Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Retroactive Punishment for Bonds

I understand why people are upset about Bonds passing hallowed records like most homers by a left-handed hitter (Ruth) and most homers in MLB history (Aaron) but I don't understand the call for asterisking or, even more extreme, striking his stats from the point where he is alleged to have started using. We haven't done that to anyone else in baseball history, why should we do it now? Records should not be the litmus test for whether things should be done, this punishment should be done consistently against all cases.

Past Law Breakers

For instance, Ty Cobb didn't break any official rule of baseball, but when he slid into bases for steals, he had his spikes up, ready to maim the infielder to get his base. As far as I understand the law, maiming people and the act of trying to maim people is a punishable crime. Should we go and take away all his stolen bases? Or at least asterisk them? "* cruel slider, hurt many infielders, generally bad person"

How about Pete Rose's gambling? In this case, he did break baseball laws. And many believe that he did this even in his playing days, which sounds logical to me, how would he just start up only when he was a manager? No, he probably already was doing it. Should we eliminate all his hits? Or at least asterisk them? "* gambled on baseball, generally bad person"

How about Gaylord Perry? Again, he broke baseball laws and admittedly so, as laid out in his book(s). Should we take away his Cy Young award and all his wins? Or at least asterisk them? "* used illegal spitter, quite a curmudgeon, raconteur"

Whether or not they are officially asterisked, any baseball fan with some sense of the history of the game will mentally affix these asterisks themselves, and yet there has never been a call to remove their stats, expurgate them from the records. Why is this any different? Why just Bonds' records? It is a slippery slope, trying to go back into history and asterisking things or, worse, just pretending they never happened by eliminating the stats.

If You Are Going to Do It, Do the Full Monty

I believe that if MLB does anything to punish Bonds retroactively, then they should do the same to Mark McGwire, who is clearly a user or he wouldn't have not stated that he didn't want to dwell in the past, he would have pulled a Palmiero and pointed his finger and exclaim that he never used, and Jose Canseco, who admitted everything in his book. How would they retroactively do this since McGwire and Canseco is retired?

Well, the call has been to disavow the stats that Bonds compiled after allegedly starting to take steroids. Well, that is not good enough and does not go far enough. They need to take the logic all the way to its final conclusion, with an example already used in sports.

Ineligible Player = Ineligible Games

In amateur sports, if it is found that a team had an ineligible player, all games with him in it was forfeited and the records are changed accordingly. So, if they are going to go this route, I think every game from the point of where Canseco says that he started using, should result in forfeits for his team, thus acknowledging the teams that wrongly lost to be the division champs, the AL champs, the World Series champs - obviously we cannot go back and allow the new champs to move on in the playoffs, but at least they are now acknowledged as the champs.

This is because records and stats are not the only thing he gained from his illegal usage, his teams gained his offensive might and that helped his teams to win more games than they should have. He also loses his title as first 40-40 player, as well as all his steroid-enhanced stats and any other awards he might have won, with the runner up getting the title. Same with McGwire.

What about the rest of the team, who didn't cheat, why punish them? This would be the proper punishment for them too because, as many have noted, how could management not know, how could fellow players not know? They should have known but they did nothing, so they should lose it all as well. They could have went to their union, they could have gotten their agents to lobby the union, something could have been done by any of them to make the issue a sore point instead of an overlooked one. Same goes for fans of those teams as well, they should have known better, they should have done something more.

If anyone is going to muck around with retroactively changing stats to punish users, then I don't see why we should go halfway with the punishments. It should be the ultimate punishment, costing the users the ill-gotten wins that they won with their illegal usage, not just their ill-gotten stats. The true victors should be acknowledged or, if both teams had users, then neither will be the champs, that year will be marked with no World Series winner - the precedence there is the year the strike wiped out the World Series, there is no champion for that season. Just go and reclaim all trophies and pennants and strike the records.

Player is Not the Only Person Gaining From the Usage

That is one thing many of these people forget when advocating for the removal of Bonds' stats, there are other people gaining from their usage. If you asterisk his records and stats, all his teams' records and stats should be asterisked as well. And if you remove all his records and stats, then all his teams' records and stats should be removed as well, resulting in forfeiture of all the games played and changing the records for all the teams. That is the logical consequence of such extreme actions, anything less will be wimping out and shallow bandaiding of the situation.

Given that this is the MLB we are talking about, I would not be surprised if they go the shallow route. But if they are going to go this route, they should follow it to its logical conclusion: striking all the records and accomplishments related to those tainted stats. Take away the obvious batting championships, HR championships, Silver Bats, MVPs, but also take away all the divisional, league, and World Series championships as well, there must be a clean sweep of all the records, not just the HR record just because Bonds is passing up Ruth and maybe Aaron (though not at this rate). Otherwise this will be just a witchhunt with Barry Bonds being burned at the stake and all the other "witches" getting away with "I don't want to go over the past" statements.

2 comments:

  1. Exactly. Like (or respect) Bonds or loathe him, this records-changing-crap is ridiculous. Not only would such moves be obviously vs. a single player, but, as you've indicated, they'd open a Pandora's Box. Too bad.
    Sanity will come into play at some point here...it has to.

    Kent

    ReplyDelete

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