Ken Burns, Taxpayer-Funded Moral Sadist

Today is the day that Major League Baseball announces whether the Baseball Writers Association of America has voted any new members to that sport's hallowed Hall of Fame. Normally, at least one player, and often two, cross the 75% voting threshold required for entry. And this year the ballot newly features some of baseball's all-time greats: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza, among others (including failed crony capitalist Curt Schilling).

But since many of those names, plus others languishing on the ballot (like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro) are associated with steroid use (even, as in the case of Piazza, purely on the speculative rumor level), it's turning out that this historically great collection of talent may paradoxically be the first ballot since 1996 to be shut out of the Hall.

Why should non-baseball fans care? For one, because the subject of "performance-enhancing drugs" is rich with weird societal phobias that inevitably lead to government abuses of power (against high school students in addition to famous athletes). For an example of the contortions these prejudices put insanely competitive humans through, well, just watch Lance Armstrong today on Oprah.

And secondly, it helps rip the mask off professional baseball nostalgiacs like legendary PBS documentarian Ken Burns, who in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter gave this charming reason for opposing the election of Bonds, Clemens, and Piazza: "Those motherfuckers should suffer for a while."

Ironically, Burns was doing promo for his latest documentary about the Central Park Five, who were unjustly treated by a system that assumed their guilt.

Two relevant Reason.tv vids: First up, Kennedy asks, "Lance Armstrong cheated to win. Is that wrong?"

And watch Nick Gillespie interview Ken Burns about Prohibition below:

Jacob Sullum wrote about steroids and the Hall of Fame in 2009.

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  • John||

    The problem with not voting in players like Bonds and Clemons because of their alleged steroid use is that thanks to Don Fehr and the players' union they never tested for steroids and we have no idea who did and did not use. I don't know that Cal Ripkin never used steroids or HGH. I don't think he did. But since he was tested, I don't know. At some point in the future it is going to come out that someone from this era who gets into the HOF used steroids. Then what are they going to do? And even with Bonds and Clemons everyone thinks they did steroids but where has it ever been proven? Both Bonds and Clemons went through federal prosecutions. But in neither case were the feds able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt they used steroids. Bonds was convicted but it was on a bogus lying charge that had nothing to do with his personal use of steroids. So how do we know? We don't. We just think they did. Is that good enough? I don't think so, especially when there is no testing and there are a ton of other players out there who used that we will never know about.

    If the jackass HOF voters continue with this bullshit we are going to get to a point where the all time hits leader, home run leader, single season home run leader and greatest right handed pitcher of the modern era are not in the Hall. If you are going to exclude so many people how the hell is it a HOF anymore?

  • John||

    And don't give me the morals bullshit. If morals are a part of the criteria, how come morals never seem to help anyone? If morals are part of it border line statistical candidates but universally respected and liked players like Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy never got in? If morals can sink Clemons and Bonds, they ought to able to lift guys like Murphy and Mattingly.

  • robc||

    how come morals never seem to help anyone?

    Actually, in some of the early voting, it did.

  • John||

    Not in the last 50 years. These are the bastards who refused to vote Ron Santo in.

  • robc||

    Like I said, early voting.

    It has, over time, become entirely performance driven. Except Santo still should have been in.

  • Brett L||

    Craig Biggio got in there somehow. It sure wasn't based on his clutch playoff wins. Same with Bagwell. The fact that those guys went in ahead of Murphy and Lee Smith, who I'm pretty sure owned the total saves record at his retirement, pisses me off.

  • robc||

    Do you have access to a time machine or something?

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    I wondered the same; I am currently without a Flux Capacitor and as I write this the top story on http://espn.go.com/mlb/ is that Biggio will PROBABLY be the only one who gets in. Nothing definite yet.

  • robc||

    It would be cool to see Bagwell and Biggio go in together.

  • robc||

    The ten most similar players to Biggio includes 7 HOFers + Jeter (who will be) and Whitaker (who should be).

    The Bagwell list isnt as impressive, as it only includes 2 HOFers + Pujols. But he is clearly better than the other borderline guys on his list.

    Murphy's list includes 2 HOFers, but in general, is not as impressive. And Murphy isnt clearly better than the rest of his list.

    His most similar player is Andruw Jones...anyone wanting to put him in the HOF? Heck, I think Jones has a better argument than Dale, due to his defense.

  • John||

    Here is the only thing I will say in defense of both Murphy and Mattingly. Both of them were on track to be first ballet HOFers until they got hurt. Had they been dishonest and used HGH or other PEBs, they probably would have had the numbers. How many guys that we don't know about used and are going to get in?

  • Brett L||

    Wait, what? I thought I saw (I was at a bar, so I may be wrong) that they already counted the 2013 ballots.

  • robc||

    I thought I saw (I was at a bar, so I may be wrong) that they already counted the 2013 ballots.

    Im sure they have, but the announcement is this afternoon.

  • Brett L||

    I can't wait to go back and tell pissed off yesterday-me the news that those two solid but not HOF players aren't going to Cooperstown (yet).

  • robc||

    They are both above the HOF line in my opinion. Neither are slam dunks.

    Murphy is just the other side of that same line.

  • Brett L||

    If you have 2 HOF infielders playing next to each other for 15 years, you win at least one World Series.

  • robc||

    Like Ernie Banks and Ron Santo?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    The never-won-a-thing 1969 Cubs have what, 5? HoFers. I refuse to take such a place seriously when you pack it with loser Cubs.

  • Gray Ghost||

    If you have 2 HOF infielders playing next to each other for 15 years, you win at least one World Series.

    Not when the next best players are often the Derek Bell's of the world. And you're lucky to have more than 1 starting pitcher over 2 WAR.

    That said, they were hideous in the post-season, but LOL sample size.

    I think it's absolutely hilarious that there may not be a single guy inducted this year, in a year where I could easily put 10 guys in.

  • robc||

    I think it's absolutely hilarious that there may not be a single guy inducted this year, in a year where I could easily put 10 guys in.

    That makes it MORE likely that no one will get 75%, as the vote gets split.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Oh, I agree, robc. We have a straw poll at another website I frequent, with mostly knowledgeable voters, where no one is getting 75%. I think Biggio and Piazza are the front-runners with something like 71%. It's going to get worse next year before it gets better, with Maddux, Mussina, Glavine becoming eligible.

  • robc||

    Maddux is a no-brainer. He should get 100% of the vote, but, of course, wont.

  • John||

    I hate that jackass "no one is ever unanamous" unwritten rule. That alone should be justification to take the selection process out of the hands of the voters.

    There are some players for which there is no debate or no doubt that they should be in the HOF. If you ever didn't put Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron or Steve Carlton on your ballot when they were available, you are a fucking buffoon who should never be taken seriously on any subject again.

  • robc||

    ^^^This^^^

  • Brett L||

    Who can possibly win World Series with pitchers like Darryl Kyle, Mike Hampton or Billy Wagner?

  • Gray Ghost||

    Have you seen the rest of their rotation at that time? Having Roger/Andy/Roy was the exception by far. 1999 was pretty nice, with Hampton (6.4 WAR, 155 ERA+) and Lima-time (4.2 WAR, 125 ERA+), with Wagner being among the best closers in the NL and Shane Reynolds making a nice #3 with 3.0 WAR, 117 ERA+. But usually, Kile was by himself, or Hampton: they were just a typical smaller market team that couldn't afford quality depth.

    Too bad they couldn't quite get past Game 3 of the NLDS. I think they get past the Mets in the NLCS, and then, probably crushed like Bambi v. Godzilla by the Yankees, but who knows?

    Bagwell and Biggio's lines during that series were, well, not so good. Understandable, facing Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine in their primes, and Kevin Millwood was no slouch either, but this is the sort of stage where a HoF should shine, right?

  • Ted S.||

    Good pitching beats good hitting.

  • KDN||

    Who can possibly win World Series with pitchers like Darryl Kyle, Mike Hampton or Billy Wagner?

    Let's see who they eventually lost to when they made the playoffs:

    1997: Atlanta - Smoltz / Maddux / Glavine / Neagle / Wohlers, 22.5 WAR and 131 ERA+ for the staff and pen combined (9.3 /109 for HOU, Kyle / Hampton / Colt / Reynolds / Wagner). Beat by a better Braves team.

    1998: San Diego - K. Brown (2 Gms) / An. Ashby / Hitchcock / Hoffman, 24.0 (most of it Brown's) / 108 combined (23 / 118 for Reynolds / Hampton / Johnson (2x) / Wagner). Should have beat the Pads, likely would have been steamrolled by the Yanks.

    1999: Atlanta - Maddux / Millwood / Glavine / Smoltz / Rocker, 22.2 / 123 (20.5 / 117 for Reynolds / Lima / Hampton / Wagner). Braves were slightly better.

    2001: Atlanta - Maddux / Glavine / Burkett / Millwood / Smoltz, 17.7 / 124 (17.2 / 106, Reynolds / Mlicki / Miller / Wagner). Stros had a better team overall, but were doomed by injuries to Astacio and Oswalt.

    So the heyday of the killer B's was essentially torpedoed by rotten luck and you're going to ding Biggio and Bagwell for it? I don't get it.

  • Translucent Chum||

    Trammell and Whitaker would like to have a word with you.

  • robc||

    In ye olden days of VC abuse, Murphy is the kind of player the veteran's committee would have put it and no one would have complained because of the complete crap they also put in at the same time.

  • NeonCat||

    Mask OFF, not mask of.

  • Matt Welch||

    Thank you.

  • NeonCat||

    They could vote in Dale Murphy, who definitely never took PEDs.

  • KPres||

    Oh, c'mon Welch! Jesus Christ, they're cheaters. This is a game, not a society. It's purpose is competition for entertainment's sake, not securing individual liberty. No doubt there's some anti-drug moralist fervor encroaching into some of these criticisms, but most of it really is about the fact that they cheated.

  • WTF||

    Yes, I can see where people would be reluctant to vote players into the HOF who more than likely cheated to attain HOF-level stats.

  • John||

    That is the thing. Players like Bonds and Clemons had HOF stats without steroids. So I think they should get in. But players like Sosa and McGuire did not have HOF without steroids. I think you just do what you do in every other case discount the numbers for era in which they were achieved and vote accordingly. In the 1990s, 60 homeruns was not as big of an accomplishment as it was in the decades before.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Weren't greenies illegal in society at large during their heyday in MLB? And weren't they gobbled by the bowlful in every MLB locker room, with pitchers looking down on their teammates that wouldn't? Why aren't the PED moralists up in arms over that?

    If the issue is cheating, then when are we revoking Gaylord Perry's induction? Echoing John, a Hall without one of the contenders for GOAT, or one of the 3 best right handed pitchers of all time, is not much of a Hall.

  • John||

    Greenies were. But Greenies are now banned. And they didn't rape the record book the way steroids did. All Greenies ever did was make get out of town afternoon games watchable. It is not coincidence that the number of no hitters went through the roof after greenies were banned. Go back and look at those no hitters that happened the last two years. Nearly all of them were against teams playing a day game after a night game during a long road trip. Hard to get up to hit when you are dead tired and can't take speed to help.

    I really do think greenies while illegal were not the problem steroids were. Steroids made the record book irrelevant.

  • Gray Ghost||

    A bigger problem for the record books than either form of PED was probably the baseball itself changing in it's composition and method of manufacture, despite Rawlings's protests to the contrary. See, e.g, this article at Deadspin, or this one at Steroids and Baseball.

    We can't say how much a hypothetical greenie-free environment would have been different than the one that existed in the 50s and 60s; we can only point to the lack of major records falling then compared to now, point out that amphetamine abuse was widespread, identify and induct the highest performers within that era, and move on. Which is what I'm arguing we do with the Steroid Era.

    There's a funny article I can't link to, due to the filter, about Jeff Bagwell and Chipper Jones having basically the same career (take that with a grain of salt), but Chipper is going to sail through HoF induction, while Bagwell's going to be put through the wringer because he's "muscly."

    It's just silly. Trying to identify who was or wasn't using, in an era where everyone should have been using, is a fools' errand. Unless we're comfortable with not letting anyone in.

  • John||

    We have no idea who used. I would bet my mortgage that there are some players whom everyone thinks are totally clean in fact used. I think it is just a matter of time before it comes out that some player already in the HOF used PEDs. When that happens, how will they possibly justify keeping players like Bonds and Clemens out?

  • Gray Ghost||

    While anabolic steroids are the demon du jour, due to their being perceived to help wipe away records treasured by the old white guys making up the majority of the BBWAA, the real game-changer IMHO, is HGH. And other drugs like it that don't necessarily build muscle, but help an athlete recover faster.

    (This is where someone like Warty can step in and fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge.)

    162 games is a very long time. And while baseball isn't football, or basketball (incidentally, my choice for the next PED scandal. Seriously, 82 games, a lot with back-to-backs, playing basketball for 48 minutes and with guys with ~5% body fat and they're doing this through clean living alone?) Anything that can help someone recover faster and maintain the edge on their reflexes, is going to be more valuable than 3-5% more bat speed.

    The stakes are great, too. One extra year for an older athlete in FA is more money than his first 5 put together, more often than not. Wouldn't surprise me at all if some of the classic, "No way he doped" guys in MLB like Biggio or Maddux, actually used HGH in order to streeeetch out one more year, making a little over $5M in Biggio's case, $10M in Maddux's.

  • John||

    HGH and steroids both allowed players to be in their prime all the way into their mid to late 30s. Beyond the homerun totals that is the biggest effect it had on baseball. Testing for steroids has made free agnecy much less valuable. The average player doesn't reach the major leagues until they are 24 or 25. Then they have to play five years before they are free agents. That makes them 29 or 30 before they hit the market. That isn't a problem when they could play until they were 37. But without steroids, their performance is likely to fall off a cliff around age 35 or maybe even 33 if they are not lucky.

    That makes signing a player in such a position to a long term deal a fools errand in many cases. Testing has made it a young man's game again.

  • KDN||

    I think it is just a matter of time before it comes out that some player already in the HOF used PEDs

    There already is, I'm sure. And it's probably Rickey Henderson (note: one of my favorite players ever).

  • John||

    I agree. They did cheat and it was against the rules. And baseball has every right to make and enforce their own rules.

    The problem is that thanks to that scumbag Fehr we have no idea who cheated and who did not. So how do you say in any fair manner who gets in and who doesn't?

  • Matt Welch||

    Mike Piazza cheated? You know this how?

  • John||

    Because he put up numbers that were statistically very very unlikely to the point of impossibility. Baseball is a statistically mature sport if there ever was one. Guys shouldn't be hitting with more power in their late 30s than they were in the mid 20s.

  • Restoras||

    Statistically unlikely doesn't mean impossible.

  • John||

    But in a statistically mature sport like baseball, it means "impossible" about as much as anything can. The tell of steroids is not the raw numbers so much as the ages that those numbers were achieved. Go back and look at the careers of greats of the past. Only a handful, less than a dozen were still great players past the age of 35. And even the very few that were, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams most notably, while still great, were not better than they were at age 29. In the steroid era there all of the sudden were players like Piazza and Raphael Palmerio who were better at 35 than they were at 29. That can't happen.

  • Matt Welch||

    Piazza at 35 hit .266 with 20 homers.

  • Gray Ghost||

    So use his 2006 campaign with the Padres, where he went .283/.342/.501 for an OPS+ of 122, over 126 games at the age of 37.

    The point is this: in an era where nobody was testing, the stuff was widely available and could increase the long tail of a player's career by 2-3 years or more (Hello, Roger.), you can't rule out that anyone wasn't taking PEDs at some time. Hell, you can argue they were stupid not to be taking that stuff, as pitchers back in the greenie era accused clean teammates of being.

    So, absent drug testing, PED receipts, or videotape of the player sticking a syringe in his ass, you can't definitely say who was taking the stuff. It wouldn't surprise me that Piazza was taking steroids/HGH, though I can't say (Help me out here, Voros.) that his numbers after 35/2004 are all that out of line with other slugger's numbers. At first glance, they don't seem to be.

  • John||

    Great point Grey Ghost. Go find me another player who got better from age 35 to 37? That is pretty rare.

  • KDN||

    Ted Williams recorded his best season at age 38, but he's the outlier.

  • KDN||

    (arguably)

  • sloopyinca||

    Didn't a lot of that have to do with him missing a big segment of his prime to military service?

    FWIW, I think Ted Williams is the greatest hitter of all time without exception.

  • John||

    Williams lost the better part of five seasons to the war. But unlike a lot of other players, he wasn't just a public relations guy. He actually fought. He flew fighter planes. So I am not sure doing that gave his body much of a rest.

    Williams was just a freak.

  • John||

    Williams, like Ruth and Aaron are totally unexplainable outliers. Williams' seasons from 35 to 39 were unbelievable. but his seasons before that were pretty amazing too. Even Williams got old. From age 39 to age 40, his BA went from .328 to .254.

  • Matt Welch||

    That's just not true, John. Piazza in his 20s hit .335/.399/.581, OPS+ of 162. From 30-35 he hit .294/.373/.546, OPS+ of 137. Nothing weird about that aging pattern whatsoever.

  • John||

    Then maybe Piazza didn't. But look at the aging paterns of Bonds and Sosa, McGuire and Palmero and you will see what I mean.

  • Ronny Paulino||

    Except they didn’t. In the 1990s, there was no punishment in MLB for using performance-enhancing drugs. Therefore, there was no rule against it. And don’t give me the explanation that it was against the law; all of us here know that law is just opinion with a gun.

    If the Hall of Fame didn’t want suspected and/or definite steroid users inducted, the players would get the Pete Rose and Joe Jackson treatment. But they don’t. They’re on the ballot. Vote them in based on their on-field accomplishments.

  • John||

    Except they didn’t. In the 1990s, there was no punishment in MLB for using performance-enhancing drugs. Therefore, there was no rule against it

    That is just not true. MLB banned these drugs in 1990. They never were able to test for them or punish their use because the Union refused to make such a part of the collective bargaining agreement. But they were against the rules. There was just no punishment for using them.

    Moreover, the only reason there was no punishment is because the players themselves refused to agree to such. It is a bit rich now for them to claim that what they did was okay since MLB never punished them for it.

  • KPres||

    ^ This is how I understood it.

  • Ronny Paulino||

    What is a ban without punishment for breaking that ban?

    Answer: it's not a ban at all. PEDs in baseball were always a workplace safety issue. The players, through the union, never brought up the issue because they were fine with the system. That was their choice.

    Even if you don't buy that, re-read my second paragraph above about Rose and Jackson. Excoriate and moralize about the players all you want, but don't keep them out of the Hall of Fame.

  • John||

    MLB does not control the HOF It is the HOF that says that you don't get in if you are on the banned list not the HOF

    And since when does a rule have to have punishment to be a valid rule? It was a rule. And they broke it. And yes the players didn't want testing or punishment because they wanted to cheat. They wanted to be able to break the rule and not face punishment. The players never once asked that PEDs be made legal in baseball, only that it not be tested for or its use punished.

    They knew it was against the rules and knew it was cheating but used the power of their union to keep from paying any price for it. They can't now come back and say it wasn't really against the rules.

  • Ronny Paulino||

    "MLB does not control the HOF It is the HOF that says that you don't get in if you are on the banned list not the HOF"

    Correct. This only strengthens my point. The HOF has standards about who is allowed to enter. The fact that those standards allow Bonds, Clemens, etc. a place on the ballot means they are not to be banned for off-the-field, umm, “indiscretions.”

    Look, every baseball era has its issues. Steroids is just one in a long line. Put up a display at the HOF discussing the Steroid Era. Get sanctimonious about players who used. But don’t prevent them from being inducted.

  • John||

    Maybe they should get in. I argue above they should. But don't claim they didn't cheat. They did. You just have to take that cheating into account when judging players and discount their numbers accordingly. Thus players like Bonds and Clemens get in because even after discounting their numbers for their probable cheating, they still are HOF worthy. But players like McGuire and Sosa and Palmero don't.

  • sarcasmic||

    Just to be fair, they should axe all members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame whose chemical use had an affect their work.

  • SugarFree||

    They could turn it into a cricket and tumbleweed preserve.

  • John||

    Make it into a large habitat for Warty to roam.

  • SugarFree||

    He could run and sing and laugh all day long.

  • sarcasmic||

    Singing "Tiptoe through the tulips"!

  • JW||

    Just like Bilbo Baggins!

  • Brett L||

    Would the Carpenters get in then? (Does anorexic ketosis count as chemical use?)

  • SugarFree||

    She abused laxatives and the brother was addicted to Quaaludes for a time.

  • Brett L||

    I don't think you can say either of those affected their music.

  • SugarFree||

    How is art created except by the totality of your being?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    just watch Lance Armstrong today on Oprah.

    Not even at gunpoint.

  • mr simple||

    The article the link goes to says it happens on the 17th, so apparently no one gets to watch it today.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Last summer, my uncle was giving me the "all government spending is good spending, because GDP!" spiel.

    I finally shut him up by asking whether the millions the feds spent chasing Roger Clemens around was worth it.

  • John||

    My opinion of Clemens totally changed because of that. He never pled and he told the feds to go fuck themselves. I respect the hell out of him for that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The problem is Pete Rose.

    Once they decided to keep Pete Rose out, it became a whole lot easier to keep out lesser players for similar reasons.

  • John||

    But this is not similar reasons. Rose bet on baseball. He not only did that, he bet on his own team while he was manager. That cuts to the entire heart of the game. You can't have a game if players and managers are betting for and against themselves.

    Rose had to be banned from baseball. No one could ever be allowed to think that doing something that effected the overall sport that gravely would ever result in anything but a lifetime ban.

    And for the record MLB has nothing to do with the HOF. MLB never banned Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson from the HOF. MLB banned them for the HOF. It is the HOF who has a rule that says you can't get in if you are banned from the game. The HOF could let Rose in this year if they wanted to and that would have nothing to do with Rose's ban from baseball.

  • robc||

    The HOF could let Rose in this year if they wanted to and that would have nothing to do with Rose's ban from baseball.

    Although the HOF would never do this because they like having an actual relationship with MLB.

  • John||

    That and the HOF likes having its members be willing to be associated with it. If they ever let Rose in a good chunk if not a majority of the living members would refuse to have anything to do with it again.

  • robc||

    IIRC, Bench is in that group. And that is all you need to know about that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "MLB never banned Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson from the HOF. MLB banned them for the HOF. It is the HOF who has a rule that says you can't get in if you are banned from the game. The HOF could let Rose in this year if they wanted to and that would have nothing to do with Rose's ban from baseball."

    Once you ban someone, who should so obviously be in the hall, for reasons that have nothing to do with how he performed as a player, it becomes much easier to ban people for doing things that might have effected their performance. That's what I'm saying.

    Baseball elected to put itself through hell this way. There are marginal players who maybe played for big market teams or who are remembered for doing something in an important game, and that's the kind of thing people should be arguing about. If they'd given Rose his due way back when, the performance enhanced era wouldn't be as big of a deal as it is.

    Keeping Rose out of the HOF didn't protect the integrity of the sport; it opened the sport up to all sorts of unnecessary scrutiny that will probably never go away.

  • John||

    Keeping Rose out of the HOF didn't protect the integrity of the sport;

    So punishing someone who did the most damaging thing a player or manager could to to the integrity of the sport didn't protect the integrity of the sport?

    That is weapons grade stupid Ken. If they hadn't banned Rose, every degenerate gambler in baseball, and there are a few of them, would have had the green light to pay off their debts by throwing games.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Look at this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....ligibility

    Why does punishing him necessarily have to include excluding him from the Hall of Fame? It didn't include that formally until 1991. Baseball survived for a hundred years without needing that rule--why did they suddenly need it in 1991?

  • John||

    It doesn't. And maybe he should be in the hall. But he should never be able to work in baseball again.

    But what he did is a huge embarrassment. I wouldn't want him in the hall if I were them.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I appreciate that. I hope you appreciate what I'm trying to say.

    From the Wiki link:

    "Under the Hall's rules, players may appear on the ballot for only fifteen years, beginning five years after they retire. Had he not been banned from baseball, Rose's name could have been on the writers' ballot beginning in 1992."

    That's why they suddenly needed that rule in 1991--it was to keep Rose out of the HOF when he became eligible in 1992.

    Once you deprive someone like Pete Rose of the HOF--for whatever reason that has nothing to do with the way he played--then you've opened up every player to all kinds of scrutiny...

    The only objective criteria is the stats. Rose is among the greatest players to have ever played, and the fact that he's not in the HOF makes the HOF look bad. The people who vote on this stuff are just trying to make themselves more important than they are or should be. When they got away with inserting themselves and their self-righteousness somewhere above the greatness of Pete Rose as a baseball player, they opened Pandora's box. And baseball deserved to get dragged through the mud as a result--which is exactly what happened.

    If some voters self-righteousness is more important than how Pete Rose played the game, then pardon me if I don't care about who is and isn't in. If the voters are defending the integrity of the game, it's only an unintended byproduct of inflating their own egos. We took down Pete Rose! We can take down anybody!

  • sloopyinca||

    Look, Ken. He broke the only rule that has been considered a death sentence since the Black Sox scandal. He did it willingly and he personally accepted his lifetime ban. What part of that don't you fucking understand? Hell, he went to prison for it as well.

    Anybody that wants Pete Rose in the Hall Of Fame is an ignoramus that knows nothing about integrity, personal responsibility or honoring contracts (like the one Rose voluntarily signed banning him for life). And Rose proves that every day he begs for inclusion in a club he has no business being in.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Look, Ken. He broke the only rule that has been considered a death sentence since the Black Sox scandal. He did it willingly and he personally accepted his lifetime ban. What part of that don't you fucking understand?"

    What part of a lifetime ban didn't formally exclude you from Hall of Fame consideration until the year Pete Rose became eligible don't you understand?

    There may have been a rule against gambling since the Black Sox scandal, but it wasn't formally part of Hall of Fame consideration rules until the year--coincidentally--Pete Rose became eligible?!

    "Anybody that wants Pete Rose in the Hall Of Fame is an ignoramus that knows nothing about integrity, personal responsibility or honoring contracts (like the one Rose voluntarily signed banning him for life)."

    Actually, betting on a game doesn't change the greatness of a player's play.

    As I said before, if Gretsky had been guilty as sin of betting on hockey games as a coach, he would still be one of the greatest hockey players ever--and anybody that kicked him out of the Hockey Hall of Fame, just because he gambled, would be somebody who doesn't know anything about being a great player.

  • sloopyinca||

    There has always been a subjective moral consideration for entry into the HOF, so you're dead wrong in your assessment. I'm sorry that you want a guy who has been convicted of a felony involving his gambling, personally accepted a lifetime ban because of his gambling and admitted to have bet (in his evolving story) on games he directly impacted. Someday you'll realize doing something wrong has lasting consequences, and so will that piece of shit Pete Rose.

  • sloopyinca||

    Actually, betting on a game doesn't change the greatness of a player's play.

    As I said before, if Gretsky had been guilty as sin of betting on hockey games as a coach, he would still be one of the greatest hockey players ever--and anybody that kicked him out of the Hockey Hall of Fame, just because he gambled, would be somebody who doesn't know anything about being a great player.

    Apples and oranges. Or do you think Eddie Cicotte and the rest of the Black Sox players that had great stats deserve to be in? After all, the fact that they, like Rose, had a direct impact in the result of games they had wagered on shouldn't have any impact on what they did as players, right?

    He knew the rule. He knew the consequences for breaking the rule. He accepted the punishment. Why would you want to unwind all of that to let this piece of shit in a place he doesn't belong?

  • sloopyinca||

    I'm not taking anything away from Pete Rose's greatness as a player, by the way. That's indisputable. But it's not the only criteria for the HOF and it never fucking has been, your claim notwithstanding.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's not my claim--it's a fact: They changed the rule to make being on the ineligible list an exclusion from the HOF the year Pete Rose became eligible.

  • robc||

    Have you been in a baseball locker room?

    Ive been in a AAA one.

    The only fucking baseball rule that is printed on the wall of locker rooms is the one saying that if you bet on baseball you will be banned.

    All levels of professional baseball have this prominently posted.

    Rose knew exactly what the penalty for his actions were.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So don't put him in as a manager.

  • robc||

    He should have waited until 5 years after he retired to start betting on baseball.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Of course!

    But he didn't.

    So no he's not one of the greatest ever anymore?

    If that tape the New Jersey cops had on Gretsky had really been so damning, would that make Gretsky not good enough for the hall after all?

    People love having this kind of power over famous athletes. It's one thing with marginal HOFers--there are legitimate arguments about whether so and so deserves to be in based on performance. But if Babe Ruth used a corked bat or bet on the outcome of a game, looking back over the course of his career, I don't think I give a crap.

  • sloopyinca||

    The voters are free to vote how they see fit, but there is a bit of hypocrisy insomuch as they (the baseball writers who vote) played up the feats of these players when they were happening, all the while knowing what was going on in the clubhouses. I have lost respect for anyone that uses someone to sell newspapers and doesn't expose their actions (when they are totally aware of them) but then does so because it's the politically correct thing to do at the time ("take a stand" against steroids for the kids and all that other crap about the sanctity of the game).

    Fuck the BBWA. They're typically nothing but a bunch of sycophants that were never good enough to write in the metro section anyway but somehow think the public hangs on their decision on whether to vote for Bonds getting into the HOF or not. Hell, the 49ers kicker situation will be a bigger story by the end of the afternoon that what "moral" position these self-important asshats take IRT their HOF ballots.

    And while I'm on a rant, fuck Pete Rose. I loved watching that man play. I grew up with season tickets (green seats, right behind first base) in Riverfront, but also remember driving by Jonathan's Cafe in Franklin and seeing his Lambo there all the time. And everybody knew it ran a book and we all knew Pete was in there gambling. That motherfucker ruined baseball for me for probably a decade. When he accepted the ban, I put my glove away and didn't watch another MLB game for several years.
    (cont.)

  • sloopyinca||

    If he ever gets to enjoy his induction into the Hall Of Fame, I may just make it my life's work to destroy the place in its entirety. Put him in the day after he dies, but never, ever let that cocksucker walk through the doors.

    He influenced the games he managed based on the bets he had placed. You can't convince me otherwise, so don't fucking try to. That destroys the game and the spirit of fair competition. I hope he rots in Hell for it.

  • John||

    And he also fucking lied about it after baseball had the proof. He got all of his friends and supports to slander Dowd as a liar and MLB as a crooked organization who framed him all the while knowing it was all true. Rose is just a disgusting human being and got exactly what he deserved.

  • sloopyinca||

    My brother saw him in Vegas last summer and told him he was a fucking bum and that he's lucky his wife was there of he would have sliced his belly open with his car key.

  • John||

    The 87 Reds team was actually really good. Yet somehow barely finished above .500 with a lineup that was arguably the best in the National League. Tell me he didn't influence games.

  • BakedPenguin||

    One thing I wonder about Rose, or rather, his bookies. why would you take a bet from someone you know can directly influence the game?

  • John||

    Why would they? A bookie would never let a degenerate gambler run up a huge debt only to later use that debt to get him to do things like influence games. Never. Bookies are good people. They have standards, real sportsman.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was mainly thinking that the odds would be worse, but I guess there's only so much one guy can do to influence games.

    Also, baseball's gambling scandals pale in comparison to cricket's.

  • sloopyinca||

    A manager can have a huge influence on a game.

    Ex. A: Your closer has thrown three of the last 4 nights and you're up by 4 runs coming into the 9th inning. You have no money on tonight's game, but have your team picked to win tomorrow night and have laid $10k on the game.

    I can see someone in that scenario sitting their closer to get him that day of rest he probably would get the next night anyway. That's influencing a game.

  • ||

    You should go smash his mailbox.

  • sloopyinca||

    No, I should go smash his fucking head.

    Smashing a mailbox is like a tribute to greatness. (I'm making this up as I go, so bear with me) It's akin to TPing a house. Sometimes it means the "victim" is a dick, but sometime it's out of respect. We had out house TP'd a couple of times in high school. Once after we beat the #2 team in the state in basketball in OT when my brother and I both played great and another time when we went to school while the teachers were on strike and replacements were being used. So Pete doesn't deserve to have his mailbox smashed.

  • robc||

    Went to see the Reds when they retired Concepcions's number. Him and Bench were my favorite players growing up.

    As a bonus treat, I got to see what was probably Larkin's best single game of his career. Somehow that was a fitting tribute.

  • sloopyinca||

    Remember Ron Oester? I always hated it when he got a hit or made a nice defensive play and they did that stupid "Oesterize It!" thing on the scoreboard. I don't know why, but that bothered me more than almost anything else I ever saw at that stadium.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Sorry if this has been discussed before, or, if it is just a stupid question, but...

    Did athletes have no way of using drugs to stimulate performance prior to the 1990s?

  • John||

    They had them. The East Germans pretty much perfected them. But they didn't really reach baseball until the 1990s. Baseball players didn't think bulk muscle would help them very much. They were clearly wrong. But the consensus in the 1980s was that steroids would not help baseball players. So players didn't use them like track athletes and swimmers and football players did.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    But the consensus in the 1980s was that steroids would not help baseball players

    I guess this is what I was looking for as an answer but I am still not convinced we're positive everyone in baseball prior to 1990 was clean as a whistle.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    For example, everyone loves Hank Aaron. Seems like a nice guy. But he hit 40 HR when he was 39.

    Absolutely no way in hell he did anything to give himself an edge?

  • John||

    Speed for sure. But a doubt much else. Aaron was a small guy by today's standards only about five eleven and 200 lbs. He never bulked up. Back then the steroids they had built bulk. And Aaron was way to thin to have been using them.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Palmeiro wasn't really a big guy either.

    I get what you are saying though, and it looks like based on your first post at the very top we agree on whether or not Bonds and Co. should get voted in.

  • sloopyinca||

    Look up amphetamines and hockey. Or amphetamines and any other sport for that reason.

    Also, look up the East German Womens' Olympic swim team as far back as 1972. One look at their balls and/or beards ought to tell you this goes back a lot further that the 90's.

  • Translucent Chum||

    I miss my sudafed and hockey.

  • Zeb||

    I pretty much assume that most if not all players used some sort of PED. And I don't really care. They gave the fans what they wanted. Dingers!

    And if these people can use drugs to extend their athletic careers without doing much harm, as appears to be the case, I don't see why they shouldn't.

  • sloopyinca||

    By the way, well-written article, Matt. Thanks.

  • sloopyinca||

    And just to calm me down, I'm posting this photograph I just took a little while ago. Those kids are the first of many, as we still have 3 more preggo goats (and two sheep as well!)

    Anyway, enjoy the maximum cuteness.

  • Brett L||

    You should name them for sockpuppets.

  • sloopyinca||

    As soon as we can sex them, we'll name them. And we're gonna let you people do so...probably tonight after we get back from meeting the surgeon for the first time since we took Baby Reason home.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't understand how you folks get all worked up about grown men playing children's games. I don't get it. Never will.

  • Jordan||

    THIS^

    Sports? Meh.

  • Ted Levy||

    I have never understood why people are so concerned Lance Armstrong took steroids to give him an edge, turning him into a better cyclist than he otherwise would have been, but are never upset he took anti-neoplastics, turning him into a better cyclist than he otherwise would have been. Having only one testicle is surely an advantage to a long-term male cyclist, yet no one complains of that, either.

  • sloopyinca||

    How is having a monoball advantageous? Just curious.

  • Brett L||

    You can put it on the left, balancing out the drive on the right. Aero-fucking-dynamics.

  • John||

    The thing was Armstrong is that every rider in the entire sport was doping. It is not cheating or an unfair advantage if everyone else is doing the same thing.

  • sloopyinca||

    Note how the frogs are going to leave the winner for Lance's years as "vacant" because a majority of others on the podium from those years already got caught doping?

  • John||

    They were doping in cycling before doping was cool. All the way back in the 1950s and 1960s top riders were taking so much speed a few of them died on the course. The Tour de France has always been about extreme physical abuse. I frankly don't understand why they ever banned doping. The sport was pretty much built on it.

  • Gray Ghost||

    This graphic from the NY Times kinda tells the story about doping and the top of the TdF. There's a hilarious one from a Norweigian, IIRC, paper that goes into more detail. Basically, everybody in the upper classifications of the GC got either popped for doping---they pissed hot or their team got caught with syringes/the rider's name on it---or implicated in things like Operation Puerto. The story now is that LA should still be banned because, even though everyone else was cheating, USPS brought more money into it, and could therefore be better at it than anyone else. Typical Euros; treating Harrison Bergeron as an instructional manual.

    They needed to do something to clean up the sport though. Too many sponsors were beginning to stay away. That, and you were killing cyclists off the course from their overdose of EPO-induced heart attacks. Go google 'we ride to live' and alarm clocks. Some of these guy's would go to sleep with a heart monitor hooked up to an alarm. If their heart started to shut down, it'd wake them up so they could get on a stationary bike and exercise for awhile. Evidently that helped.

  • John||

    That is fucking insane.

  • AZ||

    This is something ignored in the baseball sense. Nobody cares to find out how widespread it was, they restrict the inquiries and suspicions to the cream of the crop.

    Which makes no sense when you look at marginal risk versus marginal reward.
    Bus-riding minor-leaguer to roster guy is huge and roster guy to regular player is huge. Those people are the ones who probably want a boost most desperately, and it's why I wasn't surprised when the first stages of MLB PED programs caught a number of nobodies.

  • barfman2013||

    PBS documentarian Ken Burns

    *barf*

  • Gladstone||

    So how come there hasn't been an article about the Black Sox? They cheated to lose in order to make money. Is that wrong?

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