Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hall of Fame thoughts: Catchers (Ivan Rodriguez)

Jorge Posada, subject of Tuesday's post, isn't the only catcher debuting on the writers ballot this year. He isn't even the best catcher debuting on the writers ballot.

That distinction belongs to Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez, a genuine challenger to Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra as the greatest backstop in major league history.

By the numbers, by his career accomplishments, Rodriguez deserves first-ballot entry, even by the reluctant-to-honor-catchers standards of the BBWAA. He has a rare set of credentials for a catcher: a brilliant peak and longevity, both an outstanding hitter and a gifted defensive catcher.

But ... steroids.

Rodriguez never tested positive, never was suspended. He was named by Jose Canseco as a fellow 'roider, and he did drop a lot of weight when testing began, the kind of circumstantial evidence that delayed Mike Piazza's election and has held back Jeff Bagwell.

My basic stance on this: I draw a line at the beginning of testing. Before that, performance-enhancing drugs were officially illegal, but nobody bothered trying to enforce that ban. If anything, the culture of the sport -- nurtured, no matter what they say now, by the likes of Bud Selig and Tony LaRussa --  encouraged players to do whatever they could to improve.

If Pudge was using in, say, 2003 and quit when the game got serious about changing the culture, that's fine by me.

No comments:

Post a Comment