Jul 28, 2013, 1:03 PM EDT
Today the Hall of Fame honors its inductees. Posthumous inductees, that is, as it is only inducting umpire Hank O’Day, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th Century catcher/third baseman Deacon White. One living honoree — Spink Award winner Paul Hagen — will take the stage and speak.
This despite the fact that there is no shortage of worthy living players who deserve induction. Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Alan Trammell all have strong cases on the merits. Obviously the Hall of Fame voters disagree as they tend to do. I think eventually most of those guys will make it. There are two, however, who deserve to be on that stage today but won’t be and may never be: Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens.
The reason for this is pretty obvious. They cheated. Bonds definitely, as has been widely documented. Clemens most likely, even though the evidence against him isn’t as public and isn’t as thorough. Each of them are out of the Hall of Fame, not because their baseball cases are debatable, but because they are seen wanting in the department of character, morals and ethics.
But on this day when only the dead speak and only the pure of heart and soul shall pass, let us not forget that the Hall of Fame has long welcomed cheaters with open arms.
Gaylord Perry threw a spitball. Don Sutton and Whitey Ford (and probably almost every other pitcher in history) scuffed or cut balls. Scores of batters corked their bats. The 1951 Giants won the pennant after rigging up an elaborate, electric sign-stealing mechanism. John McGraw, both as a player and a manager, invented and carried out more ways to break rules than anyone in history, ranging from umpire distracting and cutting the corners on bases and tripping or obstructing opposing runners. Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes in an effort to maim opposing players who would dare try to tag him out. While we single out the 1919 White Sox as a unique stain on the game, many players — including Hall of Famers — fixed baseball games prior to the Black Sox scandal.
While many have attempted to argue that using PEDs is different in kind than all of those other examples — examples which are often laughed off as quirky or colorful — the fact is that there are PED users in the Hall of Fame already. Only, instead of steroids, they used amphetamines or “greenies” as they were called. Players who have either admitted to or have been credibly accused of taking such things include Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. And this leaves out all of the drug and/or alcohol users who took things which hindered their performance, which also impacted the competitive nature of the game, albeit adversely to their team’s interests. And it also assumes that there are no steroid users already in the Hall of Fame, which I do not believe is a reasonable assumption.
The common thread here: all of these examples of baseball cheating involved players breaking rules in an effort to gain some sort of edge on the competition. Rule breaking that, in turn, put the competition in the unenviable position of having to decide if they too should break the rules to keep up. There is not a black and white difference between a user of PEDs and baseball’s other cheaters.
Oh, and there are tons of racists in there too. Men who actively fought to keep minorities out of the game for decades, which is both objectively evil and which adversely impacted the game’s competitive landscape . There is also a former Spink Award winner in there — Bill Conlin — who has had more credible accusations of sexual molestation leveled at him than many players who are being kept out of the hall for steroids have had steroids accusations leveled at them. Character matters, see. Except in those cases where it doesn’t.
Not that any of this makes Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens better people than they are. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But let us not forget that, until very, very recently, the Hall of Fame has never cared about wrongs in the first place. Why it should start caring about them now is beyond me.
Jul 10, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
The original plan called for Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues for a couple of days while Darwin Barney was away on paternity leave, but his big game against the Reds this afternoon has changed things.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT
The diagnosis is in on Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and it’s not particularly promising.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT
Derek Jeter’s farewell tour continued this evening at Progressive Field in Cleveland and the Yankee captain walked away with some pretty cool gifts.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Marco Estrada was scheduled to start Saturday, but he’s been terrible all season while serving up an NL-high 27 homers in 18 starts.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT
Carl Crawford was the Dodgers’ primary left fielder prior to landing on the disabled list in late May with a left ankle sprain, but now he’s a really expensive bench player.
Jul 10, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
The field for next week’s Home Run Derby is officially in place.
Jul 10, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT
The Cardinals and Reds were both dealt some tough blows on the injury front today, but the Brewers are doing their part to let them hang around in the National League Central.
Jul 10, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon is out for the All-Star game because of a wrist injury, so MLB has named Angels shortstop Erick Aybar as his replacement on the American League roster.
Jul 10, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT
Viva democracy. Especially Chicago-style democracy.
Jul 10, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
Wilson failed to make it out of the fourth inning yesterday and hasn’t made it past five innings since June 19, allowing 22 runs in 16.2 innings during that span.
Jul 10, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Hardly anyone throws it anymore. Why?
Jul 10, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn repeatedly expressed confidence in his ability to get No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon signed despite the North Carolina State left-hander being a Scott Boras client and sure enough the two sides have reached an agreement.
Jul 10, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT
A tough, tough break for the Cardinals and Yadier Molina.
Jul 10, 2014, 3:48 PM EDT
Carlos Beltran was scratched from the Yankees’ lineup last night when a ball he hit during batting practice bounced off the screen protecting the pitcher and struck his eye. And now he’s been diagnosed with two facial fractures, but they’ve been classified as “small” and the Yankees think he’ll avoid the disabled list.
Jul 10, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
Cincinnati’s injury woes keep getting worse, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips will be “out a while” with a ligament issue and possible tear in his left thumb.
Jul 10, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Braun has hit exclusively second (37 times) or third (32 times) in the lineup this season and has a grand total of just three career starts in the fifth spot, all of them coming 2008.
Jul 10, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT
It’s a magical realism thing: features a coach putting Jeter at second base.
Jul 10, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
Could be bad news for the Reds and Bailey
Jul 10, 2014, 1:43 PM EDT
Astros rookie George Springer has gotten lots of attention for his offense, which includes 19 homers and an .818 OPS in 74 games, but the 24-year-old outfielder can also do some spectacular things defensively like he did last night.
Jul 10, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT
A.J. Pierzynski being let go is not necessarily a white flag move. But should the Sox be sellers now?
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow 17
- Yadier Molina to miss 8-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament 29
- Carlos Beltran placed on concussion disabled list after batting practice mishap 16
- Derek Jeter is the most popular MLB jersey this year 16
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 52
- The Rockies “aren’t looking around very hard” for a trade of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki 29
- Jury finds the Dodgers partially negligent, awards $18 million to Bryan Stow 48
- Masahiro Tanaka injured: Yankees ace to undergo an MRI exam on his right arm 60
- Shocker: the Red Sox publicly criticize A.J. Pierzynski after cutting him (186)
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz: “Not even going to comment … I’ve got nothing to say about him” (143)
- The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced (103)
- Giants broadcaster says Angel Hernandez “does not belong in the big leagues” (101)
- David Ortiz is not pleased that his name got pulled into the John Lackey-Nelson Cruz thing (99)