The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger
2013 Hall of Fame Ballot
I put much of the blame for the Steroid Era on Commissioner Bud Selig. Well..., that's what happens when you're put in charge. You get blamed for everything. But let me explain myself and not be so simplistic about it. At the very minimum, Bud Selig could have challenged the former head of the Players Union; Donald Fehr; and put the onus on him and the membership to step up and maintain the integrity of the game on their own for a change.
Bud Selig - "Dear Mr. Fehr, based on strong, and mounting reasonable suspicion, I believe there is a disproportionate number of players cheating and using PED's. I want for you and me to begin a dialogue regarding this issue, and I would eventually like for this matter to be addressed in the next collective bargaining session. Thank you. Signed, the Commissioner of Baseball."
That's all he had to do. Had the Commissioner done that anytime between 1988 and 1993, the game's record books might not have been so utterly perverted by cheats. By challenging the Union on the issue and putting the ball squarely in their court, the Union might have felt far more direct, public, and national pressure than they endured, and as a result, might have been compelled to open up the matter of PED's in collective bargaining much earlier.
In that respect, the Commissioner's hands were tied. Nothing could change unless the issue was addressed in collective bargaining. In my opinion, Donald Fehr was the major obstacle in cleaning up the game earlier in the process due to his continued refusal to even entertain the discussion. But what the Commissioner could have done was make steroids a more public issue, bringing attention to it, pressuring the union membership through suspicion, and acting like Baseball's steward by accepting the challenge of safeguarding the integrity of the game. He should have been launching a campaign against the union with dogged determination. Mountain Landis to Bartlette Giamatti would be turning in their graves if made aware of the incompetence exhibited by the modern day commissioner.
Instead, once upon a time what Baseball owners did was take the owner of Milwaukee, voted to put him in charge of the rest of the owners, to make sure all the owners got their way. The strike of 1994 came and went like several strikes of the past. But this time the owners piggy-backed steroid users to recoup their monies and fan interest lost due to the strike. Give or take a year according to your personal time line. But by the time Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in the great home run chase of 1998, I felt we were ten years into the steroid era. And the prolonged neglect and failure to challenge steroids with any kind of conviction had finally started making its mark, and beginning to take a greater toll on baseball's sacred numbers.
As we witnessed, the next ten years after 1998 wrought even more destruction upon Baseball's all time records. Today, everything is askew. The records are now indecipherable. A tradition lost. The Commissioner of Baseball, the head of the Players Union, individual users, greed, and the overall decline of humanity and modern western civilisation have all conspired to destroy the greatest game ever known to mankind.
I do not know how the era should be treated moving forward. The quandary is right up there with creationism versus evolution. But for today's posting, my rules are simple. If you were implicated in a steroid/HGH investigation/test, you're out. Period. If your name never surfaced or was attached to some credible/official investigation or news reporting, you're in. I wouldn't have a problem if absolutely no one who played between the years "1988-2008" ever gained election into the Hall of Fame. Unfair blanket punishment is OK with me. My real point is, I am opposed to selective justice. I would rather not have a system where players are denied a fair vote based on unfounded suspicion alone. That in essence is no different than the Salem witch trials. What innocent person would appreciate being jailed based solely on a judge's inclination to believe you're guilty regardless of facts that say otherwise?
As a Mets fan, of course I'm speaking about Mike Piazza. I sense the voters might lump him together with known and outed steroid users, with baseless and radical suspicion. I do not believe we as fans, or writers for that matter, get to arbitrarily choose who was and who was not taking steroids. I personally suspect many players of using. In fact, my list is rather long. But until something credible surfaces on a given player, I feel we should reserve final judgement. It sucks. I'm the first to say it. But I'm just trying to be fair about something I'm so passionate about - Baseball. It is a perfect game played by imperfect people.
Eligible Players Omitted From the BTB Ballot:
The 2013 BTB Hall of Fame Ballot:
* Ted Simmons
* Gil Hodges
Mike Piazza swung a lethal bat, and offensively dominated his contemporaries for at least ten years. The guy was also clutch. His accomplishments at the plate speak for themselves. While not exceptional behind the plate, he was under-rated defensively. I saw Johnny Bench play. He was the total package. But Mike Piazza's bat took a back seat to no one. He was the dominant figure in two of America's largest markets and handled the burden like a gentleman.
He came into the league as a catcher. He made his name as a second baseman. Craig Biggio gets in because he generated consistent productivity over an extended period of time. His was not prolonged excellence per se. Biggio's career is again, marked by prolonged consistency and productivity from the top of the order, and as a second baseman. Players like Biggio need to be kept in the context of the classic middle infielder. Longevity, prolonged productivity, and sportsmanship are all HOF considerations. Biggio was not a flashy or glamorous player however. He was a grinder. With 3000 hits, 1800 runs scored, 600+ doubles, 291 home runs, over 1100 rbi, and 400+ stolen bases, he is well deserving as one of the best all around lead-off men in baseball history.
For ten years Jack Morris dominated the American League, and in particular to the times, the A.L. East, at a time when the Tigers, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, and Brewers were all capable of winning ninety games a season. The A.L. East was insanely competitive in the eighties. No pitcher won more games in the decade than Jack Morris. He led his team in a romp during the Tigers 1984 world series winning season. His playoff exploits in Toronto and Minnesota late in his career are now legendary.
It is my belief the baseball writers still do not know how to handle relief pitchers/firemen/closers with regards to being a legitimate position, and as to whether the Save stat is an anomaly. When the Save rule was changed into its modern form, yes, it changed things considerably. The age of the Goose Gossage type fireman was over. But that is a separate debate. Fact is, Lee Smith was of the most fearsome pitchers opposing batters ever had the displeasure of facing. He was big, intimidating on the mound, highly effective, and one of the most dominant players at his position for at least a ten year period. He retired as the all-time Saves king, and is still ranked third on the list. He retired after the 1997 season, so it can be argued his accomplishments as a closer are withstanding the tests of time. He is one of only five closers to surpass 400 saves in a career. It is time to open up the doors to a legitimate and dominant closer of the day.
***Gil Hodges - Why? Why have the voters and Veteran Committees forsaken him?
***Ted Simmons - When you crunch his numbers versus those of Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, and Pudge Rodriguez, you will be surprised how well he ranks in many categories such as hits, batting average, doubles, and rbi.
There it is.