Friday, November 30, 2012

Tainted Fame

There was a lot of baseball buzz around on Wednesday because of recent announcements of who was eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. I not only was amazed by how much time has passed since these men retired from the game, but by how much of an uprising there was because some of these names were still on the ballot.

I need Rod Roddy for this one.

It's implied that after all names are stated they have a "come on down" after them.

Craig Biggio! - 19-year career, all with the Houston Astros. Touting 3,060 hits and leading all-time in being hit by a pitch, he's noted to be one of the greatest players to ever be a part of the Astros franchise.

Mike Piazza! - 15-year career spanning over five teams--most notably with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets--with 12 of the 15 seasons as an All-Star. He has a lifetime average of .308 and has the most home runs all-time for major league catchers with 427.

Curt Schilling! - 19-year career with five teams--most notably the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox--and is a three-time World Series champion. He has a career 3,116 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA. Bloody sock.

Sammy Sosa!

Roger Clemens!

Barry Bonds!

Whoa whoa whoa. Wait. First off, it's been five years since some of these guys played? What? My college years went that quickly??

Anyway, yes, the big hubbub was that the last three guys I mentioned are eligible for Hall of Fame voting. For those who live under a rock, these three are the biggest guys under the PED radar. Sammy Sosa was known as being one of the biggest hitters of his day and was also known for his slug-out with Mark McGwire (who I will mention later on) back in 1998 for the quest to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record--which in my mind still stands because the numbers afterward weren't naturally achieved. He was targeted for allegedly using steroids (originally it was believe he had used cork in his bats) during his tenure with the Chicago Cubs, and has since denied allegations that he had ever used illegal substances. Roger Clemens had a 20+ year career in the majors, winning seven Cy Young awards and becoming one of the biggest-known threats ever in the pitching game. However, toward the end of his career he was accused of steroid use, leading to one of the longest (and most irritating) court cases pertaining to baseball drug use. After mistrials and not guilty pleas for perjury, he was found not guilty. Barry Bonds, also a player that put in over 20 years of work, also came under fire during his hunt to beat Hank Aaron's all-time home run record of using steroids. In fact, I wrote about his cases a long time ago. To be quite honest, he's been knee-deep in legal issues and I don't feel like typing it all out. Trust me, it's complicated. Save the research for a rainy day.

Apparently since there's three of them that are on the ballot at the same time it's a sign of the times that there are going to be questionable individuals eligible for a prestigious Hall of Fame from here on out. Their gameplay may have been tainted during their tenures on their respective teams, but if they're still being acknowledged for their previous feats, there shouldn't be any love lost, right? I'm not entirely sure if those BBWAA is going to take their drug allegations into consideration, but if they do, it's going to be an ugly voting process that's sure to bring controversy.

What I don't really get is that they didn't make this big of a deal over it when Mark McGwire finally became eligible for HoF voting in 2006. Now he's the hitting coach for the Cardinals Los Angeles Dodgers. He was more obvious than a forehead zit when it came to the steroid scandal, and they didn't blow up over it. Then again, he was kind of overshadowed by all of the other players that had much more illustrious careers than he did. It's understandable that there's a big pink elephant in the room because the guys that were blacklisted at one point on this list had incredible careers before their "choices." It's as if they're in the semi-Shoeless-Joe situation where they're almost guilty by association and may never get the chance at immortality because the court may never know the extent of what they did or how involved they were in the matter. Who knows? These three guys may actually have never been involved in anything and may have just really bulked up and changed their diets as they got older. No, really--don't you notice that they go under scrutiny once they started getting older (after 35)? Maybe they got bulky because of age and injury and their dietary regimen needed to be adjusted. Again, I can't speak for them, but their credibility is incredibly blurry because of the drug scares plaguing the sport today.

If I were the top three men on the eligibility list that I mentioned, I would be a little worried about my place in the voting. Considering that they had careers that were practically clean during the steroid-scare era, I would hope that they don't have any bitterness or feel gypped if they get outvoted by someone that was under scrutiny for a very long time. However, there is a time period of eligibility, and seriously, based on the stats you see next to their names, I'm more than certain that if they don't get in this year, they'll definitely be in the next year or the following year. I see these guys' names and I even think to myself, "Whoa, they're in for sure," but only two (in rare cases even three based on supplemental voting) get in each year. I guess we'll have to see who wins out, tainted career or not.

This voting season is going to be a very interesting one. Hopefully all aspects will be looked at and we're going to see a fair look of who will make it to the Hall of Fame and be forever immortalized in Cooperstown.


No comments: