Also, the Hall of Fame vote was reported today and it was a referendum against the steroid era, as nobody was voted in. Probably because there were a number of people who voted but left their ballot blank.
"Don't Reward Those Who Cheated the Game"
This would be a great idea: if it were done about 40-60 years ago. Journalists can beat the drum loud today but the real assault on the record books began when amphetamines entered the game. This enabled the better players to be better later into the season, helping them compile better seasonal and therefore career stats. However, even though many players came out about this - BACK THEN (Ball Four, testimonies in court attesting to Mays' usage of "red juice", others) - there was never anything done by the media about this type of cheating, certainly nothing to the extent steroids gotten, and that covers a much longer period of time.
Moreover, the benefits of speed is clear, it boosts the athlete's ability to stay at the same level of performance deeper into the season, whereas steroid's benefits seems to be driven more by non-experts' (public and journalists) fears of how steroids might help a player, rather than what science has been able to show are the real effects (which by one large compilation at High Boskage House is minimal, at best).
One justification for this type of behavior versus steroids is that "everyone" used speed while not everyone used steroids. But cheating is cheating, no matter how many do it, it is still cheating. And that is what the writers have been saying, that cheating is why they are not voting for certain players. That is, if that is really what the writers feel.
Cheating Since World War II
Cheating has been happening at least since the 1960's and, most probably, since World War II, when the military routinely dispensed amphetamine to the troops to keep them in fighting shape. It is only natural that once these ballplayers returned to civilian life, they knew of and seeked out such medical help when the effects of the long baseball season made them feel weak. Krukow in his morning show a few weeks ago noted that each team's training staff routinely and openly dispensed this to players (this was in the 70's).
At least one baseball journalist, long ago, must have seen this in the clubhouse, and even if they could not go after the players - because that would ruin their relationship with the team - they could have had one of their colleagues in another department investigate and expose this cheating long ago, at minimum, when Jim Bouton's Ball Four came out and he outed the players. No reporter ever did anything about it. Ironically, amphetamines were finally pushed out with the drug rules put in place because of steroids.
If cheating is going to be the litmus test today for not voting for Barry Bonds, then this national debate should have been happening when his godfather, Willie Mays was being voted into the Hall of Fame. Cheating was rampant then. Heck, cheating of all sorts have been rampant throughout the history of the game. Today, the horse has not only left the barn, it is on another continent, perhaps another planetary object.
If the writer cannot vote for a player clouded by this, why vote at all? Maybe the bigger message would be sent by not voting at all for anyone, because we can never really know who was using what. And some are doing that.
Yes, certain players were obvious with their steroids usage. But HGH usage was not, but is equally considered to be cheating and helpful by the public (High Boskage House research also shows minimal benefits), so for all we know, even players who appear to be clean are not clean at all either. There is no real way to distinguish who was a cheater in this era and who was not. And so many writers say that they are not going to vote, either by not returning their vote (which at least does not actually affect the voting) or by returning a blank vote (which makes it harder for any player to make the Hall of Fame, whether cheating or not).
Also, when were writers made the arbiters of "character"? I mean, I know that is in the language of the Hall of Fame determination, but as far as I know, the only requirement for a writer to earn the right to vote for the Hall of Fame is having 10 years following a team under their belt. They don't add in any language there about the writers being good judges of character.
In fact, one of the major reasons given that justifies giving the vote to writers with at least 10 years of experience following a team every day is that this enables them to be able to view baseball players with an expertise that allows them to see when a player is good or not, and thus whether they belong in the Hall of Fame. Many writers today say that Bonds had a Hall of Fame already made when he allegedly started using steroids. Instead of standing on moralistic grounds on which their expertise is unknown, they should use the skills that they are suppose to have developed over the years and see who should get in and who should not?
Unless they are saying that they cannot distinguish this. But in that case, why are they being allowed to vote then? If they have this expertise, use this expertise. If steroids help homers (according to research found by Eric Walker, steroids add about 5 feet to any ball hit by a hitter, so this appears to be a fallacy in the thinking of people who don't want to vote for steroids users), then make some determination of what exactly is so different.
Here is a good quote from his steroids website (about third way down):
|There is no evidence that steroid use has altered home-run hitting and those who argue otherwise are profoundly ignorant of the statistics of home runs, the physics of baseball, and of the physiological effects of steroids.|
Walker later had a section on Bonds specifically. He illustrated that what Bonds did was not all that different from other players who had extraordinary seasons. He states that there is no proof in his performance that he had extra help.
So Bonds should be in, not even close. I've seen nobody yet claim that steroids helps a hitter see the ball better and to hit it hard. All they talk about is body bulk, and there are 250 pound behemoths that hit lollipops while a lanky 180 pound stick with good wrist action can become the career leader in homeruns (Aaron; of course, he got legal cheating as the Braves brought in their fences, coincidentally enough, right when he was getting close and they brought them back out when he left the team and set the new record; why there was no outrage about that as the reason Ruth was beat, I don't know). Bonds was universally agreed to be a Hall of Famer before he reportedly started using. This non-vote is meant to be punitive.
That's funny, I thought the Hall of Fame was suppose to celebratory, not an instrument of punishment.
What makes it even more sad is that the writers have had over 20 years to get down to business and actually DO THEIR JOB as journalists. Eric Walker, of A's and Sinister Firstbaseman fame, keeps up a website to sell his baseball analytics service and, first, he discovered that the offensive era looks like it was caused by a juiced ball, and second, because people claimed he was wrong and started claiming steroids did certain things, he researched the heck out of it and concluded that steroids provided very little to benefit baseball players and gave further evidence that the ball was juiced during that period. He did the investigative journalism that was necessary to show that steroids didn't do much of anything, instead of copying the "journalists" who just spread the same misconceptions that another "journalists" claimed was true.
Read through his steroid's website, look at all the associated subsites that cite even more things in detail, discussing the physical changes to the baseball, the actual effects PED has, the medical effects, the healing effects, ethical issues, and effects on role models. Makes a very strong case that the general public, including reporters, got it all wrong: yes, they might have cheated (definition slippery), definitely took something illegal (at least the ones caught), but it apparently didn't help players out at all in performing better.
In other words, whatever PEDs players might have used were no different than a placebo. They cheated with today's version of snake oil. They are no different from the Asians today who eat rhino horns, thinking that would give their bodies some sort of boost. Both groups are sadly wrong.
Journalists could have done this type of investigative journalism work long ago, not some OCD baseball analyst, if they were really interested in the truth and not in a witch hunt. Here is how I view this: the writers felt greatly embarrassed by the steroids era because they did nothing while it was going on, and thus many of them feel the need to punish the players who used or allegedly used PEDs. When, really, they should be embarrassed twice over now, first for not only missing the steroids rise, but mostly overlooking and ignoring it - it is not like it is a shock, McGwire was suspected of using long ago, yet no reporter ever thought of investigating him closely, they waited until Bonds was suspected and even then they used illegally released grand jury testimony that basically proved nothing - and second for spreading false "truths" about steroids, and then taking their anger out on star players like Bonds and Clemens, and really, since nobody got in this year, all players, as there were players who appeared clean and who should get in, like Biggio. They should be ashamed.