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Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera and the silent majority

Jun 27, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT

We’ve been talking about this stuff for more than a decade now — talking about it and talking about it and talking about it — but I guess we still don’t know how everybody feels about baseball players who use performance-enhancing drugs. Every time it seems like we’re getting close to understanding the topic, some sign or signal or trend seems to blow up everything.

Of course, we know how SOME people feel. We know some of us are outraged by the steroid users, the HGH users, the cheaters. Some of us feel like these players stole something important from baseball with all their tainted home run records and faux legendary performances — something the game can never quite get back. Some of us (including some Hall of Fame voters) find it hard or impossible to forgive.

On the other hand, though, some of us think the whole steroid thing has been overblown, that the moralism surrounding the issue has become as tiresome as the steroid use itself. Some of us think the attempts to shun and ostracize baseball players who used steroids so they could work out harder and come back from injuries more quickly has pushed past reasonableness and that the annual Hall of Fame “did he or didn’t he” dance has drained all the fun out of the baseball.

Some of us feel this. Some of us feel that.

But every time the consensus seems to be collecting in one area, there is a bold sign that, no, we’re still locked in a stalemate. Take Ryan Braun. It sure seemed like we were supposed to be very angry with Ryan Braun. His was a particularly infuriating case. You will remember the details: In late 2011, a month after Braun had been named league MVP, it was leaked that he had tested positive on a drug test and was in line for a 50-game suspension. One anonymous source said it was the highest testosterone level ever recorded by Major League Baseball.

Well, Braun appealed the decision by bringing into question the way his sample was collected and delivered. He won the appeal — “on a technicality” according to the New York Times — and the whole thing might have died quietly. Instead, Braun decided to do an unappetizing touchdown dance press conference which included his Nelson Mandela-esque soliloquy: “I’ve always stood up for what is right … today is about everybody who’s been wrongly accused, and everybody who’s ever had to stand up for what is actually right.”

The technical term for what Braun did at the press conference, I believe, is: Lying. Last year, he was powerfully linked to the Biogenesis mess — that South Florida Carl Hiaasen novel of an anti-aging clinic and baseball player PED farm — and while at first Braun tried to separate himself through various means (lying) he eventually accepted a 65-game suspension and said he “made some mistakes.”

Those darned mistakes.

So, much of the talk at that point was how people would boo Braun, how rough it would be for him on the field and so on. Well, this year, Ryan Braun is not having a particularly good year. He’s hitting .284/.336/.488 — all three splits the lowest of his career — and he’s a mediocre right fielder at best.

Right now, the fans have him fifth in the outfield All-Star voting, in range of getting a starting nod. That would be fifth in the All-Star voting, way ahead of Jason Heyward and Hunter Pence and Justin Upton and Mike Morse, all of whom arguably are having better years, and Billy Hamilton, who is a lot more fun.

You may say: Well, that’s Milwaukee fans stuffing the ballot box. Maybe. Except for this: Are you really saying that Milwaukee Brewers fans are stuffing the ballot box?

And also this: Braun is not alone. Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz IS having a good year. A great year, in fact — he was tied for the league in homers and RBIs. He, too, was suspended for his connection with Biogenesis. And he’s leading all American League DHs in votes — he has more votes, in fact, than Derek Jeter in his final season. Could Baltimore fans be stuffing the ballot box, too?

What about Toronto fans? Melky Cabrera at the moment has enough votes to be an American League starting outfielder. Cabrera failed his drug test back in 2012, a year the Giants were on their way to the World Series, he was suspended for 50 games, and people seemed to be griping that he didn’t even deserve a World Series ring (he got one). Now he’s having an OK year and he has a very real chance to start in the All-Star Game.

So what does it mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. We don’t know. Ten years of analysis and takes and government intervention and self-promoting baseball public relations and everything else, and the truth is we still have no real clarity on how we feel about steroids and other more powerful drugs in baseball. Nobody wants it in the game. We know that. But is it a scourge on the game? Is it a misdemeanor at worst? Is it a Hall of Fame disqualifier? Is it just like other kinds of cheating (greenies, spitballs, corked bats, etc.)? Is it even a factor when voting for All-Star teams?

For fun, I put up a little survey in an effort to find something like a consensus on such things. Here was the conceit: You have 12 hypothetical baseball players who, by the numbers and by their performance, are clear-cut, no-doubt Baseball Hall of Famers. But each player was a bit different.

You have to decide whether or not each of the 12 is a Hall of Famer.

If you like, you can take the survey yourself … but I’ll give the latest results here. More than 3,000 people took the test.

 

Player 1: Great person, unanimously beloved, signed every autograph, treated everyone with respect.

Hall of Famer: 95.2 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 4.8 percent

Comment: Well, the point was for Player 1 to get 100 percent of the vote — there’s no real reason to NOT vote for him — but as you can see about five percent decided to vote against this imaginary player everyone loves who had clear-cut Hall of Fame credentials. This is pretty realistic, actually. Willie Mays got 94.7 percent of the vote.

 

Player 2: Unlikeable person, terrible teammate, generally despised in the clubhouse, booed often.

Hall of Famer: 89.3 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 10.7 percent

Comment: A few people decided to pass on the terrible teammate but the vast majority did not see moodiness or egotism as a reason to keep a player out of the Hall of Fame.

 

Player 3: Cheated regularly in what most would consider an on-the-field, baseball-centric way (threw spitballs, corked bats, maliciously spiked players to gain an advantage, etc).

Hall of Famer: 63.6 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 36.4 percent

Comment: Here is the first shocker. I full expected this kind of cheater to get three-quarters of the vote, minimum. This sort of cheating — Gaylord Perry’s spitball, Babe Ruth’s likely bat-corking, Ty Cobb’s spike sharpening — seemed to have become a part of baseball’s lore. This is the game of: If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

But almost 40 percent of the voters found this kind of cheating to be offensive enough to keep a player out of the Hall of Fame. I find that interesting, even if this isn’t anything resembling a scientific poll.

 

Player 4: Had one or more famous on-the-field incidents that embarrassed baseball (spit at an umpire, threw a bat at a pitcher, pitched a fastball at a player’s head, started fights, etc.)

Hall of Famer: 89.4 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 10.6 percent

Comment: Voters clearly weren’t too bothered by incidents like this.

 

Players 5: Popped amphetamines regularly in the belief they kept him more alert.

Hall of Famer: 83.6 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 16.4 percent

Comment: Voters did not really seem to care much about greenies either. I have a theory about this, which I will talk about in the next comment.

 

Player 6: Used steroids a couple of times before testing was put into place and stopped because he felt like they did not work well for him.

Hall of Famer: 87.7 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 12.3 percent

Comment: Here’s shocker No. 2. Almost 90 percent of voters seemed to have no hesitation at all voting for someone who tried steroids a couple of times. It’s easy to make too much of a silly poll like this, but this does touch upon a theory of mine. I’ve always thought there are two main reasons why people are against steroid use in baseball.

1. Using steroids is WRONG.

2. Using steroids makes a players’ performance inauthentic.

The first — using steroids is wrong — is a big and bold topic, and it covers a lot of ground. Steroid use can be wrong for dozens of reasons. You might think steroid use is wrong because it’s cheating, because it’s illegal, because it sets a bad example for kids, because it hurts honest players, because it’s bad for your health, because it messes with nature and so on and so on.

But the second — this is Bob Costas’ point of view — is that while steroid use may be wrong, that’s not why steroid use should keep players out of the Hall of Fame. The Costas view is that players have ALWAYS cut corners and cheated in various ways. If I understand his viewpoint — and we’ve talked about it at length — I don’t think he sees a big MORAL difference between using steroids and popping amphetamines; in both cases players are using drugs that are illegal without prescription to improve their play.

But he sees a gigantic PRACTICAL difference between the two. He does not think amphetamines altered players’ performance in a big way, but he thinks steroids did that. The reason he would not vote, say, Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame is NOT because he thinks McGwire committed some sort of unpardonable baseball sin. It is because he believes, without steroids, McGwire would not have been a Hall of Fame player.

This difference is really not subtle … and there are strong signs that many voters in this poll agree with Costas. The high total for amphetamine users suggests that people are not as bothered by greenies because they do not fundamentally alter players’ performance. And the Player 6 vote is even more pointed: Here you have a player who used steroids a couple times. But he stopped because he could not see the benefits. He cheated, but the cheating did not make him a better player. And 87.7 percent of the voters say he’s a Hall of Famer.

 

Player 7: Used steroids for much of his career before baseball tested, felt badly about it, admitted it and worked to prevent kids from using steroids in the future.

Hall of Famer: 75.7 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 24.3 percent

Comment: Well, 75 percent of the BBWAA is enough to get a player into the Hall of Fame. Of course, this wasn’t the BBWAA voting … and this probably wasn’t specific enough. I was thinking a bit of McGwire when writing the description — and McGwire received just 11 percentof the vote this year. But looking back I realize there are many reasons people do not vote for McGwire. Some, like Costas, don’t think he was truly a Hall of Fame player. And many others felt his admission and apology fell short.

 

Player 8: Used steroids before testing, lied about it, never did come around to admitting it.

Hall of Famer: 61.3 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 38.7 percent

Comment: I’m surprised how close this vote total is to Player 3, the one who threw spitballs or corked bats. It’s almost like these voters were saying: Cheating is cheating.

 

Player 9:  Used steroids and other PEDs after testing, was caught, promised to never do it again, was never caught again.

Hall of Famer: 59.2 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 40.8 percent

Comment: Similar to Player 8. I actually am a little harder-line on this … I think it’s quite a lot worse using PEDs now, with testing in place and with clear guidelines, than it was in the wild 1990s when nobody seemed to know the rules and nobody seemed to care.

Before you say it — there’s no doubt in my mind that players in the 1990s knew that PED use was cheating. But at the same time, I’ve always thought that MLB was more than tacitly encouraging steroid use by having no drug testing, by celebrating the power numbers, by plainly looking the other way. The Selig Power Hour Era was the work of many people, including an uninterested media and public that has long shrugged at steroid use in, say, the NFL. But it seems like only a handful of players are taking the fall after baseball steroid use became a national cause.

Now, I think there are no excuses and there is no gray area: If a player uses steroids, he’s cheating and he’s going to be punished severely if caught.

 

Player 10: Was convicted of killing someone two years after retirement when he was no longer involved in baseball.

Hall of Famer: 58.5 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 41.5 percent

Comment: Well, this wouldn’t make for much of an induction day. But the majority of these voters held their noses and voted for the murderer. This gets at something else, something I have written about: When a player is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, is that meant more as an honor for the player or is it meant more to record the best players in baseball history for posterity?

Of course, Hall of Fame inductions are BOTH honor and historical record. But what is the main purpose? If the main purpose is to honor the player — sort of a Nobel Prize of baseball — then, yes, you can see why someone who cheated or committed some sort of unforgivable crime has no place receiving that honor?

But if the point is for posterity, then it’s hard to see NOT putting in a great player because of other flaws. History is messy. The people who should be remembered for their excellence in one way were often very flawed people in many other ways. There are many who say, for instance, that Barry Bonds should be inducted into the Hall of Fame and the various things we know about him and steroids should be boldly noted on his plaque.

O.J. Simpson is still in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was undeniably a great football player and that’s why he’s there. The rest is the rest. How you feel about that probably tells you what you think Hall of Fame should be.

 

Player 11: Gambled on baseball games and threw games on more than one occasion.

Hall of Famer: 11.8 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 88.2 percent

 

Player 12: Gambled on baseball but never threw a game and tried hard to play every game straight.

Hall of Famer: 55.1 percent

Not a Hall of Famer: 44.9 percent

Comment: These were the two lowest vote totals of the whole group. It’s pretty clear that these voters still think gambling — not steroid abuse, not greenie abuse, not cheating in some other way and not even breaking one of the ten commandments  — is baseball’s cardinal sin. Well, it is the one posted in every baseball clubhouse.

And I’m sympathetic to Pete Rose’s Hall of Fame case but I also believe this: He’s not going into the Hall of Fame. Not now. And probably not ever.

  1. brandotho - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    I think fans care a lot less in general about pED use than MLB and the media does. As we’ve seen with Braun and Ortiz, if he’s your player, you still love him. Cruz and Melky are likely to start the All-Star Game, which may be an indictment on the fans and MLB.

    As for the media, particularly the voters it’s really silly that players who have had mere suspicion of PED use like Bagwell, Edgar Martinez and Mike Piazza are having a hard time getting in the HOF. I feel like the PED users of the 90s should be judged on much higher standards for the HOF. McGwire and Sosa are not HOFers because they both have career averages below .275. Bonds is a HOFer.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      McGwire and Sosa are not HOFers because they both have career averages below .275. Bonds is a HOFer.

      McGwire is 81st all time in OBP, ahead of HoF’ers like Rod Carew, Honus Wagner and Joe Morgan (and his .394 is only slightly behind Joe D’s .398), and he’s 8th all time in unadjusted SLG%. There are far better ways to judge a hitter than BA.

      Sosa I’m really iffy on though.

  2. danaking - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    All-Star teams are elected by large masses of people who may attend a game or three, or vote on line for their local players, or who stuff the ballot box. (A couple of orioles fans apparently votes 38,000 times.) They are not, as a group, the most knowledgeable fans, which is fine; the All-Star game in intended to ramp up interest in more casual fans. I’d say there’s a decent chance a lot of these people may not be aware of these players’ involvement in PEDs, or may not be all that aware of what the deal is with PEDs in the first place. People who read and comment on blogs like HBT do, sure; we’re hard-core baseball fans. I’d say people like us make up no more than 5% of the All-Star votes cast.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Sorry buddy, but if you’re taking the time out of your day to vote for the MLB All-Star game, you know something about baseball. You definitely know enough to know that very recently, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, and Nelson Cruz, all were suspended for PED usage. Maybe it’s just that people don’t really care as much as some people think they do.

      • tmc602014 - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        I’s called “rationalization”, Nelson Cruz was always good, he paid his debt to society, and now he’s MY very good Nelson Cruz. Just don’t ask me to vote for that a##&()e Braun.

  3. afrmediaonline - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    The part about Costas claiming amphetamines don’t substantively alter performance is one of the most well-crafted rationalizations I’ve seen. It enables him to still revere the heroes from his era without having to admit that not having to try to hit 90-95 mph fastballs and nasty breaking balls when half-asleep is a pretty substantive enhancement of one’s performance.

    • paperlions - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Indeed.

      In addition, there is really no way to look at McGwire’s career numbers and think he is not a clear cut HOFer (ignoring steroid use). He got on base, hit for power, and was an average defensive 1B. He was a better player than Frank Thomas, higher wRC+, much better base runner and FAR better defensive player. The only difference between the two is that we know one used steroids and we don’t know that the other one did. If you think Thomas is a clear cut HOFer and McGwire is not based on performance (not steroid use), then you are letting your attitude about steroids and breaking the HR record color your judgement.

      • davidpom50 - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Huh. I think both are clear cut HoF, but would’ve guessed Frank Thomas to be the overall better hitter. I guess even though I know now that avg is not a very good way to evaluate ballplayers, my impressions from the late 90s when I was young and dumb are still colored by that poor stat.

      • paperlions - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:08 AM

        Park effects. Thomas played home games in a hitters park, whereas McGwire played his in pitchers parks.

      • thegloriousone - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:16 PM

        Frank Thomas was a far better hitter than McGwire. McGwire was a better fielder, but he was no Brooks Robinson. The only thing that McGwire had on Thomas was his incredible power numbers which didn’t become HOF worthy until he juiced.

        I think McGwire had good natural power, but his eye-popping power numbers came after he juiced. He’ll never make it in.

      • paperlions - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        Feel free to provide any evidence whatsoever that Thomas was a better hitter. Once you account for park effects, he’s wasn’t….and he was a butcher in the field and on the bases.

        Feel free to provide any evidence whatsoever that steroids led to the explosion in power numbers in MLB and make sure to account for changes in ball composition, the size of the strike zone, expansion, and the tendency of all new parks to be hitters parks in the 90s.

  4. cur68 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    The trouble with your poll, Joe, is that its not realistic. In real life we don’t “know” any of what you present about the player’s drug use. In the poll its fact. In real life? Speculation. Hence in the poll if you say a player used a few times, felt bad, and never did it again; we can accept that. In real life if a player said that we can assume he’s lying, and many do assume such hence the results of the poll don’t reflect population behaviour with respect to the athlete.

    Also, there’s far more medical evidence to support the use of amphetamines as a better baseball drug than steroids. Greenies gives one an immediate lift, helps you focus and thus improves hand eye coordination, quickens your reflexes and sustains a heightened awareness of all around the user. What’s more its instantaneous.

    For steroids? Not so much. Months of hard work are still required to get the benefit and you have to KEEP taking them. What’s more, you get a lift in strength but NOT reflexes, hand eye skill, or concentration.

    Anyhow, the poll results don’t surprise me much. If only there was some way to get the BBWAA to act in accordance to fan wishes without stripping them the writer of their rights….

    • sdelmonte - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      Thanks for typing this so I didn’t have to.

      I want to still love Costas. He’s smart, he’s not afraid to have an opinion, and I was thrilled by his comments about guns after the tragedy in Kansas City. But he is a steroids scold now, and that pushes me away.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        I feel like Joe articulated Costas’s position in a way that I can understand even if I don’t agree with it. I know a lot of people hate Costas, but I generally find him a thoughtful guy. Even though I disagree with him on this one, I think he has a valid opinion and one that is worth debating. (Unlike, say, blogger Murray Chass.)

      • paperlions - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        Costa appears to be willfully ignorant on the greenie vs steroid issue in an attempt to say he is not moralizing when he is in fact 100% moralizing and rationalizing. He doesn’t want to consider the performance of his heroes that he now knows took greenies to be tainted, so he decides that greenies don’t have an effect when anyone that bothers to research them can not possibly conclude that. In contrast, he has decided that steroids have a huge effect despite the fact that no one has been able to find that effect or estimate how big it may have been because he can pretend that his heroes didn’t take them (even though they were commonly used in MLB in by the 1960’s).

        In short, Costas is rationalizing so that he can continue to believe what he wants to believe, which doesn’t make him particularly unique as this is common.

      • moogro - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:38 PM

        Anyone with a public voice that claims amphetamines don’t improve performance should be forced to make a documentary where they take batting practice for a period of time with travel and poor sleep, and then do the same again while on amphetamines. We know what the results and the testimony will be: “Wow, this really works.” Like Sanjay Gupta after he finally stopped pontificating and started studying cannabis.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      In real life we don’t “know” any of what you present about the player’s drug use. In the poll its fact. In real life? Speculation

      But I think some of the questions are good proxies for certain individuals. The player Joe describes as having cheated, lied and never came clean still got 61% of the HoF vote totals. Barry Bonds fits that almost to a T, and he only received 34.7% of the vote.

      Yet player 4, the one with a few “embarrassing on field incidents” (cough Roberto Alomar cough) got 90% of the vote on his second year while 89.4% of the respondents would have voted for him.

      I think by not including specific people it keeps some of the inherent biases out of the voting. I think many people don’t vote for players, regardless of their credentials, specifically because of who they are. Look at the totals for Bonds and Clemens. It has to be far more than “steroids” that’s keeping their totals so low.

      • cur68 - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        Solid points, but what I was saying goes towards explaining differences between reality and the survey. The theoretical people are known quantities. The real ones are not. We always see random speculation about certain players. I wish Joe had done a Jeff Bagwell and then we could see if voter behaviour was the same or different:

        The Player never tested positive, denied all use, put up solid HOF numbers, worked out all the time went from skinny to in excellent shape, ended his career derailed by injuries in last few seasons. There were unconfirmed rumours based on very few reporters using “the eyeball test” had he confirmed PEDs teammates.

        I’d love to see the numbers on that one.

      • manimalof7 - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        The other thing about this poll is that the amount of skill of each of these hypothetical players is assumed to be equal. In real life, if we’re talking about Barry Bonds vs. Gaylord Perry, or vs. Roberto Alomar, Bonds far outperformed both of them on the field, so presumably he would have a better chance of being elected if their perceived violations were of the same severity. The poll does not have that as a factor, so trying to use this poll to predict what certain players should get is not looking at the whole picture.

      • thegloriousone - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:31 PM

        You mention batting practice amphetamines and poor sleep etc.
        .
        The same recovery and physical rebounds are seen with HGH. It has also been claimed (I’m no doctor, so I don’t know for sure) that HGH improves vision and hand eye coordination.
        .
        The regimen that Victor Conte had McGwire on, Marion Jones on, Tim Montgomery on, and, yes, Barry Bonds on, was a regimen of steroids AND HGH.
        .
        There is no question that all four of these athletes were enhanced.

  5. mkd - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    I took part in the poll and voted for everyone but the gamblers. The reason I still cast my vote for Player 9–used after testing, got caught, then never got caught again–is that there is a penalty system in place for PED use and you have to get to a third offense before you hit “lifetime ban and therefore ineligible for the Hall of Fame.” If you want a first offense to automatically exclude a player from the Hall of Fame then write it into the rulebook. But don’t catch them, punish them as per the law in place and then CONTINUE to punish them in all kinds of random and arbitrary ways for the rest of their careers.

    • moogro - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      This comment should always be at the beginning of every PED/HOF article.

    • tmc602014 - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      The BBWAA is giving them the punishment, so why does it need to be codified?

    • bellweather22 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Steroid users are on the ballot. They are not excluding them. In Clemens and Bonds case, their support for the HOF is not insignificant. They may well get in eventually. It is the opinion of many that their pre-steroid stats made them HOFers, so steroids didn’t “make them” into HOFers. Voters are having difficulty saying the same thing about McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro and others. The only players not eligible to be on the ballot are those declared permanently ineligible. To my knowledge only the Black Sox and Pete Rose are on this list. In the future, a multiple PED test failure player may make this list. ARod and Braun seem to be getting close to having this happen. But since those PED suspension rules weren’t in play for those currently on the ballot, then baseball rightly leaves them on the ballot.

  6. sportsfan18 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    The leader to help entice us to click on this article (uh, none needed it’s a Mr. Posnanski article) said the following:

    “Nelson Cruz could be elected to the All-Star Game. Melky Cabrera and Ryan Braun, too. Shouldn’t the public be more upset about this?”

    Well, uh, it IS the public who would be electing them to the All-Star game…

    So if the public does it, how could the public be upset about it?

    • jwbiii - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      You don’t follow politics much, do you?

  7. sportsfan18 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    “Of course, Hall of Fame inductions are BOTH honor and historical record. But what is the main purpose?”

    “But if the point is for posterity, then it’s hard to see NOT putting in a great player because of other flaws.”

    The baseball HOF addresses this via the “character clause”.

    Alexander Cleland, who was instrumental in the voting process at its origins, listed general rules for voters to consider that “those worthy of Hall of Fame election should be selected from the ranks for ability, character, and their general contribution to base ball in all respects,” according to an August 1944 memo from Hall of Fame treasurer Paul Kerr.

    Later in 1944, when the Hall of Fame adopted the first formal rules for election, which were implemented for 1945, the Committee for Hall of Fame election authorized the BBWAA to consider candidates “on the basis of playing ability, sportsmanship, character, their contribution to the teams on which they played and to baseball in general.”

    In 1945, as the Rules were altered again in time for elections beginning in 1946, the Hall of Fame’s criteria for election became even more defined. “They shall be chosen on the basis of playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, their contributions to the team on which they played and to baseball in general.”

    The Pro Football HOF has NO such clause.

    So, the PURPOSE of the baseball HOF is BOTH great players who ALSO met the character clause…

    Purpose of football HOF is only stats… if they cared about character, it would be listed as something to consider, but it is NOT.

    Pete Rose, EVEN if NOT banned from the game… what he did on the field easily makes him a HOF player.

    BUT, even if he wasn’t banned, he should NOT get voted in based on the baseball HOF voting GUIDELINES about character.

    Had Rose been a football player, well he’d be in their HOF.

    If folks don’t like the guidelines in baseball’s hof, I guess they could try, lobby to get things changed.

    For NOW, the character clause IS a part of it. betting on the game, even with awesome stats means one should NOT be in… don’t need to ban him from the game though to keep him out of the HOF.

    • dluxxx - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker (game fixer), Cap Ansom (refused to take the field if the opposing team had black players on it), Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (commissioner that maintained segregation in baseball), Owner Tom Yawke (didn’t have a black player until 12 years after Robinson broke the color barrier), Babe Ruth (prodigious drinker and womanizer), Gaylord Perry (doctored the ball with anything he could find and everyone knew it), Orlando Cepeda (served 10 months in prison for smuggling marijuana in Puerto Rico), Paul Moliter (recreational drug use), Wade Boggs (sex addict) and Duke Snider (tax evasion) are all in the Hall of Fame. That Character Clause sure is a great way to weed out the riff-raff isn’t it?

      In the early days of baseball, baseball players were treated like circus performers or prostitutes, being refused entry into hotels, etc. Now they’re heros. Kinda funny how that works, isn’t it?

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        Owner Tom Yawkey (didn’t have a black player until 12 years after Robinson broke the color barrier)

        He also harbored a child sex abuser as well.

      • thegloriousone - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        Ruth and Cobb were great on the field and their off the field pursuits had no effect on this.
        .
        Without the juice, McGwire wouldn’t even be in the HOF conversation. He was an average hitter with phenomenal power. Since a large amount of that power was artificial, he doesn’t belong.

      • dluxxx - Jun 30, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        What about Bonds?

    • raysfan1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      You seem to be missing the nuance of the question. As you quoted from Posnansky’s article, baseball HoF entry is both honor (and thus the character clause) and for posterity (historical record of on field greatness). He’s also stating, however, the some individuals value one more than the other, and that leaning affects one’s views on whether players with various human failings/character flaws deserve entry.

  8. dutchengstrom - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    When Melky and Cruz and Peralta were free agents, I was just praying that my favorite team didn’t sign them. I feel so bad for fans who have to root for douchebags, cheats and liars. And I’m proud of any team that refrains from signing these guys.

    I don’t care if my team finishes in last place – as long as I like the players and enjoy watching them play, I’d much rather wear their hats and go see them at the ballpark then have to root for a dude who cheated the fans, the game’s history, himself and his family. I bumped into a Brewers fan at the airport after the Braun thing broke and he was like “Great, now I have to spend the next 7 years half-heartedly rooting for this clown.”

    Should guys like Cruz, Braun, Peralta and A-Rod all be permanently banned as soon as the allegations come out? Maybe not, but it sure would be nice to see more teams simply refuse to give them employment.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      Fortunately, based on the polls, most fans of this game do not share your point of view.

    • tmc602014 - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:49 PM

      Agree totally and with fervor. It puts the fan in a terrible position, and degrades the fan loyalty to the club.

    • DJ MC - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Nice guys finish last, Ty Cobb is in the Hall, and the only reason the Rays don’t have a rapist on their team is because he stunk enough to finally get cut.

      My team signed Delmon Young this offseason. He’s one of the few players I legitimately dislike in professional sports, but he had a big pinch hit this afternoon to help in a rally and I cheered, because he helped my team. Beforehand I was grousing about his appearance, and I will do so the next time he plays, but that doesn’t wipe away his play.

  9. Andee - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I would vote Cruz there based on his performance in the 2014 season and nothing more. Same with Melky, same with Braun. Look, I never cared about steroids. A lot of people don’t either. While it’s against the rules, it’s not the end of the world. They all did their time and came back, just like the rules say they can. If it makes the game more interesting, and these grown men are making the clear decision to do it, then I could care less.

  10. paperlions - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    This never occurred to me until now, but….you know how people love to say that Braun ruined the life of the drug testing guy by lying? Well, if MLB had followed its own rules and not leaked Braun’s failed test to the media (thereby making it public), then no one would have even known who that guy was or that a test was failed because MLB isn’t supposed to release information until a suspension is finalized….in this case, we never should have known that Braun even failed a test.

    Is Braun a giant lying ass? Of course, he is….but MLB caused everything about the case to become public, not Braun.

    • drewsylvania - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Good point. Which makes everyone involved an ass (giant lying or not).

      Corporate humanity at its finest.

  11. drewsylvania - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    This is great, Joe, but there is one big piece to add:

    Bud Selig took the batting title away from Melky, unilaterally de-sanctifying baseball’s 502-PA-for-eligibility rule in the process.

    If MLB is even slightly consistent, don’t they have to prevent Nelson Cruz from playing in the ASG?

    • raysfan1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      There is a difference–Cabrera’s lost batting title was during the season in which he was suspended. Cruz was suspended last year. If consistency of the punishment were key, then any honor stripped from Cruz would need to be a 2013 honor.

    • jwbiii - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      Absolutely not. Ryan Franklin and Bartolo Colon failed PED tests and later played in All Star Games.

  12. rmabe08 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    “You may say: Well, that’s Milwaukee fans stuffing the ballot box. Maybe. Except for this: Are you really saying that Milwaukee Brewers fans are stuffing the ballot box?”

    Yes they are. I went to a game a few years back in Miller park and a few fans i saw had a foot long stick the size of the hole punch on the ballots. They voted for only Brewers dozens at a time. How do I know they were voting only Brewers? I checked the leaderboard the next week and every Brewer was in the top 5 at their position. So yes, they are stuffing the ballot boxes.

  13. djpostl - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    “Could Baltimore fans be stuffing the ballot box, too?”

    Seeing how your blog ran a story about 2 fans voting 38K times for every Oriole the answer you are lookign for is “yes”.

  14. sanford943 - Jun 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I think one of the reasons Braun is having a below average year right now is that he has been playing with some injuries. (yes I know every one does). Last year he was playing with some kind of thumb injury and i don’t believe it has really healed. And this year he was on the DL with an oblque problem As far as his right field ability, i think he is doing fine. He doesn’t seem to be making many mistakes out there and I haven’t seen a lot of runners challenging him. He might not have the range some other right fielders have but he is more than adequate. The reason he is out there is because the Brewers wanted Kris Davis in the line up. Apparently he can’t play right field so he took Braun’s spot in right. Seems to be a good move so far.

  15. zelinc - Jul 15, 2014 at 3:27 AM

    He’s right! I don’t care about PED’s. Good players are good players regardless.

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