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Andre Dawson is the latest Hall of Famer who wants to keep the PED guys out

Dec 7, 2012, 3:49 PM EDT

Image (1) Andre%20Dawson%20Cubs.jpg for post 3194

A lot of Hall of Famers walk around the Winter Meetings, and a common question they’re asked is what they think about PED users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens making it into the hall of Fame.  Andre Dawson was one of them, and Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post asked him about the PED generation heading to Cooperstown.

His bright line — which, even if I disagree with, I can respect as intellectually valid, is that people who broke rules shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.  But he creates problems for himself when he tries to parse their performance as opposed to their character and talks about those players about whom we are uncertain:

“Nobody can say when these individual started doing it. But all of a sudden late in your career you become twice as good a ballplayer as you were maybe in your first 5 to 10 years? That just doesn’t happen. That’s not the way it works.”

Andre Dawson went from 20 home runs to 49 in his 12th year in the league. That just doesn’t happen either, does it?

Of course it does. Because the run scoring context of the game changes all the time. In 1987, when Dawson won the MVP award — an award without which, he probably would not have made the Hall of Fame — baseball had what is widely believed to be a juiced ball.  There are many who believe that, in addition to everything else that happened from the early 90s through the mid 2000s (i.e. steroids and smaller ballparks), the ball was again juiced as well. It is documented that it happened in the 1930s too.

If you’re anti-PED as a matter of ethics, fine, make your stand there. But the idea that people putting up unexpected numbers and having late-career surges, etc. is, by definition, unnatural, you just don’t understand the history of the game. And Andre Dawson himself is as great an example of that as anyone.

  1. yahmule - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    If you really wanted contextualize his numbers in 1987, you would point out Hawk left a poor hitter’s park with Astroturf that absolutely killed his knees to go play on natural grass in a hitter’s park.

    • ezthinking - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      Trying to picture how turf affects a pitch and a swing.

      • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 7, 2012 at 6:34 PM

        Go play 162 games in a few months on turf then grass and get back to me.

        It’s the same concept PED apologists fail (refuse) to understand.
        Juicers are fresher for all 9 innings for 162 games a season where as the non juicer slumps more often due to fatigue.

        Of course most PED morons I mean sympathizers want you to believe 90% of the league was on them, so it was an even field, or they question how it helps you hit a baseball.

        These hacks, I mean people want you to think they all risked their public image for something that never really provided any help anyways.

        That’s why they are BANNED by any credible organisation PLANET WIDE.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:57 PM

        “Studies of healthy adults taking human growth hormone are limited. Although it appears that human growth hormone injections can increase muscle mass and reduce the amount of body fat in healthy older adults, the increase in muscle doesn’t translate into increased strength. It isn’t clear if human growth hormone may provide other benefits to healthy adults.”
        This is from the Mayo Clinic. Here is the link if you don’t believe me:

        You like to insult people you don’t agree with, but you should understand that those who may not agree with you could actually have valid reasons for the way they think.

  2. shawndc04 - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Andre Dawson went from 20 home runs to 49 in his 12th year in the league. That just doesn’t happen either, does it?
    It happens when you go from Montreal to Chicago, where he got the benefits of the wind and a better hitter’s park when the weather gets warm

    • beearl - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      It wasn’t just the ballpark. Dawson averaged 22 HR for 10 years before moving to Chicago. In 1987 he hit 22 HR AWAY from Wrigley Field (in addition to the 27 he hit at home). As Craig noted, 1987 was a year that many think had a juiced ball.

      Oh, and Dawson averaged 25 HR a year for the 5 years after 1987 while playing for the Cubs. So the one year really was an aberration.

      • beearl - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        Meant to say that the regression in his last five years in Chicago could have much to do with his age and the state of his knees.

      • xmatt0926x - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        beearl, you are correct on the juiced ball in 1987. I know I remember that year like it was last year. There’s no doubt about the juiced ball that year. Players who had never shown big time power were banging out 25 homers like it was nothing. I remember Wade Boggs hitting like 25 that year. Dawson went crazy with 49. Nothing changes, does it? People love home runs and the execs at MLB know it. There were two or three years I remember where it was an obvious juiced ball year. In 1987 players were talking about the juiced ball by the all star break.

      • chris6523 - Dec 8, 2012 at 10:08 AM

        There is no doubt there was some juiced ball impact on baseball in ’87. Wade Boggs hit 24 home runs that year. His next highest was 11 homers in ’94 which was another year where there was a lot of speculation about a juiced ball. After that, 8.

        Fact is Dawson was a great player who played clean and played hurt. My opinion is that his enshrinement in the hall of fame was delayed a number of years because of the monstrous numbers that were being put up during the early years of his candidacy. Numbers tainted by steroids.

    • paperlions - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      That’s the point. Dawson also wanted to ignore context. For a while, new parks were smaller, more hitter friendly, and in mid-1993 MLB switched balls to a much lighter and bouncier ball. The new ball had more synthetic fibers which don’t absorb water, reducing the weight of the ball. It also had a rubber ring around the core.

      You don’t get to ignore context for convenience.

      Something else Dawson wants to ignore, apparently. Since 1970, amphetamines were against baseball’s rules. Amphetamine use required a prescription starting then, and baseball rules prohibited the use of substances that required a prescription without said prescription. The fact that MLB didn’t have the ability to test for amphetamines or the power to suspend players for use should be irrelevant, because the same was true for steroids during the entire career of McGwire, Bonds, and others.

      In short, if Dawson don’t want rule breakers in the HOF, anyone that used amphetamines after 1970 falls into the same category as steroid users….as do pitchers that scuffed balls, guys that used corked bats, or anything else. He’s using a broad brush and trying to paint the trim….it’s sloppy.

  3. uyf1950 - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I like Dawson but I have yet to understand how a ballplayer that the voters didn’t think worthy of the HOF not only on the first vote in Dawson’s case with 45% of the vote all of a sudden meets the minimum requirement of 75% in his 9th year of eligibility. I do want to say my comment has nothing with Dawson specifically but rather the principal that so many more votes think a candidate can become worthy after so many years.

  4. redux23 - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    what year is it???

  5. pilonflats - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    the hawk RULES!!! i always wished he signed with the giants

  6. sknut - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Maybe he is just bitter from being left in the IVY all those years.

  7. Francisco (FC) - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Cut the man some slack, he only recently got pulled out of the outfield at Wrigley.

  8. brewcrewfan54 - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I still don’t think he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

    • Alex K - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Statistically, I’m right there with you. Emotionally, I’ll never agree with that.

      A Cubs fan

      • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 7, 2012 at 6:07 PM

        And I wouldn’t argue your point because I can understand.

  9. kardshark1 - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. Obviously by him saying they shouldn’t be in the HoF, it makes him feel better about where he ranks in baseball history. He’d also say that playing in a hitter’s park in a year with a juiced ball had nothing to do with him hitting 49 HRs. He’d also tell you that On-Base % is overrated and walking just hurts the game. Basically anything that fits his narrative on the kind of player he was.

  10. ezthinking - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Question: So if his teammate Tim “Rock” Raines gets into the hall this year, does he immediately get throw out for his PED use Hawk?

  11. richyballgame - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    It doesn’t matter to me,cheaters are cheaters… We’ll never know who in the HoF cheated,because none of them will say that they may or may not have cheated in any way.

    • paperlions - Dec 8, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      This isn’t true. Dozens of current HOFers admitted that they (and nearly all of their team mates) used amphetamines on a daily basis during their careers. Many other HOFers have admitted to other types of cheating.

  12. bh192012 - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Since we don’t vote players into the HOF who were only good in one of their final years, we can assume he’s refering to players who had several amazing* years after many average years. That should iron out the streak/sample size issue.

    I sense this is basically a strawman argument. Or are there a bunch of players on the HOF vote right now who had 1 amazing* year late in their carrer? I’m not a baseball historian, but my sense is there are several on this years HOF vote that suddenly took on the appearence of X-Men and started sending balls into orbit consistantly for years. These are the players Dawson is talking about.

  13. mrchainbluelightning - Dec 7, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    If you don’t think PED users are the bane of sport, you don’t understand anything and shouldn’t be covering sport.

    • kardshark1 - Dec 7, 2012 at 8:04 PM

      Everybody uses PEDs in some sort, including you. Caffeine is a PED. The question is; was the PED against the rules of baseball while being used. And before 2003, those PEDs that Sosa, Bonds, Clemens and their ilk took, weren’t against the rules. People that have taken them after 2003, that’s a different story. But those who used PEDs before 2003 did not cheat and are no different than Mantle and Mays who admitted taking greenies (which are now against the rules) to get them through a long season.

      You can’t make rules retroactive. If you did, probably at least 50% of the HoF would be eliminated.

      • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 7, 2012 at 11:01 PM

        Oh ya O forgot the LOL’able argument where people try to compare Greenies to the Juice and HGH of the 90’s.

        Willfull foolishness
        And I certain can make rules retroactively
        You see…. people like you want to make everything a court case.
        Do you see any lawyers? No? Because this is a case of public opinion.

        But oh yes, thanks for that comparison of greenies vs anabolic steroids and hgh.

        I have a crystal meth you might wanna try, don’t worry if you smoked a joint before you will be ok.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 8, 2012 at 12:22 AM

        Funny you should mention methamphetamine while trying to belittle the effectiveness of amphetamines. Damn funny, actually.

        That aside, the point of mentioning amphetamines is not to equate them with steroids. They are, of course, quite different. Amphetamines, greenies, enhance a person’s ability to concentrate as well as increase their energy. The effect is short term, but those effects quite obviously are performance enhancing. Steroids are very potent anti-inflammatory drugs. They enable a person to work out very hard and then do it again day after day without having to recuperate the way a non-user would. That benefit to performance is also obvious. Essentially, amphetamines are instant-gratification PEDs, and steroids require work to obtain the benefit.

        However…both are PEDs. Both violate the laws if used without a prescription. Both violate the same MLB rules. THAT is why people bring up amphetamines during the PED debates when commenters rant about steroids while glossing over the fact that amphetamine users are PED users. Of course, not glossing over that fact also requires acknowledging that there are admitted PED users in the HoF.

  14. louhudson23 - Dec 8, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    Whatever Greenies do for you on a baseball field,they clearly do not cause massive amounts of HR’s to be hit.Nor massive amounts of stolen bases,massive amounts of strikeouts to be produced.Whatever steroids do for you on a baseball field,they clearly do not cause widespread microscopic ERA’s, 30 game winners but they do clearly cause massive amounts of HR’s to be hit. Whatever other reasons 40 and 50 HR seasons exploded,they have ceased now. Ballparks have grown in three years? Players have stopped lifting and being in better condition in three years? The balls have become marshmallow like in three years?…No,the answer is that widespread juicing has been greatly diminished.Baseball once again includes defense and pitching in the mix. Home Run Derby is now just a waste of an All Star Week evening and a b/w re-run on classic Sports….and not a nightly occurrence in a ball park near you….and greenies still represent the ultimate straw man for those who choose to ignore the blight on the game caused by steroids and the bastardized baseball it produced.

    • paperlions - Dec 8, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      So…you think in mid-1993 all players suddently started juicing and the effects were immediate? Because that is the exact time that HR rates jumped, and it coincided with the introduction of a new ball. Many people have combed the data looking for steroid signals, and they can’t find one.

      When steroid testing began HR RATES DID NOT DECLINE. They did actually decline when amphetamine testing started. Your narrative is just that…it isn’t supported by any facts at all.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 8, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      So, to be clear, your issue is not with cheating, your issue is with how effective you think the cheating is.

      By the way, a straw man arguement requires misrepresenting the opposing viewpoint to draw an illogical conclusion. Pointing out that amphetamine use violates the same laws and league rules as steroid use does misrepresents nothing. You, on the other hand, trying to justify selectively condemning the steroid users based on a perception that steroids are more potent PEDs than amphetamines is a straw man arguement.

  15. stanleyfrankmusial - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    “In 1987, when Dawson won the MVP award — an award without which, he probably would not have made the Hall of Fame”…i am certainly biased (see user name) but Ozzie Smith was the NL MVP in 1987. sure The Hawk had a season for the ages – for a last-place team.

    Ozzie’s .303, 43 steals, 75 RBI (no HRs!), and Gold Glove defense for a pennant winner was obviously more “valuable”.

    i will thank you not to bring up the ’87 World Series, however.

  16. fissels - Dec 8, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    I agree with you Andre. Keep the known cheaters out.

  17. auggie1955 - Dec 8, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Craig, I noticed you carefully selected your arguement that Dawson was already in the for 12 seasons when he won the MVP in 1987. What you fail to mention is Dawson was only 32 at the time. A player having that type of season, at that age, is not out of the question.

    Now let’s see. How old was Bonds in 2001 when he broke the single season HR record? 36! Thirty six, Craig. That is an age when players numbers in the past have always been on the decline. Not the time to be breaking single season records.

    • paperlions - Dec 8, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Hank Aaron’s career high in HRs (47) came in 1971, when he was 37 yrs old.

  18. dirtydrew - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Well, they ought to start by throwing out all the players in the 70’s who were doing coke. And then Cal Ripkin and Nolan Ryan who were clearly early users. The logic has to be when all the best players were roiding, the guy throwing 95 in his mid 40’s and the guy who never missed a game were also doing so. I call it the Lance Armstrong logic. In cycling, when every guy was cheating, and Lance was winning all the TDF races, you get the logic. Let the best players in.They were all cheating in some way all through the history of baseball. From corked bats to spit balls to scuffed balls to PED’s.

  19. 11thstreetmafia - Dec 9, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    You are trying to say that the Hawk doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Nice try. Andre Dawson 1, anonymous Internet writer 0.

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