Wednesday, January 15, 2014

0 comments This Column Could Have Been Good if Rick Reilly Hadn't Written It

Rick Reilly has written an article where he essentially wonders how Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre were elected into the Hall of Fame but the players who played for these managers that are accused or proven to use PED's are not elected into the Hall of Fame. In the hands of someone who isn't Rick Reilly this could be a thought-provoking and interesting column. Unfortunately, this column is in Rick's hands, so it's full of bad reasoning and the reasoning Rick does use could extend to where no baseball players who played during the Steroid Era could be elected into baseball's Hall of Fame. 

I'm so pumped up for next July in Cooperstown!
I can't wait to see who's going to be in the crowd at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for new members Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre.

You can tell Rick is being sarcastic because I'm not sure anyone really cares who is in the audience for the Hall of Fame induction.

Maybe Mark McGwire will show up? It might be as close as he'll ever get. La Russa managed him for 15 seasons in both Oakland and St. Louis and says he never saw McGwire do a single steroid. Imagine that.

I'm not sure Tony La Russa has ever actually stated he never saw Mark McGwire do a single steroid. I did a quick Internet search and couldn't find a quote from La Russa making this statement. Perhaps I did not search hard enough.

Maybe Alex Rodriguez will attend? He probably won't get in, either. Former New York Yankees skipper Torre says he didn't even notice A-Roid's alleged PED use in the four years he managed him.

Joe Torre has also stated he didn't go into any player's locker to check for steroids as well, so it's not necessarily as if Torre was in a position to notice A-Rod doing steroids. I would imagine A-Rod wouldn't do PED's in the locker room in full view of everyone. Of course it is A-Rod, so all bets are off I guess.

This is the next stage in steroid morality rage from columnists. It starts with the players who are accused (or suspected) of steroid use and now it is filtering down to the enablers who had a chance to turn in these steroid users but did not take that chance. Using the logic that Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre were in a position and had an obligation to report steroid use, then there is an argument to be made no players from the Steroid Era should be inducted into the Hall of Fame since they were all enablers. If Torre/La Russa/Cox were in a position to know and did nothing about, so that's why they should not be allowed induction into the Hall of Fame, the teammates of these PED users also had an obligation to report the steroid use and failed to do so as well. So if Cox/La Russa/Torre should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame as an enabler of steroid use, then no players from the Steroid Era should be allowed induction into the Hall of Fame.

Torre? No ban for him. In fact, he's an executive vice president of Major League Baseball now.

Let me be clear. If we are going to start pointing the finger and say, "This person benefited from the Steroid Era and should not be in the Hall of Fame for this reason," then that finger is going to get pointed at nearly every player who played during the Steroid Era. In some way, whether by being on the team of a player that used PED's or using PED's himself, almost every MLB player benefited from the Steroid Era in some little way. Some players were hurt because they were clean and didn't get a roster spot, that is absolutely true. So not all the players benefited, but Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame if Joe Torre shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. Jeter had as much of a chance and obligation to report PED use in the Yankees clubhouse as Joe Torre did.

Maybe former Atlanta Braves manager Cox will look out in the crowd to see his old star Gary Sheffield. Probably not. Cox says he never saw all the PEDs Sheffield was taking when he had him right under his nose in the Atlanta clubhouse.

Sheffield spent two seasons in Atlanta. He was also taking PED's under the nose of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Greg Maddux. If Bobby Cox should be denied entry into the baseball Hall of Fame then all five of these players should be denied entry as well (I realize Andruw Jones probably won't make it to the Hall of Fame unless his defense is really, really considered). Is Rick Reilly fine with Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Chipper Jones not being in the Hall of Fame? I would guess not.

You could build a wing with the admitted and suspected drug cheats they won with: A-Rod, Roger Clemens (Torre), Jason Giambi (Torre and La Russa), McGwire, Jose Canseco (La Russa), Melky Cabrera (Torre and Cox), David Justice (Torre and Cox), Andy Pettite (Torre), Manny Ramirez (Torre with the Dodgers) and Sheffield (Torre and Cox.)

Rick also conveniently doesn't explain why he is expecting these managers to publicly call out members of their team for PED use when zero other MLB players and zero other MLB managers were alerting the world to the prevalent PED use in baseball. It doesn't make it right, but this same obligation that Reilly sees for Torre/La Russa/Cox also goes for Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia and every other MLB manager during the Steroid Era. Again, this would go for every player during the Steroid Era as well.

It's just another year in the Hall of Farce, where the codes of conduct shift like beach sand; where the rules for one set of men are ignored for another; where PED poppers can never enter, but the men who turned their backs to the cheating get gleaming, bronze plaques.

If enablers were denied entry into the Hall of Fame then there would be no players elected into the Hall of Fame for the next 10-15 years.

La Russa's slipping on the Hall of Fame jersey Monday is the sight that really tested my gag reflex. He did more for juicers than Jack LaLanne.

These type of pop culture references is why I wish this column were written by another writer who actually had the skill to pull this type of column off.

Under La Russa, the Oakland clubhouse became a kind of leather-upholstered showroom for creams, rubs and injections that allowed players to work out harder, recover quicker and attack the game like a wolf in a hen house. It didn't change much in St. Louis, either, where he says he didn't notice what McGwire, Troy Glaus, Fernando Vina and Ryan Franklin were doing.

Albert Pujols didn't notice what these were players doing either. Neither did Yadier Molina, David Eckstein (yes, he of the grittiness), Chris Carpenter, Jim Edmonds, Tino Martinez, and Scott Rolen. Why isn't this scorn directed at them as well?

He spent eight hours a day around these guys, eight months a year, and yet he never saw a thing. Maybe he dressed in a different clubhouse?

I'm not going to defend these managers because nearly everyone, including sportswriters, turned a blind eye to PED use during the Steroid Era. It's not like these steroid users consistently shot up in the locker room with everyone around them watching them do so. Maybe they did. I obviously wasn't in the locker room every time a player used steroids, but I would imagine Bobby Cox didn't have a conversation about moving Gary Sheffield into the cleanup spot for a few games while Sheffield shot a needle full of steroids into his ass (Sheffield's ass, not Bobby Cox's ass...though if Bobby Cox did use steroids I wonder what kind of article Rick could get out of that revelation?).

But he goes into the HOF and those players never will. Maybe he can send them some Instagrams

Or these players could just visit the Hall of Fame and take their own pictures.

Hey, you think any of the three skips will mention how PEDS helped them get to that sunny afternoon in Cooperstown?
Oh, and I can't forget to thank Katalina at Tijuana Pharmacy for all her help. Like my players always said, "We can't get cut without Kat!"

Yet again, if we are going to use the logic that Bobby Cox shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame because he was aware of the PED use in the locker room, then every player who played on a team with a PED user (and yes, that includes Derek Jeter and many other beloved players) should not be inducted into the Hall of Fame either. I get the outrage at a manager having knowledge of a player using PED's, but this can be a slippery slope if Cox/La Russa/Torre are not allowed induction because of knowledge their players used steroids. No players or managers chose to out those players who were using steroids, so this is a group failure, not just the failure of a few managers who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

You won't even have to be in Cooperstown to smell the hypocrisy. Even the faintest scent of a rumor of PED use is enough to sink a player now.
Managers? Odorless.

There is a perceived difference in personally using steroids and knowing someone else on your team has used steroids. It's the same way I won't be accused of cheating if I knew someone cheated and didn't turn that person in. I enabled through my inaction, but I'm not guilty of the offense.

Take Houston Astros great Craig Biggio. He had more than enough career to get in, and even though there isn't a stitch of evidence against him, the writers have kept him out because they have a niggling hunch he might've used.

This is due to the overreactive nature of those in the BBWAA who enjoy tying a player's suspected use of steroids into proof this player did use steroids. The faintest scent of PED use does keep most players out of the Hall of Fame, but simply because this is the case currently doesn't make it right. If we tie the managers into PED use and prevent them from being inducted into the Hall of Fame, then this same tie-in has to go for the players during the Steroid Era as well...even those who didn't use steroids but had knowledge of PED use.

Remember, kids: If you play the game under even a single cloud of suspicion, you're out. Manage it under one? Come on in and pull up a plaque!

Fine, yes. It doesn't make sense. It's a slippery slope when discussing banning those who had knowledge of steroid use in their team's locker room from the Hall of Fame.

Next month, the writers are expected to vote down McGwire for the eighth time and Clemens for the second time. They're right to do it.

I guess so. They weren't the only ones who used steroids, but if the BBWAA wants to continue making an example of these players by not allowing them access to the baseball Hall of Fame then that's their right as voters.

Those guys are tainted beyond any reasonable doubt, though Clemens still maintains innocence. But for the expansion error committee to let these three managers in -- unanimously, no less -- after winning hundreds of games with better chemistry is the gold standard of double standards.

I'm not really fine with not allowing steroid enablers into the Hall of Fame, but pretending I was fine with it, then the BBWAA Hall of Fame voters would have to make sure no players who won hundreds of games on a team with a PED user makes it into the Hall of Fame either. After all, nearly everyone involved with baseball during the Steroid Era was an enabler in some fashion or another. Whether that means they didn't alert the public to the rampant PED use in baseball, turned a blind eye to steroid use on his team or took steroids himself, nearly all players are guilty of enabling in some fashion or another.

If you believe they didn't know, then you'll fit perfectly in Dupers Town.

I don't believe they didn't know. I simply believe they should be allowed to be in the Hall of Fame despite knowing about the PED use in their clubhouse. It's not excuse to follow the crowd, but no other players or manager blew the whistle on baseball's rampant PED use during the Steroid Era. If Rick wants to punish someone for a systemic failure then that is fine, but he needs to be sure he is ready to punish everyone in the system who failed by enabling.