Hall of Fame voting is a tricky thing.
It's always been a tricky thing, and it's gotten trickier since new statistics (or even new ways to look at statistics) can suggest that different values be placed on different players. I saw
Blyleven has become the greatest example of a tough Hall call that has become emotional and even gotten nasty in some cases. Generally speaking, at the heart of Blyleven's case is the value one places on statistics. Those who favor him admire all his statistical achievements, which are admittedly many, and they believe that his numbers are proof of his greatness. Those who do not vote for him make more of a qualitative judgment about his impact, and place his standing below the line for enshrinement. I don't want to get too deep into all the pros and cons regarding Blyleven now. I just mention him as an example of a tough call.
In any case, the Hall calls are about to get much trickier and much tougher than Blyleven. In fact, there is a whole era of tough calls coming. There are so many tough ones ahead that Blyleven may come to be seen as mere child's play.
There is a lot to think about when considering players in the Steroid Era. These calls won't only be about numbers. There are value judgments to be made about cheating, and possibly about how much the cheating helped particular players.
Some voters will eliminate all the steroid guys. Others will take it case by case. There's a lot of guilt to go around (even the writers, myself included, may feel some guilt for being so slow to uncover the widespread steroid usage). But there are also levels of guilt.
Just like everyone has different stats, everyone has a different story. We have a lot to think about here.
We have a couple great players who have failed a drug test and were suspended:
We have one player whose English got a lot worse when he was quizzed by Congress. We have players who wound up in the Mitchell Report. We have a lot of players who were only suspected of steroid use but who were never proven to have used.
We have players who admitted usage, others who denied usage and others still who denied usage "knowingly.''
Seeing A-Rod playing in a game live Sunday for the first time this season made me think about how hard all our calls will be. And watching everything going on with Manny lately (he apologized to his teammates this weekend in Miami) in the wake of his 50-game suspension reminds me of how difficult these calls will be.
There are no right answers here. But a lot of folks will view any answer as wrong. These are simply personal choices based on a series of judgments.
Unless something changes -- and I'm glad we have years to think about these players (and more than a decade in the case of A-Rod) -- I am going to take them case by case. I know there are going to be a significant number of voters who refuse to vote for anyone who is proven (at least in their minds) to have used steroids. And I have no problem with this hard-line stance. But I'm at the point where I would put
I am not comfortable eliminating a vast majority of players from this era. Maybe I am too much of a softie, but I just don't think I can do it. What would the Hall be like without an entire era, or most of an era? It is to the point where a vast majority of stars, and certainly sluggers, in an entire era, quite likely took steroids. And I am not prepared to blackball them all.
I (and many other writers) didn't make a great effort to track down the cheaters while all this was going on. Would voting them down now be a way to make amends? Or would it be a case of overcompensation?
The vote is all about judgments, and generally speaking, to withhold my vote from players with Hall of Fame credentials, I am going to think about these two basic questions: 1) Did a player take steroids or other PEDs?; and 2) Did the PEDs he took quite likely turn him into a Hall of Fame-caliber player?
So I am not going to vote "no'' on players merely suspected of steroid usage. And I am not going to vote "no" on players whom I believe had Hall of Fame credentials without the steroids. In some cases both questions are difficult. But question No. 2 is especially difficult. Here's the really tough question: How can one ever know for sure what effect the steroids had? One thing I can say is that a player who is way better than borderline has a much better chance with me. I have trouble voting against players whom I consider all-time great. I don't know how others will feel, but in my opinion several of these players didn't need the drugs.
I believe he took steroids (while the proof isn't absolute, there is no other reasonable explanation for him refusing "to talk about the past.'') I also believe that his steroid usage quite likely put him over the top in terms of Hall of Fame achievements. Some may see this as unfair, arbitrary or just plain dumb (though not that many, judging by his low vote totals).
But the Hall call is about judgments. These are just tougher judgments. The gray area is the whole area.
Here is my current thinking on the other stars from the Steroid Era:
I am willing to have my mind changed on any or all of the above players. A lot can happen between now and the arrival of the ballots. I know a lot of people will criticize some or all of my leanings, and that's OK. Some may even call me an idiot (a word that's been thrown around a lot about the "no'' voters in the Blyleven case). The Hall system is based on judgments to begin with. Now we have to make tougher calls.
According to my Twitter numbers, I have passed 700 "updates,'' which is another way of saying Tweets. Here are a couple of my Tweets from Sunday:
• "The problem with the new Stadium isn't the wind tunnel to right field or the expense. It's the quiet. It's a pricey library."
• "I love the Twinkies. Scrappy, heady bunch. Enough of that. What inning do they blow this one?''
I am getting closer to 2,500 followers (or about 120,000 behind MLB tweeting leader
I will send a prize of little or no value (an old press pass or maybe an All-Star pin) to my 2,500th follower. If you'd like to follow, I'm at
After the Twins'
This discussion, according to Twins people, occurred right in front of
The Twins are known for playing smart baseball. But they are young, and they aren't themselves when they play at Yankee Stadium. The problem, according to Gardenhire, is that he still is "trying to get them to understand the game of baseball.''
By day's end he was telling writers this wasn't going to happen again, and telling his third base coach,
It's no coincidence that the Yankees beat them every time in New York. Gardenhire said, "When it got to 2-and-0 on [
Someone asked Gardenhire on his way out Sunday whether his team was coming back to Yankee Stadium this year, and Gardenhire answered, crisply, "No, thank God.''
The Mets' current first base plan is to use the amazing
Oddly, Delgado's absence has cost Murphy some playing time, as manager
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• After a couple of rough outings the Giants'
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