Posted December 26, 2012

JAWS and the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot: Mark McGwire

Hall of Fame, JAWS, Mark McGwire, Oakland A's, St. Louis Cardinals
Mark McGwire later admitted to using steroids during his record-setting 70 home run season in 1998. (Darren Carroll/SI)

Mark McGwire later admitted to using steroids during his record-setting 70 home run season in 1998. (Darren Carroll/SI)

The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2013 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here.

Mark McGwire could hit home runs with a frequency exceeding even that of Babe Ruth. His prodigious shots not only won ballgames, they helped to heal the wounds caused by the first players strike ever to wipe out a World Series. After spending the summer of 1998 engaged in a home run chase involving not only Sammy Sosa but also baseball history itself, he was hailed as a hero for his ability to connect with the game’s past even as he broke Roger Maris’ seemingly-unbreakable single-season home run record that had stood for 37 years.

Years after McGwire retired, the meaning of the home runs which so many had cheered had changed. Some of the same writers who once exalted him turned against him over suspicions that performance-enhancing drugs had fueled his exploits. As the game finally began cracking down on the proliferation of PEDs in 2005, increasing attention was drawn to his involvement with the drugs. For some voters, his appearance on the 2007 Hall of Fame ballot turned the task of filling it out into an arduous one, the beginning of a decades-long confrontation with the consequences of the industry’s reluctance to confront the problem in a more timely fashion. McGwire’s 2010 admission that he had in fact used PEDs during his playing days further fueled the furor.

Nobody has all the answers on how the Hall of Fame should deal with the question of PED usage among candidates. The institution itself is content to leave the issue in the hands of the voters. Hall president Jeff Idelson has pointed to the clause in the voting rules that refer to a player’s integrity, sportsmanship and character, conveniently ignoring both the fact that the clause was penned by a commissioner who upheld baseball’s color line for nearly a quarter-century, and that it has been invoked so rarely that the institution long ago became a rogues’ gallery of sign-stealers, spitballers, racists, Ku Klux Klan members, Prohibition-era alcoholics, cocaine users, amphetamine users, spousal abusers and sex addicts.

Some voters have adopted a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to PED-associated candidates, refusing to vote for players upon even the whiff of suspicion; actual evidence isn’t even necessary. For others, actual proof of the infraction and its timing matter. Still others are content to skirt the entire issue, viewing the so-called Steroid Era as a less-than-flattering part of baseball history just as segregation was. Within that range are many nuanced positions, all of which have in common the guarantee that someone, somewhere disagrees with them.

Amid all of that, the consensus that has emerged around McGwire’s candidacy is that his misdeeds are too much for Cooperstown. In six years on the ballot, he has yet to receive even 25 percent of the vote, one third of what he would need for election; his high thus far is 23.7 percent, set in 2010, and since then he has slipped below 20 percent.

Player  Career Peak JAWS HR  SB  AVG OBP  SLG  TAv
Mark McGwire 58.7 40.1 49.4 1874 1626 583 12 .263 .394 .588 .332
Avg HOF 1B 62.3 40.7 51.5

Born and raised near Los Angeles, McGwire starred at the University of Southern California and played on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. He was the 10th pick of the 1984 draft by the A’s, and spent most of his two-years-and-change stint in the minors playing third base (with an .899 fielding percentage!). He manned the hot corner — poorly — during his late-1986 debut, but the A’s finally wised up and moved him across the diamond for his official rookie season. In a year where home runs spiked above 1.0 per team per game for the first time in history, he led the league with 49 as well as a .618 slugging percentage while ranking eighth among AL position players with 4.8 WAR. He earned All-Star honors, and was a unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year.

In tandem with Jose Canseco, who’d won Rookie of the Year honors the year before, and under new skipper Tony La Russa, McGwire helped the A’s emerge from the sub-.500 doldrums. The slugging duo, soon nicknamed the Bash Brothers, led the A’s to three consecutive pennants from 1988 through 1990, though the impact of that dynasty was diluted by bookending upsets in the World Series, the first at the hands of the Kirk Gibson-inspired Dodgers, the last via the Nasty Boy Reds, with Oakland’s lone championship of the period coming via a Bay Area series interrupted by a major earthquake. McGwire earned All-Star honors in all three of those years, but his raw homer totals, rate stats, and WAR values fell off until 1990, when he hit .235/.370/.489 with 39 homers (second in the league), 5.5 WAR (sixth) and even a Gold Glove for defense that was 10 runs above average according to TotalZone.

Though he placed in the league’s top three in homers for five of his first six years, McGwire’s batting averages continued their decline. He bottomed out in 1991 (.201/.330/.383), with La Russa sitting him at the end of the season so he wouldn’t wind up below the Mendoza Line (a career .199 hitter himself, the manager knew the feeling). He rebounded to hit .268/.385/.585 in 1992, leading the league in slugging percentage again, ranking second in homers (42) and seventh in WAR (6.2), but heel and back troubles limited him to just 184 games from 1993-1995. Finally somewhat healthy in 1996, he began one of the greatest sustained power runs since Babe Ruth, bashing an AL-leading 52 home runs in just 130 games, slugging a league-high .730, and making a run at Maris’ single-season record the next year despite a mid-season trade to St. Louis (where La Russa now managed) that was keyed by his pending free-agency. McGwire hit 34 before the July 31 trade, then reeled off 24 in his final two months, but a 19-game drought on either side of the deal cost him the record.

Against the widely-held assumption that he would return to Southern California to sign a big contract, McGwire chose to stay in St. Louis. Spurred by a challenge from Sosa and under intense daily scrutiny from the media (more on which momentarily), he set the single-season home run record with a jaw-dropping 70 in 1998, and the NL record for walks with 162 (21 intentional, but a whole lot more of them “intentional”). His .299/.470/.752 line looked as though it came straight out of a video game, and only lousy defense prevented him from ranking higher than third in WAR (7.2). He lost the MVP vote to Sosa, whose 66 homers helped the Cubs to the NL wild card, but whose 6.3 WAR ranked even lower. McGwire followed up with 65 homers the next year, but struggles with plantar fasciitis soon took their toll. Though producing at a rate comparable to his 1998 season (.305/.483/.746), he was limited to 89 games in 2000, and hung up his spikes following a dismal 2001 (.187/.316/.492) in which he was reduced to watching pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson usurp his final plate appearance in Game 5 of the Division Series.

In at least some regards, McGwire’s numbers are Hall of Fame caliber. His rate of home runs per plate appearance, 7.6 percent, tops even Babe Ruth as the all-time best. His 583 career homers rank 10th on the all-time list, while his .588 slugging percentage ranks seventh among hitters with at least 7,000 plate appearances. His .332 True Average — an expression of his runs created per plate appearance on a batting average scale, with park and league adjustments thrown in, thereby taking most of the air out of an era of inflated stats — ranks 21st. Add to that 12 All-Star appearances, four league leads in home runs and a whole lot more of what Bill James called “Black Ink”, leagues led in important categories, and you’ve got a pretty decent Hall of Fame case, save for a .217/.320/.349 line in 151 postseason plate appearances, and a career total of just 1,626 hits — lower than any enshrined hitter whose career crossed into the post-1960 expansion era. Of course, much of that was because McGwire also added 1,317 walks to that total (39th all-time).

Boil that all down via WAR and you get a case that’s less than definitive. Due to injuries, the 1994-1995 strike, and a retirement after his age 37 season, McGwire’s 16-year career featured just 10 seasons of at least 130 games played. Not surprisingly, his 58.7 career WAR is short of the Hall standard for first basemen by about three and a half wins. His peak score is much closer, 0.6 wins below the standard spread out over seven seasons — a run a year, a negligible amount given the assumptions built into such valuation systems (such as the choice for how many years to incorporate into a park factor). Given both, he falls short of the JAWS standard by 2.1 points and ranks 16th all-time among first basemen, with nine Hall of Famers above him and nine more below.

Under normal circumstances, one could make an argument that McGwire’s shortcomings regarding JAWS are outweighed by the honors and the league leads and the black ink and the fame, but with McGwire, the circumstances are anything but normal. The elephant in the room is his association with performance-enhancing drugs. His 1998 chase was interrupted when AP reporter Steve Wilstein noted the presence of androstenedione — a testosterone precursor that was neither banned by baseball or declared illegal without a prescription until mid-2004 — in his locker. “Everybody I know in the game of baseball uses the same stuff I use,” said the slugger when asked about the substance. Pariahdom folllowed — for Wilstein, not McGwire. La Russa tried to get the AP banned from the Cardinals locker room for invading his players’ privacy. Fellow writers, some of whom called Wilstein “unprofessional,” accused him of “inventing a scandal,” and creating “tabloid-driven controversy.”

Less than a week after Wilstein’s article ran, The New York Times ran an editorial expressing concern over “uncertainties about androstenedione’s impact on the body” and any view of McGwire’s potential record as tainted: “[S]ome have even suggested, not entirely in jest, that if McGwire beats the record he should have an asterisk next to his name denoting that he did so under questionable circumstances. Our view is that this is an unproductive line of argument, not so much because androstenedione is legal in baseball but because even the experts who believe the substance could build muscle strength also say there is no evidence that it improves the eye-hand coordination required of every successful hitter.”

PED allegations continued to dog McGwire long after his career ended. Canseco’s 2005 book Juiced detailed stories of the two Bash Brothers injecting each other with steroids. Details of his chemical regimen dating as far back as 1989 — involving Winstrol and other steroids well beyond andro — turned up that spring via reports pertaining to an early 1990s FBI investigation called Operation Equine. The Congressional hearings that followed later that spring featured a tearful McGwire refusing to answer questions about his usage, declaring, “I’m not here to talk about the past.” Not until January 2010, after the BBWAA writers had voted on his candidacy four times did he admit to using steroids and acknowledge that he made a mistake. Even then, many weren’t satisfied with his explanation that he took the drugs for health purposes, not to hit home runs.

We don’t know the extent to which PEDs enhance baseball skill, because direct scientific studies on the effects of the drugs simply haven’t been done. Hundreds of players — far more than we will ever know — took PEDs over a period lasting longer than two decades before they were outlawed on the major league scene. Based on the names we do know, via positive tests, the Mitchell Report, law enforcement investigations and so on, no uniformity of effects have been found; scrubs who took them largely seem to have remained scrubs, stars remained stars, and pitchers used as well as hitters.

It is possible to theorize, via the literature of the studies that have been done with regards to strength training, how they might translate to baseball. In a 2007 paper for the American Journal of Physics, Tufts University professor Roger G. Tobin estimated that a 10 percent increase in an athlete’s muscle mass would correspond with a 10 percent increase in the force exerted by those muscles. That in turn would correspond to a 10 percent increase in the kinetic energy of the bat, assuming a batter’s swing and technique remained the same, and a 5 percent increase in bat speed upon contact with a pitched ball. Modeling the physics of what happens when ball meets bat, such a gain would produce a three percent increase in speed, which would wind up in a 30 to 70 percent increase in home runs per ball on contact — a huge gain resulting from just a few feet difference in flight, essentially turning 30-homer hitters into 40- or 50-homer hitters.

The startling thing is that the range of increase in home runs per batted ball that could result from a 10 percent gain in muscle mass is on the order of what actually occurred throughout the entire majors from 1993 onward. From 1988-1992, a very stable period of time for home run hitting, 2.7 percent of batted balls were home runs. In 1993, that number jumped to 3.1 percent, and then to 3.6 percent (36 percent above that five-year baseline) the following year. In every year between 1994 and 2010, the rate of homers per batted ball was anywhere from 31 to 56 percent above that five-year baseline. That period, not so coincidentally, was one of rapid change throughout baseball, featuring expansion, new ballparks, a crackdown in the enforcement of the strike zone, and changes to the baseball itself. Thus one simply can’t point to home run spikes and definitively declare them an effect of PED use, for far too many other factors are at play.

That baseball took so long to institute a means of punishing and (hopefully) preventing PED usage was a product of a complete institutional failure. It seems rather clear that players who used them were violating both federal laws and baseball’s rules, in addition to taking advantage of lax enforcement of those rules in an attempt (not always successful) to gain an edge on their competitors. They were able to do so in large part due to the reluctance of owners and the commissioner to enforce rules that had been in existence since the early 1990s, or to prioritize pushing for more stringent rules. Having been found liable for $280 million in damages related to their 1985-87 collusion, in which teams agreed not to sign each others’ high-profile free agents in an effort to suppress salary growth, the owners spent years trying to break the players union, eliminate salary arbitration, restrict free agency, and institute revenue sharing tied to a salary cap — matters that led directly to the 1994-1995 strike. After the strike, they were more interested in winning back fans by any means necessary, and home runs became the big gate attraction. Writers who glorified the new power kings, the McGwires and Sosas, while failing to report the entirety of the story — whether via direct challenges such as Wilstein’s or more indirect means — were part of that institutional failure as well.

All of which is to say that the PED problem in baseball went well beyond individual players. Many Hall of Fame voters, who were among the reporters who were part of that failure, are now the ones who purport to sit in judgement of those players, applying a retroactive morality that ignores their own complicity in the story, as well as the timeline via which baseball actually began to crack down.

Having studied the matter extensively in the service of writing over 20,000 words for two chapters in Baseball Prospectus’ group book Extra Innings — some of which I’ve attempted to distill above — I’ve come to the position that timing matters. Prior to 2005, baseball was a mess for the way it battled the encroachment of PEDs in the game. Even as they began to pay lip service to cleaning up, the incentives — higher salaries for players who produced more, greater attendance for teams and thus greater revenue for the industry — favored maintaining the status quo, and some would argue that they still do (note that players who test positive for PEDs continue to receive contracts and even raises, with Melky Cabrera a recent example).

I’m not saying that we should reward players for using PEDs by uniformly electing them to the Hall of Fame. I’m saying we should acknowledge that PEDs were part of the way the game was played for a long, long period of time, before the industry wised up. In my view, voters should distinguish between use that came during baseball’s “Wild West” era — generally without proof, since systematic testing didn’t occur — and use that came after testing began and penalties were imposed. The focus shouldn’t be who did which drugs and whether they helped, it should be on who the best players of the era were, and whether they stack up to the all-time greats as they played under the conditions of their time.

Via that, I’m comfortable in saying that the weight of the statistical record suggests McGwire is a borderline candidate. Among the more subjective criteria one might call upon to swing the decision either way are points that enhance his case, and points that detract from it. At the moment, I think the latter outweigh the former, particularly with regards to a crowded virtual ballot via which I’ve already come across seven players who appear worthy of a vote — Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell — plus Larry Walker, who’s borderline for much less nefarious reasons, with four candidates still to evaluate. Time and distance may change that perspective on McGwire, but here, he’s a no.

24 comments
Oudhoffs
Oudhoffs

Just an idea to stiffle all those discussions:

Why not "create" a mirror *HoF* a cross the street?Then the PED's players still own there little place in the HoF*Everyone happy, the legends and the "doubtfull legends".

Vinny Cordoba
Vinny Cordoba

The problem is that it's impossible to tell for sure who really used steroids and who didn't, and how steroids might have affected their careers. I can't stand Barry Bonds, but I have a feeling he would have been a HOF player with or without steroids. He was just that good. McGwire? Doubtful. Sosa? Doubtful. Clemens? Probably. The HOF vote has always been arbitrary. Any number of factors go into voting for someone: his numbers, the interpretation of which is totally arbitrary; how many pennants his teams won; how many All-Star appearances he made; what market he played in; what position he played; what era he played in; what his teammates and opponents said about him; whether he was a nice guy. You could take all the steroids away from Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, and you could pump Phil Rizzuto or Jesse Haines full of steroids, and Bonds and Clemens would still be way better ballplayers. The vote should take everything into consideration, regardless of whether a player was suspected of using steroids.

StevenKeys
StevenKeys

"(C)louded" is correct when describing Mark McGwire's HOF candidacy but his "2010 admission" would carry weight with me if I had a vote to cast.  Whatever his motivation was, it could not have been an easy decision as its rarity testifies.  To me it signifies a break in the clouds, a small ray of hope that should offer encouragement to others to find the courage, the smarts to come clean and help us on our way out of this moral morass.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I find it mystifying that so many baseball fans can look at obvious cheaters (and that is what ped users are, no argument) and make a case for them to be in the Hall of Fame. I realize that talking about 'integrity' and 'sports'  in the same sentence is becoming more and more laughable, but if we wish to make ANY pretense of honor, McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, and a long list of others have no right to be an electee. The idea that cheaters are not really cheaters because so many others were cheating too is a vapid argument, and pardon me if this sounds preachy, it reflects a great weakness in our society. Cheating IS wrong and should not be rewarded.

AlbertTydings
AlbertTydings

when Charles Lindberg flew from Long Island to Paris for the  first time he was on steroids but his plane is still on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.  When Napoleon finally was defeated at Waterloo he was off the steroids.  So the only fair thing to to with Mcguire is to let his bat go to Cooperstown and to keep Mcguire out

KidHorn
KidHorn

If you only look at the numbers, McGuire's in. He has 583 home runs. So the only issue is with PED's. I think the easiest thing to do is to ignore them. Almost all the PED use was done at a time when there weren't any rules against their use. I would guess the players knew they were doing something that wasn't completely on the up and up, but I think it's a stretch to say the players were knowingly cheating. My guess is the players weren't exactly sure one way or the other. Baseball needs to put this behind them and the easiest thing to do is admit a mistake that allowed players to take them, but don't penalize the players that took advantage of the situation.

danbernhardt
danbernhardt

According to former player Tom House in a USA Today article, "he and several teammates used amphetamines, human growth hormone and "whatever steroid" they could find in order to keep up with the competition. "I pretty much popped everything cold turkey," House said. "We were doing steroids they wouldn't give to horses. That was the '60s, when nobody knew. The good thing is, we know now. There's a lot more research and understanding."

 

So is Aaron clean? Probably not. People will argue that his body didn't look like the juice heads in the 80s and 90s, but I'd argue that they did not have the year long lifting routine players have today. For most of them, they had to work other jobs during the off season. Aaron said that he didn't like greenies so he stopped. Yeah, well players have testified in front of Congress that they never took steroids too just to save face.

thatmanstu
thatmanstu

Why is it hard to see the benefit/effect of steroids on hitters in baseball? The record book does not lie. Home runs exploded. Late 80's on.Clearly 25 more feet make formerly long outs into HR's,be you a colossal 1B or a formerly scrawny 2B. Steroid using pitchers didn't develop 15 more miles on their fastball or begin to win 30 games in mass quantities(maybe a few or a lot hung around longer or stayed healthier,maybe/probably). But HR's exploded. Greenies didn't make  stolen bases a form of exhibitionism or turn Maury Wills into Brett Boone....but HR's exploded and became the essence of the game in the steroid era. Tight baseballs,year round workouts,small ball parks were thought to be contributing factors.But parks are essentially the same, ballplayers are still bigger,stronger faster than the 70's on back,maybe the ball is still as tight or maybe it's marshmallow.....But HR's are back in their rightful place once again.Pitching and defense are valued once again and HR Derby is a now just once a year waste of time and a b/w re-run on Classic Sports....So,do you really need a scientific explanation for how the game was changed and the hitters benefited? Mcgwire's HoF numbers are artificially induced. Just like Sosa's and Bonds'. Aaron tried greenies once and didn't like them.Bonds cheated for a decade and loved them.See the difference. NFL running backs don't routinely gain 3000 yards or defensive lineman rack up sacks by the dozens ,but presumably they are juicing. ,but HR's exploded. See the difference. The desired offensive effect for a wide range of players is what you get when you juice in baseball.Why??? Who cares? The proof is in the numbers.Then and now.....

StephenGrange
StephenGrange

He cheated and broke the law, keep them ALL out!

erikthecleric
erikthecleric

aside from the PED and steroids   some should be in the hall of fame for what they have done for the good of the game... in this case Mark M and Sammy S  in getting interest back in the game after the strike. 

 

JohnLeavy
JohnLeavy

I notice that in your entire rambling essay, in which you make every possible excuse for the cheaters, the names Marvin Miller and Don Fehr never come up.Why is that?

 

The players weren't innocent bystanders in the steroid scandal. They not only cheated, they actively used the power of their union to fight ANY attempt at cleaning up the game. If Don Fehr hadn't been so smug and so stupid as to thumb his nose so openly at Congress, the union would STILL be fighting against efforts to clean up steroids today.

 

 

Michael10
Michael10

@Oudhoffs I thought there was already a "mirror" Hall full of "doubtful legends" -- it's more commonly known as the Veterans Committee...

Michael10
Michael10

@Vinny Cordoba After taking everything into consideration, all these two really have is numbers. They weren't "nice guys" or even team leaders outside the statistics boards (Clemens did get two tagalong rings during the Yankees dynasty; Bonds' teams never won a postseason series outside 2002). They won a lot of hardware and All-Star appearances based on personal numbers -- numbers which are now suspect -- but neither one was ever confused for an ambassador of the game. They'll both get in eventually, despite being "me-first" number collectors -- the numbers they collected are just too great to be ignored forever. But, for now, the PED debate has stripped the significance of those number to the point that Biggio and Morris could sneak in this ballot. If Bonds or Clemens had given baseball anything more than statistics, they'd have a shot at finally breaking through the steroid stonewall...

jah05r
jah05r

 @Rickapolis What is laughable is the idea that anybody can look at the list of people who are already in the Hall of Fame while still making the claim that "integrity" and "honor" was ever a part of the argument.  

 

Seriously, the Hall of Fame is a museum packed with cheaters of all flavors.  Holding out the current generation when so many others have been "honored" would be pure hypocrisy.

Michael10
Michael10

                Olympic sprinters don’t run seven-second 100’s either, but you’re argument is making the opposite point.  The fact that so many other known applications of PEDs produces such negligible effects, suggests that the post expansion/strike era HR spike owes as much, and probably much more, to other changes in the game.  Where the true effect of PEDs lies is not in 600 foot HRs or 120 MPH fastballs or 100 stolen bases, but in keeping already talented players on the field and playing well into their forties.  Players just don’t break down like they used to.  (Check out some photos of guys like Cobb or Ruth in their twenties – they look 10-20 years older by modern standards).  PEDs don’t turn ballplayers into Kong-like creatures, as perhaps they might in bodybuilding (you think Lou Ferrigno or Arnold Schwartzenegger could even swing a bat?)  What they do is very similar to what modern sports medicine, nutrition and weight training do –keep good athletes fit and youthful much, much longer.

 

                And maybe people have a problem with that aspect of it, but few if any voters (or fans in general) have a true idea of what PEDs actually do, and even fewer have any idea of how dozens of changes in modern rules, medicine and technology, scouting and video, equipment, ballparks, talent pools, etc. over the past 2-3 decades have contributed to the phenomenon dubbed the “Steroid Era”.  Many people have the same response to PEDs that they do to spiders.  They don’t know enough about the differences or intricacies, they just want them dead – and anything that looks or smells like them.  We don’t want to understand what they do or where they come from, we simply want to be outraged that such a thing ever crept into the house while all the windows and doors were open.

jah05r
jah05r

 @thatmanstu One problem with your logic:  steroids have been widespread in MLB clubhouses since at least 1973, according to the Mitchell Report.  If steroids were solely responsible for the power explosion, why did it not happen until the mid-1990s?

Michael10
Michael10

 @StephenGrange Broke the law how?  Broke the law like when Ty Cobb assaulted an amputee or like when Fergie Jenkins was arrested for carrying drugs across the border or like when Pete Rose was busted for tax evasion or like when Bob Gibson was charged with battery stemming from a road rage incident or like when Carlton Fisk was sentenced for DUI?

 

I'm just trying to figure out which crime McGwire was convicted of so I can put it in context...

thatmanstu
thatmanstu

 @erikthecleric I was disgusted,and my interest waned during the heyday of these yimyaps....the baseball sucked.It was a geek show and an exhibition...no more....

pcwhite2
pcwhite2

 @JohnLeavy 

 

If you are referring to Jaffe's article, it was hardly rambling.  Jaffe, here and in other articles, has cogently laid out the inaccuracy and hypocrisy in attacking the top players in the so-called PEDs era:

 

1) The PED era began in the 1960s - if not earlier.

2) The increase in home runs in the 1990s was due in large part to newer, smaller parks and changes in the construction of the ball itself - both controlled by the owners and the commissioner.  

3) Both sluggers and pitchers were using PEDs, so one would think they would cancel each other out.  Thus, why the increase in home runs?  See my point No. 2.

4) The HOF is full of cheaters (steroid users, amphetamine users, spitballers, etc,).  In fact, there are old stories that Babe Ruth used a "funny bat" (i.e., some type of alteration to his bat).  

 

In my opinion, the media focus on the players is being directed behind the scenes by the commissioner and his owners/controllers, in order to absolve the owners of their primary responsibility for the PED era (which was to save the game after the rightful strike by the players in 1994).  The one percenters get over once again.

Vinny Cordoba
Vinny Cordoba

 @Michael10  , understood. I put Bonds in the Ted Williams category.  Great numbers, little more than that. Clemens was the ace on some pretty good Red Sox teams in the late 80s and early 90s that made the postseason a few times. HIs numbers are staggering, too, even though, like Bonds, he's just about impossible to like.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

 @jah05r I agree with your first paragraph, but not the second. It's impossible to take the game seriously when they treat steroid and other ped users like they are great players. They are not. They are great cheaters. 

JohnLeavy
JohnLeavy

@pcwhite2@JohnLeavy

Let’s see if this sounds like a cogent argument or like a rambling, contradictory mess:

 

“There is absolutely no proof that Barry Bonds used steroids, and besides, he was already a Hall of Famer before he started using them, and hey, steroids weren’t technically against baseball’s rules, and by the way, steroids don’t REALLY make you play better, and hey, Ty Cobb was a racist!, And after all, EVERYBODY was doing it.”

 

That’s what Jaffe’s steroid essay amount to. That is NOT a cogent argument. In effect, he's taking a dozen different, mutually exclusive arguments and throwing them all out there, hoping one of them sticks.

 

But if you really believe what you’re saying, if you really believe steroids have no effect, then….

 

1) You ought to be LAUGHING your rear off at the utter stupidity of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who wasted tons of money on chemicals that don’t really do a damn thing! They must have manure for brains, right? What a moron Bonds must be, eh? All that money he spent and it didn't do a damn thing for him! Ha!

 

2) You have NO case against the owners. After all, if steroids aren’t REALLY a problem, there was absolutely no reason for them to take any action at all, right?

jah05r
jah05r

 @Rickapolis There are already numerous PED users in the Hall of Fame.  It has been an issue in baseball since the 19th century.

Michael10
Michael10

The difference between your garbled summary and an essay is that the latter actually employs order to demonstrate context and connections between the various arguments (therefore considering all of them).