No-Brainers Made Complicated: Now It’s the ‘Norm

mark mcgwire celebration.jpgI’m sorry, but did the National Bureau of Economic Research just inform me and myriad dear readers, that indeed the United States of America’s economy is in a (daresay) recession?

Duh!

I beg your pardon, but did our Dear Leader, in an interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, admit his own incompetency by saying “I think I was unprepared for war”?

Doh!

As if the mass exodus of once-successful business owners to the overcrowded unemployment line in my Southside Chicago neighborhood wasn’t reason enough to believe.  As if the tense gazes of disgust from world leaders and record low approval rating during Bush II wasn’t enough reason to believe.  Well, folks, believe it; and believe that the spindoctors are just going to keep getting more and more convoluted as they assume we US Americans are as dumb as they are obvious.

Because apparently, the new status quo put forth by those in power has regressed to that of an unnecessary complication of issues that should otherwise be clear as day.

This has never been more true as we go into the third year of Mark McGwire Hall of Fame eligibility, where once again, I predict the baseball writers will find it in themselves to be a group of holier-than-thou judgmental jack^sses who consistently confuse clarity with integrity.

Did McGwire use performance enhancing drugs?  Maybe.  Probably.  We don’t know for sure and we never will.

Did McGwire’s awkward Capitol Hill exchange further damage his image and cause us to question his character?  Yes.  Definitely.

Should it matter when considering him for the Hall of Fame?

Hell no.

Hands down, Mark McGwire should have been a first-time ballot Hall of Famer.  His numbers, his performance, his legacy and the positive impact he had on the game alone should have put him in on the first try. 

While I dare not minimize the damaging stain PEDs have left on the game of baseball as well as the youth of our nation, I still believe in the democratic principle of one being “innocent until proven guilty” and until someone proves that McGwire broke the rules, he deserves to be remembered as a Hall of Famer.

Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson… sure, waffle on those guys.  They deserve to be waffled on a bit because they’re not stand-out no-brainer players.  But McGwire?  Give me a break.  Give him a break.

And beware, for Barry Bonds will soon be in line for the same retrospection.  Look, as much as I dislike the man as a human being, I cannot conceive a Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds’ plaque.  Baseball writers, your job is not to teach lessons to suspected bad boys.  Your job is to reward players for having Hall of Fame careers despite their antics — whatever and as displeasing as they may be.  Remember, Ty Cobb, arguably one of the most disgustingly erratic, singly detrimental members of the entire human race, is rightfully in the Hall of Fame.

Get over yourselves, writers.  You’re not judges.  You’re not the police.  You’re not God(s).

Do the right thing and put Mark McGwire in the Hall of Fame.  And while you’re doing that, prepare for the barrage of suspect PED users, headlined by one Barry Bonds, who will soon be eligible for HOF consideration.

The world will be watching and I will be quick to slander. 

So yeah, go ahead and hate me; I only ask that you don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

7 Comments

Mark, our fearless leader, talks about casting his vote for McGwire on MLBlogosphere, so you’ve got at least one ally!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Boy these are tough choices. Barry Bonds to me is clear cut. He used PED and it appears that his record has been tainted. I’m not sure I could agree with voting him into the Hall of Fame. McGwire is another case. Did he use PED? I think perhaps he did. Are some of his records the resullt of using drugs? I think some are and probably some aren’t. I don’t think you should be elected to the HOF just because you did a lot to have an impact on the game. I thought you got elected for your skills and abilities. And like it or not, we have to address the PED issue. What if Bonds is convicted before he becomes eligible? Should he still go in? Those are questions that will have to be addressed and I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make that call.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Jane — I saw that article. I was impressed by our “fearless leader”‘s candidness in sharing what that ballot looks like. I just wonder if it’s simplicity could lead to another hanging chad fiasco. I’m just sayin’…
Julia — While I understand your position and sympathize in wanting to keep the HOF clean of poor character, it seems improbable that a superstar such as Bonds — who rewrote the history books — could be left out. Remember, his career before his alleged use already warranted HOF status. Like you, I am glad I’m not the one who has to make that call.
–Jeff

The contradiction in Newman’s argument is that, on the one hand, he says you have to just kind of “know” whether someone’s a HOFer or not, and then admits complete bafflement (and disinterest) as to the most visible and troubling circumstances surrounding McGwire’s lofty numerical accomplishments. IOW, he doesnt “know” the first thing about McGwire!
My vote against McGwire hinges on a gnawing practical concern, or doubt, as to how good a hitter he really was. There’s no moralistic component whatsoever. Unlike Barry Bonds, who was a 3 time MVP, lock HOFer prior to any PED suspicions (1998-1999), I have serious doubts as to whether Mark’s (or Sosa’s) HOF level numbers were at all independent from competitive and pharmaceutical fraud.
That’s an admittedly imperfect but reasonably empirical thought process (like most others) that hopefully results in an amoral judgement. The immoral position, in my view, is for those entrusted with an enduring part of the game’s history to blithely pretend that PEDs havent complicated the process of evaluating comparative statistical legacies. PEDs are baseball’s burden and any BBWAA voter unwilling to grapple with that, beyond superficially declaring PEDs’ irrelevant, does the game a disservice.

Matt / http://diamondhacks.blogspot.com/

Even though McGwire’s BA of .263 doesn’t scream out at you as being the best possible, he was an absolute threat every time he stepped in the box. And save for injuries, McGwire was about as consistent as one can be when it came to putting up big HR, BB, OBP and SLG numbers. Again, innocent before proven guilty. How can we punish someone for something we THINK he did but can’t prove? That’s simply… un-American. Are we just going to throw everyone’s name out who played during the ‘roid era because there’s a chance they were doing things they shouldn’t? Remember too, if it weren’t for Sosa and McGwire and that magical (albeit in hindsight possibly tainted) summer of ’98, baseball perhaps wouldn’t have found its audience again. Those two brought the game back. The front offices and execs looked the other way for the sake of the game and the writers did too. I don’t like double-standards in any arena. I feel that the BBWAA is demonstrating their arrogance and pretentiousness now that the power has shifted into their hands. Keep Bonds out of the Hall? If they did that — again, as much as I dislike Bonds — I’d seriously rethink my love for MLB and perhaps start watching the Mexican or Venezuelan leagues. We have plenty of racists, drunks and jerkwads in the Hall of Fame because they were outstanding baseball players. Bonds was that. McGwire was that. PEDs or not.
–Jeff

Jeff,
I agree everyone looked the other way, and it’d be hypocritical to start banishing players for transgressions with which the Commissioner was complicit. But I’m not trying to ban, or categorically dismiss, anyone; just trying to incorporate info to arrive at historically “fair” evaluations of player performance. As far as inncocent until proven guilty, Mark’s not going to jail here :-) Just trying to figure out if Mac’s more worthy of baseball’s highest honor than Don Mattingly, Dick Allen, or possibly Fred McGriff.

I have no animosity towards McGwire, and actually inhabit a minority who admired him at the infamous hearings – refusing to finger-pointedly deny (aka lie about) his usage, while also refusing to implicate fans’ invested illusions about him (and the game) by coming clean. An almost unbearably awkward, but honorable position. As a practical (not a legal) matter, though, wouldnt McGwire simply state his innocence, if he was? My problem with Mark isnt a legal or ethical one; it’s practically evaluating the almost certain influence of PEDs on his statistical greatness, much the same way one might account for park effects or the dead ball era.

An important difference with Bonds is that Barry established impeccable HOF credentials in a decade free from any reasonable (or otherwise) PED suspicions. It’s a debatable point, but my take on the observational & anecdotal evidence is that McGwire and Sosa haven’t done that. Sosa was a middling player before he got big, and I’ve failed to isolate any meaningful part of Mark’s career from almost certain use. Again, nobody’s going to jail, and I’d be delighted to learn that PEDs were, in fact, incidental to McGwire’s greatness. Hopefully, someday we’ll learn that and he can get in – without the wink and the nod :-)

Dont hate me cuz I”m right-eous ;-)

Matt

Well put, Matt. Well put. I think I see your point more clearly now. And yes, you are a right-eous dude!
–Jeff

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