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Deep Thoughts: which Hall of Fame candidates will be the most easily smeared next year?

Jan 15, 2013, 1:02 PM EDT

Image (1) maddux.jpg for post 5104

A lot of people have asked me why Craig Biggio didn’t get into the Hall of Fame this year. I think it’s partially because while they now decry the PED era, a lot of Hall of Fame voters are warped by it and are having some trouble identifying great performances when they see it. They’re doing things like considering 3,000 hits and all the other stuff Biggio did well as ordinary rather than extraordinary.

But I also imagine a few voters are convinced he was a PED guy. Not because of evidence, but because he was teammates with Jeff Bagwell and Ken Caminiti who they suspect and know were steroids users, respectively.

We’ve heard this guilt-by-association argument before. A lot of people are skeptical of anyone who played on the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics of the late 80s and 1990s, for example (granted, with more reason than to be skeptical of Astros players). There’s this notion that, if you played with Jose Canseco, you’re compromised.

Because I’m bored today — and because I was inspired to do so by Twitter user Drew Neil — I look to the wonderful Oracle of Baseball to see which of the guys on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot are most easily smeared as fellow travelers. Who played with players who played with Canseco, and what can we glean from this information?

  • Greg Maddux: Linked to Canseco via either Walt Weiss, Charlie O’Brien, Julio Franco or … RICH GOSSAGE, who played on the 1992 A’s with Canseco.  Assessment: Julio Franco was age-defying, Rich Gossage protests too much and Charlie O’Brien was Maddux’s personal catcher for crying out loud. Verdict: MADDUX WAS PROBABLY A JUICER.
  • Tom Glavine: Linked to Canseco via John Russell, Luis Polonia, Jay Howell, Mo Vaughn, Weiss, Mike Stanton, Glenn Hubbard, Shawn Green and many others. Assessment: The lack of a Gossage connection helps Glavine. As does the presence of Mo Vaughn, who surely counseled Glavine on the folly of trying to improve one’s physical conditioning. Verdict: GLAVINE WAS PROBABLY CLEAN.
  • Mike Mussina: Linked to Canseco via Luis Polonia, Storm Davis, Jeff Robinson, Alan Embree, Ivan Rodriguez and many others. But., more importantly, Mussina was teammates with Roger Clemens!  Assessment: Clemens is a knockout punch. Pudge is troublesome, as people like to speculate about him all the time. There’s Luis Polonia again. Hmmm … starting to wonder about him. Someone put a tail on him and find out where he goes. Verdict: MUSSINA WAS PROBABLY CLEAN.

There you have it. I think we are all better-informed Hall of Fame watchers now.  Oh, sure, there may be some error to this approach. But at least we’re absolutely, 100% sure of who these candidates teammates were, and not even every Hall of Fame voter can say the same thing.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    All deserving players from the steroid era should get in…or NONE should get in. Period. I wish this mantra would spread throughout the BBWAA as it is the most fair way of dealing with the voting for the Hall of Fame for these players.

  2. flosox - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Holy 1991 Batman, is that what we all looked like back then? He looks like he plays for the local Accountant softball league!

    • mattyflex - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      Yeah but those bubbles in his Air Max Nikes were cutting edge back then.

    • largebill - Jan 15, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Funny thing is those glasses were plain glass. He has 20/20 vision and just wore the glasses to fool the opposition.

    • Roger Moore - Jan 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      Not 1991, you fool! Maddux didn’t sign with the Braves until after the 1992 season, so that picture must be from some time between 1993 and 1999, when he had Lasik surgery to fix his eyesight.

  3. Tick - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    “There’s this notion that, if you played with Jose Canseco, you’re compromised.” Unless you’re Dennis Eckersley. Then, somehow you’re above suspicion and can ponificate of other suspects and talk about the integrity of the HOF, even though your career was on the scrap heap and you had a miraculous resurgence in your thirties once you met Canseco.

    • hackerjay - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Don’t forget Rickey Henderson too. I have no doubt that he was roiding it up.

      I also have no problem that he’s in the Hall of Fame.

      • Tick - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        I’m sure Rickey took PEDs too and I also have no problem with either being in the Hall. I just have a problem with this notion that certain players are somehow above accusations, even though they have the same cloud around them as others do. Especially a guy like Eckersley who wants to pop off his mouth.

    • grumpyoleman - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      His move to the bullpen changed his career, not by roiding up and getting the bondsparadefloathead.

    • bbil2012 - Jan 15, 2013 at 7:27 PM

      That was right around the time Eck quit drinking too.

  4. rocketsteadman - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Meanwhile Luis Polonia is sitting at home somewhere saying, ‘I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling Craig Calcaterra.’

  5. whmiv21 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Frank Thomas was a big man. Therefore, he’s guilty.

    • Brian Murphy - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      It’s going to be extremely troubling how many scribes will spout that same logic and actually mean it next year.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 15, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        Not sure if it’s anything worse than “Thomas was the only one who spoke up against steroids, offered his testimony directly to George Mitchell, and wanted to take a drug test” as evidence he didn’t use PEDs.

  6. flosox - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Listen, if Lance Armstrong can perform outrageous feats outside of what statistics say is normal, why can’t ballplayers do it?

    Oh wait…

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      (sarcasm alert)

      There is no proof that Lance Armstrong did anything wrong.

    • nategearhart - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      Next time I sit down to watch a baseball player ride a bicycle, I’ll do so with a critical eye.

      • flosox - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM


      • jwbiii - Jan 15, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        Here ya go

  7. The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I couldn’t be more amused that this turned into a post here. Hell, we could play the same game with Ken Caminiti, who has shown the potential to cast a dark shadow of doubt on players as well (see Bagwell, Jeff).

    • cur68 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      Why not LaRussa, too? He was Canseco’s and McGwire’s manager during the bulk of their juicing days. He’s in charge of his ball clubs: a point that’s abundantly clear watching that guy manage. He has to have KNOWN what those guys were up to. Hell, he might have enabled the whole thing. AND he won a lot of post season games. As we all know, performance ALWAYS = performance enhancement. And do you see how young LaRussa looks? No way in hell that’s natural. He’s on the juice, too! Poor Jim Leyland! Growing old, looking old. All the while competing against a guy who’s older than he is but looking and managing younger. It just wasn’t fair….

      (Next up for smearing: that pesky Mike Trout. Juiced that fish onto his boat, so he did)

      • umrguy42 - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        No, no, no, LaRussa is way worse than a juicer… he’s a VEGETARIAN!


      • paperlions - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        TLR runs an animal rescue place. This buys him a lot of leeway in my book….well….it would, if I had a book.

  8. schlom - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    I think the easier way to smear Frank Thomas is to say that he played college football at Auburn – a win at all costs SEC program.

  9. stercuilus65 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    More HOF whining…yawn.

  10. professormaddog31 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Awwwww, derpy Greg is my favorite Greg.

    Also, Craig, I swear on all that is good and holy that if someone actually uses your logic next year… well, I won’t actually do anything but I’ll viciously hate you in private forever.

  11. number42is1 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    an argument can be made either way for Moose. End of the day he’s not going to make it. I bet that he gets the 5% to stay on a few years but will never come close to HOF voting numbers. either way he will always be my favorite (non Mo) Yankee.

    • nolanwiffle - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      Moose is an Oriole.

      • number42is1 - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:52 PM


  12. bambam4 - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Come on people, let’s get some perspective. Who does or does not get into the baseball hall of fame is really not a big deal and definitely not some type of tragedy as it has been portrayed on Hardball Talk over the last week or so. Now I understand Craig’s desire to continue to stir the pot because he needs to generate page clicks to pay his alimony and child support for his kids, but do the rest of us really care if jerks like Bonds and Clemens do not get in or if non-jerks like Piazza and Biggio have to wait a few years.

    • lazlosother - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Bambam and cognitive dissonance.

      You came to the site, read the post and made a comment. This is like hunting through the house to find your wife, helping her with whatever she’s doing, and then giving her a big smooch – just to demonstrate that you don’t give a shit about her.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        Shhhh! It is totally lost on her Lazlo. Pebbles has no idea.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Whatever Pebbles. You don’t even know if the state of Ohio requires alimony payments.
      Further, you don’t even know if Piazza and Biggio are “non-jerks.”

      • professormaddog31 - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        There’s plenty of jerks in the HOF already. I choose to believe that Biggio isn’t a total sleazeball, as 10 and 11 year old me would be very upset to learn that about him. But jerkiness =/= greatness.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      Sorry, bambam, I don’t pay alimony. I had a good lawyer in my divorce. Me.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        This deserves one of those “Great Moments in Self-Promotion” posts.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        I didn’t even have a lawyer and I don’t pay alimony…I thought that had to do with the fact that my wife made more money than me at the time we got divorced…oh, and I gave her the house.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        I kept the house and made more money. It basically went like this:

        “I’m not paying you alimony.”


    • Gamera the Brave - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      “Now I understand Craig’s desire to continue to stir the pot because he needs to generate page clicks to pay his alimony and child support for his kids…”

      Congrats on the “Douche-tastic comment of the day”!

      Nothing says, “I have a point” like making that point off the back of someone’s marriage ending…

    • cur68 - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Points to everyone for being classy with this jerk. I however feel no such urge.

      Fuck off, asshole.

  13. zzalapski - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Stay classy.

    • zzalapski - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      (^ in response to bambam4.)

  14. randygnyc - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Tick- I have no doubt that there is no connection between Canseco and Eck, regarding steroids. I have no doubt that as vociferous as Eck has been, if Canseco knew any different, he’d say so. Now of course, Eck may have juiced, but I don’t think he did so with cansecos help or connections.

  15. millmannj - Jan 15, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Tom Glavine: Head of the Players union. Assessment: Had access to every PED-head’s juicing plan and possibly the home phone number of everyone’s suppliers. Verdict: GLAVINE WAS PROBABLY JUICING.

  16. snowbirdgothic - Jan 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM



    The long ball.

    ’nuff said.

  17. mcjon22 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    If Maddux and Glavine aren’t first ballot hall of famers, they should just shut down Cooperstown.

  18. 57braves - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    This kind of speculation is real crap. Is there a shred of evidence? Guilt by association? Canseco was such a horse’s ass i seriously doubt Maddox or Glavine had a single word with him. As Jack Webb said, “Just stick with the facts.”

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