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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Baseball Analysts: Schmuck: Where Do We Go From Here?

Another look at the Bonds-McGwire-Sosa HOF/steroid situation…with DHing (but no longer voting) Peter Schmuck.

Hypothetically, if you were a voter and you had decided that McGwire and Bonds were dirty enough to be kept out of Cooperstown, would it be fair to lump Sammy Sosa in with them?

Sosa may have looked like something out of a Saturday Night Live routine when he feigned an inability to speak and understand English during the hearings, but he has repeatedly denied any involvement with illegal steroids and he has never been the target of any credible accusation of steroid abuse.

Once again, you look at the Sosa of 1990 and the Sosa of 1998 and you can’t help but conclude that something fishy was going on, but there is—as yet—no hard evidence that he did anything other than work really, really hard in the weightroom. It is totally logical to believe that Sosa is the product of mad science, but proving it is another matter altogether.

Repoz Posted: March 09, 2006 at 01:37 PM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:09 PM (#1890276)
Schmuck is exactly right about the distinction between people who have been caught and people who are only under suspicion. Better that a thousand criminals go free than one innocent man be convicted.

I'd probably vote for Bonds, if I had a vote, but I'd be OK with it if someone else didn't because of the drugs. On the other hand, I'd be incredibly pissed if someone cited drugs as a reason not to vote for, say, Pudge.
   2. Traderdave Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:19 PM (#1890297)
I have believed for some time that a solid majority of players have juiced, and if you count andro, it's likely near all of them. Believing that, I couldn't deny 1 and allow another, because the other has probably juiced also.
   3. kthejoker Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#1890298)
I dunno, people seem really willing to overlook the criminal act of taking controlled substances because it wasn't "cheating" by the MLB rulebook. I always felt it was pretty clear that, as wacky as the "moral conduct" clause of the rules was, it was first and foremost there to cover the gamut of criminal activities that might be undertaken by a player.

If a player runs a red light, hits a pedestrian, and keeps driving because he's late for the team plane to play in an important series, clearly the player has undertaken criminal conduct that is not expressly viewed as "cheating" by Major League Baseball in order to help his team's performance.*

As for me personally, while I can't stand the semantics of the argument (steroids were criminal before they were illegal, or vice versa), it seems clear that to punish any subset of players without a formal and valid system of separating violators from nonviolators is wrong and ultimately damages the task of "cleaning up" baseball.

In short, Palmeiro can be held out; and if similar evidence comes to light for any other player, than they can be held out, too. I just don't see how you can draw a line between "obvious" abusers like Bonds, McGwire, and Canseco, "pretty confident" abusers like Brady Anderson, Pudge, and Sosa, and "who knows?" players like Juan Gonzalez, Jason Giambi. I mean, really: Let's make a list of all the players whose numbers and physical stature suggest steroid use:

Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Thome, Pedro, Gary Sheffield, Luis Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, the list could go on. All of these careers are tainted now by the steroid issue. It's simply not enough to say, "well, I think this guy did, and this guy didn't" - unless you're a Hall of Fame voter, of course.

*unless that player is Al Leiter.
   4. Guapo Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#1890309)
Schmuck is exactly right

Great, another steroid thread and the first poster immediately insults the author, even while conceding he is correct. WHEN WILL THE INVECTIVE END?!?!
   5. Traderdave Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:44 PM (#1890327)
Slightly off topic, Schmuck sasy in the article that he isn't allowed by his employer to vote on awards. I've heard of other papers having this same policy. What is the reason for that?
   6. DCA Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#1890335)
Schmuck is exactly right about the distinction between people who have been caught and people who are only under suspicion. Better that a thousand criminals go free than one innocent man be convicted.

Interesting. I realize we have to draw a line somewhere, but I'm not with you on 1000 to 1. It's inarguable that it's worse to lock up a single innocent man than let a single guilty man go free, because in the act of locking up the innocent man, you are *also* letting the guilty man in that case go free. But with extreme burden of proof, you'll have no ability to catch criminals.

Living in a non-ideal world, where there will be mistakes, we have to place a relative value on the cost of locking up an innocent, and letting a criminal go free. A couple defense lawyers I've talked to estimate that about 90% of their clients are guilty, I've heard that number in common use as well, so I'll use it.

To have an equilibrium of 1000 guility set free per each innocent incarcerated means a conviction rate of only 1% if convinction is at random. And if juries are ten times as likely to convict the actually guity, the conviction rate of the guilty is only 8%. That's unacceptible IMO.
   7. aberg Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#1890338)
I think Schmuck is the guys name.

Another look at the Bonds-McGwire-Sosa HOF/steroid situation...with DHing (but no longer voting) Peter Schmuck.


I know the reaction to steroid use is extremely negative, but if the consequence is an increased ability to help the team win and the behavior conforms to the written rules, it would be hard to turn anyone down for the HOF. Consider, analogically, the case of some player selling his soul to Satan to, say, become the greatest homerun hitter of all time or beat the Damn Yankees in the World Series. If the resutling performance spike makes him HOF worthy, he's just making a tremendous sacrfice to win at the bounds of morality, but not the game's rules. Shrunken testicles, odd patches of hair and acne, frightening mood swings, a gigantic forehead and a life expectancy of 50 something are unfortunate side effects of someone really wanting to perform. If it is not forbidden by the rules, is it any worse than wearing contact lenses or taking allergy medication to enhance your "natural" performance relative to other competitors? I guess I don't see a logical distinction. I still think the issue would be 10% as newsworthy if we knew Bonds as a hero rather than a surly and self-obsessed creep. Of course, with the mood altering effects of some PEDs, that might be a catch-22.
   8. aberg Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#1890345)
oops, forget the possessive apostrophe. My apologies.
   9. Sean McNally Posted: March 09, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#1890352)
If I had a vote, I think you have to vote contextually and look at the player vs. their contemporaries.

In that case, I think you have to either vote for everybody - convicted or suspected - Palmeiro, Sosa, Bonds, McGwire, Pudge, all of them... or vote for nobody.

But that's just my opinion.
   10. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:12 PM (#1890388)
Why not make a distinction behind blind suspicion, reasoned suspicion(evidence without a smoking gun), and conviction?
   11. Jeff K. Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:24 PM (#1890404)
Slightly off topic, Schmuck sasy in the article that he isn't allowed by his employer to vote on awards. I've heard of other papers having this same policy. What is the reason for that?

The theory is that makes them part of the story and means that they're reporting on news that they create, which is a violation of ethics.
   12. Jeff K. Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:26 PM (#1890406)
Why not make a distinction behind blind suspicion, reasoned suspicion (evidence without a smoking gun), and conviction?

I agree. What's so hard about this?
   13. Ginger Nut Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:28 PM (#1890412)
If it is not forbidden by the rules, is it any worse than wearing contact lenses or taking allergy medication to enhance your "natural" performance relative to other competitors? I guess I don't see a logical distinction.


Well, I think the distinction would be that 1) steroids are illegal under US law; 2) steroids are illegal because they are harmful.

There is also a community standards argument that should apply here. In all sports, not just baseball, there is a widespread understanding that wearing contact lenses is acceptable, but taking steroids is cheating. If some baseball player in 2001 had wanted to challenge this assumption, then he could have made an argument, using his prominent position as a professional baseball player to gain media access, and tried to convince people that this community standard should be changed. If there really is no logical distinction between steroids and contact lenses, then it should have been possible for some players, and their representatives and spokespeople perhaps, to change public opinion about this. But that is not how they went about it. Secretly taking steroids and carefully hiding the evidence of this is duplicitous. That doesn't mean that these players' records should be expunged, but if some sportswriters don't want to vote for these guys for the hall of fame because their duplicitous actions have harmed baseball, which I think one could make a very strong argument they have, then that is only what the steroid users should have expected when they began their duplicitous practices. If they really thought there was nothing wrong with taking steroids, then they should have done it openly and not damaged the integrity of the game in the public mind by doing these things without making the effort to explain to the public why they think there is nothing wrong with it.

By the way, I do not think they really would be able to make the case that steroids are no more harmful than contact lenses, I'm simply pointing out that if that is really their belief, then they should have expressed that view openly rather than covertly doing something that they new full well most people, including most professional and top amateur athletes, would consider to be cheating.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:40 PM (#1890435)
What is the reason for that?"

Conflict of interest. The paper's worried about trading votes for access, not an entirely unreasonable concern.

"I realize we have to draw a line somewhere, but I'm not with you on 1000 to 1."

It's a traditional saying (sometimes attributed to Ben Franklin) that's often used as a justification for the principle of "reasonable doubt" in our legal system.
   15. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:44 PM (#1890437)
"I agree. What's so hard about this?"

Sportswriters and reason don't always mix very well. If you legitimize penalties on suspected cheaters, a bunch of guys are going to bounce Frank Thomas or Albert Belle or whomever, because in their opinion nobody could be that much of a jerk to the hard-working men of the press unless they were on drugs.
   16. DCA Posted: March 09, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#1890446)
Conflict of interest. The paper's worried about trading votes for access, not an entirely unreasonable concern.

More likely worried about losing access because of votes, if the paper's like most rags these days.
   17. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 05:01 PM (#1890461)
"More likely worried about losing access because of votes, if the paper's like most rags these days."

Well, yeah, that's the other side of the coin.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 09, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#1890490)
Everyone has to go by their own standards, but mine are this:

For baseball to punish a player, you need a positive test result. And I don't believe in retroactive punishments, even for Bonds.

For the HOF, the only "punishment" involved is the implicit blackening of reputation. But that reputation almost always was earned by deeds, both good and bad. The writers don't create reputations out of thin air.

Although one should be wary of using that HOF vote to assess character when that character does not relate to the game on the field (Cobb), the standards here are not, and should not be, those of a court of law, nor those required by baseball's drug testers. Certainly not at least for those who weren't tested during the period that accusations were made. There is no "right" to a free pass based upon when you retired.

And I see a big distinction between Bonds and McGwire on the one hand, and Sosa on the other. Bonds has been nailed by BALCO, and to an extent by his own admission, however much he tried to fudge it. McGwire had a chance to deny his steroid use, and just clammed up. You have to be nuts not to see that for what it was.

But Sosa has both denied it and never been tested positive. And to me, at least, that matters, however much I might suspect that he juiced.

It's one thing to let a suspected juicer like Sosa in, and then find out later that he juiced. His vanished reputation at that point would be embarrassment enough. There would be no shame accrued to the HOF, only a legitimate charge of credulilty. But a subsequently exposed Sosa's plaque would merely mock him. It would be the hollowest of honors, and a cautionary note.

OTOH, to consciously vote known juicers like McGwire and Bonds into the HOF is to announce to the world that the whole steroids issue doesn't really matter. There is simply no way around that.

Now if you sincerely believe that it doesn't matter, then fine, vote for both of them. And in Bonds's case you can even vote for him if you pretend that the first steroid injection he took in 1999 killed him on the spot.

But if you think, like I do, that this would bring shame and disgust upon the HOF, then I don't see how on earth you can vote for either of those two. The HOF is not the Hall of Statistical Merit, however much this equation seems to hold sway here at BTF. For one thing, families don't drive halfway across the country just to admire a row of numbers they can gaze at on the internet.
   19. rr Posted: March 09, 2006 at 05:49 PM (#1890547)
OTOH, to consciously vote known juicers like McGwire and Bonds into the HOF is to announce to the world that the whole steroids issue doesn't really matter.


Given that the Hall is a binary--he's in or he's out--there is truth in this. However, given also that the Hall includes players of many different levels of quality, from the "inner circle" on out, and that players get in though two doors, I suspect that there may be some writers who don't vote Bonds in on the first ballot as a means of protest and then vote him in later. So, some people may say it "matters"--but, given his whole record, his pre-1999 record, etc, that it doesn't matter enough to keep him out.

Personally, I don't think Bonds will get in for a long time, but I could be wrong. People will be looking for an apology, and I see little reason to believe it will be forthcoming.

Intuitively, I think McGwire is far more likely to engage in a mea culpa but who really knows?
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 06:02 PM (#1890565)
If a "suspected" player is voted in and subsequent evidence implicates him, the Hall always has the option of removing him retroactively. It's never happened in Cooperstown, but there is a precedent.

I'm not advocating this as a course of action, but the option's there.
   21. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:04 PM (#1890668)
Once they get voted into the HOF, I'd be against voting them out, for reasons I wrote above. The writers can only vote on the basis of how they interpret and evaluate their own knowledge at the time of the vote.

I doubt that McGwire is going in anytime soon, and I'm now beginning to have my doubts about Bonds as well. But in or out, the votes on McGwire and Bonds will tell us much more about what the writers think of the Hall of Fame than it will tell us about Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds. That debate should be most interesting. And it's too bad that the writers aren't required to attach an explanatory note to their votes.
   22. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:08 PM (#1890679)
OTOH, to consciously vote known juicers like McGwire and Bonds into the HOF is to announce to the world that the whole steroids issue doesn't really matter.

No. It announces that it doesn't matter so much as to negate all their accomplishments. You can't honestly read the comments of the voters who say they'd vote for Bonds because he was a Hall of Famer before 1998 and say that they don't think steroids matter -- if they didn't matter, they would be saying that Bonds is a slam dunk.
   23. Up2Drew Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:17 PM (#1890706)
A thousand criminals running free for the cause of "accurate" justice leads to a society ruled by lawlessness.
   24. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:22 PM (#1890717)
Bonds being elected with 98% of the vote on the first ballot would be saying steroids don't matter. Being elected with 80% on the second or third ballot, which seems more likely to me, sends the message that steroids matter.

The plaque says what his last year was, and it says what year he was elected. If it says nothing about steroids, 700 HRs and 8 years between the end of his career and induction says something by itself.
   25. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:26 PM (#1890725)
OTOH, to consciously vote known juicers like McGwire and Bonds into the HOF is to announce to the world that the whole steroids issue doesn't really matter.

No. It announces that it doesn't matter so much as to negate all their accomplishments. You can't honestly read the comments of the voters who say they'd vote for Bonds because he was a Hall of Famer before 1998 and say that they don't think steroids matter -- if they didn't matter, they would be saying that Bonds is a slam dunk.


That's semantics, but since it allows either of us to interpret the vote in our own way, I don't really see the need to argue the point.

But it's another reason why I'd like a requirement for the writers to explain their votes. This will be much more about the writers than it will be about Bonds.
   26. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:30 PM (#1890737)
They've done far worse things than elect a steroid user.

A lot of these guys want Joe Jackson in.
   27. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:32 PM (#1890741)
Bonds being elected with 98% of the vote on the first ballot would be saying steroids don't matter. Being elected with 80% on the second or third ballot, which seems more likely to me, sends the message that steroids matter.

The plaque says what his last year was, and it says what year he was elected. If it says nothing about steroids, 700 HRs and 8 years between the end of his career and induction says something by itself.


That's a reasonable take, although to me it'd be a copout. Bonds belongs in the BTF Hall of Merit, where all the stats freaks can drool all they want over his numbers, and make of them whatever they will. But the HOF is a different institution, and Bonds has no place in it.

And time will tell what the writers think about all this. I'm not making any bets at this point.
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 09, 2006 at 07:35 PM (#1890747)
They've done far worse things than elect a steroid user.

A lot of these guys want Joe Jackson in.


Gee, would you rather have earwax in your nose or boogers in your ear? I'll take the radical stance that I want neither.
   29. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:16 PM (#1890831)
From the closed Bonds thread:

As the writer who started the whole Rosie Ruiz bit (at least on this thread), let me state again that it's squarely on point as to the issue of whether Bonds's HR records should be officially recognized by baseball. Unless it can be shown that Ruiz broke a specific Bos Marathon rule that was on the books in 1980, the "it has to be a specific violation of the rules of the sport" defense for Bonds's records disappears. There are other legitimate defenses, but that one is gone.

This implies the position that anything not specifically forbidden by the rules is allowed. I don't think this is tenable. I doubt that the rules specifically forbid shooting a baserunner, or tampering with the opposing teams' drinking water, or any number of other things.

The better rule is to say that something is not allowed unless the rules specifically say it is. This is perhaps imperfect (there are probably lots of things that are traditionally allowed but not spelled out in the rules), but better than the other way.

Also, Backlasher referred to Retardo's steroids wiki entry. Can someone point me to that?
   30. DCA Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:17 PM (#1890834)
That's a reasonable take, although to me it'd be a copout. Bonds belongs in the BTF Hall of Merit, where all the stats freaks can drool all they want over his numbers, and make of them whatever they will. But the HOF is a different institution, and Bonds has no place in it.

What's with all the vitriol against the Hall of Merit? BL slams them all the time. Do you ever go over there and read the threads. There's a ton of good discussion -- and research -- about players who are more on the borderline, and who I'd never heard of before. The stat kings are on the ballot once and then forgotten. I mean, it doesn't take any thought to elect Mel Ott, or Rogers Hornsby. But what about Lip Pike, or Mickey Welch, or Bill Dahlen, or Biz Mackey? That's who the HOM is about, and it's great discussion whether those guys make it or not.
   31. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:20 PM (#1890844)
"A thousand criminals running free for the cause of "accurate" justice leads to a society ruled by lawlessness."

Personally, I think it leads to a society where the cops and lawyers have incentive not to half-ass their jobs.

Even as careful as we are today, mistakes still get made. Here's an example, out of my local paper earlier this week. Can you imagine what it'd be like if there were a hundred times as many guys like him?
   32. DCA Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:25 PM (#1890858)
Re #29

I usually use, something that is not specifically forbidden by the rules, and not punished when it does happen, isn't cheating. If Hannah Hokum took a shortcut in the Boston Marathon last year, and Carlene Centavo the year before, and there's no rule against it, then Rosie should be allowed to do so.
   33. Jeff K. Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#1890872)
Unless it can be shown that Ruiz broke a specific Bos Marathon rule that was on the books in 1980, the "it has to be a specific violation of the rules of the sport" defense for Bonds's records disappears. There are other legitimate defenses, but that one is gone.

I feel fairly positive (even without research, I will make the claim absolutely) that the Boston Marathon rules mention running 26.2 miles, which Ruiz did not do.
   34. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:33 PM (#1890879)
"I doubt that the rules specifically forbid shooting a baserunner..."

This would probably qualify as impeding the progress of said runner, and as such be interference. If the shooter were a player or coach, they could probably eject him for starting a fight, too.

Oh, and bringing a gun onto the field violates the rules on uniforms and equipment.
   35. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:42 PM (#1890894)
"...or tampering with the opposing teams' drinking water..."

Rule 4.15: "A game may be forfeited to the opposing team when a team ...(b) Employs tactics palpably designed to delay or shorten the game."

I think poisoning would shorten or delay the game, so they've got that one covered as well.
   36. Guapo Posted: March 09, 2006 at 08:54 PM (#1890916)
Shooting a baserunner would be obstruction.

Poisioning the other team would be unsportsmanlike conduct.
   37. TOLAXOR Posted: March 09, 2006 at 10:54 PM (#1891147)
THE ETHICS OF BASEBALL ARE THUS:

IF YOU ATTEMPT TO DOCTOR THE TOOLS YOU PLAY WITH (BAT, BALL) YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE HALL...

IF YOU ATTEMPT TO DOCTOR YOURSELF (DRUGS) YOU SHOULD BE AT LEAST MADE TO WAIT, IF NOT KEPT FROM THE HALL...


TO ME, IF THEY'RE GOING TO LET PITCHERS WHO DOCTOR THE BALL IN, THEN THEY MUST LET BATTERS LIKE SOSA WHO DOCTOR THEIR BAT!!! BUT I WOULD ARGUE THAT DOCTORING YOUR TOOLS IS AS BAD AS DOCTORING YOURSELF!!!
   38. fuzzycopper Posted: March 09, 2006 at 11:08 PM (#1891164)
Ever get the feeling we'll be having this same discussion 30 years later when players start quietly using unapproved biotech implants? Would Lee Majors be Hall eligible? As absurd an example as that is, I'm left wondering where the line will be drawn regarding bigger, better, faster players.

If violation of US law (as opposed to the baseball rulebook) marks the boundary, what about greenies? Hundreds, if not thousands, of players have used various questionably obtained prescription amphetamines (occasionally supplied by the team trainers themselves) from the 60s onwards, correct? If the argument is made that one should be ineligible for the Hall because he engaged in a criminal act that resulted in improved play on the field, shouldn't everyone named, in, say, Ball Four thus be deemed ineligible for taking the little green pills?
   39. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 09, 2006 at 11:10 PM (#1891167)
What's with all the vitriol against the Hall of Merit? BL slams them all the time. Do you ever go over there and read the threads. There's a ton of good discussion -- and research -- about players who are more on the borderline, and who I'd never heard of before.

True, but the discussion tends to be 'just the stats, ma'am.' Shoeless Joe was inducted on his first ballot.

Poisioning the other team would be unsportsmanlike conduct.

If there is a specific rule against unsportsmanlike conduct, then taking steroids qualifies, so the issue is moot.

Rule 4.15: "A game may be forfeited to the opposing team when a team ...(b) Employs tactics palpably designed to delay or shorten the game."

I think poisoning would shorten or delay the game, so they've got that one covered as well.


Not if it were a sedative like the French tennis dad used to make the opponents' groggy.
   40. Booey Posted: March 09, 2006 at 11:36 PM (#1891190)
I've said for years that MLB should make a real effort to rid the game of PED's, and establish a testing program where those who fail would face serious consequences- but before any of this could take place, they'd need to establish VERY CLEARLY that steroids are against the rules, and that users will be treated as cheaters. MLB didn't do this until 2005, so much as it pains me to say it, it seems only fair to give everyone who juiced prior to this a free pass. Palmeiro is the first and only HOF caliber player that I'd consider not voting for based on PED use.

Nothing anyone has said in these steroid rants has convinced me whatsoever that roiding was against baseballs rules in the 1990's and early 2000's. Those who say they were are clinging to a technicality with the naivette (is that a real word?) of a child. Your parents say that Santa Claus is real, therefore he must be, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Likewise, the rulebook says that steroids are not allowed, therefore they're not, despite all the reasons to believe that they were widespread and intentionally ignored by those who had the power to stop them. If a line in a rulebook is all you need to be convinced that you're right, well good for you. It's not enough for me. I think "rules" are defined by more than a few words written on a piece of paper. There needs to be some attempt at enforcement, and some punishment for violators. Rules that aren't enforced are useless and invalid.

Steroids may never have been condoned, but those who can somehow still stubbornly deny that PED use was at least an ACCEPTED part of MLB culture during the current power craze are just as blissfully ignorant as those who need to see a videotape showing Bonds injecting himself in the a$$ before they'll admit that he juiced. At BEST baseball gave a mixed and confusing message about PED's. At WORST(and this is the more likely scenario), roiding was actually unofficially ENCOURAGED by celebrating the accomplishments of obvious users like Barry and Mac, despite the fact that everyone in the game had to know where their amazing ability was coming from.
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 12:39 AM (#1891248)
What's with all the vitriol against the Hall of Merit?

No vitriol at all; I've joined in quite a few of their threads, most recently Minoso's.

But it does bug me when people describe the "qualifications" for the HOF as if they're identical with the HOM.

My point is simply that the HOM is stats only---and properly so. And Bonds would be a slam dunk here on the basis of his pre-steroids record.

But the HOF's qualifications only begin with stats---they don't end with them. Just ask Pete Rose and Joe Jackson. And it's this almost wilful confusion of the two institutions is more than a little annoying at times. Being a slam dunk in one doesn't necessarily make you a slam dunk in the other.
   42. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 03:43 AM (#1891533)
"That's a reasonable take, although to me it'd be a copout. Bonds belongs in the BTF Hall of Merit, where all the stats freaks can drool all they want over his numbers, and make of them whatever they will. But the HOF is a different institution, and Bonds has no place in it."

Yeah, because that's what we are, stat freaks that drool over numbers. Gotta wipe that slop off my mouth, I was just looking over Babe Ruth . . .

Pretty prickish comment Andy.
   43. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:09 AM (#1891609)
Joe, did you read the post right above the one you just wrote?

There are "stats freaks" who wilfully blur the clear distinction between the HOF with the HOM---"You can't keep out Bonds of the HOF with those numbers," etc. And my wrath, such as it is, was directed at them. Not at the HOM itself, which is a great enterprise. I do admit that my initial post could have been misinterpreted, though, and I take the blame for that.
   44. Booey Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:10 AM (#1891610)
Andy, Rose and Jackson are terrible comparisons for Bonds and you know it. They violated pre-existing rules that said they'd be banned if they broke them. If there was a posting in every clubhouse listing roids as the #1 cardinal sin in baseball, only then would what Bonds did be equal to Rose.

Unless players do something that officially makes them ineligible, the Hall of Fame IS supposed to be based on numbers. Borderline guys may be given the benefit of the doubt if they're perceived as good guys(Puckett), or denied if they're thought of as jerks(Allen, Belle), but again, this only works for guys that aren't obvious. Until there's specific rules made saying that steroid users aren't eligible for the HOF, denying somebody based soley on this is really just you playing by your own rules, rather than the ones that voters are supposed to go by. It's no different than the voters who say Blyleven isn't a HOFer because he didn't win 300 games. You can't keep out a guy as blatantly qualified as Bonds using rules that you're basically making up as you go along.
   45. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:11 AM (#1891615)
"My point is simply that the HOM is stats only"

No it isn't. It's play, mostly. Not stats, only. We have a provision where you can not vote for a player based on character issues the first year as well.

Stats tend to be the best way to value play, especially since none of us where there to see Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb or Joe Kelley or Charlie Bennett, so stats are pretty much all we have to go on. And if you don't think stats are what the BBWAA uses for criteria, you are sadly mistaken. They just have a pretty rough time interpreting and prioritizing them sometimes. Good luck finding a Hall of Fame ballot explanation that doesn't quote stats.

We also take into account contemporary accounts of players, post-season play, etc..

If it were stats only we'd have a really hard time electing the correct Negro League players. We have practically no stats on Dickey Pearce and we elected him. Read some of Gadfly's posts sometime. A lot more than stats.

Sure stats are the most important thing, but how would you know who was any good without stats?

You obviously haven't stopped by very much.
   46. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#1891626)
See Booey's post above, Joe. This is exactly what I was referring to. It's a sincere opinion, but IMO a wholly erroneous one. It equates the HOF with the HOM. But I'm afraid that our friend may be in for a rude awakening when he finds that the writers may not be taking their marching orders from him wrt Bonds.

Andy, Rose and Jackson are terrible comparisons for Bonds and you know it.

As I said before, it's earwax in your nose vs. boogers in your ear. Not exactly the same thing, but I think I'll give them both a pass.
   47. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:19 AM (#1891628)
They violated pre-existing rules that said they'd be banned if they broke them.

I'm pretty sure that's not true of Shoeless Joe. Actually, he's a pretty good comp to Bonds because what he did was generally recognized as cheating but also was fairly widespread at the time.
   48. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:28 AM (#1891641)
Andy I hadn't read your #41 post before I posted my comment. Still doesn't change my thoughts with regard to being called "Stat Freaks" which can't be meant any other way than in a derogatory manner.
   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:29 AM (#1891643)
You obviously haven't stopped by very much.

True. At least not enough.

But I'm not saying that stats aren't the most important component (and properly so) of a HOF vote.

I am saying that stats weigh more in most HOM discussions than in HOF votes. And if I'm not mistaken, this is a conscious decision, one made in order to remove irrelevant bias and subjectivity---a worthy objective.

If this isn't the case, then why the name?

The Negro Leagues question makes for your best case to the "more than stats" argument, and here it presents its best foot. It's a good point.

But just look at Bonds, since this is all about Bonds anyway:

Is he a slam dunk HOM candidate? Obviously. Even allowing your character exception, you know he's going in on the first ballot. Take away his tainted years and he's still an easy choice. I'd vote for him myself in a blink.

But is he a slam dunk HOF candidate? You're going to get a lot of argument on that score, even though the numbers presented won't be any different. And I wouldn't put him in the HOF in a million years.

And therein lies the difference. As it should.
   50. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:36 AM (#1891654)
"But I'm not saying that stats aren't the most important component (and properly so) of a HOF vote."

Then what is? Fuzzy stories? If stats aren't important, why isn't Hal Morris in the Hall of Fame. He was a nice guy. If stats aren't important, how about making the case for Terry Pendleton, who played on some good teams and even won an MVP for his intangibles.

Stats are by far the most important criteria for any honor in baseball, except the Gold Glove (and that is only because raw fielding stats are useless without being adjusted intensely).

Too say anything else is extremely naive.
   51. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:37 AM (#1891656)
Andy I hadn't read your #41 post before I posted my comment. Still doesn't change my thoughts with regard to being called "Stat Freaks" which can't be meant any other way than in a derogatory manner.

I said I apologized for the tone of the initial post, and I obviously wouldn't include you, or most of the HOM posters, in any derogatory category. The "stats freaks" term is one I specifically meant, however clumsily, to apply to those who refuse to go beyond the numbers in assessing a HOF candidate. There are enough of them on these threads to warrant the term, but I should be more careful in whom I apply it to.

On a personal note, I'd hardly describe someone whose proudest collection of baseball material is a complete run of baseball guides back to 1876 as an enemy of statistics. And I wholly admire what you and your colleagues have done to broaden our understanding of them.
   52. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:40 AM (#1891660)
"If this isn't the case, then why the name?"

Merit - has nothing to do with stats. It means merit (great play) is what is important, not fame. I'm pretty sure this was what the real Hall of Fame was going for.

Stats (and the proper interpretation of them) are the predominant indicator of merit. One doesn't have to be a 'Stat Freak' to determine merit.
   53. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:43 AM (#1891669)
"But I'm <u>NOT </u>saying that stats aren't the most important component (and properly so) of a HOF vote."

Then what is? Fuzzy stories? ...If stats aren't important...If stats aren't important...Stats are by far the most important criteria for any honor in baseball


????????? Did you subconsciously glaze by the word "NOT"? Nothing you wrote contradicts a word of what I said.
   54. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:47 AM (#1891675)
Yes I did Andy subconsciously glaze over not. That's what I get for trying to work and write at the same time (I've been on a work call for awhile).

It's all good. Apology accepted. Please accept mine if you felt my tone was argumentative, I just felt like I needed to defend the work of those at the Hall of Merit.
   55. JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:49 AM (#1891676)
"Yes I did Andy subconsciously glaze over not."

Another example of poor multitasking . . . word shuffle . . .

Yes Andy, I did subconsciously glaze over not.

Much better.
   56. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:52 AM (#1891682)
"If this isn't the case, then why the name?"

Merit - has nothing to do with stats. It means merit (great play) is what is important, not fame. I'm pretty sure this was what the real Hall of Fame was going for.


But then what's the difference between the two, unless you're just saying that the writers are a bunch of benighted dumbasses who don't know that Phil Rizzuto is a bogus HOFer, etc., and that our version is a purer version of the real thing?

Though funny thing, I think that in many cases the HOM does do a better job than the writers. And certainly I go for the argued vote over the hidden ballot.
   57. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 10, 2006 at 04:59 AM (#1891693)
Yes I did Andy subconsciously glaze over not. That's what I get for trying to work and write at the same time (I've been on a work call for awhile).

Tell me about it. I've been avoiding work for the entire day, and I'm loafing on four hours sleep from last night.


It's all good. Apology accepted. Please accept mine if you felt my tone was argumentative, I just felt like I needed to defend the work of those at the Hall of Merit.

No apology necessary. I never take words written in the heat of argument on a personal level. It doesn't get any of us anywhere anyway. And I knew that eventually you'd realize I wasn't trying to trash the HOM.

But at one minute before midnight, I really should try to get some sleep. Coffee ice cream only takes you so far.
   58. Booey Posted: March 10, 2006 at 11:17 PM (#1893012)
Kevin- Isn't saying you wouldn't vote for Sosa 'cause you "think" he took steroids despite no evidence whatsoever the same thing as the real voters who vote for Garvey and Morris 'cause they "felt" like HOFers, despite the fact that the actual numbers clearly show otherwise? I mean, voters like this are rightfully blasted in these threads. People say they should lose their voting rights for making up their own rules rather than going by the ones that they're given and instructed to follow. Do you really think this is how the voting process should work? What burden of proof do you need? Is simply "He looks like he juiced" really enough? If say, Clemens or A-Rod weren't elected to the Hall because many voters simply "thought" they were roiders for whatever reason, would you consider this an injustice? I sure would. You're doing the same thing with Sammy.

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