published Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Greeson: Hall of Fame voters going too far with outrage

We all hate steriods. Well, all of us except Lance Armstrong. Lance and steroids are tight.

The rest of us? No thanks. As a sports world, we have wasted too much time, energy and ink discussing and rediscussing, hashing and rehashing the topic.

But after there were no living players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past weekend, the fact that now even suspicion or innuendo can prevent a player from being in the Hall of Fame is simply too much. We are throwing the bonus babies out with the tainted bath water of a selected few known users.

We get the moral message to the Bondses and the McGwires and Sosas. We even get the reasoning to not vote on the first ballot for Roger Clemens, who never failed a confirmed steroids test that the public knows of despite being in the center of the storyline for the better part of a Congress-heavy 18 months.

But Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza? C'mon.

OK, the high and mighty position of the Hall of Fame voters now has forced us to contemplate a different view.

Let 'em all in. It was the steroid era and they were the best of the steroid era. Players from other controversial eras of baseball -- the all-white era, the "gambling" era, the spitball era, dead-ball era, the uppers era -- have been ushered into the Hall with little fanfare and a minuscule amount of the hand-wringing and "guardian of the game" that has become the mantra of arguably half of the Hall of Fame voters.

Why is this era all that different? Because the voters are "outraged" that this has tainted the game and skewed the numbers? Every sketchy time in baseball was the exact same.

Was it cheating? Yes, in the latter stages of the steroid era it was against the rules, since baseball did not completely ban PEDs until the early 2000s. But baseball as a sport has embraced cheating from its origins. Spitballs are cheating. Corking bats and emery boards and various other facets of baseball are based in deception. Stealing signs could be considered immoral.

And sure, PEDs are worse. But how can anyone look at the group of players and -- without knowing for sure unless the player failed a test or admitted to using banned substances -- use different scales and criteria in regard to steroids?

Do we know Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire used? Yep, because they admitted it. We have our suspicions about the rest, but in truth they are just suspicions.

Sure, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and Clemens posted huge numbers very late in their careers, raising the spectrum of PED use. Know who else was throwing in the mid-90s in his 40s? Yep, Nolan Ryan, the pitcher to whom Clemens was most frequently compared during his heyday.

Now to fold a guy like Biggio with 3,000 hits or Piazza, who is the best offensive catcher ever, under that umbrella just because of the era in which they played is wrong.

Will they do that next year when former Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are on the ballot? If you're going to judge universally, do it. To pick and choose when and on whom to apply a checkered morality is flawed and wrong.

Just like the steroid era.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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MocTastic said...

I suspect that the BBWA knows more than we do. They are around the game and players on a daily basis. They have to be privy to information we never hear about. If they all just ignore a player like Piazza in voting, then there is probably something they are aware of.

Further, steroids (generic useage in play here) were banned in 1991 but testing did not start until 2003. Many people say that MLB weren't testing for them so it was okay to use them. Bad analogy in my book. You drive on an interstate, there is a speed limit of 70 mph but no cops on the road. You speed but get no tickets. You still broke the law.

July 30, 2013 at 10:01 a.m.
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