Thursday, March 24, 2011

So sad

Barry Bonds is now on trial for perjury. Roger Clemens will soon be on trial also. Two great players of baseball. Perjury is serious legal trouble and if convicted could mean prison time. Both of these individuals made their choices in front of a legally constituted congressional body. They were in this situation because they might have used substances now banned in baseball. But why lie to congress and face any charges at all. Because…

We all know of the careers of these players. Bonds has the most home runs (762) and most walks (2558). Clemens is first in Cy Young Awards (has seven), ninth on games won (354) and oldest pitcher when he retired. Pretty impressive stuff.

So, what has caused this problem for pro-baseball and why are such great players and others involved in such trouble with the law? Steroids and HGH, that’s what, to name a couple. From the nineties and onward athletes found an edge to the game by taking performance enhancing drugs. They did this to be better, hit more home runs and last longer, win more games, steal more bases, etc. They did to not want to be sent down to he minors or lose their edge. They did it because most of the other players were doing the same thing and one had to keep up or be left behind. As more players used, more records started to be challenged, the more other players started enhancement regimes. A catch 22.

Barry Bonds going for the home run record was the final straw on the back of a foot-dragging Commissioner of baseball. I feel, in baseball, the owners overlooked the use of enhancement drugs because they needed more people in the stands, especially after the Selig strike. The owners needed more action and more excitement and the players played with increased use and eventually more physical problems. It is no wonder that baseball owners turned a blind eye, letting the game itself become suspect. Players like Bonds and Clemens (and many players like them) had huge careers with many broken records. Their winning ways helped put baseball back in the limelight and bums in the seats.

After all the exposes and the Mitchell Report (which focused on players and not on teams and their trainers), 89 players were named. Anyone on that list looks very bad for being accused of having taken performance-enhancing drugs. It has made their whole career suspect. The top-level players have done everything all their life to be their best, to excel, to remain on top as long as possible. Having done so, they are now tainted with the specter of having taken drugs. Some have admitted to doing so and others have not. Will those who have admitted to using be stripped of all their awards and accolades and be forever excluded from the Hall of Fame? Of the ones who did not admit to using, will they be painted with the same brush? Who will decide their veracity?

So some try their best to prevaricate their way out of the problem. What benefit has there been to admitting one took drugs? We do not know how the voters for the HOF for example will react when these players are eligible for the Hall. I suggest that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will not voted in these because of this stigma.

Bug Selig and the owner’s are to blame. I see most of today’s problem with baseball as their fault and at Selig’s instigation. He got rid of Fay Vincent, restructured the leagues, had the strike of 1994 and for his efforts is vaulted from “acting” to Commissioner of Baseball (don’t forget that he was sued successfully by the MLPA for $280 million for rigging free-agent agreements). The “drug scandal” should have been taken more seriously and not left to Mitchell to put in clear terms for the commissioner. Baseball did not help these men; it did not acknowledge that theirs’ was a problem for the whole of the baseball community in a timely fashion. They should have been dealt with up front and sooner rather than later.

In most sports, before baseball decided to implement them, clearly defined rules were put in place for enhancement drugs and athletes and trainers that did not adhere to the rules were dealt with. The idea took a long time to percolate in the minds of the players. Eventually, when they feel the playing field is indeed level, it is hoped they will adhere to the rules to each other’s benefit and physical well-being.
Now, in self-righteous indignation with the easy perceptions from both the public and the BBWAA, the scandal can destroy the work these players have built across their careers. Just today an MLB.com columnist, Terence Moore, states he will not vote into the HOF Bonds or Clemens because of their integrity. I have already mentioned Ty Cobb in these blogs. Mr. Moore has already condemned these players before due process. Who is he upset with? I think he’s not upset at Bud Selig. Place the blame for this problem where it lies.

For some players, it is impossible for them to let it go or admit they took something when their ego won’t allow it. I am not suborning perjury, but these men made choices and it’s now hard for them to face the facts about the drugs they used. If convicted they will lose all their credibility. But they still played with great skill and talent and should have all their records stand for all to see and be accepted by the MLB and the BBWAA. The MLB and Bud Selig did not do their part for the good of the game. It makes them and everyone else look bad.

John the Tomahawk

12 comments:

Will Braund said...

Individual records are much more important in baseball than they are in any other sport and its rulers have tried to keep the game the same over the years partly so that records years apart can be compared. Bud Selig apparently didn't care about that.
Joe Jackson was barred from baseball in 1920. An outstanding hitter, he could have gone on to establish great numbers.
Why not find out when Bonds, Clemens, and others started taking steroids and terminate their records at that point?
I don't have a problem comparing pre-steroids Roger Clemens to Sandy Koufax and Walter Johnson, but it is unacceptable to allow the rest of the career numbers of Clemens or Bonds to stand.
If they get into the Hall of Fame on their pre-steroid records fine. Will the Quill

Rick Blechta said...

I'm still amazed and angry that Bug Selig managed to get his team (The Brewers) transferred over to the National League. The reasons given were stupid and totally upset the balance of the two leagues. Were the owners of teams in the NL Central Division asleep or out of the country at the time this move was adopted?

Will, you bring up a good point, but I don't know how it could be sorted out. So many players used performance-enhancing drugs and I'm sure many have not been caught or fingered by other players. It certainly is a mess, and something that could have been stopped much sooner -- if Bug and the boys hadn't been in denial.

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

Both Will and Rick have great points. If it were easy to clearly define the steroid era, records could stand. Right now it's all up to the BBWAA. They will go with the flow, negative I think. So a whole generation of players get screwed from both ends. BTW I like using Bug. Very good Rick. Nice alliteration for a worm. Bug it is then.

Rick Blechta said...

Come on, John! You always beat around the bush. Tell us how you REALLY feel about Mr. Selig. Don't always be so wishy-washy.

Larry Toman said...

Okay John, here we go.I'll start by agreeing with you that Selig, his minions and the morally questionable owners are to blame. They turned a blind eye, were naive and motivated by the almighty $$$. As you mentioned, the strike was crippling, as I still know "fans" who have never come back. I think the juice era started before that, and it's anyone's guess on trying to pinpoint that exact point in time. It combines a shot in the dark...looking for a needle in a haystack and will only conclude with an approximation. No point in pursuing that dead end street. (Sorry Will). If I had a HOF vote, it's an absolute NO to every ballplayer that used PED'S. In my humble opinion, the reason is quite simple. This will desecrate,reduce and demoralize the incredible accomplishments of the greats such as Ruth, Aaron and Maris regarding the home run records. As for pitchers, I could go on forever with names like Young,Johnson,Ryan,Blue..etc. Screw Clemen's (who I used to love) for his belligerent, egotistical attitude and blatant denials. He'll get cooked like dinner very soon. I point you mentioned is well taken, in that they did incredible and exciting things, but so did the others without it. To have all those great, cherished records pushed aside by new records from the drugged up modern era players is just plain wrong, and unacceptable. Call me purist and old-fashioned, and any other unprintable words that come to mind, but that's my stand, and I'm not budging. Play ball.

Larry Toman said...

Okay John, here we go.I'll start by agreeing with you that Selig, his minions and the morally questionable owners are to blame. They turned a blind eye, were naive and motivated by the almighty $$$. As you mentioned, the strike was crippling, as I still know "fans" who have never come back. I think the juice era started before that, and it's anyone's guess on trying to pinpoint that exact point in time. It combines a shot in the dark...looking for a needle in a haystack and will only conclude with an approximation. No point in pursuing that dead end street. (Sorry Will). If I had a HOF vote, it's an absolute NO to every ballplayer that used PED'S. In my humble opinion, the reason is quite simple. This will desecrate,reduce and demoralize the incredible accomplishments of the greats such as Ruth, Aaron and Maris regarding the home run records. As for pitchers, I could go on forever with names like Young,Johnson,Ryan,Blue..etc. Screw Clemen's (who I used to love) for his belligerent, egotistical attitude and blatant denials. He'll get cooked like dinner very soon. I point you mentioned is well taken, in that they did incredible and exciting things, but so did the others without it. To have all those great, cherished records pushed aside by new records from the drugged up modern era players is just plain wrong, and unacceptable. Call me purist and old-fashioned, and any other unprintable words that come to mind, but that's my stand, and I'm not budging. Play ball.

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

Ok, Larry. You too have made some interesting points. The most interesting of all is "it's an absolute NO to every ballplayer that used PED'S". Please tell me who they are. Do we know? Or as I said in "So Sad" do we just paint everyone with the same brush user or not. No matter who it is or what they did, are all suspect and therefore persona non grata to baseball and it's fans? I love all those real records too. So what do we do? When do we start; when do stop? This whole thing is out of hand. The Bug and his minions will not have to pay for this. PED's and all this subsequent talk and trial is not good for baseball. Please, anyone, tell me (them)what to do.

Rick Blechta said...

I think any ball player found to have taken PEDs should be forced to play the cello. That'll teach 'em! And if not cello, then viola. No...wait... That would actually be too cruel.

Larry Toman said...

Hi John...I wish I could fire off some smart-ass answer to you, but I can't. Your points are well taken, and just further illuminate what an unbelievably convoluted mess we are stuck with. A few ideas that may help.
1) proceed with a wing and a prayer
2) trial and error
3) trust one's judgement regarding future HOF players whose names have never been remotely linked to PED'S,and whose stats speak for themselves. After that, I'm sort of at a loss. A new commissioner would surely be a step forward. All suggestions always welcome.

P.S.@Rick...I can personally attest that playing the viola is not only cruel, but a form of torture. Just ask my neurosurgeon and my plastic/reconstructive surgeon.

Always looking forward to the next blog. April 1 is just around the corner. Cheers guys, keep up the good work.

Rick Blechta said...

Larry, you're right, really right. I have no idea how anyone could pick a HOFer and be sure they didn't cheat. However, it all probably goes back as far as baseball does. Let's face it, once it was outlawed, the spitball was still thrown. Whitey Ford admitted that he used his doctored wedding ring to scuff balls when he really needed a strike out. Remember when Craig Nettles broke his bat and super balls spilled out all over the place.

The insidious thing about PEDs is that they're less obvious. Players can do amazing things and you just can't be sure anymore if they're cheating. That's so sad with such a grand game.

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

Thanks for the feed back guys. Yes it is a conundrum. This crap breaks my heart. I hope, for the good of the game, that the commissioners office can solve this and become a source for good in baseball. My last words on this.

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

Sorry, one last word or two. Please read this by Chris Toman at SLN.
http://www.slnsports.com/sln-featured/735-hall-of-fame-vote-a-roid-raging-debate-