Last time I really fulminated about the respective Halls of Fame in baseball and football, I argued that Andre Dawson deserved to be in the baseball one and that Ricky Jackson deserved to be in the football one. Both were voted in at the very next opportunity. I wish I could claim credit!
Anyway, in hoping that my wish will again be father to the action, here, in light of the baseball writers’ refusal to approve any players for induction this coming year, are the players I think the writers screwed up by not voting in:
1) Alan Trammell
2) Curt Schilling
3) Tim Raines
4) Lee Smith
5) Mike Piazza, unless somebody credibly suspects him of steroid use.
Yes, that would be an awfully big class, but i think they all deserve it, without question.
Fred McGriff and Jack Morris are borderline cases who, when I’m feeling generous, I might also vote in. As for Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, I lost track: Which, if either, is credibly believed to have enaged in steroid use? I think Biggio clearly qualifies on stats, if he was clean, which I think he probably was. Bagwell, maybe. In the steroid era, one loses sight of what were and weren’t good statistics. An argument can be made, for instance, that a guy like Will Clark, with a .300 career batting average, decent power, and great fielding and leadership, should still be getting a fair number of votes even if not reaching the 75% threshold — but, because his stats suddenly seem pedestrian compared to steroid-addled competitors, he isn’t even in the running anymore. How, pray tell, does one really know how to adjudge performance from at least the post-strike era until about three years ago — and perhaps from as early as about 1992 onward?
As for Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and Sammy Sosa: No way. Never. Not in a trillion trillion years. I think it is so obvious that a reasonable person can look at the evidence and believe wholeheartedly that these guys cheated that the baseball writers have an obligation, to protect the integrity of the game, to keep these guys out. Their stats are their stats and they won’t be taken away; but honor is another thing. And don’t give me any of that BS about how “everybody did it” and so there stats “compared to everybody else similarly situated” remained so superior that they merit induction. Don’t give me any of that bunk about how Bonds and Clemens should make it on their pre-steroid achievements alone. If they took steroids, as most people believe they did, they knew darn well that it was illegal. Yes, there may not have been some sort of explicit enough BASEBALL rule against it. So what? The substances themselves were against the law, were they not? In this case, they were not just against the law, but they actually provided an unnatural competitive advantage, and everybody knew it. That’s why they took the stuff. PEDs actually increase muscle mass and power, unearned. It’s a lot worse than players in the 70s taking “greenies,” which did nothing to alter the actual physical mass and power of the players. These steroids were taken specifically in order to produce an uncommon and thoroughly unearned edge. That violates the spirit of the game, which is just as bad for Hall purposes as violating the letter of the rules.
Finally, back to Trammell: Just Google his name and Hall of Fame, and, even if you didn’t have the chance to watch his career like people my age did, you’ll see plenty of extremely knowledgeable people explain why he should be a definite inductee. What a classy player.
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