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Thursday, July 17, 2014

John Feinstein: Len Bias, like Pete Rose, shouldn’t be in a Hall of Fame

A march to sheer madness…

There is no doubt a stain of mendacity on Rose that never fell on Bias. Rose repeatedly lied in depositions for the Dowd Report, the findings of which led to Rose accepting a ban from baseball in 1989. Rose only stopped lying about betting on baseball in 2004 because he was peddling a book and because he believed — as he said as recently as this week — that if he finally fessed up, Selig would reinstate him. He didn’t do it because his conscience caught up with him but because he was tring to sell books and because he thought he would get off the hook if he said, “Yeah, yeah, you got me.”

It hasn’t worked out that way. And Rose has become a pathetic figure, annually showing up on various media outlets during the all-star break to plead his case. His latest rationale is that what he did wasn’t as bad as what steroid users did. That’s debatable — but it’s also irrelevant to his case for induction.

There’s a character clause on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is why no one should ever vote for Rose or any of those who took steroids and lied about taking them.

...In the cases of Bias and Rose, there is no ignoring the numbers — but they can’t stand alone in making final judgment.

Baseball was sullied and damaged by Rose’s actions, which should mean the privilege of being in the Hall of Fame is taken from him in spite of his remarkable achievements.

The same, sadly, should be true of Bias. There’s no questioning he lit up the Maryland campus for four years. But there’s also no questioning he left it in darkness for many years in the wake of his death.

Unlike Rose, Bias should be forgiven. He was young and foolish and paid the most horrible price possible for his mistake. But, like Rose, he should not be honored.

Pitied, certainly. But honored? No.

Repoz Posted: July 17, 2014 at 07:25 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 17, 2014 at 08:35 AM (#4752578)
The Maryland election criteria seem to be wonderfully contradictory:

A. Election shall be based on athletic merit only, and never for other reasons.
B. Nominees must have good character and reputation, and not have been a source of embarrassment in any way to the University.


Terps Hall of Fame

Maybe the process is more complicated than the website indicates, but from A. (above) it seems that once someone has been nominated the electors should only consider athletic merit. Also, per the "About the Hall of Fame" page found at the link above, it seems like literally anyone can nominate someone: "Anyone may propose candidates using forms provided by the M Club." It seems to me that this process doesn't have an effective character clause (again, if the website reflects the actual process).

   2. Greg K Posted: July 17, 2014 at 08:39 AM (#4752580)
A. Election shall be based on athletic merit only, and never for other reasons.
B. Nominees must have good character and reputation, and not have been a source of embarrassment in any way to the University.

I think it's poorly worded, but perhaps a generous interpretation is that A is a positive statement and B is a negative. You can't be voted in because you're a great guy, only athletic accomplishment. But being a jerk can disqualify you.

As written that's not the voting criteria, but I would guess in their muddled way that's what they're going for.
   3. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4752628)
I pity John Feinstein.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4752632)
Has anyone, at any time, cared about who was in the Univ. of Maryland HoF?
   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4752633)
Feinstein wrote the piece for the Washington Post which is pretty close to the University. I'm sure this is an interesting discussion to people in that area.
   6. Batman Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4752639)
"Charles E. Keller" is the only baseball player in their HoF list on Wikipedia that I've heard of. I wouldn't have noticed him as Charles E. if there hadn't been a picture of him in his Yankee uniform. Other former Maryland players include Buck Herzog, Ron Swoboda, Jeff Schaefer, and Eric Milton, but they're not in the university hall of fame.
   7. theboyqueen Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4752643)
Other fine works in the book of "Sanctimonious Nonsense Written by John Feinstein":

"Jimi Hendrix shouldn't be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame"
"Lenny Bruce shouldn't be in the Comedy Hall of Fame"
"Bruce Lee shouldn't be in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame"
"Hank Williams shouldn't be in the Country Music Hall of Fame"

Maryland is a state whose most important resident ever is probably Edgar Allan Poe. Guess what he died of?
   8. theboyqueen Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4752644)
Perhaps if we choose to ignore all accidental drug overdoses they will go away, right?
   9. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4752648)
There’s a character clause on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is why no one should ever vote for Rose or any of those who took steroids and lied about taking them.


I'm not seeing why steroids players are always lumped in with Rose. The two issues are entirely separate.
   10. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4752667)
Maryland is a state whose most important resident ever is probably Edgar Allan Poe. Guess what he died of?


Edgar Allan Poe's Disease?
   11. AROM Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4752677)
I wouldn't object to him being in the U of MD hall of fame. He played 4 years there, and unless I'm missing someone he's the greatest player ever for them. I think we can safely say no U of MD player will ever have a better college career there, because Bias played 4 years and if anyone with his talent ever attends the college again, they will almost certainly be one and done. It's up to the school what they want to do with the character clause. I have no opinion on that.

I would object to him going into the general basketball HOF. If he goes, why not Roy Tarpley? Both are cases of unrealized potential. I don't see giving bonus points for an OD, compared to the alternative of a series of suspensions and rehabs. Though for all I know Bias is already in for college games alone.
   12. Bitter Mouse Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4752684)
Maryland is a state whose most important resident ever is probably Edgar Allan Poe. Guess what he died of?


Good question!

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington Medical College, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say Poe's final words were "Lord help my poor soul." All medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost. Newspapers at the time reported Poe's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery. Speculation has included delirium tremens, heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, meningeal inflammation, cholera and rabies. One theory, dating from 1872, indicates that cooping – in which unwilling citizens who were forced to vote for a particular candidate were occasionally killed – was the cause of Poe's death.


The heck? I mean maybe Wikipedia is wrong, but that is way too weird to want to question.

"Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own."

That is too good to be true.
   13. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4752691)
Maryland is a state whose most important resident ever is probably Edgar Allan Poe.

You're saying this on a baseball site?
   14. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4752692)
I think we can safely say no U of MD player will ever have a better college career there,


I think you can make an argument that, all things considered, Juan Dixon had a better college career (all-time scoring leader, finalist for the Naismith, led team to two Final Fours, including school's only national championship).

He wasn't a better pro prospect than Bias, but in terms of college accomplishments that's a pretty substantial resume.

   15. Batman Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4752696)
You're saying this on a baseball site?
"Other than Harold Baines" is always implied.
   16. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4752698)
Joe Smith is also in the argument. His frosh/soph stats were compare very well to anything Bias did in college, and Joe went #1 overall.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/smithjo02.html
   17. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4752706)
"Other than Harold Baines" is always implied.

Fair enough.

(BTW, I'd put Thurgood Marshall or Frederick Douglass ahead of Poe.)
   18. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4752725)
(BTW, I'd put Thurgood Marshall or Frederick Douglass ahead of Poe.)


and Erin Burnett.
   19. Batman Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4752734)
I would have guessed that at least one president was from Maryland, but I guess not. Agnew is the only vice president. Maybe we should just give MD back to the British.
   20. theboyqueen Posted: July 17, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4752740)
Babe Ruth versus Poe is an interesting debate, but Poe's influence was wider, especially in France, which set off all sorts of trends in modernism. One could argue that much of punk rock wouldn't exist without Edgar Allan Poe, given how into the French symbolists all the New York rock people were (other than the Ramones obviously).

I myself am not the biggest Poe guy (too gothic and adolescent, or something), but his influence is immense. He is the American Coleridge (whom I prefer as a writer).
   21. PepTech Posted: July 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4752775)
There’s a character clause on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is why no one should ever vote for Rose or any of those who took steroids and lied about taking them.


I'm not seeing why steroids players are always lumped in with Rose. The two issues are entirely separate.

Can't be certain, because I'm not Feinstein. But he threw in "lied about" for some reason, maybe he's more annoyed about that than the actual taking.
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 17, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4752784)
Feinstein strikes me as a guy who swallowed Rose's lies whole back in the day. But I could be wrong.
   23. Rob_Wood Posted: July 17, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4752890)
didn't some guy named ruth live in maryland?
   24. DanG Posted: July 17, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4752907)
didn't some guy named ruth live in maryland?
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Ruth."
   25. Sunday silence Posted: July 17, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4752913)
Is it wrong to question why we conflate a tribute e.g. the Hall of Fame w/ keeping someone out of the day to business of baseball.

There's no way Rose should be involved in any sort of role in baseball. But why does that keep him from getting a tribute based? Maybe gambling makes him a bad character, maybe lying about it, but I never think of him as some evil guy.

I get that the ban doesnt effect the HoF, per se. But writers like Feinstein seem to assume that a ban on baseball automatically means you cant get an award you deserve from stuff that happened before the gambling.
   26. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: July 17, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4752988)
I wouldn't object to him being in the U of MD hall of fame. He played 4 years there, and unless I'm missing someone he's the greatest player ever for them.


Juan Dixon was a four-year player that took the Terps to their only championship.

Bias should be in their HOF though; his death came after he had left school, why should that affect/reflect on the University?
   27. toratoratora Posted: July 17, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4753055)
Because the school tried a cover up after his death as well as some other sordid facts about the basketball program, all of which came to light in the wake of his passing. Lefty and the AD ended up resigning, a Grand Jury was convened and the NCAA slapped the school with hefty penalties (13 violations) that UMD didn't really recover from until Gary Williams took over a decade or so down the road.
Yeah-I'd say it's safe to say his death damaged the school. (Not saying the cheating and rule violations were on him, but they certainly were uncovered in the post death investigation).
All that said, Len Bias was far and away the best BB player I ever saw at MD. Juan had a better career no doubt, but Bias was just a beast. Think Karl Malone but driven. That he never got to play on a front line with Bird and McHale, yeah, that damaged the Celtics for a long time. Cripes,what a line that would have been.
I'll always wonder how long Bird would have lasted if Bias had been coming off the bench to spell him
   28. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 17, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4753062)
Bias should be in their HOF though


Len Bias should be in their HoF because he's Len Freakin' Bias.
   29. AROM Posted: July 17, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4753122)
Because the school tried a cover up after his death as well as some other sordid facts about the basketball program, all of which came to light in the wake of his passing. Lefty and the AD ended up resigning, a Grand Jury was convened and the NCAA slapped the school with hefty penalties (13 violations) that UMD didn't really recover from until Gary Williams took over a decade or so down the road.


You can blame Bias for abusing cocaine, and he paid the ultimate price for that. The rest of the above isn't Bias bringing embarrassment to the school, they did that to themselves.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: July 17, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4753209)
But who lied about using steroids?

McGwire infamously did not lie about steroids in front of Congress. He later admitted using them.

Clemens was put on trial for lying about steroid usage and was acquitted.

Bonds was put on trial for lying about ... well, not exactly steroid usage but stuff ligke who injected him. He was convicted (still under appeal) for obstruction via a meandering answer but not perjury.

Sosa I believe did deny steroid usage in his testimony but was never charged with perjury. The NYT did spend a few months getting a lawyer or two to claim that Sosa was on the list but this has never been verified.

Palmeiro probably did lie to Congress although, technically, his positive test came after that so we don't have any actual evidence of earlier usage, only reasonable conjecture.

ARod admitted to using steroids pre-testing. He certainly wasn't forthcoming in his latest mess and I think he did at one point say he didn't use (or was that his stupid lawyer?)

Braun lied, got caught again, kinda came clean. Giambi kinda came clean. Pettitte kinda came clean -- several times as he had to keep changing his story. Melky eventually apologized and agreed to surrender his batting title (whatever that means).

Ortiz admitted being on the list but denied usage and was backed up on that by MLB and MLBPA to an extent.

So by "lied about", Feinstein apparently means "refused to admit usage despite the lack of any evidence of usage." Except for the guys who admitted usage for whom "lied about" apparently means "didn't admit it as quickly as I wanted them to."
   31. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:47 PM (#4753342)
There's no way Rose should be involved in any sort of role in baseball. But why does that keep him from getting a tribute based?

Baseball's highest honor should not go to those guilty of its gravest offense.
   32. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 17, 2014 at 11:50 PM (#4753347)
Because the school tried a cover up after his death as well as some other sordid facts about the basketball program, all of which came to light in the wake of his passing. Lefty and the AD ended up resigning, a Grand Jury was convened and the NCAA slapped the school with hefty penalties (13 violations) that UMD didn't really recover from until Gary Williams took over a decade or so down the road.

Didn't the NCAA violations come under Bob Wade, Lefty's less than stellar successor? IIRC, those violations had nothing to do with Bias, but involved massive recruiting violations by Wade.

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