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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Gabe Kapler: HOF voting needs clear-cut rules for suspected PED users

Is it fair to assume that guys like Bagwell and Craig Biggio took steroids and lankier, more average body types like Maddux and Glavine did not? After all, the whispers were likely started based on nothing but body-type profiling.

The proof will be in the non-anabolic pudding when Thomas is elected to the Hall in his first year on the ballot and Bagwell, whose numbers are definitely not as good as Frank’s but eerily similar in most categories gets a stiff arm to the well-developed chest.

You see, the baseball world thinks Bagwell took PEDs and Thomas did not despite the fact that Bagwell has never tested positive and Thomas has never proven his innocence.

It’s time to give the writers a break and snatch the speculation game from their clutches, making the selection ritual clearer cut. We live, theoretically, in an innocent until proven guilty society. We can do the same with the HOF.

If a player has been officially in a report, failed a test, had a suspension upheld after an appeal, etc., he loses his HOF eligibility and can’t be on the ballot. Every other MLB athlete is innocent and should be evaluated strictly on his merit. The character thing is so variable, so subjective, that it needs to be removed from the equation to avoid the inevitable popularity contest that has ensued and will continue to play itself out.

Implementing a comprehensible system like this might aid in the effort of cleaning up our game in addition to ending the ridiculously frustrating question “How do we handle the Steroid Era?”

I reckon HOF ineligibility will serve as a small deterrent to future superstars balancing carefully on the fence of a tough decision. Perhaps if Raffy Palmeiro and others had had this threat, they’d be in the HOF today. As it stands, those with positive tests should be kept out, and it shouldn’t be a subject up for a vote.

Thanks to BV.

Repoz Posted: December 03, 2013 at 05:35 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 03, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4609864)
Any report or only the Blue Ribbon variety?
   2. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 03, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4609882)
So close, yet so far. Report?!?
   3. Bob Tufts Posted: December 03, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4609893)
"stiff arm to his well developed chest"?
Gabe Kapler, who posed shirtless for a mag, actually went there?


"a player has been officially in a report"
Forget the mangled grammar, but of course all reports are completely accurate and nay player named is therefore guilty.

Yeesh. This appears to be a Pabst Blue Ribbon report by Kapler.
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4609907)
I think Kapler is right even if the specifics of how to do it are wrong. This random guessing game makes a mockery of it. Either players are eligible or they are not. A Hall of Fame with Barry Bonds eligible but not inducted makes absolutely zero sense.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: December 03, 2013 at 07:15 PM (#4609954)
But why? And will it work?

OK, declaring "Player X is ineligible" will effectively keep Player X from being elected. But will it get Player Y elected? The character clause will still be there and the voters can still vote however they want.

This "the HoF needs to provide guidance" is just an attempt to remove the embarrassment of Bonds, Clemens et al not being elected.

Anyway, I oppose this under any circumstance with the possible exception of being suspended for life. The voters had no problem dealing with Alomar's 10-game suspension for spitting on an ump. I assume other elected players have been suspended for one thing or another at times (charging the mound, hitting guys, whatever). Weaver and Cox were ejected from games dozens of times. A 50-game PED suspension is just 5 times worse than Alomar's 10-game suspension. Ding the guy like he walked out on his team for 50 games if you want to get nasty.

But the idea that guys who get caught once should be ineligible for the HoF no matter what they might do afterward? Are we going to count minor-league suspensions too? What if evidence comes out that they used in high school?

Look, it's cheating now (violation of the rules). But there's nothing in the HoF guidelines that says that violating the rules of baseball makes a player ineligible. Fine, it's a mark against a player's character but there is not even a hint of an implication of a suggestion that "good character" is a necessary condition to induction. It is one of the elements to be considered, not determinative in any way.

I personally don't care if they exclude guys like Rose (I do care if Rose is ever affiliated with MLB again) but at least it's logical to say "this player's violation was so serious that MLB banned him for life so we will too." The establishment of testing/punishment should have made this much easier -- it is a 50-game violation of the rules. That's it. No deep philosophical issues to struggle over, you don't have to worry about whether it was acceptable behavior, you don't have to worry about whether the greenie users in the HoF were just as guilty, etc. You're not out of the woods on the alleged/acknowledged PED users on the ballot but how to deal with these guys in the future has been answered ... unless you just like being up on your moral high horse.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: December 03, 2013 at 07:20 PM (#4609959)
Personally I put Bagwell ahead of Thomas. It's too close to call so I'm not gonna argue strenuously for this. Thomas wins as a hitter, on peak and career durability -- but those are all fairly close (e.g. it's just 600 PA). Bagwell was so much better defensively and on the basepaths and didn't have to be moved to DH.
   7. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 03, 2013 at 08:14 PM (#4609997)
This sort of thing--trying to remedy a sea of gray morality by drawing up strict rules and applying them without exception--sounds attractive to a lot of people, but it always backfires.
   8. Lassus Posted: December 03, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4610001)
You see, the baseball world thinks Bagwell took PEDs and Thomas did not despite the fact that Bagwell has never tested positive and Thomas has never proven his innocence.

It’s time to give the writers a break and snatch the speculation game from their clutches, making the selection ritual clearer cut. We live, theoretically, in an innocent until proven guilty society. We can do the same with the HOF.

What the holy fuck.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 03, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4610014)
This sort of thing--trying to remedy a sea of gray morality by drawing up strict rules and applying them without exception--sounds attractive to a lot of people, but it always backfires.

Especially if it involved any sort of mandates, one way or the other, about steroid users. The idea that a minority view can somehow impose a mandate that goes against the wishes of the clear majority of voters would be laughable if it weren't even more laughable, and it would be equally nutty to tell voters that they couldn't vote for anyone (other than Pete Rose) that they wanted to. You might as well tell voters in national elections that they had to vote for Democrats or Republicans.
   10. bjhanke Posted: December 04, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4610296)
Lassus has it right. Given the unreliability of what testing has been, and may well be now, and the ability of chemists to come up with ever more sophisticated drugs that will pass a test, the HoF really is in a position where many voters are applying a standard of "prove that you're innocent" in a context where that is simply not possible. And all that bypasses the bigger question, which is what effects, exactly, did which drugs have on which users, for how long and after how much usage. Science is all but helpless here. You just cannot set up a double-blind placebo-controlled study, because no MLB players, much less the teams they play for, will agree to that. Even if you could find two MLB players who are exactly the same physiologically (which you can't), no player, or team, is willing to gamble that the steroid does work, and their guy got the placebo. As time and moral screed march on, I find myself agreeing more and more with Mark McGwire's lawyers, who told him to refuse to talk about the past, only about the future. McGwire's later confession has given his HoF haters ammunition, in spite of such haters (especially the Bonds / Clemens haters) saying that they are willing to give an admitted user a break over someone who won't admit anything. His lawyers knew they would not do any such thing, and they tried to keep him from admitting anything. They were right. Bonds is right to do what he's doing. Clemens is right. You admit anything, and they pile on like a football team piles on a star running back that they can't stop except by injuring him. And they do that because, unlike the football team, there's no penalty - for the pile-on haters. - Brock Hanke
   11. Morty Causa Posted: December 04, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4610437)
Well, there's always the possibility that someone is denying because they didn't do it. Some people. there's almost no reason (based on actual evidence) to believe they used. Others, there's little reason, and others there's more reason and still others its a slam dunk almost because they either confessed or were caught red-handed. Objections abound in all cases, but some have more weight in specific instances than others. Just because some people get away with murder because they are canny and use a means undetectable to man doesn't mean we shouldn't apprehend and dispatch in one way or another that low class type who operates in a forthright blatant manner sans finesse.

   12. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 04, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4610454)
#8 -- I don't think Kapler's being inconsistent. He's merely pointing out that it makes no sense for writers to assume that Bagwell is guilty and that Thomas is innocent when we have no evidence either way for both players. IOW, both players are entitled to the assumption of innocence.
   13. bunyon Posted: December 04, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4610466)
I don't get the criticism of Kapler (well, I do. He's not a great writer and he hasn't carefully constructed all his arguments to be airtight). He's saying, for example, that there is equal evidence of PED use for Bagwell and for Thomas and, therefore, they should be treated the same. He's assuming (I think he's right) that there is no way any known user gets to 75% so go ahead and mark them ineligible but clearly differentiate known users from suspected users.

It's an eminently reasonable position: No if you're confessed or caught but yes if there is no evidence. Seems like a pretty good idea to me.
   14. donlock Posted: December 04, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4610563)
the non-anabolic pudding
What?

I liked Gabe Kapler better when he was in "Welcome Back , Kotter."
   15. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: December 04, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4610833)
I agree with what Walt said in #5. I don't get this whole idea of PED use (or even suspicion of PED use) meaning lifetime ineligibility for the HoF.
   16. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 04, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4610840)
It's an eminently reasonable position: No if you're confessed or caught but yes if there is no evidence. Seems like a pretty good idea to me.

So if you get popped you get a 50 games suspension and are ineligible for the HOF? That seems, um, harsh.
   17. bunyon Posted: December 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM (#4610845)
So if you get popped you get a 50 games suspension and are ineligible for the HOF? That seems, um, harsh.

Personally, I agree. The body of voters don't seem to. Nor does the public. I'd certainly rather live in a world where punishments are harsh but only the confirmed guilty are punished than a world where punishments are light but distributed randomly. Kapler's Law needs work on where that line is - I wouldn't let being named in a report without any evidence be enough but Bonds and McGwire are in a different boat than Sosa and Bagwell in regard to PED use.

Of course, even someone who simply says they won't vote for anyone who played after 1988 is being more reasonable than the people who pick and choose the guilty based on whim.
   18. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 05, 2013 at 12:48 AM (#4610930)
Even if you could find two MLB players who are exactly the same physiologically (which you can't), no player, or team, is willing to gamble that the steroid does work, and their guy got the placebo.


I'm 99% certain that Ozzie Canseco got the placebo.

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