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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Chris Jenkins: IT’S ONE HALL OF A QUANDARY

If Goose Gossage sits by the hand-cranked magneto generatin’ telephone long enough…it will ring.

If voters go strictly by the numbers of baseball, imagine the bizarre atmosphere that will descend on the induction ceremonies, the possibility that some enshrinees will be booed all the way into the Hall of Fame downtown.

“In that case, I won’t be there,” said Gossage. “If I was a fan, I wouldn’t even show up. You’ve got all the kids in the world watching this. What does that tell our kids, that there’s no punishment for cheating?

“They cheated. They (expletive) cheated. I believe that, hey, there’s gotta be a paddle for these guys’ asses. This is the last step of punishment there for them. If a guy gets into the Hall of Fame and we find out later he was cheating, kick him out!”

A veteran of 22 major league seasons, Gossage retired in 1994, by which time steroids already were believed to be having a powerful effect on baseball. Gossage recalls standing in the outfield with Oakland A’s teammate Dennis Eckersley — also now in the Hall of Fame — and watching in wonderment as batting–practice balls regularly landed 50 rows deep in the outfield seats or high off the scoreboard.

“I studied hitters for a living,” said Gossage, via phone from his home in Colorado Springs. “I never saw bat speed like these guys. There was no cocking. It was like one of those golf machines that hits the ball the same every time. Push a button and there it is. It’s not human.

“I saw guys go from Barney Fife to Lou Ferrigno from one season to the next. It made me sick. It made me sick. It made me sick for Roger Maris, sick for all the guys who set the records that fell. Just sick.”

Repoz Posted: December 04, 2012 at 10:58 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof

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   1. TomH Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4316320)
Because when Goose stood next to Eck, in 1990 or so, the bat speed was higher than Jim Rice's?
Goose, you were a great pitcher. I hope I can remember you that way, and not as a grumpy old man who finds the speck in another generation's eyes while missing the plank in your own.

   2. salvomania Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4316323)
I wonder if Gossage ever popped a greenie before a game.
   3. bachslunch Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4316336)
“We had a pretty good discussion two years ago at the members-only dinner at the Hall of Fame,” said Jim Bunning, HOF ’96, the former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher who represented Kentucky as both a congressman and senator. “This subject was broached by nearly everybody there, the question of whether known steroid users would be voted into the Hall.

“The consensus in that room was, if they got in, (baseball commissioner) Bud Selig would have to greet whoever was inducted by himself. He’d be alone on the stage. None of the current members would show up.”


Presumably, they'll be in the corner sitting at their own "greenies" table, telling those steroid cheats to get off their lawn, dag nabbit.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4316342)
I for one welcome Goose's assumption of the Bob Feller Memorial ornery old guy Chair.
   5. bachslunch Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4316346)
A veteran of 22 major league seasons, Gossage retired in 1994, by which time steroids already were believed to be having a powerful effect on baseball. Gossage recalls standing in the outfield with Oakland A’s teammate Dennis Eckersley — also now in the Hall of Fame — and watching in wonderment as batting–practice balls regularly landed 50 rows deep in the outfield seats or high off the scoreboard.

Presumably they weren't upset enough at their teammates Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire to get morally outraged and expose their cheatin' ways.
   6. bachslunch Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4316348)
I wonder if Gossage ever popped a greenie before a game.

I wonder if Gossage ever used steroids, myself. Eck, too.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4316351)
As much as I disagree with the logic of Bunning and Gossage* (as well as Bunning's assessment of the unanimity of opinion among the existing HoFers), it does demonstrate that the Hall has a genuine issue on its hands. A great many folks here, who don't see steroids as disqualifying, look at a Hall without Bonds, Clemens, etc., as an institution that has entered complete irrelevance. However, there is a population (I don't know how large, but I suspect it's larger than the pro-steroids side) that would look at a Hall with Bonds, Clemens, etc., the exact same way. That's not good for the HoF.

As unsatisfying as it is, I've got to believe that the Hall is perfectly fine* with the way it will unfold in the coming years: the Hall stays silent while the writers keep the cheats out for now, with the hope that one day opinion softens and these all-time greats can earn their proper place in Cooperstown, preferably while they're still drawing breath.

* OK, it's not just the logic here. Neither of those gents is remotely agreeable on just about any topic.

** Provided the BBWAA manages to elect someone every year.
   8. John Northey Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4316407)
The HOF might need to restore the old 'run off vote' or a 'top player gets in' rule. Years ago if no one was elected they did a run off election to try to get someone in. I'd prefer a straight 'top player gets in, as well as anyone else over 75%' rule. That way the HOF has someone to honour each year no matter what and if you get a situation like 1999 where 3 guys crossed the 75% line then all 3 get in (Ryan, Brett, Yount) or even 1955 when 4 cracked 75% (Dimaggio, Lyons, Vancy, Hartnett).

Interesting stretch from 1950 to 1967 - 1950 no one, 3 years of 2 per year, then 3, then 4, then 2, then 2 with no one followed by 2 at once then none (run off to get Appling in), then 1, then none (run off for Ruffing). Quite the stretch there with 22 in 13 elections (18 seasons - 5 times no vote at all).

In truth the HOF would probably be best served with a 2 per year policy. That way you don't get a crowded stage (ala 1955), voters can do whatever but still get 2 guys in. If you did 2 per year since 1980 you'd get a few guys in via writers instead of vets (Jim Bunning, Orlando Cepeda, Ron Santo) and a few who didn't make it yet (Tony Oliva, Steve Garvey, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Bagwell, Raines, Trammell, Edgar Martinez - the last 4 in the past 2 years as Larkin & Alomar would've gone in together in 2010). That would've been nice as we'd have a few weak ones in, but the last 4 sure would've earned it and kept the current ballot from getting too nuts. Plus Santo would've been honoured back in 1997 rather than after he died.

Doing that now would still leave a backlog but at least it might clear up within a decade. Instead it will be a mess for probably 15+ years.
   9. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4316410)
As much as I disagree with the logic of Bunning and Gossage* (as well as Bunning's assessment of the unanimity of opinion among the existing HoFers), it does demonstrate that the Hall has a genuine issue on its hands. A great many folks here, who don't see steroids as disqualifying, look at a Hall without Bonds, Clemens, etc., as an institution that has entered complete irrelevance. However, there is a population (I don't know how large, but I suspect it's larger than the pro-steroids side) that would look at a Hall with Bonds, Clemens, etc., the exact same way. That's not good for the HoF.


I think this is right. It's going to be awkward to have Bonds and/or Clemens on stage getting booed by half the crowd and with only 20 or so living Hall of Famers up there.

As a related note, at the 2009 induction George Grande introduced Aaron as "the real home run champion." As awkward as not having those guys go in the ceremony to induct those guys would probably be more awkward.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4316435)
Like so much of the HoF commentary, Gossage's is composed of half truths. I'm sure that there would be a partial boycott by current HoF members like Gossage and Bunning, but how representative they are of the entire membership is completely unknown beyond the realm of rumor. And in fact by the time the writers get around to electing a known juicer, it wouldn't surprise me if some previously silent current members showed up at the ceremony in solidarity with the institution, if not necessarily with the juicers.

And personally I question anyone's love of the Hall of Fame, if that love is based solely upon who gets in and who doesn't. To me the Hall of Fame's pull goes way beyond the identity of those in the plaque room, and the idea of boycotting it just because Barry Bonds is in there or isn't in there is just stupid. The Hall of Fame is a lot bigger than any of us, regardless of our often inflated opinions of the importance of our opinions.
   11. Bob Tufts Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4316442)
I think this is right. It's going to be awkward to have Bonds and/or Clemens on stage getting booed by half the crowd and with only 20 or so living Hall of Famers up there.


I would definitely watch the Bonds induction speech - and the pre-game and post-game punditry with lots of popcorn.

As an aside, in my conversations with the good people of Cooperstown, they would relish the economic opportunity brought about by Bonds' induction - especially if the alternative was no inductees or saluting the guy that invented the turnstyle. Without HOF weekend traffic, their pockets take a huge hit. The year Gossage, Juhn, Williams and Dreyfuss were inducted, the "crowd" barely totaled 12,000 people. (And despite Dale Petroskey's screw-up with the Robbins/Sarandon disinvite, the townspeople loved him for interacting with them - unlike Jane Forbes Clarke and her crew.

It would be fun to see the burghers chasing sportswriters, Gossage and Bunning down Main Street with pitchforks and torches for screwing up their chance at income.
   12. Blastin Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4316445)
I for one welcome Goose's assumption of the Bob Feller Memorial ornery old guy Chair.
I dunno. Feller was way better.
   13. BrianBrianson Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4316460)
I'm going to go ahead and take this interview as proof positive that Gossage used steroids.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4316466)
I dunno. Feller was way better.

Sure, but he had decades of practice. By the time Goose hits 75, he should be in peak form.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4316471)
I for one welcome Goose's assumption of the Bob Feller Memorial ornery old guy Chair.


I dunno. Feller was way better.

Hey, man, Count Da Rings.

And anyway, if Goose lives as long as Feller, we'll be hearing this kind of stuff from him until 2044. That's just a little factoid to console you younguns in your advanced age while Washington is about to be named the capital of Atlantis.
   16. Blastin Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4316472)
Fair enough. Will people really remember Gossage in 2044 the way they remember Feller?

I guess it's easier to remember people who are more readily visible on film, though.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4316496)
I dunno. Feller was way better.


Feller also had the badass bona fides* that Goose can only dream about. I'd rather Goose stay silent and thank his lucky stars that failed starters like himself were overvalued for their ability to pitch effectively in shorter bursts, but I don't see that happening.

* To be fair, none of today's Hall of Famers can match Bob's or Ted's or others like them, nor do I hope that future stars have the opportunity.

   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4316503)
I'd rather Goose stay silent and thank his lucky stars that failed starters like himself were overvalued for their ability to pitch effectively in shorter bursts, but I don't see that happening.

To be fair, Gossage wasn't babied like modern closers. I don't think Gossage was overvalued at the time.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4316512)
To be fair, Gossage wasn't babied like modern closers. I don't think Gossage was overvalued at the time.


So what? The moment he got elected to the Hall, his contributions were overvalued. Just because he's not as shitty a selection as Rollie or Sutter doesn't make him true Cooperstownian timber, a handful of big-inning seasons notwithstanding.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4316518)
So what? The moment he got elected to the Hall, his contributions were overvalued. Just because he's not as shitty a selection as Rollie or Sutter doesn't make him true Cooperstownian timber, a handful of big-inning seasons notwithstanding.

That's just an argument against admitting closers. The HoF has decided to admit them. If closers are admitted, Gossage deserves to be in.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4316532)
That's just an argument against admitting closers. The HoF has decided to admit them. If closers are admitted, Gossage deserves to be in.


And that's a lousy argument for admitting him.

Goose was fortunate to play a position that, at the time he was on the ballot, was being overvalued by the electorate. That may change, at which point we'll see that Goose was just a big mistake, rather than the grotesque mistake that is Bruce Sutter.

I'm not completely anti-reliever. Hoyt's an acceptable choice. Mariano would earn my vote. But 1,800 innings of 126 ERA+, no thanks.

Jim Rice is roundly (and appropriately) mocked as a lousy Hall of Fame choice. Jim Rice was a better player than Goose Gossage.

Yeah, I'm sticking with he should thank his lucky stars.

   22. Dale Sams Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4316538)
Anyone who says "So the Red Sox won a couple of World Series...big deal. 26 to 3 baby." Needs to have his membership revoked.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: December 04, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4316769)
The HOF might need to restore the old 'run off vote' or a 'top player gets in' rule.

Not any time soon.

The issue about the crowded ballot is not that nobody will be elected. The ballot has a lot of capacity to have several guys in the 25-50% range. The problem with the crowded ballot is that very good candidates will drop off or fall so far down as to have no chance of election even if the ballot clears -- Walker, McGriff, Edgar, maybe Raines, etc. The crowded ballot is a related but separate issue from an anti-PED blackball keeping Bonds, Clemens, etc. out of the HoF.

Peeking ahead to the 2017 ballot, the HoF will likely have inducted:

Maddux, Johnson, Griffey, Pedro, Glavine, Thomas, Smoltz, Biggio, probably Morris, possibly (and eventually) Mussina, possibly Vlad (his first year), possibly Pudge, possibly Bagwell, possibly Kent. They will have Chipper, Jeter, Thome and Rivera at least waiting in the wings. That looks like a minimum of 15 inductions over the next 8 years or so and no shortage of all-time greats. Far from dire, the next 5-8 years are going to be a golden age for the HoF weekend, certainly much better than the recent slog of "borderline" candidates squeaking over the line.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: December 04, 2012 at 10:55 PM (#4317274)

Yeah, I'm sticking with he should thank his lucky stars.


It would be great if someone like Clemens or Bonds gets in and are told that Gossage is boycotting him because of potential roid issues and to see them respond with an anti-closer rant.
   25. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: December 06, 2012 at 07:48 PM (#4319143)
Love the Goose, but cheating is cheating. Like spitballs, corking bats and amphetamines.

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