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Disgraced

Posted on: April 29, 2009 4:40 pm
 
I read an article the other day about Mark McGuire and it really got me thinking about him and the Hall of Fame. I mean here is a guy that "probably" cheated and then sat in front of Congress and gave the "I'm not here to talk about the past" quote, but where would baseball be without him? It was almost 15 years ago that we were robbed of a World Series because of the player's strike, and in 1995 baseball was pretty much dead. Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gerhig's record was a great thing, but it wasn't enough to bring everyone back to the game. Then came the summer of 1997 and the race between McGuire and Sammy Sosa for Maris' HR record. Everyone was captivated, checking every night to see if either or both had hit another one that night. The hype started early in the season, so everyone followed along through May, June, July, August, and finally September. We all know how the race turned out, McGuire reaching 70. But late in that summer, news had broken that a bottle of andro was seen in McGuire's locker. The rumors had already been swirling, even before the strike, about players and steroids and this just seem to confirm everything. Now we all know how rampant it was, but this was all no surprise. There was talk before '97, everyone had there suspicions during that race, but most everyone turned their backs and ignored the issue. Baseball needed that race, a "shot in the arm" as you will, to lure fans back. After that summer, more players got huge, and still no one wanted to do anything about it. We all watched, we all cheered, and unless you were really out of touch, we all knew.

Now we are holding this era of baseball up as a travesty and an example of player's greed. It's being held over McGuire's, Sammy Sosa's, Barry Bonds', and Roger Clemens' heads. We all knew what was happening while they did it, but we all still watched. These players all disgraced the game by cheating. Theirs may have been more blatant, but baseball is full of players doing just about anything they could to get an edge. Cutting baseballs, corking bats, stealing signs. All things that are against the rules, but all things done, admittedly, by players in the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb was even accused of fixing at least one baseball game. But we aren't in a hurry to have plaques taken down for Cobb, Gaylord Perry, "Dizzy" Dean, or any of the other confirmed cheaters. These things aren't look down at as much as performance enhancing drugs, but are none the less illegal. These players, along with Pete Rose and Joe Jackson, should all be put in the Hall and it should be noted that they committed or are suspected of their discretion. Baseball has a rich history with a ton of colorful characters, but it wasn't played by a bunch of saints. Anyone who thinks that Babe Ruth, or Joe DiMaggio, or Bob Gibson were the kind of people that we hope their kids become(outside of baseball ability) probably shouldn't be having kids. We all knew what was going on while it happened, we all condoned it, and now we shouldn't ignore it!

Comments

Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: April 30, 2009 2:29 pm
 

Disgraced

And I did not say that steroids shouldn't be a factor in the HOF, I said that players being help out from the Hall should not be done so based on steroids, suspected or confirmed. Contrary to most people's belief, anabolic steroids were specifically made illegal long before the summer chase of '97. There was a drug policy in place at that time, though it mostly had to do with "street" drugs like cocaine and marijuana, but anabolic steroids were also included. There was just no policy in place to catch offenders, and drug testing was not allowed by the MLBPA. It took Canseco's book and a Congressional investigation for a policy to be put in place, and then in took the threat of a 2nd investigation for there to be a real policy to be enacted. The 1st policy was a complete joke and made a mockery of the original investigation, all anonymous testing and no punishments until a 3rd offense if I remember correctly. The argument above is correct, each player should be judged individually on their merits and compared to those of THEIR OWN ERA, and then in that context, the best of the best should be admitted. The only players I think may deserve a "free pass" to the Hall are McGuire and Sosa, and not so much based on their stats, but based on the fact that they pretty much saved baseball during that summer and brought it back from the brink of extinction. We knew what they were doing then, and those who didn't were just naive. I was still in high school and I knew it, so to believe that 30 owners did not, and thousands of writers, and millions of fans did not is irresponsible!



Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: April 30, 2009 2:00 pm
 

Disgraced

Thank you for the comments, I appreciate those taking the time to read my thoughts! I understand the whole "cheaters never win" argument, but where was all the outrage before Canseco's book? I mean, this wasn't exactly new territory at that time, like Columbus "discovering" a land that had millions of occupants. Everyone knew it was there, but as long as owners were luring us and making money, and players were making millions, and we had 50 HR every night to watch on SportsCenter, everyone was fine with this. I by no means am trying to condone what these players have done, it was wrong and disgraceful, but it shouldn't be whitewashed either. The Hall of Fame isn't hallowed ground where idols live, it is supposed to be a museum to the history of the game. How can you have a complete history of the game and not acknowledging the ugly parts? That would be like an American history book without the Civil War, or slavery, or any of the other many unpleasant things that have happened over the years. I'm by no means trying to give out free passes. Their wrong doing should be noted. But by erasing it, future generations won't see the mistakes of this era, thus tacitly condoning the practice in the future. We need to shine a spotlight on these individuals, put their story right in the faces of those that follow can see what happened here and see that it doesn't happen again. Sweeping it under the rug and pretending it didn't happen fixes nothing, it just prolongs the issue and puts its burden on future generations. McGuire was one of my favorites also. I was 8 that summer, and followed along. I remember my dad taking me to the card shop so I could buy his rookie card. Its seems to me that the animosity toward most of these players has less to do with what they did, but more with them not taking responsibility for those actions. Alex Rodriguez got caught, apologized, and now all seems forgiven. He isn't being black-balled like Barry Bonds, and I suspect that the day comes when he is eligible for induction there will be little resistance. The same outrage followed Pete Rose and his betting scandal, but now we are about 20 years removed, and now polls suggest that most people favor him being allowed entrance. One could argue that Rose's mistake was more harmful to the game than steroids. Not a bigger impact, but more harmful to the integrity of the game. A manager betting on games, no matter how they are betting, allows the suspicion that they are influencing the came in their favor for money, and that allows the sport to be placed among such "entertainment" as wrestling, and some may argue boxing these days. Many of those idols that we grew up memorizing their stats and holding in such high regard were not what they were made out to be. Could you imagine the kind of things we would've heard about Ruth, Mantle, Cobb, or many of the hallowed names of the past had there been today's media and the internet in those days? Players have said how the beat writers of those days knew of many of the things that they were doing, but that the writers kept most of it to themselves and only reported about the game. And lastly, players have been taking "greenies" for decades to help them overcome the rigors of playing so many games in a short period of time. I've heard they go back to at least the 50's and 60's, but suspect they probably go back further. Players putting foreign substances into their bodies to help them play baseball better? Not exactly a new idea.




Since: Apr 30, 2009
Posted on: April 30, 2009 1:27 pm
 

Disgraced

I am so tired of the "they were not illegal" arguement.  I buy it for Andro but even if Steriods were not expressly banned by baseball they were a controled substance and use without a Doctors perscription was and is illegal.

As for the original poster saying Steriods should not be a factor in HOF voting.  He is dead wrong.  IT MUST BE.  But I do not think suspected use or even admitted use should be the only factor.  We know the entire era was tainted.  But there are HOF players in every era.  This era will just require a new level of judgement call.

1)  Mark McGuire - Not a HOF'er.  I am not convinced that with out the Steriods that he would have hit over 500 HR's. the added strength as wellas the larger number of At Bats (faster healing) I belive artifcially inflated his numbers.  And allhe did was mash.  He was a horrible fielder.

2)  Barry Bonds -  HOFer.  You could whack 20% off his numbers and he is still a HOF'er.  And when he was young and healthy he was a great fielder.

3)  Sosa, Palmeiro and scores of others - Not HOFers. Number too close to say steriods did not put themover the top.

4)  Griffy and A-Rod)  HOFers.  Allaround game and numbers put them even.  Even if you discount a portion of them.

5)  Clemens - Definate HOF'er.  Again numbers so far ahead that even docking a large percent puts him in.

Just my opinion.



Since: Sep 8, 2008
Posted on: April 30, 2009 10:10 am
 

Disgraced

Let me preface my comments by clearly stating that Mark McGwire was one of my favorite players ever since his rookie year of 1987, when he hit 49 home runs and that mammoth shot to dead center field in the All-Star game. 

I honestly believe that there is a difference between McGwire and the other "steroid sluggers."  He didn't hit home runs because he took steroids.  He played the game because he took steroids, and because he played the game, he hit home runs.  In his first 2 years in the majors he hit between 80 and 90 home runs, then the effects of his strenuous weight-lifing program kicked in, and he began to have problems staying off the DL.  Somewhere around that time, he began to take steroids, andro, or whatever, not so he could hit home runs, but so that he could play the game.  When he played, he hit homeruns at a tremendous clip, but his problem was staying on the field.

Canseco himself, who I am tired of seeing applauded by the way, makes the point about McGwire byt saying that he was a pencil-thin player his rookie year and then started to bulk up later.  His arms were always huge because he lifted weights for a minimum of 3-4 hours a day, according to many teammates on the A's, Cardinals, and even his college teammates at USC.

By no means am I saying that what he did was right, but on the other hand, is there a difference (in baseball terms) between a player using steroids so that he can recover, or prevent injury, and thus remain on the field and the player who takes a cortisone shot (also a steroid, just not anabolic) every 5 days so that he can be able to pitch? 

As far as the Hall of Fame is concerned, if Bonds and Clemens get in then Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa, and otherwise-worthy players should get in as well.  The evidence against the former 2 is more than just conjecture and heresay; there is enough there that the government has sought to punish them for perjury.  Bonds will probably get off because the key evidence cannot be substantiated without testimony from an individual in Bonds' employ, but that doesn't mean the evidence isn't strong.  That's what bothers me the most:  Bonds and Clemens, because their numbers were the best, get in, while the others do not.  That's unfair at best, and extremely hypocritical at worst.



Since: Feb 28, 2009
Posted on: April 30, 2009 9:09 am
 

Disgraced

I think you bring up some very valid talking points. Most times when this discussion gets brought up, sides get drawn quickly and you don't have time to think it through.

In my opinion, I think you have two major points of contention with why they are not in:

1. The records and stats of the people that are in the hall of fame have been garnered over 110 years of baseball, over many generations. The game transcended periods in US history and has survived through them all. When people are elected to the hall, they are compared to the levels of success of the preceeding generations. By taking steroids, a known perofrmance enhancer, it is almost viewed that these players are playing a different game.  It's not jus that equipment has been enhanced, trainging regimens have advanced. But the fact that these guys are using a non-naturally accuring element to succeed does not sit well with most. And sports and competition are all about hard work and work ethic, and this is seen as a shortcut, which is frowned upon.

2. Even if most can get by that argument, you come to this point. Cheating is frowned upon in all walks of life. The hall of fame is the sacred ground where Idols live and dreams are born. By combining these two, you mix a very volatile cocktail. ANd you send a mesage to the next generations that you can still be recognized as one of the best even if you cheat.

And that I am no OK with.



Since: Jan 9, 2008
Posted on: April 30, 2009 4:52 am
 

Disgraced

Cheaters will not make the hall - nor should they PERIOD!



Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 8:12 pm
 

Disgraced

Actually, steroids have technically been illegal since the late eighties/early nineties, can't recall exactly when right off the top of my head, The hypocrisy to this policy was that there was no procedure in place for testing until 2003, and even then there wasn't any procedure in place to punish those they somehow "caught" using steroids. It was basically done on the honor system. HGH wasn't covered under the old steroid policy, but anabolic steroids were in fact against the rules at the time. Talk about a joke, could you imagine how things would be if  society made rules, but had no way of policing them, nor anyway of punishing those breaking the rules? I like the point of Canseco, and some could actually argue that he has now actually made more of an impact than the players in question!




Since: Apr 23, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 5:33 pm
 

Disgraced

   I agree with most of what you are saying. I think you have to remember that performance enhancing drugs were not illegal in '97.  I'm not sure when MLB banned this junk but I think it's only been 3 or 4 years. After listening to ARod's interview in March about the "expectations" after his big contract with the Rangers I've tempered my anger with the players. MLB did not act nearly quickly enough getting the juice out of the game and hugely rewarded players for using. Do we now punish these guys by keeping them out of the HOF and if so who? Who was the first to inject? How long has this been going on? No one is quite sure.
   
   My biggest dissappointment is/was the unanimous dishonesty among the players. As much as I disliked Canseco as a player "People would rather pay to see me strikeout..." maybe it's time for him to be considered for Cooperstown. He could have his own category - The Only Honest Slugger in the Steroid Era.
 


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