Friday, December 19, 2014

4 comments Murray Chass Bases His Hall of Fame Vote on Bacne And Rumors

It's well-known around these parts that Murray Chass is obsessed with Mike Piazza and his bacne. When he isn't solidifying his case against Mike Piazza entering the Hall of Fame with scientific bacne reports, suspicious that Piazza will admit to PED use in his book conveniently released AFTER he has been elected to the Hall of Fame, admitting that, okay maybe Piazza didn't admit to PED use in his book, but he still totally used PED's and the bacne proves it, Murray is threatening to stop voting for the Hall of Fame if Jack Morris isn't inducted into the Hall of Fame. It turns out Murray is still voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame and Jack Morris wasn't inducted in his final year of eligibility. You know, no one will believe what Murray has to say if he continues bluffing or lying like this.

I didn't expect that Murray would actually give away his Hall of Fame vote. He probably enjoys the power and the ability to be one of baseball's moral arbiters too much to give up his vote. That's exactly what Murray is doing today on his non-blog. He talks about Barry Bonds' ego-trip that leads him to believe he should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and of course, discusses Mike Piazza's bacne. It seems that Murray is some sort of bacne expert. But remember, this isn't a blog, it's a diary of Murray's thoughts electronically written and placed on the Internet. That's completely different from having a blog.

Hear ye! hear ye! hear ye! Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and he shall be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Who makes such a proclamation? Why none other than Bonds himself.

I think this deserves a "BREAKING NEWS" label. A professional athlete believes that he deserves to be elected into that sport's Hall of Fame? Say it isn't so, Murray! How unforeseen is this turn of events? Do athletes usually have a great amount of confidence in their skill level as Bonds is displaying here or is his insistence he should be in the Hall of Fame just a result of his huge ego overshooting his career accomplishments? I know the answer, but of course, Murray comes to a different answer.

In a typically arrogant and self-serving interview with an reporter who has long been a Bonds sycophant, Bonds said:

What's more arrogant? To call another baseball reporter "arrogant" while referring to and quoting an article that reporter wrote WITHOUT ACTUALLY LINKING THE ARTICLE in your non-blog column, or actually being an arrogant baseball reporter? I would argue criticizing a fellow baseball writer and using his words without even kindly providing a link to the article you are criticizing is more arrogant. Of course, Murray is a non-blogger, so he doesn't understand the courtesy required on the Interwebs. Criticize if you will, but provide a link so the reader can make a decision for him/herself.

“I love Major League Baseball. I always have and I loved playing the game. I don’t have any doubts that I’ll get there in time. I’m bothered about it, but I don’t sit here going, ‘I’m not going to make it.’ I don’t see how it stays the way it’s going. In my mind, in my head, I’m a lot more positive about it than I am negative. I think eventually they’ll do the right thing.”

I do disagree with Bonds' language of "do the right thing," otherwise there is nothing to report here. Bonds thinks he should be in the Hall of Fame and he's trying to stay positive. I don't think Bonds is out of line or really saying anything that a reasonable person (in other words, not a person who builds an anti-Hall of Fame case around bacne) wouldn't expect Bonds to say.

“I deserve to be there. Clemens deserves to be there. The guys that are supposed to be there are supposed to be there. Period. I don’t even know how to say it. We are Hall of Famers. Why are we having these conversations about it? Why are we talking about a baseball era that has come and gone?

“Era, era, era. Do the best players in the game deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Everything that everyone has accomplished in baseball is in that book. Correct? So if that’s correct, then we need to be in there. End of story.”

I figure the "deserve to be there" part really has Murray's attention and is a source of anger for him. As a Hall of Fame moral arbiter, no one DESERVES to be in the Hall of Fame. Except for Jack Morris of course. Otherwise, Bonds is still pleading his case for the Hall of Fame and doing so in terms where he thinks his records that are recognized by MLB should also be recognized by the Hall of Fame. Again, it's a simple argument that really shouldn't be offensive.

Bonds referred to the baseball record book, not the excellent 2006 book “Game of Shadows” that tells you all you need to know about Bonds and performance-enhancing drugs.

Except the book left out that chapter about bacne. Murray will forgive the authors for this oversight just this once.

But Bonds indeed is in the record book – for having hit the most home runs in a single season (73) and for having hit the most home runs in a career (762). He is there, on page 19 of The Elias Book of Baseball Records, because Major League Baseball has not amended his achievements.

Seymour Siwoff, decades-long head of Elias Sports Bureau, explained why Bonds is there.

“He wasn’t accused of anything,” Siwoff said in a telephone interview Saturday, then referring specifically to the 73 home runs Bonds hit in 2001 added, “When he did it, he wasn’t guilty of anything we knew of so he was put in. It was the record. I couldn’t dispute it.”

Don't be a Bonds sycophant! Just change the record books on your own.

In retrospect, Siwoff said, “We know it’s a fraud. He never hit more than 49 home runs and he suddenly hits 73.”

What was his bacne status? THAT is the real test of steroid use. What do the record books say about Bonds' bacne status and give Murray a straight answer or he will accuse you of being in league with Bonds.

As for Bonds’ linking the record book and the Hall of Fame, Siwoff said, “The book has no bearing on the Hall of Fame.”

I am making a grimace face. Not a Grimace face like this, but a grimace/wince face more like this.

I mean, yeah, the record book has no bearing on the Hall of Fame in a world where Hall of Fame voters don't use the record book or statistics a player compiled that appear in the record book as part of a player's Hall of Fame candidacy. In the real world, the record book does have a bearing on the Hall of Fame. Like or not.

Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame because in the two years he has been on the ballot, the voters – members of the Baseball Writers Association – have rejected his achievements, believing they were chemically aided.

Voting individually but collectively coming to the same conclusion, they have done that because they believe Bonds achieved his record numbers with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

This is an instance where I'm not entirely sure what the hell Murray is trying to prove. Yes, the voters seem to think Bonds' achievements were chemically aided. That seems clear. I am not sure who would argue otherwise. This doesn't mean Barry Bonds shouldn't believe that he should be a member of the Hall of Fame. It's a personal opinion he holds.

Circumstantial evidence, however, weighs heavily against Bonds. In the five seasons 2000 through 2004 Bonds hit 258 home runs. In the previous five years he hit 186. Siwoff pointed out the unnatural leap in Bonds’ single-season home runs.

I think it's past the "Did Bonds use PED's?" part of the discussion. For the sake of argument, let's assume he did use PED's. That's the point we are at, so Murray shouldn't waste time explaining why he thinks Bonds used PED's and focus more on bacne and how rumors about Jeff Bagwell are considered sufficient evidence to prevent him from being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Sosa, meanwhile, was raising an equal amount of eyebrows. He slugged 292 home runs in a five-year period, including more than 60 in three of four seasons within those five years.

And we have reached the "rambling along without a point" portion of the column on Murray's non-blog. 

Before Sosa and McGwire waged their PED duel in 1998, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth had been the only players to reach 60, and they did it once each. From 1927 until 1998, two players reached 60. In the four-year span 1998-2001, three players did it a total of six times.

Like Bonds, Sosa eluded detection, but is any more circumstantial evidence needed? Convicts have been executed on less.

Well then the only solution is that Bonds definitely should be executed. If his hat no longer fits then you must not acquit. I would say give Bonds the electric chair, but it could only serve as a way to make him stronger if something goes wrong and Bonds' steroid strength turns into the ability to shoot electric charges from his hands at unsuspecting people on the street requiring a superhero like Derek Jeter to come along and save baseball and America by taking down Bonds "the right way." So the electric chair is out.

I think lethal injection is the way to go to execute Bonds. But hold on, wouldn't he enjoy the feeling of needles going in his arm? Isn't that what got him into the situation in the first place? So no lethal injection.

Then perhaps Bonds should be hanged (hung?), but how on Earth would anyone find rope big enough to get around his huge steroid-aided neck?

I guess the only option to execute Bonds based on the circumstantial evidence is to execute him by firing squad. Let's get it done.

In an interview a couple of years before the recent one, the same reporter, Barry Bloom, quoted Bonds as saying about the Hall of Fame:

Yet again, Murray doesn't provide a link. I say some critical things on this blog, but I always provide a link. I think it's only the right way to go about criticizing someone on the Internet. Obviously, as a non-blogger Murray disagrees.

“You have to vote on baseball the way baseball needs to be voted on. If you vote on your assumptions or what you believe or what you think might have been going on there, that’s your problem. You’re at fault. It has nothing to do with what your opinion is. Period. 

This really isn't a terrible point overall. In regard to Bonds, the assumption he cheated by using PED's is there and I think it's a pretty safe assumption. Now in the case of other Hall of Fame candidates like Jeff Bagwell then I think this may be good advice. 

“If that’s the case, you better go way, way back and start thinking about your opinions. If that’s how you feel life should be run, I would say then you run your Hall of Fame the way you want to run your Hall of Fame. That’s what I think. That’s my personal opinion. If you want to do the Hall of Fame the way the Hall of Fame is supposed to be done, then you make the right decision on that. If you don’t, that’s on you. To stamp something on your assumptions, it doesn’t work for me.”

Unfortunately for Bonds, the Hall of Fame voters did run the Hall of Fame the way they wanted to run it and that's why he isn't in the Hall of Fame. I do agree with not "stamping something based on assumptions." I think that can be a dangerous game.

His words did not sway them. With 75 percent of the vote needed for election, Bonds received 36.2 percent, less than half. In his second appearance on the ballot last year, he fared even worse, dropping to 34.7 percent.

Look at who is grasping the use of basic statistics! And here I thought Murray Chass would tally Hall of Fame voting totals for a player based on "feel."

The history of Hall of Fame voting shows that when players of star status appear for the first time, others on the ballot suffer.

Now Bonds is selfishly hurting others with his insistence that he thinks he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Stop advocating for yourself and taking away votes for others! Only Jack Morris is allowed to do that.

It is always possible that something could happen that would catapult Bonds into the Hall of Fame, but he shouldn’t hold his breath.

Well, he won't have any breath after he gets executed through the use of circumstantial evidence for Premeditated PED Use. This crime carries a death sentence, while Involuntary PED Use, the kind that Andy Pettitte has been convicted of carries a sentence of everyone forgetting about it because he acted contrite.

There is also the crime of Assumption of PED Use Due To Affiliation with Other PED Users. This is the crime Jeff Bagwell is guilty of. Bonds can be convicted of that crime as well. The only way to avoid being convicted for this PED-related crime is to be Derek Jeter.

The Hall’s board also knows that players already in the Hall object to being joined by players whose credentials includes PEDs. Some members have gone so far as to say they would boycott induction ceremonies if steroids users are elected.

If these members have intestinal fortitude of backing up their threats with actions like Murray Chass did when he claimed he was giving away his Hall of Fame vote if Jack Morris wasn't inducted in his final year of eligibility, then I would expect the entire Hall board to be present even if Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and McGwire all got elected in the same Hall of Fame class.

Three other players on the ballot have resumes that are foggier than these five. Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio have never been linked to steroids by anything other than news media mention, 

And by "news media mention" what Murray means is "there is no direct evidence that they used steroids, but writers like me won't stop talking about their assumed link to steroids so it's just accepted as fact they used steroids at this point."

It must be nice to be the one stirring the dust about a story and then blame the media attention on other "news media." I can't think of a sportswriter more fervent in his insistence that Mike Piazza used steroids than Murray Chass. So one of the biggest ways Piazza is linked to steroids is through Murray's refusal to drop the issue of Piazza's bacne as anything more than speculation as to Piazza's PED use.

but in my view more time is needed to learn more about their past practices.

What the fuck does this even mean? "...more time is needed to learn more about their past practices."

Does Murray want the Hall of Fame to hire an outside investigative firm and do interviews as to whether Bagwell, Piazza and Biggio used steroids? If it requires this much work to get some semblance of an answer on whether any/all of these three players used PED's, then I think perhaps it should just be assumed they didn't use those PED's. I mean, "more time" is needed? Why not just assume these players didn't use PED's since there isn't evidence they did rather than spend time and money drumming up evidence one way or another. Murray just wants the tiniest bit of circumstantial evidence that he could use to point and say, "See! I told you Mike Piazza used steroids!"

I voted for Bagwell on his first appearance on the ballot, when he received 41.7 percent of the votes. After several people told me that he had been heavily involved in steroids, I left him off my ballot the second year.

Wait, what? Murray Chass, a professional journalist and amateur non-blogger, voted for Bagwell, and then some people whispered in his ear that Bagwell used steroids and Chass thought, "Well fuck my original thoughts, CLEARLY there is something to this rumor that Bagwell used steroids. After all, when have rumors ever been wrong? I'm going to now change my vote based on the speculation others have told me without personally doing one little bit of investigation into the truth of this speculation."

So yes, Murray Chass thinks more information needs to be learned about Bagwell's past practices in order to prove that Bagwell didn't use steroids, but ZERO investigation needs to be done in order to find out if the rumors he's being told by "several people" of Bagwell's PED use are true or not. Wow, that's a pretty embarrassing set of positions for a respected sportswriter. In fact, I think I would call this position of refusing to do research on second-hand information to be arrogant and even a little self-serving.

He received 56 percent of the votes that year and climbed to 59.6 percent the next year. But last year he slipped to 54.3 percent, perhaps a victim of the newcomers on the ballot.

Barry Bonds is such an asshole. Now he is lowering the vote total of Hall of Fame candidates that Murray Chass doesn't even believe should be in the Hall of Fame. YOU ARE JUST HURTING YOUR OWN SCUMMY KIND NOW!

Biggio will almost certainly be elected this time. He was only two votes short of election in the last election and should clear the threshold, even though a reporter friend told me that a dozen or more players told him that Biggio used steroids.

I bet there are a dozen or so players who will say that Biggio didn't use steroids. Why blindly accept one group's word over another group's word? Other than the fact Murray has a conclusion he wants to reach so he has no use for anyone who would tell him differently from what he wants to believe is true.

When I wrote that, Biggio’s fans were outraged.

I'm not a Biggio fan in any way. I didn't really like him as a player. I am a fan of using reason to make decisions and not ignoring information that disputes my conclusion, while only paying attention to information that proves the conclusion I want to reach. 

If it’s not clear by now, I don’t vote for steroids-tainted players. 

If it's also not clear by now, Murray Chass struggles with what is a rumor and what needs to be investigated as to whether it is rumor or not. 

If steroids were legal, I’d have no problem with players using them. But they are illegal, and players who use them cheat. I can’t vote for players who cheat at the expense of their fellow players who don’t cheat.

That brings me to Piazza...

It shouldn't bring you to Piazza because he hasn't been proven to have cheated. Perhaps he did, but this goes double for Jeff Bagwell, speculation of PED use isn't proof of PED use. 

But I have written about my belief that he was one of the steroids gang.

I have a lot of beliefs, but simply because they are my beliefs doesn't make them factually true. I have a list of players in my head of baseball players that I believe used PED's, but it doesn't mean I am correct. I think potentially up to 35-40% of NFL and NBA players use some some form of PED, because those are some really big guys. Does it mean my belief is true and if I were a sportswriter I could just start eliminating these players from Hall of Fame contention? Absolutely not. There should be proof, not conjecture or a couple dudes whispering sweet nothing rumors in my ear. Hall of Fame voters have to be better than that.

His many fans have excoriated me for my view, but they are blind to what I believe is strong evidence of his use.

Bacne. Maybe Piazza did use PED's. I'm not waffling on the issue. Gun to my head, I die if the answer is wrong, I think Piazza used PED's. But there's no proof of this like there is proof of other baseball players. I'm the person who thinks Marcus Giles used PED's. Little Marcus Giles. This is why personal beliefs can't be taken into account on issues like this. Leave out Bonds if you think he used PED's. Whatever, fine. It's Murray's right as a Hall of Fame voter. Don't invent reasons to leave out players from the Hall of Fame because of your personal beliefs that haven't been proven publicly.

I am not a Mike Piazza fan. I actually hated him as a player and wish Roger Clemens had hit him with the bat he threw. So I'm not a fan, but I will excoriate Murray for his view because there are other causes of bacne that pertain to Piazza. His bacne isn't "strong evidence" of his PED use, it is circumstantial evidence used to reach a conclusion Murray wants to reach. If Piazza were David Eckstein's size then Murray would chalk his bacne up to another cause, but because Piazza is a bigger guy then it's an easy and lazy conclusion to reach that Piazza's PED use can be seen in his bacne.

When he played for the New York Mets, he didn’t hide his acne-covered back. Steroids experts say that Piazza’s condition is one of the signs of steroids use.

Yes, it is a sign of steroid use. What steroid experts haven't told Murray, or he has chosen to ignore, is that there are other causes of bacne that apply directly to Piazza as a baseball player.  

Heredity may also be a factor in how acne affects you. If one or both of your parents had acne, you're at a greater risk for inheriting the triggers that cause overproduction of sebum and lead to clogged follicles 

Has Murray checked any of Piazza's relatives for bacne? Hey, Tommy Lasorda is related to Mike Piazza! Murray should make Lasorda take his shirt off to check for bacne.

Okay, now for the real cause of Piazza's bacne if one doesn't just care to claim it is PED-related:

If you participate in sports, you can get acne mechanica along your hairline from wearing a helmet.

HEY! Piazza wore a helmet while playing baseball!

Tight uniforms that put a lot of pressure on the skin can also be a cause of acne mechanica.

So playing in a tight uniform in the hot summer sun could cause acne as well? Weirdly, that's exactly what Piazza was doing for most of his career while playing catcher. It's almost like this could be an explanation for Piazza's bacne, just like his PED use could be an explanation for his bacne. It's funny how Murray just conveniently ignores any other logical causes of Piazza's bacne so he can reach the conclusion he wants to reach.

When I first wrote about Piazza’s possible use several years ago, his fans ridiculed me. They completely ignored a critical aspect of what I wrote. 

Sort of like how you ignored tight uniforms can put pressure on the skin creating bacne? Or exactly like that? I think it is hilarious that Murray is playing the victim here, acting like everyone else is ignoring reasonable information he is presenting to them, while he ignores reasonable evidence that contradicts his "strong" (circumstantial) evidence of Piazza's PED use. 

Piazza’s back cleared up completely when baseball began testing for steroids and remained clear to his retirement. 

It's very possible he got treatment for his bacne or it cleared up as he played the catcher position less and first base/DH more, thereby not having his tight uniform directly pushing on his back as it did while in a crouched position behind home plate. Around the time MLB started testing for steroids, Piazza started playing catcher less. 

Murray's whole "Piazza had bacne and then it cleared up!" argument fails for me because it's very circumstantial and because Piazza's bacne can easily be explained by kneeling in a catcher's crouch for most of his career. Get in a catcher's crouch sometime with a shirt on and see how your back naturally arches slightly more than when standing at first base or sitting. Piazza had a tight uniform on and it was more directly pressured against his back when crouched in a catcher's position. He also played the catcher position during the hottest months of the year. Piazza may have used PED's, but there are other logical explanations for his bacne that Murray ignores. 

It was not a stretch to conclude that Piazza had stopped using steroids to avoid being caught by a urine test.

It's also not a stretch that Piazza got treatment for his bacne or his bacne started to clear up as he played the catcher position less and less. What is a stretch is using bacne as "strong evidence" and (damn you Murray for making me take my eye off the ball here) using some rumor you heard about Jeff Bagwell's PED use, then basing your Hall of Fame vote on this rumor without doing ANY research into whether the rumors were true or not. It's terrible journalism and is an embarrassment to those baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame. I wish Murray had not been lying when he stated he was giving up his Hall of Fame vote if Jack Morris didn't get in. It would have allowed a voter who actually cares to do research and base his vote on the research he/she has done to have a vote, rather than a bitter old man to base his Hall of Fame vote on rumors that support what he wants to believe.


Anonymous said...

"He was only two votes short of election in the last election and should clear the threshold, even though a reporter friend told me that a dozen or more players told him that Biggio used steroids."

What the fuck is this, high school? "Janie told me that Jessica told her that Lisa TOTALLY like has a crush on Joey and stuff." This is embarrassing. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Murray, since he apparently has full trust in these "dozen or more players," but sometimes people lie. No, it's true. Maybe these dozen or so players are running interference for former teammates they want elected into the Hall of Fame, so they started unsubstantiated rumors about Biggio using PEDs to hurt his Hall of Fame case. Maybe Jeff Bagwell secretly hated Biggio and is trying to keep him out while sending more votes his way. Or maybe Biggio did use. I mean, it's impossible to know but I'll be damned if I'm going to be swayed by such hearsay.

I really only have one word for guys like Murray, and it's "embarrassing." People should not care about the baseball Hall of Fame when people like him are the holders of the key.

Eric C said...

All I see when Chass posts is:


Anonymous said...

The baseball HOF is a joke. Jack Morris gets 60% of the votes while Mussina received only 20%. I just wonder what goes on in the mind of some of these voters.

I'm surprised a guy like Fred McGriff isn't getting more votes. Not only did he have a fantastic career, but he was money in the post-season. Don't a lot of these voters like "clutch" players like Mr. November?

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, it's all hearsay. Gun to my head I wouldn't know what to say about Piazza, but these rumors are just that. It's not substantiated and there are plenty of players in the Hall of Fame who admit to using greenies that I don't think players rumored to use PED's, with no proof, should be kept out.

Eric, that's how he is. He is my mortal baseball enemy now that Joe Morgan is gone.

Anon, I'm sure Mussina will get more than 20% in a few years. It's because they like to base a lot of their vote on "Wow factor" and Jack Morris has it from his postseason appearances and Mussina lacks it. I think McGriff should be in. By all indications he was clean and if he had 7 more HR's I bet he would get more support.