Monday, August 13, 2012

0 comments Well Of Course Frank Deford Has an Opinion on Steroid Use and the Hall of Fame

I have created a BotB Yahoo Fantasy Football League if anyone cares to join. There should be some rule changes this year as compared to last year's league. Either way, the league ID is 250429 and the password is "eckstein." I have also created a College Football Yahoo Pick 'Em league if anyone cares to join that league. The league ID is 5656 and the password is "asu."

Sorry for the length of the posts being slightly shorter this time of year. At least your eyesight is being spared. It's summer, so it is a slower part of the sports year when the NFL isn't in full swing, the MLB races haven't heated up, and sports columnists are on vacation. It shouldn't be hard to find bad journalism or journalism I don't agree with, but sometimes the well of bad sports journalism feels a bit more dry during the hot summer months (see what I did there?). It feels like I have picked on Frank Deford a lot recently, which is probably true. Sometimes it is hard for me not to. He has opinions and isn't afraid to voice them. Naturally, Frank has an opinion on steroids and whether steroid users should be in the Hall of Fame or not. It turns out steroids were prevalent in the 1990's, except only a few select star players were using steroids and everyone else was clean...or at least that's what Frank Deford seems to want us to believe.

The 2012 induction ceremony for the Baseball Hall of Fame takes place this weekend, so there's even more discussion about the 2013 election, because then both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the ballot,
I feel like the debate on whether Clemens and/or Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame has gone on for 50 years now. I can't wait for them to either be voted in or not voted in. Knowing my luck neither player will ever get enough votes to receive induction and we will continue to debate both player's Hall of Fame merits every single year for the next 15 years.

along with several other players who are also suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs.

"Suspected" of using PED's is very different from "proven" to have used PEDs. It's not really proven Clemens/Bonds used PEDs, though it is as close to proven as it can be without having an actual failed drug test from either player. The players "suspected" of drug use should not necessarily be lumped in with the players "proven" to have used PEDs. It's not fair to lump them together when discussing the Hall of Fame. So I take offense to Frank Deford not voting for "suspected" PED users if that player would otherwise have Hall of Fame credentials.

I've been surprised to learn that some baseball writers have declared that they'll vote for Bonds and Clemens

"I'm shocked that someone's opinion on a subject matter may differ from my own opinion on that subject matter. I have such a huge respect for my own opinion, I don't see how this could happen."

because they were the best players in an era when drug use was widespread — ergo if there's a lot of guilt going around, then nobody should be assigned guilt.

Frank Deford knows drug use was widespread in the Steroid Era. Everybody was shooting drugs into their ass, arm, and any other crevice available to get an advantage. That's why it's called "the Steroid Era" after all, because everyone was doing some sort of PED and there is a lot of guilt to go around. So Frank knows how widespread this drug use was in the 90's.

Of course, we do not know how many baseball players took steroids, but it certainly never involved more than a small percentage.

Frank Deford knows only a select few players were using PEDs in the Steroid Era. Not every player was shooting drugs into their ass, arm and any other crevice available to get an advantage. There were clean players who played the game the right way by stealing bases, being white and gritty, and always deferring any sort of credit to their teammates. It's a misnomer to call it "the Steroid Era" since such a small percentage of players were using PEDs. The guilt lies mostly with the star players who used PEDs. So Frank knows only a small percentage of players participated in PED use in the 90's.

I'm not that bright, so I wish someone could explain to me how steroid use was widespread in the 90's, but only a small percentage of players were using steroids during this time? It's fine to hold either of these positions in your mind as true, but it seems impossible to hold BOTH of these opinions as true.

This brings me to another open-ended does Frank Deford know only a small percentage of player used PEDs in the 90's? Does he have access to a list that no other person has access to? So, ignoring the obvious contradiction in saying PED use was widespread and then blaming a select few players for PED use, how can Frank even say a small percentage of players used PEDs? Isn't that the problem with not voting for guys like Jeff Bagwell to enter the Hall of Fame, that we have very little clue as to which players used PEDs and which did not? That's why there are players "suspected" of steroid use...because we don't know who really used PEDs and who did not. There isn't an effective way to say PED use was widespread or it was contained to just a few players.

It was never, for example, like the Tour de France where drugs were as common as toothpaste.

Ah, never say "never." Frank Deford doesn't know how prevalent PED usage was in the 90's among MLB players. If he does, then he needs to either (a) release the list of players who did use PEDs or (b) shred the list since it violates the confidentiality of the drug test.

But what the baseball writers must not forget is that the dopers did not just pad their own statistics. They keep score in games; by definition, sports are zero sum. By taking unfair advantage, the druggies hurt the players who played fair.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds weren't the only players who used steroids. There were borderline major league players who used steroids as well. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds may not have kept a player from making it in the major leagues by using steroids. Both Bonds and Clemens were elite players who even without steroids were one of the best players at their position for most of their career. I can see an argument for how it trickled down to affect other players, but Barry Bonds was going to be in left field for the Giants through much of the Steroid Era even if he didn't use steroids. If a guy in the minors never made it to the majors, it wasn't because Bonds was in left field with a needle in his ass. It could be because that player couldn't beat out the other four position players on the Giants bench for a spot in the lineup. There is a possibility one or more of the four position players on the Giants bench were using PEDs and stole that spot from a clean, hard-working player. Now that 22nd guy (or those guys) on roster did hurt a guy trying to make it in the majors. I'm not defending Barry Bonds, but I doubt he is the sole PED user that was on the Giants roster, and even if he didn't use PEDs I doubt he was going to be giving up his left field spot during the Steroid Era. He was a very talented player even without steroids.

I'm not a Bonds or Clemens apologist by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn't feel right to simply point to players who could make the Hall of Fame as the ones who took a job away from a clean, hard-working baseball player. I feel like Frank is doing this. I don't know how prevalent PEDs were in the 90's, though I am sure there are quite a few players who are never even suspected of PED use and actually did use, but while Bonds and Clemens are the face of the Steroid Era they also aren't entirely to blame for the entire Steroid Era. Other lesser-known players also used PEDs.

There were far more baseball players robbed by our own cheats; it's just impossible to pinpoint in a team sport.

It is impossible to pinpoint who exactly robbed by the cheats or who was the player doing the robbing, but Frank Deford knows it was Roger Clemens who stole a roster spot from a deserving pitcher and that is part of the reason he should never be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Baseball is an individual sport. If Barry Bonds uses PEDs and puts up ungodly numbers in a season then this doesn't mean Fred McGriff will hit fewer home runs or have a better case to make the Hall of Fame. In baseball, players should make the Hall of Fame on their own merits. So whether Barry Bonds hits 900 home runs or not is irrelevant to whether Fred McGriff hits 500 home runs or not. So in terms of discussing which players should make the Hall of Fame, if voters are being consistent and not voting in players who are proven to use PEDs while also not comparing other candidates' numbers to these PED-using players, then no player should get robbed of a Hall of Fame induction. Fred McGriff should either make it or not make it based on his own career performance. His induction shouldn't have anything to do with whether Barry Bonds used PEDs nor will McGriff be robbed of a Hall of Fame spot because other players used PEDs. I can grasp the concept of Player X not making it in the majors because Player Y used steroids, but in terms of a Hall of Fame discussion one batter's impact on another batter is negligible. Fred McGriff shouldn't have a better or worse candidacy because Barry Bonds used steroids during his playing career. Their career statistics are separate from each other when discussing their candidacy, especially if a Hall of Fame voter takes the position no proven steroid user should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I would also think a pitcher like Roger Clemens who used PEDs would have a negligible effect on a batter's candidacy for the Hall of Fame as well. Clemens probably wouldn't face a batter enough to have a deep effect on that batter's career statistics to the point that batter wouldn't make the Hall of Fame because Clemens used PEDs. When comparing Clemens to other pitchers, the same idea applies here as it applies to the Barry Bonds situation. Jamie Moyer's career should be evaluated on a completely independent basis from what numbers Roger Clemens put up. You can compare Moyer to other players in the Hall of Fame who were clean players like Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry (whoops...they weren't exactly clean, where they?), but Clemens' candidacy should be independent from Cliff Lee/Jamie Moyer's candidacy. Therefore in the framework of a Hall of Fame debate, Clemens' use of PEDs should not rob Lee or Moyer this honor.

Another issue in this discussion is that Barry Bonds probably would have made the Hall of Fame regardless of whether he was accused/proven to use steroids. If a voter doesn't want to vote for Bonds or Clemens, that's their choice. In terms of this present discussion, Bonds was on the Hall of Fame track during the early-to-mid-90's. So perhaps when Bonds was in his 40's he was cheating other players out of a chance to play in the majors, but Bonds was a Hall of Fame player in the early-to-mid-90's and had earned his spot on the field through his play. It's nearly impossible for me to look at Bonds and not give him a vote for the Hall of Fame because he took a roster spot away from another player by using PEDs. Perhaps this is not true for Bonds as he got older, but for much of his career Barry Bonds had a Hall of Fame-worthy resume and had not stolen, but earned, a spot on the field.

The baseball writers should remember those Olympians; from that sample, extrapolate the many baseball innocent who were hurt. Honor them.

I get the whole trickle down effect Frank Deford seems to be using, and there is really no way of knowing how good of a pitcher Clemens would have been in 2001 if he had not been using PEDs, but what if by not allowing Clemens into the Hall of Fame we are honoring some people who really weren't innocent and took PEDs? This is entirely possible. Perhaps Player X didn't make the Yankees roster in 2001 because Roger Clemens took up a roster spot...but what if Player X was also using PEDs in an effort to make it to the majors? Why should he be honored? Of course, I don't have all the inside information that Frank Deford has and aren't able to know for a fact only a small percentage of players used steroids in the Steroid Era, an era where PED was widespread, but only widespread over a small percentage of players apparently.

We cannot unravel the past, but the one way — even if it's only symbolic — to punish drug cheats is to withhold from them any recognition.

So when are we taking Barry Bonds' MVP awards away? When will Roger Clemens have his Cy Young Awards taken back and given to the runner-up? Oh, never? If we want to punish these drug cheats and withhold them from any recognition shouldn't we take away all individual awards that player received? I am confused how Frank can withhold an individual career-long achievement like being inducted into the Hall of Fame, even though we don't know how much of Bonds' career numbers were affected by PED use, but doesn't seem to have a problem with Barry Bonds keeping his MVP awards, when it is easier to determine which year he was using PEDs. I just think if Frank is all about removing individual recognition then he should advocate all individual awards being taken away from proven PED users.

But just because it was a drug era in baseball does not mean, so glibly, well, everybody did it.

But it was widespread. This much Frank knows.

To vote for Bonds and Clemens for the Hall of Fame is, above all, an insult to all the good guys who played fair.

Which players were those that played fair again? I'm not saying Bonds or Clemens should get a vote, but I don't believe we can make an assumption of which players did or did not play fair. There are plenty of players who didn't put up astounding numbers in the majors who also used PEDs. These players didn't put up such great numbers that it seemed out of the ordinary, but there are players who used PEDs to go from a barely deserving to be in the majors to being a starter in the majors. These guys fly under the radar in many ways because they didn't hit 70 home runs.

Boglioli, Wright, Jezek, Siering, Babashoff, Bryant, Sapenter, Ingram, Jiles, McMillan, Shorter. Remember the names, robbed by other athletes using drugs. Multiply by 100 or more and those were the honest baseball players robbed.

11 players times 100 comes to 1100 players that were robbed. This number seems a bit high considering 25 players are on 30 teams, for a total of 750 players in the majors at one time. So 1100 players or more were directly robbed of a career achievement because another player used PEDs? For such a small percentage of players who used PEDs, that sure is a high number.

I don't have a problem if Bonds or Clemens aren't voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That is purely up to the person doing the voting. I don't see how Frank Deford can believe the problem was so widespread and PED-use affected so many players directly when he also believes a small percentage of players (only the star players apparently) used PEDs. I'm also concerned about the Marcus Giles-type players who seem to have been mediocre players without PEDs. He wasn't a Hall of Fame-type player. If he used, he very well could have taken a starting spot away from a more deserving players. Barry Bonds? He was going to be in left field for the Giants for much of the Steroid Era anyway.