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Time For a Hall of Fame Stand

Dec 26, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT

Ted Williams

In June 1966, Ted Williams did something amazing. Nobody saw it coming, perhaps not even Williams himself. He was in Cooperstown, giving his Hall of Fame speech, and he was visibly moved by the day. Williams had never been able to let go of the anger he felt toward sportswriters — even before his last game he couldn’t help but spit out “I’d like to forget them, but I can’t,” — and I imagine some people were cringing in anticipation.

But somehow Ted that day had mostly moved past bitterness.* “I didn’t know I had 280-odd close friends among the writers,” he said of the people who had voted for him, and he thanked them, he thanked the playground director who worked with him and his high school coach and others who affected his life.

*Mostly. As written in The Kid, Ben Bradlee Jr.’s excellent new biography of Williams, he could not resist a private shot at sportswriter Dave Egan, who was his personal Lex Luthor.

And then, he riffed a little bit about baseball. It’s worth putting the whole wonderful paragraph in there.

“The other day Willie Mays hit his 522nd home run. He has gone past me, and he’s pushing, and I say to him, “Go get ‘em, Willie.” Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”

Williams was speaking without notes that day and, as far as I know, had not told anyone he was planning to say anything about Negro Leaguers. It honestly may have been a spur of the moment statement — Williams was pretty famous for those. Whatever, it was a a bold statement. This was 1966, right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, and his statement was political and counterculture and took some guts.

Then again, guts was never a problem for Ted Williams. What strikes me about the statement — what makes it amazing to me — is that it was SO magnanimous. Hall of Fame speeches (all award speeches, really), by their nature, are meant to celebrate self. You applaud your own career, thank those who made it possible. Williams raced through that part. What he really wanted to do was celebrate BASEBALL. And to him, celebrating baseball meant celebrating those great players who had gone without enough notice. He wanted to remind people about Negro Leagues players he felt sure belonged in the Hall with him.

That was another wonderful part of the Williams speech. Too often people who get into the Hall of Fame want to lock the door behind them.

Williams speech did not instantly grant Negro Leaguers entry into the Hall of Fame. Not even close. But it brought the subject to the surface. By the end of the decade, the topic was hot, and Commissioner Bowie Kuhn held a meeting to discuss the topic. By all accounts the meeting was exceedingly nasty. Former commissioner Ford Frick and Hall of Fame President Paul Kerr were particularly opposed to adding Negro League players. Their reasons ranged from somewhat reasonable (there were no statistics to tell how good the Negro Leaguers were) to somewhat unreasonable (Negro Leaguers would water down the quality of the Hall of Fame — this tinged of racism) to ludicrous (no Negro Leaguers fulfilled the Hall of Fame requirement of 10 years in the Major Leagues — an absurdity since they were not ALLOWED to play in the Major Leagues).

The meeting basically went nowhere. Sportswriter Dick Young was there screaming at everybody, Kuhn was his typically ineffective self, and the one guy who knew more about any of this than anybody — Monte Irvin, who had played in the Negro Leagues and Major Leagues — quietly let others hold court. Kuhn, typically, tried a split-the-baby solution of having a special Negro Leagues display in the Hall of Fame which made exactly zero people happy. Satchel Paige announced he wasn’t going through the back door of the Hall of Fame.

The criticism was so harsh — Jim Murray in Los Angeles was particularly fierce as was the rampaging Dick Young — that the Hall decided on the fly to get rid of the display idea and let Satchel Paige into the actual Hall of Fame. Kuhn would say it was all part of his plan to let public criticism force the Hall into doing the right thing. I don’t buy this for one minute but hey I guess it worked out.

Over time, the Hall of Fame became a leader in celebrating Negro Leagues baseball. There are 29 Negro Leagues players in the Hall of Fame and a few more executives and pioneers. There were missteps, of course, and things worth disagreeing about, but all in all the Hall of Fame has done as much as anybody to keep alive the memory of the Negro Leagues, exactly what Ted Williams had asked for in 1966 (and exactly what my friend Buck O’Neil — who has a statue in the Hall of Fame — had fought for most of his life).

I bring all this up because (1) It’s a pretty great story, but more because (2) it was a case where the Hall of Fame, though it was not easy, took the lead.

It’s time for that to happen again. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to take a stand on the Steroid Era.

Right now, the Hall of Fame is passing the buck. They are letting an unwieldy group of more than 500 baseball writers who never meet as a group sort out the Steroid Era by secret ballot. That’s no way to do things. If it had been up to the BBWAA, Satchel Paige would never have been elected to the Hall of Fame. There’s almost no chance he could have gotten 75% of the vote. Josh Gibson would have had even less chance because he never played in the Majors. Oscar Charleston? Turkey Stearnes? Smokey Joe Williams? There’s no chance 75% of the BBWAA in the 1970s would even have HEARD of them.

If the Hall had not inducted them, they would not have been inducted. The Hall would have remained as racist as baseball in the 1930s and 1940s. And it would not have been enough for them to say, “Well, we turned it over to the BBWAA and this is what they decided.” The Baseball Writers are good at some things — like electing the truly great players — but this is not an organization designed to deal with complex issues like race or PEDs. The BBWAA craves leadership. The Hall of Fame is supposed to provide it.

So far, they have not. They Hall of Fame won’t say or do ANYTHING to clarify things. And because of that, we are no closer to a a logical narrative about the Steroid Era than we were five years ago. There’s no consensus about how much steroid and PED use ACTUALLY affected power numbers (not just talk but actual study of the subject), no consensus over why steroid use should be viewed differently than amphetamines or other drugs, no consensus about the role the people who run baseball played in the era, no consensus about anything really.

No consensus and no consistency. Tony La Russa is unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager, one of his greatest players Mark McGwire is not. Why? People openly (or subtly) accuse players of steroid use though they never failed a test, were never involved in a public scandal and never showed up in any of the wild accusations that were thrown around. How can the Hall of Fame just sit back and let this happen to the game it represents?

It’s actually kind of disgraceful. The Hall of Fame is meant to celebrate the game, but their silence on this issue leaves baseball and the Hall open to this annual flogging of the game and some of its greatest players.

It’s time for the Hall of Fame to create a committee of experts (former players, executives, scholars, ethicists) to look into the Steroid Era, to make recommendations how the museum should proceed. They should be open to all possibilities and apply science and philosophy and logic to this issue. They should be leaders in moving the game forward. It’s time to stop sitting back while baseball writers (including yours truly) scattershoot their own particular ethical standards and argue about Barry Bonds. This is THEIR museum. It’s time for them to tell everybody what it stands for.

  1. Charles Gates - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    It’s time for the Hall of Fame to create a committee of experts (former players, executives, scholars, ethicists) to look into the Steroid Era, to make recommendations how the museum should proceed.

    No. The members of the HoF is the output of a standardized process run by the BBWAA. The HoF itself has no say (to my knowledge) regarding what plaques they hang. The BBWAA has guidelines for voting. A constitution for how to do it, if you will: ( The final item is:

    9. Amendments: The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time.

    If a change is to be made, it’s on the Board of Directors to do it. Clamor to the Hall of Fame. Cyberbully substandard BBWAA voters. Sacrifice a rockbass on home plate in Fenway. Whatever. Unless the BBWAA BoD takes notice and then action, it’s all wasted breath.

    • DJ MC - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      You misread that. The “Board of Directors” mentioned is that of the Hall itself, which reserves the right to make any changes whenever they want.

      • Charles Gates - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        You’re right. I made a mistake. Sorry. I misread it.

        I stand by the the concept of the last paragraph, however, where I’m saying that there is a process to make a change and/or clarify. Take it up with the process owners.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Retread what you copied/pasted. The ultimate authority is not the BBWAA BoD; it’s the HoF BoD. The HoF has to take the lead or nothing changes.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        Re-read, not retread.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:26 PM

        Apologies–DJMC’s comment and your response weren’t showing up on my phone when I replied to you, Sir.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Joe, this was a awesome read, I agree with you, the HOF should take hold of the Steroid
      situation as it applies to the HOF.

      Ken Burns Tenth inning figured it out, instead of making believe steroids is not a part of baseball history is ridiculous and the BBWAA is not going to make me forget that this happened.

    • metroplexsouthsider - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      I want at least a half-assedly serious confession from the most likely roiders (no, not Biggio; Murray Chass just doubled his idiocy quotient) AND Bud AND at least two, if not all three, of the managers just voted into the HOF by the Veterans Committee (especially given that said managers’ records were helped by allegedly roiding players).

      Then, let’s do like Baseball-Reference et al do for OPS+ and ERA+. It will have to be guesstimates, but, let’s make some guesstimates on how much to discount each player.

      As for me? Should this be done, Bonds and Clemens are still in. Raffy is iffy, Sheff a notch below, and Sammy another notch below. Big Mac? Not close.

  2. kiwicricket - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Interesting post.

    (Although I am amused at the thought of another ‘committee/task force’ trying to get to the bottom of things or the particular crux of the situation)

  3. pastabelly - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Wow, you take a very good story about Ted Williams and turn it into a “let the PED guys in” piece. 😦

    • dluxxx - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      You’re projecting.

      He never said to let PED guys in. He said that there should be some sort of benchmark or decision so the BBWAA has some sort of guidance in this. That could be as simple as saying that if someone ever tested positive they were out and if not, they should be considered (Biggio, Piazza, Bagwell). It could also be as complicated as having somone do a study to see what actual (the more tangible and quantifiable the better) impact steroids have on a baseball player’s performance and then determine if that impact would have elevated said player’s numbers enough to make them hall-worthy or if they would have made it anyway.

      I’d like to see the second myself. Mostly because I think that a true study that could quantify just how much PEDs affect baseball would be interesting and informitive. Depending on the results, it could also help keep kids off PEDs if it’s proven to have a minimal effect.

      • paperlions - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        There have been many attempts to quantify effects. None of them can find any kind of signal of steroid/PED use at all….which doesn’t mean there is no effect, but it does suggest that the effect is likely small within the context of the dozens of constantly changing variables that affect production in baseball. The most detailed studies that find changes in production typically conclude that changes in the strike zone, mound, ball, and park dimensions are associated with them due to temporal correlations in the events.

      • cohnjusack - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        Exactly. Steroids probably did have an effect on some guys, probably a large effect on many…but it is impossible to tell who and how much. The first chapter of Baseball Prospectus’ “Extra Innings” delves pretty deeply into this and should be required reading when chiming in on the subject.

      • pastabelly - Dec 26, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        Here’s where I part ways with you guys. Craig’s point is that baseball writers struggle with complex issues like race and PEDs. Well, race is really not complex. Ted made it sound simple because it was. Racism and prejudice in sports was a wrong that needed to be righted in baseball. Writers have no formal guidance as to HOF restrictions of suspected PED users and it doesn’t equate with racism on any level. Baseball writers are as equipped. As any group to deal with an issue given no parameters.

    • paperlions - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      You read words that were not there.

      • backmanturneroverdrive - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        @pastabelly, You do realize Craig didn’t write this column right? Maybe read before you comment.

  4. schrutebeetfarms - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    While I agree with the spirit of the posting, I don’t quite feel as much sympathy for those who chose to abuse illegal drugs as I would have for the Negro League players who were kept out because of racism. Not quite apples to apples.

    • DJ MC - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      It isn’t meant to be apples-to-apples. Poz sees a situation where the Hall is purposely ignoring a serious issue, and so he brings up a similar point in the past and the push to bring about action.

      It isn’t at all about whether or not users of PEDs should be inducted, but how the Hall should take a stand on the issue instead of allowing conjecture, slander and ignorance to lead to stalemate. A stalemate that, despite the spin the Hall tries desperately to put out, has a severe impact on not just business at the museum, but on an entire community.

      Taking a stand, to either side as long as the methods used in the decision are sound, would either give a strong rebuke to the voters who take what a lot of people believe is a hypocritical stand on morality, or would name certain players as ineligible, period, and free up ballot space for others to get in.

    • aiede - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      How about the guys who’re being kept out of the HoF because of misplaced suspicion?

      Joe’s point was that there needs to be a process that gives voters, players and fans clarity, rather than leaving it up to Murray Chass’s gut feelings.

  5. braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    You don’t often see anyone calling for Ben Johnson to get his Olympic records and medals back. Steroids have a widely recognized stigma in sports. Amphetamines, spitballs and corked bats don’t.

    • cohnjusack - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      Amphetamines and corked bats are stigmatized in sports? Since when?!?!

      • braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        I said they aren’t. They are viewed as minor, whereas steroids are viewed as major. At least in baseball. Thus the majority’s rejection of steroid users and acceptance of amphetamine users, spitballers, bat corkers, etc…

      • paperlions - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        Man, amphetamines can’t catch a break. Every year a LOT of people die of heart attacks after taking amphetamines or similar “energy” supplements that can be purchased OTC and they STILL can’t get stigmatized. Obviously, steroids is just a media/fan darling….getting stigmatized despite not being nearly as dangerous.

      • cohnjusack - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:56 PM

        I missed a ‘nt in my last post.

        It should have read “Amphetamines and corked bats aren’t stigmatized in sports? Since when?!?!”

        Instead, I made typo that said the exact opposite of what I meant to say. I’m the geniusist.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      The thing is–and this is what the article is actually saying–is that there is no consensus on what to do with players from “the steroid era.”

      There are writers who ignore PEDs and vote for who they see as the best players. There are others who are on record as saying they will vote for nobody who played between 1995-2003 unless they can be proven clean, which simply isn’t possible. Others vote for players so long as there is no credible evidence of PED use. Still others exclude based on rumor.

      The result is a backlog of players with strong HoF resumes that aren’t getting in because so many conflicting viewpoints depresses the percentage anybody can get. Without leadership from the HoF Board of Directors, the situation will continue to get worse for the next decade or so for the BBWAA. Then it will become a Veterans’s Committee dilemma.

      Posnansky’s point is that the Hall needs to take a clear stand one way or the other, unless gridlock is what they want. Posnansky did not state what that stand should be.

      • braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        This isn’t a race issue though. There is no obvious choice to make, like allowing blacks and Negro League players in the Hall. This is an ethics and sportsmanship issue. Voters are told, and have been told for a long time, to vote with their hearts. What has changed that they need to stop doing that and vote in players based on stats alone.

      • schm1471 - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        My solution to the problem of too much subjectivity in voting: Everyone vote with your hearts.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:23 PM

        I’ll take your statement one piece at a time.
        1) You are right that this is not as clean an issue as racial discrimination and segregation.
        2) It is indeed an ethics issue.
        3) The status quo is a stand, albeit not a very satisfying one.
        4) Posnansky did not say that the HoF stance should be to “vote in players based on stats alone.” I did not say that either.

        If the HoF Board of Directors were to decide to declare certain players ineligible, so be it. That would be a clear stance and shorten the ballot. That in turn would make it easier for players that are worthy of entry to get in than is currently the case. Again, leaving purely to the individual writer’s viewpoint will result in further stagnation. I actually expect Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza to get fewer votes this year. They may get in eventually, but frankly it will not surprise me (based on how the ballots look for the next 5 years) for none of them to get in for at least 6 more years. Others, like Mussina or Schilling, who should be no brainers, might never get enough traction with the BBWAA. McGriff, Larry Walker, Tim Raines, Alan Trammel and others–who are in no way connected to steroids and in earlier decades would have gotten strong consideration–will almost surely have to wait for the Veteran’s Committee. Remember also that the Veteran’s Committee has not selected a living ball player in 10 years (not counting ones selected primarily due to their work as an umpire or manager).

        The HoF could do any number of things to guide the voters more if they wanted to as well. They could go one way and say that steroid use is a stain on the history of the game. That would tip the scale for a lot of voters, and players like McGwire likely fall off the ballot. They could state the morality clause should be in terms of general citizenship only, and then certain known steroid users likely get in. They can continue the status quo, and players from around 1985 on will continue to be under represented in the HoF, even those not connected to PEDs.

        Basically, it seems to me you see the status quo as a fine solution. I respectfully disagree for the reasons stated above. I believe the HoF would be well served to make a clear statement one way or the other.

  6. pjmitch - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Would this be a bad time to bring up the name, Pete Rose?

    • paperlions - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      It would be irrelevant. The HOF DID take a stand on Rose. After (not before) Rose was banned from baseball, the HOF adopted a new rule that made individuals banned from MLB ineligible for induction.

      • giant4life - Dec 26, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        It seems to me that most of the commenters have missed the entire point of Ted Williams talk….. Baseball is a game of imperfection that we as viewers wish to see perfection. There is none. Just as Williams was trying to understand a wrong regarding black players much can be said about the present day players who’ve been linked to steroid use… I applaud Ted Williams even though I was not a fan of his brashness. It took guts for Ted Williams to stand up to the baseball community in the 1960s regarding black players and their treatment ,just as it will require guts for sportswriters to talk about the modern-day steroid era……. Ending prejudice has Williams found, it is hard to do?

      • paperlions - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        That is what Williams’ comments in his HOF speech were about, that is NOT what Joe’s piece was about. The piece was about the HOF taking a leadership role on an issue that required such leadership, and it used Williams’ comments as an example of a time when the HOF did just that.

    • ronnies3675 - Dec 30, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      im thinking it a good time for pete rose he never cheated at the game,,,the betting issue i understand ..its a law in baseball so he guilty and later in life things have a way of turning arounf i hope to see him in one day….the ped users they get there fines and suspensions and continue playing where the comparision with rose,,,,the hall should take in the consideration of GUILTY with a explanation and seperate the players who are users and allow them in its part of history and isnt it what the hall wants in cooperstown…the day comes where there will be a peds exhibit there

  7. Professor Longnose - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    My feeling is that time will be a better consensus-gatherer than a committee. I could be wrong.

  8. braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I don’t understand this piece. Many HOFers and future HOFers have spoken out against allowing known/suspected PED users in the Hall. Is it only relevant if one/some of them is FOR it?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      No, it’s take a stand in some direction. The fence sitting is what got us here in the first place. Whether you decide they shouldn’t be in, or should be in, or that if you are caught you are banned but if not, go ahead. Whatever you choose, make a choice.

      How is this so difficult to understand?

      • braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Isn’t deciding not to vote in known/suspected PED users a choice. You and others are just mad that they are choosing to agree with YOU. The “choice” has already mean made. There is no fence.

      • braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        aren’t and been. Edit function would be nice.

      • dluxxx - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        draddavery – Known = Fine. If that’s the choice to keep them out because they were caught, then fine. But suspected I have a problem with. If you’re going to keep out Piazza becuase he had a little backne and Biggio becuase you THINK he might have done it but he has never been tied to or accused of steroid use (except by Chass of course) then you cross a line from being an absolutist to an a$$hole.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        Yes, an individual leaving a name off a ballot is taking a stand. The problem is the Hall not taking a stand one way or the other. Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, et al aren’t getting in, but they aren’t falling off the ballot either. There are many conflicting viewpoints resulting in players not actually suspected of cheating by most not getting in either. If the Hall wants paralysis to the point 0.1% of eligible players get in instead of the historical 1-3% from previous decades, then that’s what they’ve got. If their stand was to declare the Clemens’s of the world ineligible, then that would shorten the ballot and maybe people like McGriff or Larry Walker or Tim Raines or Alan Trammel or whoever could gather enough votes to get in that cannot now because of the glut of PED connected players taking up ballot space.

      • billybawl - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        There hasn’t been a choice by the HOF though. There was a choice with Pete Rose. If you’re banned from MLB, you’re banned from the HOF. Until the HOF does something, you’re going to have some voters that have chosen not to elect players tied to PEDs, and some voters that have chosen to elect players regardless of PED ties. Thus the logjam affecting all candidates.

      • braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        Biggio will make it very soon and Piazza and Bagwell may as well. It’s not like they have been blackballed. It’s only an issue if these “suspected but never proven to have used” guys don’t make it at all. There is no issue with these guys. It’s possible that SOME voters are simply waiting a little while to enshrine the likes of Bags, Biggs and Piazza to be sure that no new PED info comes to light. I don’t see a problem with that. They may simply be erring on the side of caution, due to the stigma of the Steroid Era.

    • drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      The witch hunt is and has been in full swing on PEDs. It is always important for differences in prevailing opinion to be voiced–arguably more important than repeating the prevailing opinion over and over again.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:28 PM

      But the players are not the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame needs to decide what it wants to be. As Joe wrote, too many players want to lock the door behind them (Gossage has been like that), so they’re not an objective source and they shouldn’t be the final say. I’d certainly listen to them. But I wouldn’t give them a veto.

    • DJ MC - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      You’ve completely misread the article.

      It isn’t about the BBWAA. They are allowed to vote for whomever they choose from the provided ballot, and will continue to do so.

      It isn’t about current Hall of Famers commenting on the situation. Whether or not one agrees with them, they are entitled to have their own opinions on who gets into the Hall and who does not, and to express those opinions as they see fit.

      This is about the Hall of Fame as an organization. They have looked at one of the biggest issues facing the sport today, and decided to simply not say a thing. The article looks at a time when an inductee pointed out the inaction of the Hall which began a campaign to get them to take action, and compares it to a similar point of inaction now.

      Because the Hall itself has not amended its rules (which, as pointed out above, it reserves the right to do at any time) to change who can go on the ballot, it creates a situation where there is a stalemate. For the Hall, this is a very bad thing, both from a perception and an economic standpoint. By going through a process where the issue is looked at and a decision is reached–exclude PED users from the ballot, ignore the use, or something in between–it takes away much of what creates the stalemate.

      If they ban users completely, those players won’t be on the ballot, period. Even those who discount PED use as an issue won’t be able to vote for those players. If they go to some point in the other direction, writers who were holding back their votes pending a decision (and I would bet there are more than any of us think) may stop doing so.

      Either way, the ballot will open up and the Hall will not only get new inductees, but will receive praise (and scorn, in certain cases) for making a decision. That’s really what everyone involved will want.

  9. cackalackyank - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Very good post. There needs to be a bench mark set. Letting a bunch of writers solely dictate what the history of the game will be is idiotic. If there hadn’t been an “icebreaker”, Negro League players might still be excluded.

  10. royalsblues - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    The issue that bothers me the most wouldn’t be solved by committee meetings. I hate that Bagwell and Piazza are clearly being excluded due to the fact that several writers “think” they used. There’s no evidence to support that claim, so voters are allowing their suspicions to screw up the Hall of Fame.

    • dluxxx - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      Exactly. If they decide to keep out known users, then so be it. My biggest issue is with those who never tested positive, yet are still lumped in with users because someone thought they might have used. How do they even fight against that?

      “Well Mr. Biggio, I’m sorry we couldn’t induct you, but we THINK you may have done something bad. We don’t really have any proof, but we don’t want to make a mistake and put you in if you didn’t deserve it. Same with you Mr. Piazza. You had some suspicious red marks on your back on a hot summer day that could or could not have been regular old backne or heat rash. It also could have been steroids, so we’re keeping you out too.”

      How do you even tell someone that? But that’s the court of public opinion. You’re guilty until proven innocent, and you can’t even really prove it in this situation…

      • dcarroll73 - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM

        dluxxx, you do realize that Barry Bonds is right there on the list of “those who have never tested positive” for PEDS? And I would hope that unless you are completely innumerate you would acknowledge that Barry has a stronger case than Craig Biggio or Jeff Bagwell (who should both join Barry in the HoF.)

      • stercuilus65 - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:55 PM

        Carroll has never heard of the mitchell report I guess…

  11. greej1938l - Dec 26, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    It’s time for HOF to let Pete rose in first

    • chinahand11 - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Amen. It isn’t a Hall of Fame without Pete Rose. I don’t care what anyone thinks about my opinion on Pete.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM

        And yet you posted it anyway.

      • chinahand11 - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Sit back down oh trollish one 18thstreet. Not even a good troll, tsk tsk. Yet you posted it anyway.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      I agree that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. However in making that statement, I must acknowledge that as of now, the reason Rose is not in is because he accepted a BAN for life for gambling. Is time to lift that ban now? Yes. Now keep in mind that the “kangaroo court” of writers is keeping several truly great players, players that were demonstrably great before they a presumed to have begun using PEDs, players that never failed a test, out of the Hall. It is time to “take a stand” and define what PEDS really mean to the game, and why they are being treated differently than most other misdeeds.

    • dcarroll73 - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      I agree. I was never a Reds, Phillies, or Rose fan, but let Pete in or close the place! The “rule” the article referred to regarding Rose is completely misguided. Banning someone from baseball should refer to ongoing activity that might bring harm to the game. I doubt that people want Pete Rose to manage again with his known gambling problem. That is totally different from acknowledging his contributions and importance to the game (i.e. voting him into the Hof.) For a while Willie Mays was banned (no more appearing at Giants spring training to coach youngsters) due to his connection to casino interests. Both Willie’s role (not an in-season manager) and that connection might have been a lot less of a problem than Rose’s, but would anyone in their right mind think there could be a HoF worth having without Willie? I won’t put Rose on Willie’s level (maybe a handful in all baseball history are?) but the situation calls on fans to think about what “rules” that institution might propose.

  12. nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    PEDs aside, the top of this post gives us yet another reason to salute Ted Williams. In the 1940s, like many others, he set his bat down and went off for 3 years to help save the world from global fascism. He set it down again when his nation called in the 1950s after N.Korea attacked S.Korea. And then in the 1960s, he stood up for racial fairness and dignity, a cause that in parts of our nation was still getting people killed. All that and this: More than 70 years later, he remains the last man to bat .400. Wow.

  13. dcfan4life - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    I think this whole article is kind of an oxymoron. You basically said how Ted Williams wished to celebrate baseball. How the Hall of Fame ignored race and allowed the best athletes in. And it defined the HOF as an organization. And it needs to be done again. Well this point of view is flawed. First off, all the drugs, stealing signs, doctoring the baseball was done to get a competitive advantage. Long night last night, take some drugs to stay awake. Curve ball not curving today, add some substance for more dip. Is that right, no, of course not, but every player who did those things were good enough to be in the majors to begin with. And baseball players, writers and fans knew it and usually dont care. But with steroids, its more like hey, your too slow, take some steroids, you will be faster. Hey, your too weak, take some steroids, you will be stronger. Hey, your bats too slow, take some steroids and you will be faster and stronger in your swing. This is changing your physical nature for a competitive edge. And its not for one game, one pitch, its for a career. It makes players like Barry Bonds go from HOF quality to the home run king. And the difference was obvious. 30-40 home runs a season in your career to 73? Give me a break. Its not like any of those other cheating methods changed a player so much before and after that their season stats are night and day. Hence why i feel this point is flawed, and wrong. And no organization like the HOF should step in and say hey, epic ultimate steroid cheaters, what you did that you never would have done on your best days without steroids are such amazing accomplishments, here is your eternal induction into the HOF. They all got rewarded with money, fame, woman, etc… They don’t deserve anything else.

    • braddavery - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:46 PM

      Prepare to be blasted with downvotes. You make some good points, IMO.

    • DJ MC - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      You misread the article completely. Check my responses to bradavery and schrutebeetfarms above for why.

      • dcfan4life - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        I think you missed the articles intended conclusion to your proposed thought process completely. Your saying its about the HOF taking a stand on its position with steroids. And not about whos deserving and who isnt. But if the hall axes known steroid users off the ballet, whos to say who stays and who goes. Does a guy with 1 steroid year lose out just as much as a guy who probably did it his entire career? Would about proof? Everyone assumes Roger Clemens and Jeff Bagwell were users, yet there’s no proof. Clemens was acquitted from a federal court of all things. If the HOF puts such a stamp on its doors, its similar to being racial. It would come down to personal preference to each individual. I think this article is simply stating that the HOF needs to clarify that the best players from an era of cheaters should be deserving. And im saying the public doesn’t feel that way. The voters dont feel that way. And the current crop of players don’t feel that way. So the HOF doing nothing, not being the center of controversy and allowing its doors to remain open for anyone voted in, steroids or not, is probably the best solution it can adhere to right now under the circumstances. And my original statement, calling this article an oxymoron, is totally correct under my expectations of the impact of the HOF making a stance, one way or another. Because by doing so, the HOF will do exactly the opposite of what it did before when it said race wasnt an issue. Unless we have a time machine and testing kits, no one will know the full extent of steroid use and thats not fair enough for the HOF to make a firm stance.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:34 PM

        First an amendment to what you wrote–nearly everyone assumes Clemens used PEDs, I very much doubt even a majority of think that of Bagwell.

        That said, the Hall does not have to make a concrete statement to make a stance. They can make a statement that steroid are a blight on the game of baseball–known or strongly suspected users would almost certainly then fall off the ballot, excepting Bonds and Clemens. They could state that the morality clause is to be used in a general citizenship sense, or remove it altogether–which would stop at least some of the use of innuendo as a reason to not vote for players.

  14. zerohandicapper - Dec 26, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    This article just screams “Let Bonds, McGuire, and Clemens in the HOF”. They are cheaters, plain and simple. That being said…Clemens was in, but he blew it. The money got to him and he felt he needed more with the last few years of his career. Bonds…who knows. I do know it takes a extraordinary human being to hit 90+ MPH fastballs like he did. You cannot teach the eye hand coordination that Bonds had. How far would the balls have traveled without steroids? Who knows. At they end of the day…they are all pompous Aholes.

    • DJ MC - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      If that’s what you think it screams, that’s because you have your mind made up and that’s what you see.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Yeah, Rickey Henderson wasn’t a pompous a-hole.

      Look, there are lots of flawed people in the Hall.

  15. keltictim - Dec 26, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Great read. Personally I don’t want cheaters in the hall, but those that are accused with only anecdotal evidence? Damn that’s a tough call. I guess if I had a vote and someone like piazza came up I would vote no. It seems like maybe he took something plus the few bad apples that did get caught just really make me feel like if it appears that you did during that era then you probably did. It sucks for the guys that are falsely lumped in but maybe if they had done a better job self policing the game and outing people while it was going on they wouldn’t be in this situation. There should be some repercussion for all the clean guys that knew about the cheaters and did nothing. I’m glad I don’t have a vote and don’t have to spend any serious thought on it.

    • dcarroll73 - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      No offense (well not too much) Keltictim, but your reasoning is badly flawed. From your argument I would agree that such players should not be voted into the Hall of Fame of Amateur Policemen and Informers. Fortunately that is not what we are discussing. I don’t care if they just kept their heads down and ignored the problem. You’re going to exclude Piazza because he had backne and failed to rat out fellow players? Are you kidding me?! (And I will point out that I am a Giants and Yankee fan speaking up for a Dodger/Met.)

  16. Walk - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    When i was in college accruing debt that the army would eventually pay off for me when i was called for jury duty. In the judges instructions he told the jury to remember “just because a person is arrested that does not mean they were guilty”. The very first words spoken when we started to deliberate was from an elderly lady and she said something that saddens me to this day and has always turned me off jury trials. She said “i vote guilty”. When asked why after the rest of us had voted, only a couple jurors had voted guilty, she stated that the person charged would not have been arrested if they were not guilty. Our foreman reported this to the bailiff and we were discharged as a group. I have seen this same attitude repeated time and again all my life in varying situations and i am seeing it now when people think that bagwell or biggio or the like are guilty because some writer with no proof refuses to vote for them. If players meet the requirements of being the best of their generation, vote for them. If it later comes out that they cheated remove them. Add the ability to remove player’s due to proven ped use. Perhaps this would be a board of director’s power or perhaps it should be placed on the veteran’s committee but either way it is time for change.

    • indaburg - Dec 27, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      I agree it’s time for change but…

      “If it later comes out that they cheated remove them. Add the ability to remove player’s due to proven ped use.”

      Hank Aaron used amphetamines, PEDs, by his own admission. All in favor of removing of removing Aaron from the HoF? (My hands are down.)

      …I’m not sure this is the answer.

      Aaron isn’t the only known PED user in the HoF either. If you a quick search online, you’ll find almost every great player in the 60s used amphethamines, yet they weren’t ostracized like steroid users are. Both substances are illegal and theoretically confer a chemical advantage. Why the double standard?

  17. ndazcom - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    That seemed a really good idea, until I looked up the Hall’s Board of Directors (BoD). I was hoping the BoD would be composed of people that understand the “true” Hall better than a huge bunch of random sportswriters (Joe included). Besides, small groups can make tough decisions that larger ones can’t.
    You can go to the HoF website to look it up, but here’s my synopsis:
    It starts out looking promising.
    A third of the BoD is composed of former players (and current Hall of Famers):
    1) Joe Morgan (Vice Chairman of BoD)
    2) Tom Seaver
    3) Phil Niekro
    4) Brooks Robinson
    5) Frank Robinson

    but the other 2/3 of it is just composed of rich people, but to be fair some of them have a strong and extended connection to the Hall and many of them are former or current owners or commissioners
    1) Jane Forbes Clark II-the Chairperson (her grandfather founded the HoF and her family has been involved in the Hall ever since. She’s also been involved in all sorts of baseball-related charities and charities of all kinds)
    2) Edward Stack (rich guy, but he’s been on the BoD for 36 years, so he probably knows it well)
    -He’s been involved with the Hall since 1961 & was Chairman of the BoD for 23 yrs (77-2000)
    3) David Glass (Wal-Mart rich guy and Royals owner)
    4) Bud Selig (Commisioner, rich guy and former Brewers owner)
    5) Jerry Reinsdorf (rich guy and Chairman of the White Sox & Bulls)
    6) Paul Beeson (richy guy and former COO of MLB and current CEO of the Blue Jays)
    7) William DeWitt (rich guy and Chairman of the Board for the Cardinals)
    8) William Gladstone (rich guy who owns a Class A team)
    9) Harvey Schiller (rich guy and…um…I guess that’s really his only reason for being on the BoD)
    10) Kevin S. Moore (rich guy and again that appears to be his only qualification)

    Is that really the group we want making this kind of decision? HoFers, the founder’s granddaughter & the guy that was chairman for 23yrs probably are good options. The rest of them I’m not as sure about.

    • raysfan1 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:25 AM

      Don’t you just love how the software here is.turning an 8 and a ) into an emoticon?

      Anyway, Schiller has been the chairman of the International Baseball Federation and the US Olympic Committee. Hew was also once CEO of YankeeNets.

      As for Miller, he’s one of the Hall of Fame’s treasurers, so I’m guessing that’s how he’s on the BoD.

  18. denny65 - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    Steroids? Pffft.

    When The HOF door is held open for Pete Rose and apologies are offered all around, only then can we discuss chemical ingestion/injection and their alleged impact on stats.

    Rose’s exclusion forever taints what the HOF supposedly stands for.

    • stevequinn - Dec 28, 2013 at 4:24 AM

      You’re right. Time for Rose to be inducted into the HOF.

  19. indaburg - Dec 27, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    Imagine a ballplayer like Mariano or Maddux, some shoe-in for the HoF, making a similar stand for his fellow teammates. “There are a lot of great ballplayers being left out because of innuendo, supposition, and hearsay. I know you writers are in a tough position making decisions about morality and fair play. It would be great if you had more guidance in making these decisions when voting who to make immortals.” The BBWAA is punting right now and putting it on all of its individual voters to apply their own ethics.

    • signahead - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:19 AM

      I don’t have enough thumbs up for this comment (and your comment about Hank Aaron, amphetamines and the Hall of Fame).

  20. denverdude7 - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    All sports have become more about entertainment and less about the game itself. Baseball is the most glaring example of this. Being the only major national sport yet to adopt a hard salary cap proves that the main intent is really to sell beer, soda and tortilla chips.

    That being said, I say let the players take whatever performance enhancing drugs they want. Let’s face it. The homerun races between McGwire, Sosa and Bonds were some of the most exciting times in baseball history and resulted in record attendance and beer sales.

    By allowing the players to “roid-up” it evens the playing field, eliminates the gray areas regarding Hall of Fame eligibility and most likely lead to record attendance and most importantly… beer sales.

    Do away with drug testing completely and let us see someone crank out 100 homeruns in a single season. The folks at the breweries would love it !!!!!!!

  21. eseberle - Dec 28, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Well if they let these guys in Pete Rose needs to go in first. Here’s a guy who has more hits then anyone who has ever played the game and he is being kept out for something he did after his playing days were over

  22. wouldabeenthere - Dec 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Time to acknowledge that PED’s were/are an integral part of baseball/sport and understand that since records and outcomes can not be revised it is time to include PED users without argument. Individual PED user’s stats can be ignored but the effect those users have on games, series, championships can not be filtered out, nor can the feeling these players created with their fans. Accept previous PED use and try to eliminate it for the future the same as spit balls and corked bats.

  23. grumpyredskin23 - Dec 28, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    I like this post, very interesting, and I agree. First I never have cared much about who gets into the baseball hall because of the fact that they are chosen by biased writers who have never played. I think players should be chosen by their peers. Secondly, I agree with this thought because I have always felt that while yes peds boosted strength and may have allowed for quicker healing times I don’t see them enhancing hand eye coordination to be able to hit the ball and if it was so widely used as we now know during that era, aren’t those that excelled still considered better than their counterparts during that era? Didn’t they better baseball by selling more tickets and making a bigger interest in the game? Taking a look at this by the hall much like the negro era I think deserves merit.

  24. ndrick731 - Dec 29, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Well joe we all now know you are in favor if allowing the cheaters into the hof. The fact is these guys were able to continue to play thanks to the mlbpa and their constant fighting to avoid testing. If it wasn’t for congress threatening to take action they would still be obstructing a testing process. These guys were a disgrace to sports and should never have their stats recognized by admission to the hof.

  25. jeremycmurray - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    just before I saw the receipt four $5820, I did not believe …that…my cousin woz like they say realy receiving money parttime on-line.. there friend brother had bean doing this for only about 16 months and resently paid the debts on their cottage and got a gorgeous Mitsubishi Evo. navigate to this website,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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