former, it’s OK Mark, let it go and just don’t vote for these guys ever. Lots of voters feel that way and just because I disagree with you on that, at least it’s a defensible position.

If it’s the latter, though, cut the crap, will ya?

  1. mungman69 - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Craig don’t like Purdy.

    • fawnliebowitz - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      He’s not alone in that sentiment.

      • manchestermiracle - Dec 1, 2012 at 2:16 AM

        Fawn Liebowitz? The girl in the obituary that Otter uses to get a date with Shelly in the movie Animal House? That Lisa Baur was hot.

  2. ireportyoudecide - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time. That is all. If he’s not in the hall of fame and Jim Rice is, well then I would say making the hall of fame really doesn’t mean that much anymore.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      Wait til Morris gets voted in this year…

    • shynessismyelguapo - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      I agree that it would be silly…

      …but the HOF already doesn’t mean much in those terms. Long before Jim Rice came through the doors, Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Lloyd Waner, Freddie Lindstrom, Catfish Hunter and many many more found their way into Cooperstown.

      Rice was a really terrible choice for the Hall, but he is, amazingly enough, pretty far from the worst.

      • pjmitch - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:05 PM


        The HOF jumped the shark a long time ago….Phil Rizzuto, Bobby Doerr, Mazeroski? I mean come on.

  3. schlom - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Doesn’t this mean that he’ll never vote for anyone because he has no idea if they took steroids or not? Or only if they were really good like Bonds, Clemens, and McGwire?

  4. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    For a one-year period, former players would have the ability to tell the truth about their steroid use with no punishment or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame

    Yeah, I thought that too. Fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me
    -Mark McGwire

    • Detroit Michael - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Exactly what I was thinking. McGwire waited several years but then gave as sincere an apology as you’ll find. The multi-millionaire wanted to re-enter the game as a hitting coach and came clean. Yet Purdy still won’t vote for him (as mentioned in the last paragraph of the linked article).

      With amnesty like that, who needs enemies?

  5. lionsflyersandredbirds - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM


  6. 18thstreet - Nov 30, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Shlabotnik may not be first-ballot, but he merits discussion. He was feared.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      He was one of the best ever at what he did. Never could figure out what he did, but he was among the best ever at it.

  7. crispybasil - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    “Thanks for coming out. We’re Testicular Atrophy, and this song’s called ‘Shlabotnik’s Revenge.'”

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Did Schlablotnik pee in your Cheerios? I mean, you keep throwing the dude under the bus and you haven’t even seen any back acne or increased forearm girth, the two tell-tale signs of steroid use.

  9. b453841l - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I think Purdy believes that the “amnesty” scenario he proposes actually would accomplish what he says it will in providing the voters with the information to which they don’t currently have access. The only issue is that nobody can offer the type of amnesty–all is forgiven/clean slate–if anyone actually does come clean. In reality, the voters would either 1) not care about any revelations and have voted the player(s) in anyway; 2) say, “see, I knew he was a dirty cheater” and vote him down; or 3) act as Craig points out by saying, “this really helps me make an informed decision, but I’m still unsure if he was actually telling the truth or if he is just trying to appease us.” and continue the hand-wringing.

    I really think that Purdy does earnestly want to know who took what and when and how much and all of that, but that he hasn’t really though through how useless the “solution” he proposes is.

  10. makeham98 - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    I wonder how many people here know who Joe Shlabotnik was. Baseball reference has a fine summary of his celebrated career. But this writervstrikes me as the type who thinks Andy Petitte is some sort of hero. And that Nolan Ryan’s longevity was due to advil.

    • cur68 - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

      Dude, I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not. BUT, on the off chance my funny bone is iced up again I’m going to assume you are. With that….

    • jimbo75025 - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      Nolan Ryan’s longetivity came from being one of those classic Texas tough guys who wrestled steers in his free time. Unless he started roiding when he went from the Mets to the Angels in the early 70’s? Not like his career magically came back from the dead at 35 to start throwing 90 mph fastballs again. He just kept throwing until his arm finally fell apart then went away.

  11. mrchainbluelightning - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Hall of Fame
    Hall of Achievement

    Some of you insist on making the Hall 100% about #’s.


  12. raysfan1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Charlie Brown’s favorite aspect of Joe Schlabotnik’s play was his ability to make spectacular plays on routine fly balls.

  13. ronaldjones - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    C’mon Craig. You can voice your opinion on the issue but you don’t have to go after the writer personally

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