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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Posnanski: Time For a Hall of Fame Stand

And I say to him, “Go get ‘em, Joey.”

[Ted] Williams [‘s Hall of Fame induction] speech did not instantly grant Negro Leaguers entry into the Hall of Fame. Not even close. But it brought the subject to the surface… Over time, the Hall of Fame became a leader in celebrating Negro Leagues baseball… the Hall of Fame has done as much as anybody to keep alive the memory of the Negro Leagues, exactly what Ted Williams had asked for in 1966 (and exactly what my friend Buck O’Neil — who has a statue in the Hall of Fame — had fought for most of his life)... I bring this up… because it was a case where the Hall of Fame, though it was not easy, took the lead.

It’s time for that to happen again. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to take a stand on the Steroid Era.

Right now, the Hall of Fame is passing the buck. They are letting an unwieldy group of more than 500 baseball writers who never meet as a group sort out the Steroid Era by secret ballot. That’s no way to do things. If it had been up to the BBWAA, Satchel Paige would never have been elected to the Hall of Fame. There’s almost no chance he could have gotten 75% of the vote. Josh Gibson would have had even less chance because he never played in the Majors. Oscar Charleston? Turkey Stearnes? Smokey Joe Williams? There’s no chance 75% of the BBWAA in the 1970s would even have HEARD of them.

If the Hall had not inducted them, they would not have been inducted. The Hall would have remained as racist as baseball in the 1930s and 1940s. And it would not have been enough for them to say, “Well, we turned it over to the BBWAA and this is what they decided.” The Baseball Writers are good at some things — like electing the truly great players — but this is not an organization designed to deal with complex issues like race or PEDs. The BBWAA craves leadership. The Hall of Fame is supposed to provide it.

So far, they have not. They Hall of Fame won’t say or do ANYTHING to clarify things. And because of that, we are no closer to a a logical narrative about the Steroid Era than we were five years ago. There’s no consensus about how much steroid and PED use ACTUALLY affected power numbers (not just talk but actual study of the subject), no consensus over why steroid use should be viewed differently than amphetamines or other drugs, no consensus about the role the people who run baseball played in the era, no consensus about anything really.

No consensus and no consistency. Tony La Russa is unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager, one of his greatest players Mark McGwire is not. Why? People openly (or subtly) accuse players of steroid use though they never failed a test, were never involved in a public scandal and never showed up in any of the wild accusations that were thrown around. How can the Hall of Fame just sit back and let this happen to the game it represents?

It’s actually kind of disgraceful. The Hall of Fame is meant to celebrate the game, but their silence on this issue leaves baseball and the Hall open to this annual flogging of the game and some of its greatest players.

It’s time for the Hall of Fame to create a committee of experts (former players, executives, scholars, ethicists) to look into the Steroid Era, to make recommendations how the museum should proceed. They should be open to all possibilities and apply science and philosophy and logic to this issue. They should be leaders in moving the game forward. It’s time to stop sitting back while baseball writers (including yours truly) scattershoot their own particular ethical standards and argue about Barry Bonds. This is THEIR museum. It’s time for them to tell everybody what it stands for.

The District Attorney Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:18 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, joe posnanski, ped

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   1. Hank G. Posted: December 29, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4625953)
The Baseball Writers are good at some things — like electing the truly great players …


That is being overly kind. The current set of baseball writers would have trouble finding their own glutei even with directions.
   2. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 29, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4626035)
There’s no consensus about how much steroid and PED use ACTUALLY affected power numbers (not just talk but actual study of the subject), no consensus over why steroid use should be viewed differently than amphetamines or other drugs, no consensus about the role the people who run baseball played in the era, no consensus about anything really.

Well, sure ... in the same way there's no "consensus" about evolution or global warming or Joe Paterno.
   3. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 29, 2013 at 10:52 PM (#4626044)
You mean Joe Paterno who knew what was happening in his locker room but chose to abet it for more than a decade because addressing the problem would have been bad for business? What a devastating squelcher to "No consensus about the role the people who run baseball played in the era."
   4. Shoebo Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:02 AM (#4626102)
Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day. What in the HOF Charter stops them from redfining how players are elected ? It's their HOF, and the leadership of the HOF should be able to see their museum spriraling into irrelevancy.

Then I looked up the HOF Board of Directors, and realized what a stupid thought that was.



   5. cardsfanboy Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4626126)
You mean Joe Paterno who knew what was happening in his locker room but chose to abet it for more than a decade because addressing the problem would have been bad for business? What a devastating squelcher to "No consensus about the role the people who run baseball played in the era."


Please ####### die.
   6. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:47 AM (#4626184)
####### = "don't ever"? I'll try.
   7. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:55 AM (#4626185)
Posnanski deserves a crap ton of scorn for carrying water for Paterno and his family. I personally think it damaged the reputation of an otherwise sensible and fantastic writer.

However, it's pretty ####### pathetic to bring up the Paterno thing in a thread about the HOF and PEDs.
   8. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:44 AM (#4626197)
He already had the contract. What's he supposed to do?
   9. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:28 AM (#4626201)
Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day. What in the HOF Charter stops them from redfining how players are elected ? It's their HOF, and the leadership of the HOF should be able to see their museum spriraling into irrelevancy.

Then I looked up the HOF Board of Directors, and realized what a stupid thought that was.

Why was it stupid? None of those people seem to be overly invested in the idea of baseball writers having most of the electoral power. Yes, they're all old and not particularly dynamic, but still.....
   10. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 30, 2013 at 06:29 AM (#4626210)
Then I looked up the HOF Board of Directors, and realized what a stupid thought that was.


My favorite thing on that page is the picture of Bud Selig, which looks like it was taken when he first became a board member in 1976.
   11. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:00 AM (#4626214)
Don't they build the stand like a week before the ceremony? No need for Cooperstown carpenters to freeze.
   12. TRBMB Posted: December 30, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4626225)
What is really needed is to not defer this to 'the Hall of Fame', which is just an entity, rather to a person or persons. Put real name(s) to the challenge and task. Otherwise, I doubt this Hall Of Fame creature will ever be committed to act. And Bud Selig, who is too busy doing nothing about much of everything else, is not a candidate.
   13. DanG Posted: December 30, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4626234)
Put real name(s) to the challenge
The Hall of Fame is Jane Forbes Clark's toy. She was never pretty.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: December 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4626241)
However, it's pretty ####### pathetic to bring up the Paterno thing in a thread about the HOF and PEDs.


understatement. It's obsessive compulsive moronicness of the highest degree...EVERY person who brings up the Paterno thing in a Pos thread over the past 6 months, collectively lowers the iq of the discussion by a significant margin. These f-heads just need to die so that they can't accidentally add to the gene pool. (these are the type of people who think creationism is based on science, that global warming is a conspiracy, and that two and a half men is a quality tv show, only bested by Duck Dynasty)
   15. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4626274)
I saw this last week, and I think something must be askew in my reading comprehension skills. As far as I can tell, Poz is explicitly comparing the unjust nature of Negro Leaguers being kept out of the HOF by racist writers to... modern writers invoking the "character clause" (character, sportsmanship, integrity) in order to keep anabolic steroid users out of the Hall of Fame. That strikes me as beyond the pale, and I'm hoping someone can clear this up. The Hall of Fame is currently applying a particular standard: the one set by the community of its writers in judging the character, integrity, and sportsmanship of players for admission.

I'm with Poz insofar as I think the character clause needs to be looked at (has it ever been really applied prior to the AAS users and really, extremely unpopular players?) and I'd fully support a Truth Commission that waived the character clause requirements for those who participated. However, the Hall's current strategy is to allow for the evolution of a community standard concerning AAS usage, and while I think that's wrongheaded*, I don't think it rises to the same level as the institutional racial bias the BBWAA displayed earlier. To be clear, it's just the comparison of the two which gets to me, really.

*This is treble true for players like Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza. Even if we accepted the highly contested claims that their usage was so pervasive as to constitute an "open secret" during their playing days, there is not one iota of formalized evidence against them. Similarly, Roger Clemens has done everything you might expect a clean man to do if he was falsely accused, and he's actually succeeded in defending in his honor. Guidance would be good, especially because time on the ballot is limited and community standards are messy and take time to form.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4626380)
"two and a half men is a quality tv show"

it has clever dialogue and Sheen was born for that role. it was quite passable - well, I thought so until a fanboy showed me the error of my ways. please provide a full list of "acceptable" and "unacceptable" TV shows, to save me from going down any other wayward paths. and elaborate on how many episodes of the Sheen show you've seen to reach your unassailable conclusion, thanks.

   17. SandyRiver Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4626408)
As far as I can tell, Poz is explicitly comparing the unjust nature of Negro Leaguers being kept out of the HOF by racist writers to... modern writers invoking the "character clause" (character, sportsmanship, integrity) in order to keep anabolic steroid users out of the Hall of Fame. That strikes me as beyond the pale, and I'm hoping someone can clear this up.


Just from the excerpt, I came to a different conclusion. IMO, Poz is saying that the HOF stood fairly tall in correcting some of the huge injustices caused by segregation in MLB, and now they should stand up and declare a position on this lesser but still significant issue of PEDs.
   18. Publius Publicola Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4626433)
I personally think it damaged the reputation of an otherwise sensible and fantastic writer.


I think it revealed a fatal flaw that was always there- the willingness to ignore or underplay unpleasant aspects of his sources in order to keep his lines of communication open with them.
   19. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4626446)
Poz is saying that the HOF stood fairly tall in correcting some of the huge injustices caused by segregation in MLB


Not really. It was MLB that took the lead, not the HoF.

-- MWE
   20. The District Attorney Posted: December 30, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4626489)
I think Poz's analogy to the Negro League is meant to illustrate that it's not logical to have the yearly vote determine the eligibility for the honor in the first place. Some organizing principle needs to be put in place in order to guide the yearly vote.

With a requirement as high as 75%, it's unlikely that anyone whose initial eligibility is in question is ever going to get in. If that result is your intent -- i.e., if you think PED users shouldn't be eligible -- then fine, explicitly state that, and take the PED players off the ballot. If you think PED should have zero weight in the voting, then state that. If you think PED should have some weight in the voting but not determinative, then state that.

FWIW, Bill James in his mailbag:
Joe analogizes this situation to that of the black players (pre-integration) being locked out of the Hall of Fame, and this moment to the time when Ted Williams stepped forward and called for Cooperstown to make a place for Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. But this, in my view, is not that moment, and we are not yet at (or near) that place. By 1966 80% of the country knew that racism was wrong; hell, in 1947 55% of the country knew that racism was wrong. By 1966--while the country was still quite divided on issues of race--but by 1966 90% of the young people and half the old people knew that the nation's history of racism was a shameful legacy. What we were fighting about in 1966 was 1) What can we do to force the laggards to give up using their vestigial powers on behalf of racism, and 2) What must be done NOW to compensate for the errors of the past? There is no such clarity or consensus now on steroids; there is still a long process of confession and forgiveness ahead of us until there is such consensus. For the Hall of Fame to take any kind of a stand on this issue at this time would almost certainly make the situation worse, rather than better, because it would codify into quasi-law the confusion and self-righteousness of THIS moment, on the issue of steroids.
   21. base ball chick Posted: December 30, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4626513)
Publius Publicola Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4626433)

I personally think it damaged the reputation of an otherwise sensible and fantastic writer.

I think it revealed a fatal flaw that was always there- the willingness to ignore or underplay unpleasant aspects of his sources in order to keep his lines of communication open with them.


i think it DID expose a fatal flaw, but that isn't it. he's a person who always looks for the good in everyone (he has written about one of his daughters and she's JUST like him) and he has a very very hard time believing someone he likes and respects has a very VERY serious, uh, character defect. i can't remember even ONE piece he has written which is no question hostile or negative (like CHB or rick reilly) about anyone.
   22. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4626524)
i can't remember even ONE piece he has written which is no question hostile or negative (like CHB or rick reilly) about anyone.
I think "blogger Murray Chass" is the most negative thing he writes about anybody.
   23. Dan Evensen Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4626539)
#5 makes no sense. SugarBear Blanks brought up Paterno, not Gonfalon Bubble. And #14 makes #5 even more confusing.

Look, Posnanski's reputation was damaged by the Paterno scandal. It's going to come up in discussions of Posnanski's books and articles. Bringing up that subject does not make one suddenly become a illiterate, moronic hick.

I also think BBC is 100% right about Posnanski. Still, I like his writing, and have really enjoyed his books (though I didn't buy the Paterno one).

Back to the real subject: I never looked at the HOF Board of Directors before. Suddenly, the stupidity makes so much sense. TRBMB, real names have been put to the task of running the Hall of Fame. It's just a shame that those names include Joe Morgan, David Glass and Jerry Reinsdorf.
   24. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4626557)
especially because time on the ballot is limited


There is no statue on limitations on election to the Hall of Fame. By my count 190 of the 300 members of the Hall of Fame got there outside the normal BBWAA voting procedure (not counting Clemente).


With a requirement as high as 75%, it's unlikely that anyone whose initial eligibility is in question is ever going to get in.


Similarly, that's only the requirement for initial consideration. Many, many players have gotten in without 75% of the baseball writers' votes.
   25. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4626562)
#5 makes no sense. SugarBear Blanks brought up Paterno, not Gonfalon Bubble.

Shhhh. Some threads become too complex to follow after three posts.
   26. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4626583)
Shhhh. Some threads become too complex to follow after three posts.
Everybody knows threads are good at the beginning, but they just go too far.
   27. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4626590)
Edit: unnecessary.
   28. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4626606)
Similarly, Roger Clemens has done everything you might expect a clean man to do if he was falsely accused, and he's actually succeeded in defending in his honor.
He's the one I don't get - he's never wavered in claiming innocence, even suing his accusor (a guy shown time and again to be a liar); when indicted for lying to Congress, he was found not guilty on all charges (after what appeared to be an intentional mistrial by the prosecution).

Has everyone make up their minds, evidence be damned? If not, if this is a just society, what is it that society is demanding of him?

EDIT: Maybe that's really what Poz is speaking to - that other than a very select few (McGwire and...well, just him I guess - Ramirez will probably be the next), great players are being kept out of the HOF for nothing more than accusations and innuendo - believe what you want about Bonds, but the court couldn't find that he knew he was using steroids.
   29. Publius Publicola Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4626651)
and he's actually succeeded in defending in his honor.


He didn't do it very well. That Mindy MacCready thing was pretty sordid.
   30. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4626675)
He didn't do it very well. That Mindy MacCready thing was pretty sordid.


Mindy was a PED? Who knew?!?
   31. villageidiom Posted: December 30, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4626741)
It’s time for the Hall of Fame to create a committee of experts (former players, executives, scholars, ethicists) to look into the Steroid Era, to make recommendations how the museum should proceed.
It is not time for this.

Bert Blyleven took how many years to be elected to the HOF? He's a deserving Hall-of-Famer, and was so from the moment he retired. It took more than a dozen years for the BBWAA to warm up to the idea that the standards they used in year one of his candidacy were flawed and insufficient. And though they could have settled on him more efficiently, the process is as long as it is precisely for this scenario. It gives the BBWAA the benefit of time to evolve their standards.

This will all be settled within this decade. How many years is someone going to hold out voting for, say, Jeff Bagwell, waiting for more information? Where is this information going to come from, and why would it take so long for it to be revealed? How long do you sit in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive before realizing that it isn't coming?

That some all-time greats are not yet enshrined after a couple rounds of voting means now is the time to make the case to the BBWAA that their standards need to evolve. If in another 15 years we find they have failed at their task, then that is the time for the Steroid Era experts to convene and weigh in.
   32. robinred Posted: December 30, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4626776)
i think it DID expose a fatal flaw, but that isn't it



Posnanski said publicly more than once that one of the reasons that he wanted to write about the 1975 Reds was to show the "good side" of Pete Rose, so I mostly agree with bbc. Poz is neither a confrontational sort nor an in-depth researcher; he is a human-interest/get along with people/basic analysis of current situations kind of guy.

And I mostly agree with vi and Bill James on the HOF/steroids thing.

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