Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday Baseball Post 2

Not only was he a great, great, player, but Manny Ramirez was one of the most fun players to watch that I can think of over the last thirty years. It's a shame that we're going to miss the tail end of his career.

That said, even if you think the whole steroids thing is a silly waste of everyone's time, it's hard to feel that he got too much of a raw deal (assuming, that is, that he really used whatever he used). This isn't like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire, getting scapegoated for something that wasn't actually against the rules during a time when everyone was using the same stuff (or at least the ethical equivalent of the same stuff). Manny knew the rules, knew he had been busted once, and he has -- again, assuming that he was caught fair and square -- no one to blame but himself. It's too bad, but I can't really blame baseball too much for this one.

He's obviously a deserving HOFer, although as it turns out he had a short career -- but not Albert Belle short. Just as obviously, it isn't going to be easy for him to get in. I'm on record as saying that sooner or later, the steroids guys will go in...I guess I do think that Manny wins up eventually in Cooperstown, but it might take a long time.

Terrific player. I'll certainly miss him.


  1. I've long endorsed Buster Olney's view of steroids and the HoF. There's no way to know who was and wasn't juicing when they weren't testing. So either the roid guys go in, or nobody from that era does. Why are you only punishing the ones that got caught? Some estimates had up to 80% of the league juicing in the 90s. Well, hell, Bonds was one of the best cheaters, as were McGuire and Sosa. They should get in. Or nobody from that era should.

    Seems fair to me.

  2. I've said this before: There's no way Bonds doesn't get in the HoF. And if he's in, you can't keep the rest out. It's not like McGwire tarnished records any worse, or Clemons was any more of a dick about it.

    I'd probably be just as happy with keeping them all out, but it's not going to happen. Bonds is in, and he will, for as long as this is an issue (15 years, at most?), be the public face of steroid abuse. Letting him in but punishing someone else is just nutty.

  3. Some sportswriters believe in an argument that marginal HOFers who were caught are the ones that shouldn't go; Bonds and Clemens would have been HOFers anyway (or: were great before they started using steroids, some would have it), but the marginal ones wouldn't have. I think that's goofy, but it works against, say, Rafael Palmiero.

    And of course Manny is now a rule-breaker in a way that the Bonds/Clemens generation wasn't.

  4. Actually, after I posted, I thought of something along those lines, and I dunno, it can kinda hold together logically. But we get back to the Olney point, that we just don't know where it ended. How many roid-ing pitchers did Palmiero face, y'know? (I'm sure I don't need to rehash these arguments to you).Unless you're comfortable with only letting in Griffey from that era, I think the problem remains.

  5. IMHO, the conclusion that either "all PED users go in" or "all are excluded" is tenuous at best. Time will tell, but first and foremost, we should recall that the HOF is a PR/Marketing arm of MLB; it does not need to meet the rigorous logic standards of a scientific publication.

    It is quite possible that, in ten years or so, after there have been no additional 50 HR seasons, fans will come to resent the big-head HR years of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds, as they will perceive those years to have spoiled the potential excitement of a legit chase at Maris' (now-irrelevant) 61 homer season.

    If that occurs, sportswriters may selectively ding players who are perceived to have benefited from steroids in a power sense. If that happens, it could be that Bonds is still a HOF shoo-in - he has HOF numbers without the inflated power stats.

    McGwire, by contrast, would be in a fair bit of trouble. According to Bill James' HOF meter, McGwire would be a below-average HOF based on his entire career. If one removed his big HR seasons, he is clearly not a Hall of Famer.

    Again, its irrational to conclude this is impossible because it is internally inconsistent; we're talking about the HOF, which is ultimately a marketing machine. Bonds is almost surely in. ARod will undoubtedly get in as well.

    McGwire? Questionable. 'Cause the fans may come to resent the only element of his resume (big HR seasons) that nudge an otherwise clearly non-HOF career barely over the HOF line.

  6. CSH, very good points. I think Ron Santo is a perfect example of the lack of logical thinking in the HoF. It's really hard to argue against his inclusion. Maybe I'm biased as a Cubs fan, but that actually might amplify my point.

  7. You know, baseball is alright with a little cheating. The NY Giants stealing signs is part of lore. Um, Gaylord Perry;s whole career? George Brett's bat had an illegal level of pine tar and when the umps enforced that rule the League criticized the umps. Pitchers are supposed to throw at batters as retaliation. The great Tony LaRussa is contemptuous of players who accuse pitchers of doctoring the ball, even if they are doctoring the ball. Et cetera. So why so upset about PEDs? I wonder if it has everything to do with McGwire, Bonds and Sosa and the records. The season HR and career HR records are the most cherished in perhaps all of American sport. That Bonds, McGwire and Sosa laid claim to the records on fraudulent bases has shaped how fans and the sport reacts to the phenomenon as a whole. If Those three had been marginally less successful and Aaron and Maris retained the records, perhaps the PED thing, including who get into the HoF would not matter much.

  8. "we should recall that the HOF is a PR/Marketing arm of MLB; it does not need to meet the rigorous logic standards of a scientific publication"

    But it's PR value is entirely in its prestige; if it should ever be understood as a place where voters "selectively ding players who are perceived" as doing whatever (besides, I suppose, not playing well enough) it loses that function.

    " have spoiled the potential excitement of a legit chase at Maris' (now-irrelevant) 61 homer season."

    I guess it's possible, but it's asking an awful lot; for one thing, we haven't gone even five years without a 50 HR season since 1990, and modern ballparks, modern workout regimens, modern rules and modern strategies auger against such a significant drop off.

    Moreover, it's unlikely that such a drought would do anything to spoil the fun of a future player hitting 60, or even challenging their records. Even the 50 HR club is still an elite group; even the players battling for the HR crown (And thus, one leg of the Triple Crown) still get plenty of attention, even if they only end up in the low 40s. I have no idea about the "psychology of the fan", but I'd argue it's more likely that another run at 62 or 75 or whatever would generate MORE excitement, as it would be seen as a way to reclaim those "tainted" records.

  9. "If one removed his big HR seasons, he is clearly not a Hall of Famer."

    That's basically magical thinking, though. Baseball has shown absolutely no appetite for invalidating any of these seasons, or even allowing a scintilla of doubt about these records. Can the voters do it on their own? Sure! But they shouldn't, 'cause it hurts their own prestige and is, y'know, really dumb.

    So sure, all of this CAN happen. But I think it's really tough to predict it will- and even harder to say it SHOULD.

  10. Baseball has shown absolutely no appetite for invalidating any of these seasons

    Really? I can't recall if it was you, Colby, or some other, but in the context of the "all PED in" vs. "all PED out" argument, it was noted that PED users should go in because, if they didn't, only Griffey would make it to the Hall from his generation. It doesn't matter who said it, because it is close to CW about Griffey's cleanliness in a dirty sport.

    In 1997, or at the dawn of the 'offensive' PED era, Jr. hit 56 homers, and he followed it up with another 56 the next season. Babe Ruth followed his 60 homer season with 54 the next year; Ruth also had a 59/54 home run combo. Those are the only other higher 2-year HR totals in history other than Bonds, Sosa or McGwire in the (alleged) PED era. Griffey himself never surpassed 90 in any other 2-year combo.

    McGwire had that awful, Clinton-esque weaselly testimony in front of Congress. Other than that, what's the difference between McGwire and Griffey? Why is McGwire universally dinged for PED use in the court of public opinion, while Jr is presumed clean? Do you think people hated McGwire for his adult-onset acne? The irritatingly ubiquitous son?

    I think it is fairly obvious why McGwire's implied PED use generates so much more hostility than Griff's. Griffey's 2-year total of 112 homers went 56/56, or not toppling sacred records in a distasteful way.

    To be honest, you strike me as someone not interested in the sacredness of those records, as reflected in your comment that fans can get behind a chase for 75 home runs now (whatever that is, in an era with drug enforcement!).

    In summary, whether or not the baseball establishment may make an adjustment for PEDs in the context of outsized home run totals, here's something you can take to the bank: in 2016, when rising star Jason Heyward hits his 45th home run on Labor Day, no one - NO ONE - is going to be thankful that Big Mac/Bonds stuck a syringe in their butt and drained the excitement of the last month of Heyward's season. If you don't know why that is, just wait, you'll see.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?