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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday Morning Sports Report

posted by on November 29 at 10:20 AM

Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck might have a broken finger on his non-throwing hand.

Mariners: Are the M’s looking to bring Freddy Garcia back to town?

Also: Michael Vick has been fined $20,000 for telling Atlanta fans they’re #1; the Yankees spent $26,000,194 for a chance to talk to Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa; and Nick Lachey is one of the new owners of the Tacoma Rainiers.

And finally: It’s not looking good for Mark McGwire and the Hall of Fame. From ESPN:

The AP contacted, via e-mails and telephone, about 150 of the approximately 575 present or former members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who are eligible to cast ballots. Of that number, 125 responded, including 25 AP sports writers. Most of the voters’ names were obtained in the Major League Baseball media directory.

And the breakdown was:

• 74 will not vote for McGwire.
• 23 will vote for him.
• 16 are undecided.
• 5 refused to say.
• 5 aren’t allowed to vote by their employers.
• 2 will abstain from voting.

That means if all the undecideds and those refusing to say voted for McGwire, and everyone else voted, McGwire would need 84 percent of the rest to get into the Hall.

Yesterday, Slog readers had their own discussion about McGwire and the HOF. And today DMZ at U.S.S. Mariner weighs in:

The Hall of Fame rightly provides voters wide latitude to consider a player’s contributions to the game off the field. There can and should be no statistical test for a plaque on the wall. But there are really no analogs in the history of the Hall of Fame for excluding a player of McGwire’s accomplishments on the basis of things he may have done while playing, for which there is no evidence, and his possible association with a larger, greater baseball scandal.

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USS Mariner, like many baseball bloggers, dances around the issue of steroids in baseball. They take a see no evil, hear no evil approach. Unless cops are pulling syringes out of the buttocks of players, they're not going to believe the best players of the Steroid Era ever used. Since there is no evidence presented, all we have to work from is testimony and speculation, and thus they feel the topic isn't worth dwelling on or addressing. And do you really think MLB is going to expose rampant usage if it happened? Their credibility would circle the drain.

Given we omit Shoeless Joe Jackson, arguably the greatest hitter of his era, from the Hall of Fame for throwing the 1919 World Series, as well as the all time leader in hits, Pete Rose, for gambling on baseball... I can't shed any tears if we leave McGwire out of the Hall for his drug use.

And let's not kid ourselves. He used. Many used, and got away with it. Jason Grimsley's indictment is the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by Gomez | November 29, 2006 11:01 AM

Gomez, you're not getting it at all. Ther e is no comparison between throwing games and using something for an (unspecified, unknowable) advantage. If people attending baseball games believe that the result may not be fairly arrived at, poof: no more baseball.

I'm still waiting for someone to quantitatively demonstrate what advantage steroids gives guys like McGwire. How many home runs? And how is it different from other drugs, such as the "greenies" (speed) which virtually everyone in the Hall of Fame who played after WWII ate like candy? I also guarantee there are steroid users in the Hall already; the heyday of steroid use was in the 1970s, not today. Steroids are about as subtle as horse tranquilizers; there are drugs available now that are completely undetectable, and the dam is just barely starting to crack. Soon, there will be an unimaginable cornucopia of performance-enhancing delights that no test can even hint at.

McGwire's accomplishments can't be denied. The only justification for doing so is an absurd "War on Drugs" moralism that has nothing to do with real life. The guy in the P-I today compared McGwire to OJ Simpson. Murder? Oh, really? This is a Bill O'Reilly argument.

Posted by Fnarf | November 29, 2006 11:26 AM

Nobody makes the Hall their first time on the ballot anyway, so this is really a non-issue.

The bigger issue that baseball is facing with the vote on Mark McGwire is that this is a barometer for how people will react when Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home-run record next season. Bond's accomplishments can't be denied either, but it's still going to be a bitter, bitter pill for people to swallow and will taint the game for a very. very long time to come.

Posted by dewsterling | November 29, 2006 11:41 AM

If people attending baseball games believe that the result may not be fairly arrived at, poof: no more baseball.

Thus the point behind covering it all up and pretending nothing's wrong in the first place.

Look, I've got no problem with letting the roiders in, but at least be fair w/r/t criteria. If we're gonna judge these guys based on only their contributions on the field, then let's just let Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe in the hall as well... based on the criteria of their on-field performance, which was Hallworthy.

Posted by Gomez | November 29, 2006 11:55 AM

No, Gomez. You're still not hearing me. Joe Jackson's performance ON THE FIELD included throwing the World Series. Pete Rose's performance ON THE FIELD included manipulating his roster -- he was player-manager -- to hurt his team's chances of winning in order to secure his own personal gain, both in the record chase and for the bookies. Rose CHEATED REDS FANS and thus all baseball fans; Jackson cheated White Sox fans and thus all baseball fans.

McGwire never hurt his team on the field. If anything, he was trying so hard to win that he broke the rules. This is commonplace among baseball players; cheating to get an advantage is not and never has been a criteria to keep people out of the Hall. Ty Cobb is in the Hall; John McGraw is in the Hall.

Jackson and Rose cheated not for advantage but AGAINST advantage. That is what "integrity of the game" is all about. That is the ONLY thing that can keep you out of the Hall. It has nothing to do with what you do off the field. Jackson and Rose were ON THE FIELD when they committed their crimes.

This is explicitly laid out in the rules of baseball, which specify that the grounds for expulsion is betting on games you have a hand in playing. Nothing about drugs, or foreign substances on balls, or corked bats, or stealing signs, or any of that other stuff. And there's a big sign in every clubhouse making this very clear.

Posted by Fnarf | November 29, 2006 12:14 PM

Wait, but we don't know that Rose definitely bet against his team and then manipulated his roster to ensure a loss... any more than we know whether or not McGwire, Sosa et al used steroids to hit their home runs.

As for Shoeless Joe, point taken, though I don't see how roiding up to gain a competitive advantage is all that more noble than throwing a game or betting on baseball, other than your silly pro-spirit of competition copout.

Posted by Gomez | November 29, 2006 12:35 PM

Major League Baseball accepted steriod use, there's no doubt about it, so the baseball hall of fame shouldn't reject anyone based on that particular allegation.

Posted by Dougsf | November 29, 2006 12:59 PM

It doesn't have anything to do with "nobility", Gomez. It has to do with fair play, and the rules. The rules say if you bet on games that you have a hand in, you're out. Full stop. What's more, Pete Rose SIGNED A DOCUMENT agreeing to that interpretation. He hasn't got a leg to stand on. In fact, the league could very easily take him to court on any number of violations of that agreement, such as attending games and arguing his "case" in public, both of which he agreed not to do.

As for manipulating his roster, yes, "we don't know". You're saying that you're comfortable with the fact that a guy may or may not have been doing this? That's insane to me. Simply CALLING IT INTO QUESTION is for me PLENTY for a lifetime ban. And some of it we DO know; we DO know he bet on his own team, and it is extremely likely that he was using his pitching staff, in particular, to help out his betting. Leaving a starter in, not bringing in his best reliever, that sort of thing.

To me, having MLB be EXTREMELY touchy on the subject of whether the results of games are legitimate is a good thing. Otherwise, you can go watch pro wrestling.

As for McGwire, we very much DO know what he could do "clean": he did it for years and years. Like Bonds, if he had dropped dead before the giant-head, tiny-balls days, he'd be a shoo-in. Instead, what we have is a morality police character assassination worthy of Karl Rove.

If you keep out McGwire and Bonds, are you going to go back and yank out Mickey Mantle? He took massive quantities of drugs, and played drunk.

Posted by Fnarf | November 29, 2006 1:14 PM

Yeah, I'm done. I can't argue with someone who thinks fair play is a copout.

Posted by Fnarf | November 29, 2006 1:16 PM

What douchebag dismissal, Fnarf.

Reasonable doubt justifies eblieving Rose fixed his team's games? Well then, let reasonable doubt be enough to assume guilt of McGwire and Bonds for steroid use.

If letting known cheaters into the Hall is fine with you and USSM, then so be it.

Posted by Gomez | November 29, 2006 2:46 PM

You know, on second reading, I have to call back USSM from culpability. They've dodged the issue once they outlawed discussion on it... but in the article, they're not necessarily asserting that he should be let in. Mea culpa in that regard.

Posted by Gomez | November 29, 2006 3:40 PM

Damn, I somehow overlooked this post until now.

Fnarf says "I'm still waiting for someone to quantitatively demonstrate what advantage steroids gives guys like McGwire. How many home runs? And how is it different from other drugs, such as the "greenies" (speed) which virtually everyone in the Hall of Fame who played after WWII ate like candy?"

You might as well ask how many potential home runs were denied to Willie Mays by the wind at Candlestick Park. Some believe he would have broken Babe Ruth's record if it weren't for that. It's a dense question.

Greenies weren't taken to make players better, they were taken to help them overcome hangovers.

Before you continue this line of reasoning, read the book Game of Shadows. Then you can make your argument from an informed perspective.

Posted by Matt from Denver | November 29, 2006 4:38 PM

Interesting debate. I do like Doug's point @ 7, though; is MLB really gonna come back and blame these guys? It starts with MLB first. Very uncomfortably quiet from that front, no?

Me personally, the HOF is a stats museum, which is not so much my bag as seeing the actual players & teams play the game. I like the motivation, tenacity, skill, adjustments and durability in action, and if all that adds up to HOF crunched-numbers, well right on.

To which, I'll add that I'd love to see ol' salty hat Freddie come back to town.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | November 29, 2006 5:06 PM

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