James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Steroids and the Baseball Hall of Fame

It appears that four factors led to the denial of anyone making Baseball's Hall this year:

1. Steroids. Obviously. Some members of the BBWA won't ever vote for alleged steroid users, and others might eventually vote for them but wanted to "punish" them by making them wait a few years.

2. Reserving "First Ballot Hall of Famer" status to the elite of the elite. Probably the main reason Craig Biggio didn't get in this year, though he will almost certainly get in within a year or two.

3. Several borderline players. Without post-season heroics, would Jack Morris even have a shot? Curt Schilling? If they had reached milestones like 300 wins, they probably would get in.

4. Advanced metrics.  This is the opposite of reason #3, and holds that baseball's traditional statistics and milestones are at best incomplete and at worst misleading. With nearly 600 people voting, many will rely exclusively on traditional stats (reason#3), but others will weigh the "new" stats. Today on ESPN's Outside the Lines, the co-author of Sammy Sosa's autobiography admitted he didn't vote for Sosa -- even though he did vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two other players linked to steroids. That's because he was persuaded by the new metrics that Sosa wasn't good enough.

If I had a ballot, I certainly would have voted for Bonds and Clemens. As I wrote four years ago:

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim offered some wisdom when interviewed this week by Mike Tirico on ESPN Radio. He said that in the absence of rules and enforcement, it is human nature for athletes to do whatever it takes to get an advantage. Especially, I might add, with the knowledge that others are doing the same thing. Boeheim implied that we would do well to let bygones be bygones and move forward with tougher rules and more stringent testing.
Exactly. Manny Ramirez was caught twice after tougher rules and testing took place. That's why he doesn't belong in the Hall. But Bonds and Clemens never played, or were never caught, in the new testing regime.

That why I disagree with Tom Verducci, who says he'll never vote for a known steroids user for the Hall of Fame. As Rob Neyer says,

What will he do in five or 10 years when he learns that players he helped elect to the Hall of Fame actually did use steroids?

Because that is going to happen. I have exactly zero-percent doubt about that.

But I guess we'll just have to wait. Should make for an interesting column.

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