Monday, January 2, 2017

Hall of Fame thoughts: Selig and the steroid players

The deadline has passed for the writers to turn in their Hall of Fame ballots, but I'll keep writing about the Hall because

  • the Twins haven't given me a reason to change topics
  • I have more to say and
  • it's my blog and you can't stop me.

Yes, but ... a fairly vocal contingent of writers have for years been calling for the Hall to provide explicit guidance on steroid users and steroid suspects. Ignore the topic or bar the door? The Hall has declined to do so. The long time sentence in the voting rules remains:

Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

For many of the electorate, the words "integity" and "character" justify passing over the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other suspected or acknowledged steroid users. Others don't, particularly of those who were (or may have) used in the no-test era. The people who run the Hall of Fame have left that decision up to the voters.

But those same people have a heavy thumb on the Veterans Committee scale. The ever-changing rules and composition of the panels make that entry to enshrinement much easier to manipulate. Marvin Miller, for example, isn't in because the various panels given the task of judging him over the years have always been loaded with enough management figures to ensure that the union boss wasn't going to slip in. (The commissioner's office doesn't directly run the Hall, but the Hall likes to be liked by the commissioner's office.)

And the Veterans Committee in recent years has seen fit to slide two notable steroid enablers and beneficiaries, Selig and Tony LaRussa, in.

That's not an explicit endorsement of steroid users, but it's an implicit one. Had the Hall wanted to demonstrate a hard line on PEDs. it could have set up those panels accordingly. It didn't.

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